The appeal of appealing to a younger demographic

Multiple generations, engaged and enraptured. Fine by me.

During a recent phone conversation with another writer, I’d mentioned having wrapped up work on the pulp sci-fi spec.

“What’s it about?” they asked. I proceeded to give them my 10-second elevator pitch, plus the “THIS meets THAT” combo.

“Huh,” was the response. “It sounds cool, but it also sounds like it would be a kids’ movie.”

I suppose that’s one way to look at it. My preference is “a rollercoaster ride of a story, fun for anybody from 8 to 88”. That’s always been my approach when I set out to spin a ripping yarn.

Was I supposed to view their comment as some kind of insult? As if there’s something negative or shameful about writing material that appeals to kids? Because that hasn’t worked at all for Disney or Pixar.

PIxar especially has a reputation for producing films that appeal to all ages. There’s been a lot written about the immense amount of time they spend on making sure the story is rock-solid. One of the most-read articles for screenwriting is based on part of their process, and those don’t just apply to animation; they’re for ALL screenwriting.

Let me also throw a couple of “kids movies” out there. You might have heard of them.

Star Wars. Harry Potter.

One’s been around for 40 years, with no sign of letting up, while the other just celebrated 20 years of entertaining readers and moviegoers.

On the surface, both are solid, simplistic stories about the fight of good versus evil. But is that all they are? Heavens no! There’s universal appeal, engaging characters who grow and change, themes being explored, conflict like you wouldn’t believe – all told through a filter of imagination. Don’t let the presence of lightsabers, magic wands, or animated, talking animals distract you from what’s really going on.

And let’s be honest. Both of those series have done more than okay at the box office.

Not too shabby for “kids movies”.

Now, I’m not saying any of my scripts are in the same arena as those, but a good story is a good story, no matter who its target audience is. And if it appeals to a younger generation as well as my own, what’s wrong with that?

And you know what else works with kids movies? Kids grow up, and eventually have kids of their own. What do they watch? The movies the parents enjoyed as kids.

Who wouldn’t want to write something that leaves a lasting impression on a young mind, and then see them pass their love of that story to later generations?

For me, that’s what it all comes down to – writing a script that tells a fun and exciting story that anybody could enjoy. And if that includes kids, that’s fine by me.

3 thoughts on “The appeal of appealing to a younger demographic

  1. Paul, great blog. I feel sorry for any adult who has lost the “kid” inside of them. There’s nothing better or more satisfying than a movie that reaches the “kid” in us and that does not mean the script has to be childish. I grew up on Long Island with tales of pirate treasure, so “Treasure Island” or even The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” connect with the 10 year old in me and, certainly, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scores on every level of adventure. Heck, I even like “Mouse Hunt” with Nathan Lane. This weekend, I am hosting a treasure hunt for a friend’s son’s birthday. I have buried a a box of coins & gem stones in a nearby park and he will have a map I made to find the “loot”. His mom & dad and I are as excited as he is to have such an adventure. Anybody wish to post their favorite treasure hunt movie? Jim

  2. As far and my favorite treasure hunt movie would be stand by me. Their treasure what the dead body no one had ever seen. You went along with them to their adventures that finally them to the body but you didn’t care for as much as you cared for their relationships with each other. Stand by me will stand in time as one of the better movies of all time.

    • Pauline,
      Wow. I had not thought of “Stand by me” . Yes, you are right. Great choice and anyone who has not seen it, should. Jim

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