Have you seen Shrek? If not, you really should. It is one of the most iconic animated movies of all time.
When the movie was in pre-production and was still being animated, everyone at DreamWorks hated it. Work started without the full script, which means no one even knew where the story was going. Apparently, artists were sent to work on Shrek as a punishment for messing up something in a "good" project.
Plus, there was even more trouble. The lead actor died after recording half his lines. So, they picked another lead who, after finishing the entire recording, said he wanted to record every line a second time in a different accent. Which means the animators had to do and redo hundreds of hours of animation thrice (Also, it cost an extra $6million).
Nobody had any hopes from this movie. It was slated to fail. And yet, it turned out to be an instant hit and became a cult classic. It made so much money that it literally saved DreamWorks Inc. from potential bankruptcy.
What’s the lesson here? Is it about destiny? Is it about the power of a good story that succeeds against all odds? Is it about myopic product owners, and committed employees?
I think it is about all these, yet none of these. I think it is about the audience. The audience has a taste that the best researchers have not been able to predict with any accuracy, in spite of spending millions of dollars on such studies.
The audience knows what it wants. As a creator or an entrepreneur, all we need to ask ourselves is if can we give it to them? Our best made plans might fail, and sometimes even our half-assed attempts might succeed.
All we can do is keep experimenting and pushing ourselves. Some day, something will resonate with our audience. We might not be able to predict what that something will be. But, it’ll happen only when we keep doing lots of different things and keep reinventing ourselves.
Onions, not parfaits,