I hear a lot of people saying they want to win an Oscar. Don’t get me wrong if I got an Oscar or Emmy nomination I’d be hard to live with. I would ask people to call me Oscar-nominated Soweto, kinda like a doctor is addressed. I would love to hear my mom say, “I wish my Oscar-nominated son would call me.”
Some of us know the Oscars were started by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, it was a way to promote studio films. Fast-forward to now, it’s still very prestigious. To me what the awards say is that you’ve made a film that your peers in the industry think is good. Nothing wrong with that but I was listening to the Don’t @ Me podcast and Justin Simen was talking to Ava DuVernay and she was saying that she doesn’t care about awards. Her argument was she makes her films for her people, (that’s black people for my readers that don’t see color) I agree with that. But that’s not my reason for saying f@ck awards but before I get into that I turn to one of my favorite directors, the controversial Woody Allen. In an NPR piece, his biographer said that Allen doesn’t come to the Oscars because it’s impossible to judge art because it’s so subjective. I agree with that too, I had dreams of becoming People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, I’ve sent them pics of me scantily clad every year and I only get cease and desist letters. My lawyer keeps telling me sexy is in the eye of the beholder.
I think what’s more important than awards is consistency, you can win an award one year and be hot garbage the next. Don’t get me wrong awards do help your career, it gives you status and access to the Vanity Fair Oscar party (now that would be cool as shit to go to) but consistent is more important. Make a film that you’d watch and make it to the best of your ability and don’t worry about accolades. Awards shouldn’t even be second, second is the audience as Ava says, without an audience, you can’t justify people giving you funds for your next project. People shit on Michael Bay and Tyler Perry a lot but you know they are both consistent and may never win an Oscar for directing but they put out movies that I assume they love and their audience loves.
By consistent, I mean making a film up to your standards, whatever that might be. As you continue on that journey your standards rise. As filmmakers, we must make films that we would be proud of. We must find our voice and style and consistently hit our own standards. Everything else will fall into place after that. If you’re always doing that you’ll get the audience and maybe get an award. Be true to the craft and study the masters.
My short film 2 AM which by the way I’m holding another audition this weekend, deals with a lot of the issues that go on in Chicago. I want to show the general public that the kids that carry guns are no different from the ones in the suburbs. They just grow up in an environment that can easily cause a teenager to take the wrong path. I’m doing everything I can to make this film, I’m using all of my connections and resources. This is a great journey and if I make this film and it lives up to my standards and the audience loves it, I don’t care about anything else. Except for the people that will judge it at festivals. I gotta get into a festival. All that shit I wrote before is for feature films, not shorts.