As aspiring screenwriters, we’d all be satisfied just to make that first sale, get that first option, obtain that illusive first steady writing job. But deep down inside, we all see ourselves on the stage of the Dolby Theater in our best tuxedo or gown accepting the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Admit it. If you’ve had that fantasy once, you’ve had it a hundred times.
In a town built on glitz and glamor, Oscar night is the glitziest, most glamorous night of the year. In a town of exclusive and high roller parties, the Oscars is the most exclusive party of them all.
The trick is to get the invite.
How do you get invited to the Oscars? All you have to do is write a script that gets nominated for an Academy Award. Sounds simple, right? Right? RIGHT?! If only. What it requires is that you take your craft seriously. Yes, Hollywood may have a reputation of frivolity and fun, but it is a town that will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not prepared to work harder than everyone else, put in longer hours honing your craft than anyone else, and spending time getting to know more people than anyone else.
Yes, it also requires a lot of luck to get noticed as a screenwriter, but as the old saying goes, the harder you work, the luckier you’ll get.
Many of us watched the party on television. Some of us may even have been lucky enough to watch it from the balcony. But watching it is not enough if you ever want that invite. Use the Oscars for motivation. Think about the scripts that were nominated this year, and in years past. What made them noticeable first of all to get made, and then to garner a nomination, and ultimately win an award? The screenplays that have won and that have been nominated over the past few years have been diverse in content and in style. Much can be learned by dissecting them and studying them. How can what those writers did be applied to your own work? I’m not suggesting that you copy, but certainly it’s the responsibility of any artist or writer to find inspiration from what came before them.
People will tell you that you shouldn’t be motivated by winning an award. You shouldn’t be motivated by something as frivolous as the Oscar celebration. To that I say, “Why not?” People find motivation in all sorts of things and winning an award is nothing more than recognition of a job well done, which all people aspire to. Why not aim for the top? Why not shoot for the stars? The desire to win an Oscar is nothing to be ashamed of. If that’s your goal, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re being foolish, because what’s the worst thing that could happen? You’ll have written the best script you possibly can, and it won’t go anywhere. So what? Write another one with the same goal in mind.
All the while, you should be learning marketing techniques and meeting people in the industry who can either get your script made or get it sold. The more you do these things, the better you will become at them, and the easier they will be to do. The more you write, the better writer you will become. Maybe you’ll be good enough to write a script that will be worthy of collecting a gold statue on the fourth Sunday in February.