Let’s say you have a wonderful new idea for a project that feels fresh and unique and like something audiences haven’t seen before. So, should you write it as a TV series, or a feature film?
This used to be a fairly simple question to answer. If your story concept was closed ended, you would choose the feature film route. But if your idea involved ongoing storylines, you would pick the television series path. But in the ever-changing world of media, the choice is no longer so clear cut. With the streaming services and pay cable outlets now offering limited series of only eight or 10 episodes – sometimes without even a promise of a second season – these are not your TV shows of yesteryear. The same is true of feature films. From the “Star Wars” movies to franchises like “The Fast and Furious” and Marvel’s “Avengers” films, there is now often not just a potential sequel opportunity for a successful movie, but a possibility for an entire series of film sequels. The lines are now more blurred than ever!
So if you’re wondering what path to take, the most important consideration remains whether or not the storylines are ongoing or close-ended. You also should take a look at your characters and their arcs. Can you tell their stories more effectively in a shorter format? Or is it more interesting to peel back the layers of who they are over a number of episodes?
You must also make sure you consider the marketability of your concept. For movies, a high concept idea, with a clear hook, is still very important to buyers. You need to have a clear vision of the what the billboard for your movie would be. And how quickly and easily its concept can be marketed to potential audiences.
For TV, having a sustainable concept that feels fresh, and that could live on for multiple series, is still really important from a sales and marketability perspective. Although buyers are more open to limited series now than in the past, the hope is always still to have a hit that can air for multiple seasons. Even a show like HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which was designed specifically just to air for one season, is now returning for a second season, due to its popularity. These are the kind of problems that buyers like to have! A concept that has several seasons worth of material inherent in its premise remains essential for the TV world. So, keep these points in mind when choosing the format for your next project!