Survival of the fittest.
Oh, that phrase. It gets thrown around quite a bit.
In its simplest terms, it just means that those who best adapt to their environment, get to keep on truckin’ down that evolutionary highway — while the rest of the poor suckers fall into the abyss of obscurity.
What it boils down to is this – life is one big competition. Whether it’s some dude in Ottawa competing with his brother for best dancer in the family, or whether it’s a silverback gorilla competing for his title as king of the troop. It’s competition. It’s survival.
It’s a way to rise to the top… and to not get swallowed up into the nothingness.
We all compete. But, we don’t have to crush others in the process. I’ve always been a proponent of treating your competition with respect. Because, for every “win” in your life, there’s a “loss.” So, you might as well accept the fact that you’re going to get what you give. And if you’re a person who steps on others while walking up the ladder of life, it’s a certainty a shoe will eventually be in your face at some point. Trust me on that one. But….Be cool to others, and maybe that shoe in your face will be a slipper and not a steel-tipped boot.
What does this have to do with a screenplay?
There are a gazillion screenwriters out there.
How many of their scripts get read by people who have the means necessary to make movies? I would venture to say that not even .00001% of them (I just made up that number for dramatic effect…but you get my point).
So how does one get their screenplay read by relevant Hollywood types? Do they mingle with other screenwriters? Maybe. Do they try to find an agent or manager? Probably.
How about entering a screenplay competition? I say, hell yeah. Why not? There a ton of screenwriting competitions out there. Many are lame. Many are scams. Many are lame scams.
But, there are some really cool ones too. Competitions where you can really make a name for yourself. Where you can be assured that legit industry professionals are reading your script (if you do well in the competition, of course).
It’s survival of the fittest. But, instead of the evolution of a species. It’s the evolution of story. A competition for storytellers. A place where ideas and imagination converge from all walks of life. And you, as a screenwriter, are forced to put your best foot forward, and write an amazing script. A captivating story. A piece of film history.
The world is getting bigger, and smaller all at the time. Bigger – because there is just soooo many people living on this planet. Smaller – because we are ALL becoming interconnected through modern mass communication. So now. Instead of competing with your fellow countrymen (or countrywomen), you are competing on a global scale. You better step up your game.
I am definitely trying to step up my game. And it’s definitely easier said than done. But, I am going to give it a shot. And I hope other aspiring screenwriters give it a shot too. The world needs great films. With new points of view. With engaging plots. With spellbinding characters.
In the past few years, I have entered a few screenplay competitions, such as the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship In Screenwriting; Austin Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival. There are many other reputable competitions as well. And I have entered a few of them. The ones I just mentioned are just a few that I recommend. In addition to my recommendation, those competitions are generally recognized as reputable and influential contests.
Write on… survive the grueling demands of writing a screenplay…and… join the competitions. I’ll see you there!