It’s The Middle Ages. You’re ambitious. You’re not content to be a vassal or farmer or blacksmith or whatever your father and grandfather before you did for a living.
You want to be a knight. Knights were the rock stars of the time. They had the cool uniforms, the best horses and probably got the hottest chicks.
Generally there were two ways that a boy could become a knight. The first was to be born into it. If a boy was the son of a knight or royalty he could be assured the opportunity of becoming a knight. At the age of 8 he would work for another knight as a page and have to learn all sorts of skills, then if he were any good in a few years he would become a squire. Then after more training and learning and grunt work at the age of 20 he would become a knight.
That was the easy way.
For the guy without family connections it was tougher. He had to prove himself through bravery and prowess on the battlefield.
In order for me to make the point of this post work, let’s say that the fastest track to knighthood was by slaying a dragon. If you did that, you could eliminate all the years of training and lots of battles.
Kings and queens loved knights who killed dragons. (I don’t know that for sure, but if I was a king in Sixteenth century France I would want a guy who killed a dragon to be on my payroll).
OK. Here’s the shot: in today’s competitive market if you want to sell a screenplay you’ll have a better shot if your script is highly commercial. Doesn’t matter what the genre is, but if your Logline rocks and your Synopsis makes an agent, manger or producer drool because it's so cool and if your screenplay lives up to their expectations and they see it as a star driven vehicle (especially for a star they have access to) and if the script reads like a dream and if it has franchise potential and if they happen to know that a hotshot director is looking for something like what you wrote, well…you have slain the dragon.
If you’re the kind of screenwriter who writes non-commercial, thoughtful, “small” stories about real people in difficult situations and if you don’t think about making the big score don’t panic. It means you didn’t want to be a knight anyway.
But if you’re like that Sixteenth century guy without connections who wants to be a knight, then you have to slay a dragon by writing a killer script.
Note: This post was inspired by a conversation with filmmaker Bill Kalmenson (buffalojumpproductions.com)