Saturday, April 4, 2020

Now Is The Time To Launch A Hollywood Career

Last November, 400,000 writers from around the world agreed to spend a month with their friends writing novels. They met in libraries and caf├ęs, cheered on by 1,000 volunteers. One writer, a 20-year-old college student, recently signed a two-book publishing deal. Previous novelists have had their books turned into Hollywood movies. And it wasn’t just adults communing; one in four writers was 18 or younger.

Creativity has long been a path to personal expression. But in today’s culture it is also an avenue for self-empowerment. To be human is to be creative. Everyone has a story to tell.

In Hollywood creative communities are as vibrant as they’ve ever been. The 2019 Sundance Film Festival received more than 14,200 submissions, one of its best years ever. Visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Tyler Perry have built artistic havens of like-minded peers. And there are any number of books out now that extol the virtue of creative connection, including “Face to Face,” written by the Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer.

It’s no surprise that creative communities are thriving given the fractured state of political and social discourse. We are more interconnected and more disconnected than we’ve ever been. But storytellers can imagine the future they want to live in.

Communities reflect the values of the people who create them. At this month’s IFP Gotham Awards, Vera Farmiga gave a speech about working with the filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The actor said of the cast and crew: “It’s the only time, in my 25-year career, my workplace looked like the real world.”

Last month, Sundance officially launched Sundance Collab, a global digital platform for storytellers who want to learn to write and direct, get feedback and connect with others. Some videos and webinars are free, with study groups and live events available with a paid membership. Already 20,000 people have signed up. You don’t have to consider yourself a screenwriter or an artist to participate.

In that way, it sounds a lot like National Novel Writing Month. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. As Faulkner liked to say, “People are empowered when they believe in themselves.”

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