winona_ryder_stranger-_things.0.0This business is so cocky. The higher you go up the food chain, the more you hear from people who think they’ve got things figured out. But if you’re a creator, here’s the good news: William Goldman was right. “Nobody knows anything.” So many people forget that the entertainment industry is built on RISKS. On HUNCHES. On INSTINCTS and FEELINGS. And while success is helped by marketing and powerful distribution, it is ultimately in the hands of the audience. The people are going to like whatever they’re going to like. No one predicted the success of “Stranger Things.” Not Netflix, not the Duffer Brothers. It’s my favorite recent reminder that hits can still come from nowhere, decreed solely by the audience. We all collectively, with one voice, simply said “WE LIKE THIS! A LOT!” I know we are all swayed by the most popular artists and franchises. We’re already up to speed. We already “half like” a lot of pre-existing things. But when something is good and it’s in the right place at the right time, success can still come out of nowhere. That’s what creators have to hold on to.

Experts will forecast what’s next, based on trends, the past, and the data they have. But in the end, it means nothing. That’s also something to remember when you encounter a doomsayer. Someone will throw a wall of negativity at you, and give you a ton of reasons why your project has no chance. Again, remember: THEY DON’T KNOW. No one does!

Here’s two more recent examples that delight me:

2017_The_Wonder_Woman_Gal_Gadot_wide“Wonder Woman” starred an unknown female lead, with a director completely untested in the genre. It was also set 70 years in the past. A disgruntled Warner Brothers employee made a big stink a year earlier, spreading a story that they had visited the set and that the movie was “in trouble.” That it was “a mess.” I don’t know who this person was, or what role they held. But clearly, their prediction is now laughable. “Wonder Woman” broke record after record and is now one of the top grossing superhero movies of all time.

Taylor Swift Reputation ArtTaylor Swift has had a rough go of it in the press, in the gossip columns, and I guess feels misunderstood in a lot of ways. Before her much-anticipated album “Reputation,” she released the single “Look What You Made Me Do.” It was met with the snarkiest of snark online. The haters came out, the doomsayers threw their tomatoes. The shadow over Swift was so great that Entertainment Weekly ran a story the week of the album’s release, hypothesizing how big of a PR backlash she might have to endure if and when the album is further ripped to shreds by the public. I mean, they hadn’t HEARD the album or anything, or interviewed Taylor Swift at all. No, the whole article was just interviews with “Publicity Crisis experts” at three different PR firms. They recommended all kinds of damage control Swift might need upon the album’s release, with quotes like “Lightning doesn’t strike twice, not in a ‘1989’ way.”

Bold predictions! This article hit the stands two days after the release of “Reputation.” And as you probably know, it sold 1 million copies in four days and smashed records, including “Fastest Album to Reach Number One.” It did that in just six minutes. As of this blog, it’s the number one selling album of 2017. Top of the year. And it’s November.

No one. Knows. Anything.

And no one certainly knows what’s next. So make what you love, what you want to see, what moves you, what your instincts tell you. Because the only way you’ll know what’s NEXT is if you make it.


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