The Screenwriter’s “Champion”

Main Piece:

“The only like, real, like screenwriting folklore I know is like the championing method which I don’t think— the more I think about it, the more I think this is fake, but freshman me believed it so hard. It was like— to explain for the folklore archive— it was like the way people get into screenwriting. Every screenwriting professor picks one application and has to fight for it. And so every student has their “champion” who is the one who fought for them to get into this program. And then before you graduate they have to tell you who they are.”


My informant is one of my friends, a sophomore in the screenwriting major at USC. During her time at this school, she learned about the folk legend through our upperclassman in freshman year, who are also screenwriting majors. As stated in the performance, she seemed to believe it more in the past than she does now, but still spreads the story like the rest of our peer group does.


This piece was brought up in conversation when my informant, another participant, and I were talking about our classes. This then led into a tangent about the kinds of screenwriting stories we’ve heard in the department, and how many different versions there are of the “champion legend” that supposedly led to students being selected for the program. 

My thoughts: 

I heard a similar version of this story when I was visiting USC as a high school senior, and heard it from upperclassmen that have since graduated. Since that was a few years ago, I think it’s fair to say that there has to be some credibility in the legend considering how many times it’s been passed down the cohorts in the screenwriting major. I would consider this story to be a legend because it plays a role in the real world in the sense that the faculty do have to determine which applicants to accept into the school, but it’s uncertain if they actually “champion” a particular application or not. This could furthermore be considered a local legend, at least in the School of Cinematic Arts, and by learning it, new screenwriters are initiated into the peer group. That being said, the story could be also interpreted as a myth, because like a sacred creation story, this piece explains the origins of the USC screenwriting student and how they came to be. Overall what I like about this piece is the various retellings there are from the upperclassman. because them passing down the screenwriting lore to us is like being initiated into the group.