How to become a screenwriter

Tue 1 Dec 2020

Breaking into the entertainment business as a new writer is a daunting prospect – the path to success is filled with numerous obstacles ranging from intense competition to frequent rejection. On the plus side, we are currently in a second golden age of television and a host of new production companies (most notably Netflix and Amazon) are commissioning a flood of high-quality new drama. As video games become increasingly more sophisticated and digital media continues to develop, new opportunities for scriptwriters are opening in numerous different fields. Here’s how you can maximise your chances of becoming part of a scriptwriting team.

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Get an entry level job in the industry

Getting ahead in the entertainment business is often a case of ‘who you know, not what you know’, so getting work experience within the industry makes a lot of sense. A position as a researcher, media assistant, or member of a production crew can help develop invaluable connections that more than make up for the low pay and anti-social work hours in the long run. Many successful screenwriters began their careers as script readers, reading and vetting unsolicited scripts for TV production companies. Script reader jobs often go unadvertised but sending query letters and emails to the appropriate production departments may help you get a foot in the door.

Enter scriptwriting competitions

Winning a good script competition can give your career a huge boost – competitions are usually judged by senior industry professionals who are on the lookout for promising new talent. Some notable UK screenwriting contests include BAFTA Rocliffe, the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest, and the London Independent Film Festival.

Ready to take the next step in your screenwriting career? Take a look at Falmouth Flexible's part-time, 100% online course:

Writing for Script & Screen course details

Network at screenwriting events

Once you have a portfolio of work to pitch, attending industry events (such as film screenings, script readings, and writing festivals) can play an important role in building connections with people who might be able to help establish your screenwriting career. Exchange business cards with people you meet and follow up with casual ‘nice to meet you’ emails. Meeting fellow writers may be helpful if you need a network of readers to critique your work, and you may get lucky and run into a producer or script editor. Use your contacts wisely – don’t bombard them with constant requests or demands on their time and only get in touch following your initial correspondence if you have something new that may be of interest to them. Here is a compilation of some of the major screenwriting events throughout 2018.

Get a scriptwriting qualification

Earning a professional qualification from a respected institution not only indicates to agents or producers that your submission is worth considering, it also provides valuable connections and industry knowhow. Guest lecturers at Falmouth University’s MA Writing for Script & Screen course include David Hayter, who wrote the screenplays for X-Men (2000), X-Men 2 (2003), and Watchmen (2009) and Brandon Boyce, whose writing includes Apt Pupil (1998) and Bad Samaritan (2018). Throughout the duration of your studies you will also receive valuable feedback about your writing from peers and tutors, helping you develop a solid portfolio.

Find out how Falmouth Flexible's MA Writing for Script & Screen will equip you with the writing skills and industry knowhow that the ever-changing industry demands:  

Writing for Script & Screen course details

Writing for Script & Screen, Blog

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