How to get a Screenwriting Career

How do I get a Screenwriting Career

The one thing that has made it easier and at the same time more difficult to establish a screenwriting career is the internet.

A Screenwriting career – not really.

The internet and screenwriting software has lowered the barrier to entry. People are more likely to give something “a try” if there is low or no risk (a low barrier to entry).  This has meant that tens of thousands of people are now calling themselves screenwriters.  This has had number of significant impacts, firstly standing out from the crowd (more on this later).

People willing to feed on your Screenwriting Career.

Let’s use a nature metaphor for a moment. Think of this huge growth in the number of screenwriters as a herd. When a huge herd forms it attract a large number of predators. So who are the predators feasting on screenwriters? Script consultants, gurus and writing competitions. They may serve a purpose in some situations (but not really). When you are first starting out you may find it hard to get feedback. Paying these con artists is a way of getting some feedback. It is like paying someone to be your friend. As soon as the fund stop so does the friendship.

These people are not industry professionals, unless the industry is preying on screenwriters.

Spend money with these people if you like, but realise it is not progressing your career. You are purchasing their opinion, which is probably crap.  It will be based on some theory and books they have read.  Don’t get me started on rules and how dumb they are...

Am I a hypercrit since I have written books on screenwriting and sell them?  That is up to you. My books cost a few dollars are have tools in them.  Tools that I have used as an intelligence analyst (when I was an analyst) to assess behaviour.  I now use those same techniques in writing.  That’s my books at a grand price of $4, not a $300 written assessment.

Contests

Go the website for any contest and you will see you need an account at some registration service. Go to that service and look at how many competitions there are.  So if every second suburb has a competition win one becomes useless.  They are meaning less.

So what can you do for a screenwriting career?

Firstly concentrate on becoming good.  That is the only thing that will get you a writing career.  I am fatigued by the number of people saying “How do I get an agent, I need someone to help me build by career”.  Being good is the first, second and third thing needed.  You cannot have a career without being good.  No matter what rules you follow or consultant you employ.

How do I get good enough to have a screenwriting career?

Write a lot of things. Read even more. Watch TV and Movies from a forsenic point of view. Learn the craft. This is not a formula, or framework or rules. It is the ability to structure a sentence. The ability to tell a good story. The ability to create characters that are believable and feel real. There are a million things that make you a great writer and writing is the only way to learn them.  

The benefit of being a great writer is when you get glimpsed through the crowd by someone that is a real person, you will stand out like a whale in the desert. Talent can be seen from the space station, you just have to be ready for when people are looking in your direction.

So how will you be seen.

You have to make yourself visible.  That does not mean paying consultants or entering useless competitions.  That means writing for things.  Go to your amateur theatre group, see if they need a play or something rewritten.  Find actors that may be willing to work with you. They can help you build your writing muscles and you can supply them with audition pieces.

I personally blog. A blog will stay up on the internet forever (as Long as I maintain my site).  Google indexes it, so if people search for me, they’ll find lots of my writing.  I find social media is a stream. It flows through history.  I am not interested in maintaining a stream.

Podcast or YouTube. I personally prefer podcasting, but a YouTube channel discussing writing would be a great way of getting people to know who you. Perhaps a series on YouTube. Develop and audience.  

The best of all things to learn and be visible is make a short film. You will learn so much about writing it will astound you. Plus it is hard.  That is why the rest of the herd are not doing them.  They are tweeting or instagramming.  You want to stand out, do the hard things.

Lastly, you have to be willing to keep working for as long as it takes to build a library of work which will be the basis of your career.  The herd will come and go.  But if you have staying power you will eventually break from the herd.  Then you will be seen as an individual creature not just the same as everyone else.

Craig Griffiths

Craig Griffiths is a screenplay writer and best selling author. His books on screenwriting are available via the Books page on the website. He has written and produced several short films with his feature scripts in production. Craig has been involved in numerous podcast including Canada’s “The Bunker Project” and was the host of “Making Business and Sales Work” a top ranked podcast on iTunes for many years.

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