The Only Award Show That Matters

Apacolypse Now Film

If you happened to be at the Academy Awards and didn’t just win an Oscar for best screenplay, just remember: neither did John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola for Apocalypse Now. They lost it to Kramer vs. Kramer, which seems a little strange in hindsight.

My guess is that any artist would give up all awards and honors in exchange for making a cultural impact. This is probably especially true for writers. If you're a writer, by definition you have something to say. If you have something to say that's actually meaningful or relevant, then people will listen and will respond. That's how you make a cultural impact.

Screenwriters typically begin new projects by struggling to develop a "high concept." High concepts are the money-makers. If you have the right sort of high concept, you can even pick up awards along with your round box office figures. But how does the pursuit for the high concept square with the artist's goal of making a cultural impact?

Sometimes the best high concepts are completely void of meaning or relevance. If the writer isn't coming from a place of meaning or relevance, then he ultimately doesn't have anything to say, even if he has a high concept.

If you look back through all the past Oscar winners for best screenplay, some of the films have stood the test of time but most haven't. Ultimately, the only award show that matters is the future.

If you haven't already, watch MILIUS, the documentary about the life and films of John Milius. His credits include writing or contributing to Apocalypse Now, Dilinger, Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, Big Wednesday, and Jaws. MILIUS if filled with lots of great quotes and reasons to be inspired as a writer or filmmaker. And then watch Kramer vs. Kramer while you're at it. Why not...?