Let me just say, I’m a loser.
Dozens of ‘thanks for participating’ certificates and all the Revenge of the Nerds films confirm that.
I can also confirm, that while winning isn’t everything, winning is better.
Yesterday, the film I co-wrote as part of the 2013 Baltimore 48 Hour contest won for Best Film!
For those unfamiliar, the 48 Hour Film Project is an intense short film competition that takes place in cities worldwide – 120 and counting. You have just two days to write/film/edit an under-seven-minute movie. If that isn’t tough enough, it must be based upon a randomly selected genre, and include a required character, prop and line of dialogue — you know, to prove it wasn’t shot last winter (snow drifts in July, dead give away… unless you are green screen wizards, in which case, kudos for Best Special Effects.)
I’ve worked on eight or so 48 Hour Films, almost always on the writing team. Most have made the ‘Best Of’ for Baltimore or D.C., and received awards here and there. Stuff to be happy about, for sure.
How about a win though? Nope, wasn’t in the cards.
Now, I know, art is supposed to be it’s own reward. I get it. But I’m American. The duty to compete is in our Constitution or something. Christ, we host hot-dog eating contests when parts of the world are starving. Okay, that last statement makes me sad and hungry. And get’s me back to my original, conflicted thought.
Creative work, especially when unpaid, is an endeavor based upon belief in yourself. You can be proud of it, your colleagues can love it, friends, family, all that jazz… it’s great (and folks, please keep encouraging the artists in your life, unless they made Sharknado… what am I saying, I freakin’ loved Sharknado, more please…)
But ultimately, you want that hardware – you need that hardware (heard best in Jack Nicholson voice) – the big shiny trophy, that headline article, those Facebook Likes and of course, 140 character tweets to your awesomeness.
When someone googles the word ‘winner’, you want to be part of those 416 million hits, just like Jamie Foxx is, who’s song ‘Winner’ appears on the first search page, while ironically peaking at 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
What I’m saying, in my snarky way, is that winning… provides validation.
vali·dation n. To establish the soundness of; corroborate.
We all want that outside authority to say hey, you’re on the right path. Quitting your job, cashing out your life savings and risking homelessness to pursue your dreams… got you this, an 8×10 sheet of paper with the word ‘Winner’ on it. Congrats. You could have gone to Office Depot and printed one up, but here, I saved you the trip.
So to the Baltimore judges, I say, thanks for saving me the trip.
But I’d feel way more validated if you had put gold stars on the award. Just sayin’…
You can find more details about ‘Cordially Invited’ and watch the film in this post.