The views expressed by the contributing Entrepreneurs are their own.
Great TV shows and movies have staying power, meaning they capture and hold viewers’ attention and often motivate them to action. For some shows, this could mean tuning in every week for each new episode.
For documentary films, it could mean changing a lifestyle or habit to help change. Successful media productions have many characteristics that help encourage viewership, inspire action and leave viewers satisfied. For the producer, successful productions mean an increase in profit. These key qualities cross genres, locations, production lengths and more.
A structure that fits the genre
There are many ways to develop a story, but there are certain expectations for certain genres. Many television shows follow the three-act structure that tends to define literary works. A beginning, middle, and end divide a story into a single section and a whole series. The characters, settings, and plot unfold differently in these periods, giving the viewer a way to follow the show without getting lost.
It is also important to remember how the audience will watch the production. Productions developed for television must account for commercial breaks or other interruptions such as schedule changes. Building tension with dramatic elements or omitted information can keep viewers engaged in the show and prevent them from switching channels during a commercial. In a movie, think about where to add some comic relief or how to cut the audience out of an intense moment of action.
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A clear but unique point of view
For a production to receive the attention that will (ideally) make it successful and profitable, it should stand out and stand out from other shows or films of its genre. There is an audience for every type of product out there, but chances are someone else is already filling the market with a product.
Viewers want a new take on something familiar. Changing the way you host a talk show or incorporating elements you need to become more familiar with gives you a way to present something different. The novelty of your presentation and concept should make sense while creating the necessary curiosity to see more.
A story that contains substantial conflict
Whether you’re shooting a sports theme, documentary, talk show or comedy, it’s imperative to include important elements of conflict to create spectacle and satisfy your audience. Conflict can take many forms and add to the development of an idea, such as with a talk show. Healthy conflict involves reasoning between two or more ideas to inspire dialogue. It could also include situations that test a particular character, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.
If you’re developing a TV series, incorporate conflict that spans the entire series or multiple episodes. The desire for resolution helps draw viewers in over time, but working shorter periods of conflict into an episode can attract and hold their attention in the short term. In larger films, it’s crucial not to play out the conflict for too long, at least with brief moments that offer some sort of resolution. An audience needs hope when watching characters they can trust and relate to.
Related: 5 steps to create a story that engages your audience every time
A screen full of believable characters
Your story and presentation attract more viewers when the characters are interesting, relatable and believable. This is important whether you are producing a daily talk show, miniseries or feature film. Your audience wants to be fascinated by those they watch, whether it’s their interactions with each other, how they respond to situations, or how they handle emotional or physical challenges. While not everyone can consider themselves superheroes, the drama and friction inherent in unconventional relationships is something many can appreciate.
If your media production is a newscast, keep the audience in mind when choosing anchors for a particular story or segment. Experienced anchors may appear more sympathetic and understanding when discussing sensitive information or social issues. Characters developed for a comedy should not abandon all maturity and seriousness, especially in real-world scenarios where discretion is essential.
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A dialogue that enhances the perception of the character
Whether it’s a rom-com, a sports talk show, or a marketing production, audiences know the importance of less is more when it comes to dialogue. Unnecessary, cluttered chatter is unattractive and creates the perception that the production is slow or unfamiliar. All dialogue or conversation should work to draw the audience into the story or segment, which is often done with humor, honesty, passion, and more. Make sure the dialogue fits both the show and the character. When a character is known for their sense of humor or their inability to be subtle, it helps bring the characters to life and makes the show stand out from the crowd.
These are just some of the critical factors to consider when planning your next media production. While it’s important to keep your idea and vision for the project in mind, how the audience will perceive and engage with the end result matters. Their loyalty is what makes it successful and profitable.