In this Assignment, Karen has asked what lures us to watch what’s onscreen – the people we see there, or the ones behind the scenes.
Weekend Assignment: #281: Who has a greater impact on your decision to go to a movie or watch a tv show, the actors you see on the screen, or the behind the scenes writers, producers and/or directors?
Extra Credit: Who is your favorite actor?
I’ve said it before, and here’s another chance to say it: I really have trouble with questions that ask me to name my one favorite anything. I honestly don’t think I have a favorite actor these days, since I can’t think of anyone whose film or TV appearances are always must-sees for me. It depends on what they’re appearing in – if the project itself doesn’t grab me, I’ll probably give it a pass.
Given that answer to the extra-credit question, it seems like my answer to the first question would be the “behind the scenes” people…and if I think about it a little more, that’s probably right. Since I spend most of my non-watching time reading, it makes sense that I would have an affinity for the people who create the premises, develop the settings and themes, and put the words in the characters’ mouths. The actors bring those characters and words to life, and when the part is cast just right – when you truly can’t imagine someone else in the role – they’re integral to the project. But without the writers, producers, and directors – who sometimes overlap in two or even three of those roles – there would be no project in the first place.
There’s a reason that Hollywood promotes movies and TV shows as “from (award-winning) director so-and-so” or “from the team who brought you such-and-such” or “the fourth film from writer/director whatshisface” (which, come to think of it, is about the only time the “writer” part gets mentioned – not fair!). It refers to a track record, and provides an easy marketing hook. If the potential audience is familiar with the work previously associated with the creative people behind the show, it’s a quick way to intrigue them – or help them decide quickly that this one’s not for them. Granted, past performance is no guarantee of future results, in entertainment or anything else. Aaron Sorkin created Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but it was definitely not the second coming of The West Wing; still, those of us who loved The West Wing are likely to at least give any new efforts of his a chance. Dedicated Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will check out pretty much anything Joss Whedon is involved with. And while I was dubious about the entire prospect of the new Star Trek movie at first, I was willing to put my faith in J. J. Abrams. (My son Chris, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction; he still has not forgiven the last couple of seasons of Alias, so his expectations were very low. A track record can cut both ways.)
Overall, I’d say the story has more to do with my decision to see a particular movie or watch a certain TV show than anything else. Since that comes from the people behind the scenes – not the ones acting it out in front of the camera – they’re the ones who bring me in. What about you?
As always, the Weekend Assignment is hosted by Karen Funk Blocher at Outpost Mavarin.