While I was writing the screenplay for my newest project I was constantly trying to avoid using cliches of any kind. There are many articles and YouTube videos that complain about the use of cliches in film, and that cliches must be avoided at all costs. This is the advice given to amateur filmmakers, but I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with using cliches.
When it comes to chic-flicks we all know the formula. Girl meets guy, they fall for each other, something happens that tears them apart, only for the guy or girl to find someway to overcome it and they live happily ever after. There is a reason why women, and yes some men as well, love these films. They may be predictable, but the cliches recreate that romantic feeling.
What about action films? Horror films? There are elements in these that make the moviegoers’ experience enjoyable. Nothing is more badass than the protagonist walking away from an explosion unharmed. Or knowing that the jock will be the first to go in a slasher film. In fact, it is really difficult to avoid cliches.
Obviously, there are cliches that are over-used and therefore cause us to roll our eyes, or take us out of film. So why do I think it is okay to use cliches? A cliche can be reinvented, turned on its side and used in a new, inventive way. This has become more and more common in recent films. Even new cliches have now become the norm. For example, the princess in distress is now the heroine who take over their own story (I love strong women). No more are the cheesy one-liners in action flicks so common, but now and then they reappear (i.e. The Fast and Furious franchise).
We all know those cliches that make us cringe, and those that we hope for. M. Night Shyamalan is a master at turning cliches upside down. His films, whether the good ones or the bad ones, always have a twist in the final minutes. His earlier works, and now his recent works, make you want to rewatch them and look for the now obvious clues.
So, to be direct, my advice is not to avoid using cliches in your work. Try to find a unique use for it. Be creative. More importantly, do what makes you happy, and not what you think others will enjoy. You are an artist, so go and make your art, and remember—it’s okay to cliche!
Please leave a comment, and let’s have a discussion!
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