Monday, November 06, 2006

Who are the Champions?

This article in variety suggests that not only is breaking in hard to do, but that to do it you need, among several other things, a champion. I've heard this term used before and yes, I know it doesn't necessarily mean an agent. Still, it puzzles me.

What am I looking for? (cue Bonnie Tyler - Holding Out For a Hero) Surely not a knight in shimmering armor and fire in his eyes, atop a lofty steed, and waving my screenplay at the end of his lance?

Are we talking about a professional screenwriter willing to pause in his busy career to promote mine? A janitor willing to sneak my scripts into the reading material basket next to Steven Spielberg's toilet? Somebody who straps road flares to his chest until an auto parts mogul agrees to buy my brake pads?

The effort and the skill with which you show
How well inspiring are your gifts of grace
Displayed for all the truth of what I know:
"There lies a noble heart, mind, soul and face."
With skill and courtesy you took the field
Prepared for challenge from the very best.
With honor well contended, win or yield
You shared chivalric glory with the rest.
The real challenge lay not with the foe
But in the hazards brought by thy own tests.
"Surpass yourself" is guidance writ in gold.
Its victory brings prize of answered quests.
My Champion, how well you fought for me.
Now must I strive for worth, to worthy be.
Perhaps I'll hold off on the champion thing until, as the poem suggests, I know that I am worthy.

The Thinking Writer on Champions


Unk said...

I used to hear that term thrown around at the Screenwriting Expo... Just about every year I was there... The first 4 to be exact. Couldn't make it this year.

However, if you read between the lines of that article and just FOCUS on screenwriting, what she's basically saying is that your screenplay has to be DIFFERENT. It has to have that twist.

Can you spell HIGH CONCEPT?

I just drove from New Mexico to Phoenix... During that entire 10 hour drive, I kept wondering if one of main reasons it's so hard for people to break in as a spec screenwriter is simply because they have no high concept.

When you consider that almost every producer I know that reads new screenplays along with 99% of the screenplays I read for our prodco have no high concept, it sure seems like it keeps coming down to this single element assuming the script is well written otherwise.

I can't shout it enough. High concept can be your champion if you let it.


David Anaxagoras said...

Find a champion for your script is non-advice, along the lines of "just do it". Reminds me of Steve Martin's "How to Become a Millionaire" routine ("First you get a million dollars...")

Chesher Cat said...

You do need a champion to break in. Actually, several. Champions are people who have read your work and love it. They are your fans. Hopefully they are people who have a connection to the biz and when appropiate they will recommend you to someone who can actually get your career jump-started.

If you don't have a champion[s], you will remain in the realm of sending queries in hopes of getting a request. The writers who break in cold are few and far between. This business operates on relationships...if you [you in the general masses sense] don't have any...well, good luck.

Champions can be anyone...other screenwriters (not the best to jump-start your career but good for moral support and advice), actors, assistants, producers and anybody else who can turn you on to somebody who can get you sold.