“The audience is either crying or they’re talking.”
Let’s say you have an amazing life story that would make an incredible movie (you do, of course you do.) And let’s say you get a meeting with a studio head, one of the few in Hollywood who can greenlight a movie instantly. You pitch him the story and he loves it. He's crying, you're crying, and he says “This is the best story I've ever heard! I'm greenlighting this right now.” Then, still sniffling, he will wipe eyes and say…
“What else you got?”
Why? Because he knows that this movie he just greenlit is not going to happen. Not really. Oh, he's going to spend real money on it. But the chances of it turning out the way you pitched it, if at all, is almost nil. The main actor will have a conflict, the director will quit, the studio head will get fired…as Nicholas Cage once said, the fact that a movie gets made at all is a miracle.
The studio head wants to know is if he’s crying because of the story or the storyteller. When it's time to change, dare I say to pivot, everyone involved will expect you to make the new (possibly unrelated) idea just as moving as your first one. Movies only make money if the audience responds to the finished product. No one cares about your original pitch, or the pain it took to make the film. As the expression goes, they're either crying or they're talking. Once you've lost them, you can't get them back. Which means that the pivot has to be as compelling as the original pitch. So the studio head is asking “can you make me cry again?"
I told this story to a VC friend of mine. We were discussing my tech start-up and his potential investment. At the end of the meeting he smiled and said “this looks great, send us your term sheet, and…what else you got?”