From Robert Hilburn’s terrific book CORNFLAKES WITH JOHN LENNON: AND OTHER TALES FROM A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL LIFE:
“The mistake a lot of musicians make, is they imagine an audience and then try and make a piece of music to fit it. “They get caught up in the race, and it can be dangerous to your creativity, and probably your sanity. What you have to do is start with a piece of music and then search out the audience for it, and if this is the audience for the new album, that’s fine. That’s where I should be right now.”
Of course, this quote applies to all artistic fields. While prepping my film THE PLAGUE, it was agreed and understood that we were making a film that did not fit snugly into any one genre and therefore it would be best to do the festival circuit in search of the film’s audience instead of seeking out a domestic distributor with a marketing department that had pre-conceived notions of what the film’s audience should be. Unfortunately for us, and the film, the powers-that-be, despite having verbally agreed to not seek out a domestic distributor until after a festival run, sold the distribution rights to Sony Screen Gems before we ever shot a frame.
The film was then taken over by the producers and marketing department in post-production and re-cut from scratch in an attempt to appeal to Clive Barker’s horror audience, an audience the film, in any incarnation, would never have appealed to. As a result, the film was both a commercial and artistic failure.
It was living through this experience, and in understanding that it is a common experience, that allowed me to complete my cut of the film despite warnings by my lawyers and agent at the time. It was and is the best thing I’ve ever done. Even though very few have seen my version. An artistic work, be it great or small, needs to be completed. If only for the artist him/herself. And there will always be an audience. Especially if one trusts the work.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”