The Seven Golden Rules Of Cutting Your Screenwriting Teeth


Another inspiring article from Marvin Acuna of BOSI.

1) NEVER GIVE UP

People come and go in this business. They have their own reasons; it’s not a judgment. But, if you stay you’ll discover that the opportunity you have been working towards will present itself. The KEY is you must be ready. You must continue to prepare yourself: a) always hone your craft; b) continue to immerse yourself in the business; and c) absolutely nurture and add value to ALL your relationships.

2) BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

I think this quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums it up:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

3) KNOW YOURSELF

Have a deep understanding of your strengths AND weakness. By doing so you’re able to better communicate who you are and what value you can contribute to other people.

Listen — we all have weaknesses. Recognizing your weakness affords you the opportunity for it to serve you versus hurt you.

A simple example:

You have the ability to craft great characters and dialogue, but struggle with developing original commercial ideas. In this instance it serves you to seek out source material such as books, articles, or to partner/collaborate with someone that is a great idea person, but struggles with really flushing out characters.

4) PERSONALITY IS YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

There’s a massive opportunity in putting yourself out there immediately. Your personality is what makes you STAND OUT. It cannot be copied. Don’t wait until you become comfortable to show people your true colors.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of screenwriters vying for their shot. And you now know from being a member of the BOSI community that writing talent is necessary, but not enough. It just isn’t. There are many talented screenwriters that will go unrecognized because they simply blend into the herd like sheep.

If for some reason you are unclear as to what makes you unique, ask your trusted friends and family. Because in this business you are not solely selling screenplays, you are selling yourself too.

5) BE CONSISTENT

Think about how to make all you do more consistent so people say “Oh that’s something ____ does.” The more people can identify you and associate you with something, the more your name will get out there through word-of-mouth.

This is essential. It’s important and financially beneficial that you become the go-to person for something. What can people expect from you on consistent basis? Do you make something that is familiarly different? Does your unique view of the world offer a fresh perspective to an old idea/theme?

In essence, what is your brand? In simple terms, are you Doritos or simply like everyone else… generic run-of-the-mill potato chips?

6) PASSION, EXPERTISE AND SUPPORT ARE MUSTS

They are essential ingredients to your success. A) passion fuels you when times get rough…and I promise you they will. This is a marathon business, not a sprint. Everyone and I do mean everyone has challenges in this business; B) you must become an expert in your business. Becoming an expert separates you from the pack. You may even become a pack leader; and C) you need an individual or a group of people who you can trust to serve as a support system, to lend a shoulder or an ear. But, to be clear, this does not mean they serve as your venting and whining group. It’s a group of people or individuals who simply remind you of your successes and the bigger picture, or may point you in a new direction. Remember, it takes a village to build a career.

7) DO MORE THAN THE MINIMUM

Doing the bare minimum creates minimum results. This business requires tenacity, perseverance, sacrifice, and simply put — hard work. I promise you will get what you put into it.

I understand that you may find yourself exhausted after a long day of work, but if you neglect the short term responsibilities (ie. creating fresh inventory, mining market intelligence, and networking) of your screenwriting business you simply won’t generate the long term results you desire.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Carla Smith says:

    It is interesting to listen to people who are being honored for acts of courage or bravery. One consistent statement from them is, “I wasn’t brave. I was merely doing what had to be done.” Bravery, courage, and daring it seems, are labels attached by observation. In the moment, for the doer, one is only doing what must be done. And proceeding in the face of doubt, skepticism and moments of great lack of faith. Proceeding anyway. And it is only called bravery with the benefit of hindsight and success. It is also called lunacy when failure is the endgame; and ridicule can be the response. Proceeding anyway. It is necessary to care not the opinion of man, either before or after the act. It is the integrity of the act itself that moves one forward along the journey. I hope.

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