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Brand Me, Baby

I recently had a conversation with a friend about defining our “brand.” The thought is both very wise and also makes me throw up a little in my face (I am the vomit brand!).

The reason for the vomit is that there’s this cult of personality thing that’s happening now. People are famous in their little group, people “brand” themselves on Twitter, Facebook, whatever, and in many cases, it feels both disingenuous and desperate. I am not a bottle of Pepsi, I am an artist (douchebag brand!) and my brand is good art (douchebag brand, deluxe size!).

In my case, my strong suit is, in my humble opinion, my writing. That said, I think Leap Year and Break a Leg are both very different — Break a Leg is silly, 30 Rock-esque, and Leap Year is drenched in delicious Sorkin-ey goodness. I love writing in both styles. Honestly, I’d love to write in many different genres — give me a super hero film, a zombie flick, a sci-fi movie — I’ll write them all, because I love writing. Do I have a specific style? I don’t know. When you watch Leap Year, can you tell it’s from the writers of Break a Leg? I’m not sure (self-doubt brand!).

My production company, Happy Little Guillotine Films, has made everything from 30 second spots, to full series. The series are significantly different from one another — we’ve done a full reality show for 7-11, we’ve done a hosted, sketch-ey show for 7-11, and we’ve done the other shows I named previously. Is our voice heard loudly in all of this work? I think so. But it’s hurt us in the past, too. Yes, on one hand people hire us because, I think we can do smart, funny comedy and we produce high quality content. But they’ve also not hired us because they think we’re unable to create anything else — and we can. Baby, we can make anything (Complete Confidence in My Ability Brand!)

Does a real artist need a brand? Did Neil Simon have a brand, or did he just write whatever he wanted and become Neil Simon? Is this something we, as writers, creators, whatevers, have to actively think about? Or should we just focus on making great things and make them as varied as possible. Is range really a bad thing? Does being spread out like an artsy prostitute hurt your ability to get hired if you’re more focused on a specific style?

I don’t know. What do you think?


So Many Questions Brand


Written by

I am a writer, director, producer and co-founder of HLG Studios.

2 thoughts on “Brand Me, Baby

  1. I get what you’re saying. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’m somewhat on the fence. On a personal level, as a viewer/consumer, I long for Branding. I was watching something the other day, and thought how nice it is when you know what you’re gonna get: George Lucas, Dan Brown, Jim Carrey. I begin to anticipate enjoyment as soon as the name is said, or the logo crosses the screen. Branding, in a very real way, creates loyalty.

    As an artist, I think the definition of “branding” is too small. We should be known for doing good work, that’s distinctly our own, regardless of genre, medium, or scale. I think that whatever I do, it will have my stamp on it: My humor, My sense of drama or irony. All I do is change the measurement of each — The ingredients stay the same.

    I think, Branding is something that must be kept on a tight rein. Many a Writer/Director have found great success with a comedic project, only to find that no one will stomach a Drama from them. There’s a rumor that Ed O’Neil was cast in a serious film, after ‘Married with Children’ was cancelled, only to be cut after test audiences burst out laughing the moment he hit the screen. Once you are pigeon-holed, creative cancer has already crept in.

    I think the trick is catching the public by surprise. Do something really, really well. Then do the opposite. They’ll learn to love your work, and never have the chance to sink into an entertainment complacency– And you win.

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