Ongoing market research is a good idea, in modest doses. That can take the form of reading the trade, relevant industry magazines, blogs, newsletters and publications for the purpose of staying current on what is going on the industry.
Why Read Entertainment Trade Magazines
The reason it’s important is that you will recognize trends that may apply to what you’re doing. You can see which companies are buying and what type of material they're buying. This is a way of keeping the temperature of the entertainment industry. Read a few minutes a day, just to see what’s going on. Don't read too much. While you need to know what’s up, you can waste a lot of time in this area. Also, you don’t want to spend emotional energy on other people and their success or failure. Writers often battle self-doubt, so when you're feeling fragile, skip it. If you're overwhelmed, skip it. The reason to read is to stay abreast of current events is to tell you how the wind is blowing and what is relevant at the moment. It will change, it always does. And producers and distributors will always need good solid stories that they can make at a reasonable price.
Which Entertainment Publications to Read
There are several platforms with news about the entertainment industry, so pick one or two and stop by regularly. Maybe for a few minutes daily, or every other day. This could include the major trades, such as The Hollywood Reporter, Done Deal Professional, Deadline, Variety Magazine, or The Wrap. IMdB can be a good resource for what’s going on, and if you join IMdB Pro, they have a news feed that is very relevant. You can set any of these sites this as your home page so that when you open a web browser, research is simple. You don’t necessarily pay to subscribe (although it may be worth it at some point), just skim the headlines of the movie/TV or deals section.
Another place that it’s good to check into from time to time would include indie-focused publications like Sundance Collab, Script Magazine, Movie Maker or Indiewire. Occasionally, checkout the screenwriting focused blogs and sites like Done Deal Professional, Scriptwriter Pro or The Black List. Frankly, there are about a gazillion sites for screenwriters, all of which purport to be essential. You could spend days reading these sites, and you’d probably learn a lot, but that wouldn’t necessarily translate into actions and you putting words on the page. Your job at the end of the day, is to write. So use these sites as tools, information, stimulation, sometimes motivation, and a resource, but do NOT let them suck all of your precious writing time.
What you can find out as well through these resources, are opportunities such as writing labs, hot contests, trends and deals at film markets, the relevant film festivals, which companies are buying, producers who are looking for your type of material. At the end of the day, you want to have a sense of what’s going on in the movie industry, but only enough that it helps you, rather than hinders your work.
The movie year has a particular structure to it too, with news about the major award shows, film markets, festivals, and after a while you’ll pick up what you need to from trends surrounding all the hype and news. There are many recurring annual events in the movie industry which communicate trends. What is essential to pick up? Popular genres, and which companies, producers, distributors and production companies are buying, as well as new agencies and managers making moves and where the action is.