06 November, 2007

The Italian Restaurant


There was a fast food place called Papa Mia which despite the name, didn’t serve any Italian food – not even pizza. It was especially popular because it had a mini-cab office and bus stops nearby. They unexpectedly closed down and I saw a sign in the window advertising for a shop fitter.

The refurbishment started and I looked forward to sampling a bigger, better fast food joint. Except it was now an Italian Restaurant. The owners had obviously done their catering training and felt they could do more than burgers and fries. They had a goal and an ambition and took a risk.

My first thought was, ‘they are going to go bust’ which I realised was just me being negative and I tried to be positive about their prospects. Each time I passed the restaurant I tried not to look in but couldn’t resist. Each time the chefs were sat in their whites doing nothing. I told myself that maybe it gets really busy later on. Then they shut up shop for good and a for sale sign went up.

The moral of the story is: don’t take any risks or have any ambition.

Just jesting. The real moral is we should take risks, they are absolutely essential to life, but we should also be aware of exactly what risk we're taking by doing some research and understanding the market.

The success rate of new restaurants is higher than many people think but the location was so obviously wrong. There was no promotion to encourage people to try them out. The menu was unambitious and expensive for what it was. And there was no incentive to make me switch from my usual Italian restaurant, except curiosity.

If they had in fact predicted those problems and still want ahead then that’s fair enough but they can’t really have any complaints. Similarly if I write something and send it to the wrong place or it's going to cost far too much to produce or the content is simply unpalatable for most people or there were better scripts than mine available, then I can’t complain if I don’t get a sale.

Writing words on our typewriters requires relatively little risk. We write what we want with no harmful consequences but producing that script requires a huge investment in time and money and we can't blame producers for wanting to minimise the risk of that investment. Although we can probably blame those amongst them who don't take any risks at all and play it safe.


Once we’ve learned the writing basics, it’s possible to produce several well-written scripts which get rejected because no-one is interested in the story and premise or they may be interested but they don't believe a big enough audience will be.

If so we might have to compromise our artistic vision and be a little less risky in our approach. I’m not saying we should start pandering to the audience but simply keep in mind that there is an audience.

We all know how important it is for stories we're working on to be something we’re passionate about. But there are many ways of telling those stories and sometimes a spoonful of sugar will make it more acceptable.

I’m not saying that just because most people want fast food that should be the only thing available but there is fast food that is bland, boring and insubstantial and there is fast food that is delicious, filling and leaves people craving more.

Links

Taking Risks by Scott Greenberg

Risk-taking.co.uk - an introduction to the psychology of risk

4 comments:

Lucy said...

Hear hear Robin though there was a mixed tense in there so I'm thinking about using my death ray on you again. Shame.

Robin Kelly said...

It was deliberate. I've got to chuck in the odd mistake now and again and pretend to be fallible or people will start worshipping me like a god.

Lucy said...

A handy technique and one that accounts for the numerous typos on my own blog. Though I am naturally the goddess supreme of all of you.

Robin Kelly said...

Whichever technique you use, we can't help worshipping you anyway, Lucy.