The slogan for this year's Dances With Films Festival is "Luck Is For Sissies."
I would have suggested "Luck is for Suckers," myself, since we do screen in West Hollywood and don't want to hear from the Sissy Anti-Defamation League. I bare witness that the festival has never discriminated against, nor passed judgment on, any individual, group, film, or submission based on how an individual and/or member of that group throws a baseball, catches any ball for sports, punches, dresses, argues, dances, or in anyway interacts with the outside world in a manner that might be construed as "Sissy," "Sissified," "Wussie," or in the case of male individuals and/or members of said groups, "like a girl" – which is especially not the case, since young women have proven themselves quite capable of accomplishing traditionally labeled "masculine tasks" with as much skill and grace as any of their male counterparts.
Whereas, "Luck is for Suckers" is perfectly acceptable since suckers have never bothered to organize a lobbying group for themselves – though several of them have paid dues for false organizations via Nigerian internet con artists.
So, forget all of that. Let's talk about luck.
Some people think that luck is something that comes to the lucky. They wait for luck to come to them. Other's claim that you can make your own luck.
The military says that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. This seems to be a perfectly legitimate equation for defining luck. If an opportunity comes a long that you're not prepared for, you can't take advantage of it. You might say that you weren't lucky, but in fact, you weren't prepared.
By the same token, if you are prepared, but you sit on your couch watching the Academy Awards, or reading the latest new hot author, and grumble that "those people just got lucky," then you have not been working to create opportunities for yourself.
For those of you who remember your grade school algebra, by the Transitive Property of Equality:
If Luck = Preparation + Opportunity, and both Preparation and Opportunity can be made possible, then by a = b and b = c then a = c, Luck can be made.
That is not to say that if you prepare yourself with the skills of your chosen art form, and if you get out there to make all the opportunities that you can, that everything else will be easy. The thing about working in a glamorous, fun, high profile profession is that everyone wants to do it – or at least it seems like everyone. There is a mob of people out there who are just as prepared as you are, and working just as hard to make their own opportunities. And for every one thousand of them, there are only a few opportunities available.
I think of it sometimes like getting a rebound in the NBA. Everyone there has skills. Everyone is blocking out, positioning themselves for the best chance of getting the ball after a missed shot, but if the ball doesn't bounce their way, they don't get it.
Still, two kinds of people get more rebounds than the rest. Some have a team concept. Four guys making sure the other team can't get the ball, while one on ours does. Others have that uncanny skill, that's close to magic. They seem to know where the ball is going to go, and they get themselves there no matter what. To their equation for luck, you can add Insane Talent.
Your job is to figure out for yourself how you can best create your own opportunity. How you can follow the ball, to put yourself not where it is now, but where it's going to be when you get there.
Work on your skills. Make your opportunities. Then count on your talent.
Thanks for reading.