With the Academy Awards approaching, that self-congratulatory season of awards to the wealthy, powerful and successful people in the entertainment industry is underway.
After the rousing speeches are uploaded to YouTube, the designer dresses get their Chinese knockoffs, and seat fillers finally get reimbursed for their job, a new outcropping of films will make their way into movie theaters (and digital on-demand services) across the globe in the hopes of pursuing an Oscar. Whatever you call it — Oscar, the Academy Award, gold naked guy with sword statue thing — it’s an achievement that says to the world that a jury of your peers likes what you do. So you may ask yourself, “How do I earn an Academy Award?” Well it’s not easy… but it’s totally easy. Let’s begin, shall we?
Rule No. 1: Pleasure Hollywood and the film industry.
Oh, this is a picture of Hollywood, Florida. My mistake.
Nothing warms the cockles of Hollywood quite like making movies about Hollywood. Yes, that 3.51 sq. mile of densely populated yet low-income subsection of Los Angeles must be celebrated at any given opportunity, for it is the beating heart and soul of entertainment. It’s as simple as making some cheap pops at Tinseltown and all the things that make it great. The aspirations that a young nobody can be a somebody, or how a somebody can be a nobody, but then be a somebody again. Only in Hollywood! Don’t forget to incorporate that beloved Hollywood sign that is in no way in Hollywood but in an outlying neighboring section to it. But with the former comes the latter, Hollywood makes movies and no one loves movies more than the people who judge movies. Try making movies about the films, really explore the deep nuances as to how the people involved with this craft are more dedicated to their craft than any scientist operating out of the CERN laboratory. If you please them, then you’re on a gravy train with biscuit wheels all the way to the red carpet!
Rule No. 2: Melancholy family dramas are Oscar bait.
This is what makes the Oscar committee salivate.
Families are like cadaver dental records, no two are ever the same. Also, just like cadaver dental records, families are often crooked and not perfect. Exploring the inner torment of the typical American family is a fantastic way of nabbing yourself an Oscar. Remember to prey on all the basics that makes a family dysfunctional, simplicity is key in this rule. An illness in the family can spark plenty of emotions that are both fluid and gripping. Try exploring a path of a sexual nature, brought on by an affair or deep rooted eroticsm that tears a rift between both partners. Money is always a great basis for drama, be it mortgages or medical bills, families can show tragic expression that piques the interest in the Academy. Before you get to work, don’t forget the kids, make them suffer by having their sadness exposed due to their parent’s terrible actions. Or better yet, a dead child can prey upon everyone’s emotions, there’s no one that isn’t sad upon discovering a dead child. Bonus points if you can base it off a true story. Speaking of which…
Rule No. 3: True stories are your meal ticket to gold.
Just as inspirational as Rocky IV.
Everyone loves a feel good story; stories about a plucky underdog succeeding in a world clearly not made for them is always a welcoming addition to the Academy Awards. Now this isn’t easy since it anyone can make a story as such, so you best be doing your research (or hit up Wikipedia) to find a story that should hit the silver screen. Try to incorporate poverty, racial intolerance or feminism as the backbone to what you are aiming to establish, really nail down the importance of these core elements and emphasize how integral it is that these events happened so that it really showcases the human element and the importance of perseverance. It shouldn’t be a challenge to find some examples, look at inventions from people with unfortunate upbringings or anyone who has ever been labeled the first of something, you could also work with people who led a revolution. Heed this lesson, and someone might just make a movie about how you went from a nobody to an Oscar winner!
Rule No. 4: War is hell (and easy to nominate).
This pose just screams, “Listen to our new R&B hit single”.
War. It brings out the worst in humanity, to see man fight with one another for resources, land, power and principle. But it’s more than just that, it’s the people who fight in these wars that are worth exploring. They have such rich and illustrious backstories that flesh them out as multidimensional figures who are doing more than just fighting for their flag and political leader. One trick is to learn about companies, platoons and squadrons that are interesting and exciting enough for the viewer to attract themselves to, complete with genuine and honest backstories. However, you have to remember that tragedy is a product of war, both on and off the battlefield. Just be real, gritty, and honest with it and your moment on the podium will be inevitable.
Rule No. 5: Keep it real. Really real.
This is why you study auto repair, so you can build rad stuff like this.
If you have any plans to go to the Oscars and nab an aisle seat so you have an easy means to get to the stage, you best not overuse CG or computer animation when making your movie. The Academy abhors the rampant nature of green screens and adding special effects in post. So you better have engineers, designers, and location scouts to assist you in making the most realistic film possible. Set pieces and true-to-life places are a refreshing sight for the Oscar jury to behold to make up for the plethora of movies where everything is as phony as thanking that one friend in your speech who you feel doesn’t even need to be thanked. Bonus points for natural lighting, poverty stricken individuals with filthy teeth, and explosions that are not just exploding gasoline canisters with fireworks for added charm.
Bonus Rule: Get Daniel Day-Lewis.
One of the last men in the world to have a non-ironic handlebar mustache.
Death. Taxes. Daniel Day-Lewis starring in an Oscar nominated movie for best picture. These are the guarantees in life. Double D dash L adds a lot to a film; his dedication to the craft is recognized over the globe, and you would be hard pressed in find a better lead. However it does come with a risky price, as King DaDa-Le only stars in movies that take place before the end of the first half of the 20th century. So if you were planning on having him star in a film based around the Reagan administration or as the inventor of Pogs, prepare to deliver an impeccable offer. Otherwise, I hope you are prepared to work with plenty of mustache wax around Daniel el Dia de los Lewis.
I hope these valuable tips and tricks give you the momentum you need to start making that film the Academy will recognize. If you do end up winning Best Picture, be sure to thank me for getting you here, try to group me in between your significant other and God. Even if you fail despite following my directions, at least you can aim for the Academy Awards in Technical Achievement. They’re like the Golden Globes of the Academy Awards, they’re not not worthless, but c’mon, who brags about winning one?
Article by contributor Aaron Chados.