It’s award season in Hollywood. Oscars, Golden Globes, and a slew of acronyms-- BAFTA, PGA, SAG, DGA. Like a lot of people, I get caught up in the weeks-long whirlwind of predictions, surprises, and snubs, enjoying the red-carpet slideshows and morning-after recaps.
all the drama on screen and sometimes on stage (remember last year’s infamous
Oscars slap, or the bungled Best Picture announcement a few years previous to
that?) I would be hard pressed to name the nominees for last year’s big awards.
I couldn’t even name most of the winners without looking them up. It’s funny
how quickly we forget the frenzy, how very much we care until we very much
don’t, and how the cycle repeats year after year.
That reality gives me insight into my own writing, though I write short stories rather than screenplays. I don’t write about situations that people around the globe care about, like they do film awards. My stories take place in a much more circumscribed world. But the people in them care very deeply about what’s happening to them. The drama in their daily lives is as real and momentous for them as it is for the moviemakers and their legions of fans. For them, it is as painful to be passed over for the Senior Center’s Citizen of the Year award as it is for someone else to miss out on that Best Director nod. Their campaign for a country club membership can be as desperate as the one for a Best Actor nod.
It's a matter not of significance but of scale. The
whole world may not care if a son gets into Harvard, or a soon-to-be-ex-husband
gets what’s coming to him, but my characters do. And they continue to care
about slights and wrongs when everyone else has moved on, like a diehard fan
clinging to outrage over an overlooked performance. No
one else may recall all the times a protagonist was disrespected, but she
certainly does. And the lengths she (or other characters) will go to over
things that matter to them, however unimportant or unremembered they may be to
others, are what drives my fiction.
Movies reflect the human experience and so, in many ways, do the awards celebrating them. The best stories do that as well, and that’s what I always seek to do in my own writing. Which I’ll get back to just as soon as this riveting award season is over.
Anyone else follow the film awards, and do they give you any ideas?