The scriptwriting world is a both difficult to break into for screenwriters and even more difficult to stay there. There is no single path to screenwriting success. You can find out how working screenwriters broke in and see if any of their journey applies to you.
You will try a multi-pronged approach and constantly shift gears on how you touch base with the film industry. Whether it be a congratulatory email, attending a screenwriting conference or film festival, mixers or writing contests. You never know when or where success will strike. Never think that any of these avenues are a waste of time, even if your film script doesn’t immediately generate interest.
What I will say is that zero action will yield zero results.
Be present. Be consistent. Be writing. Be improving.
Writing non-derivative, personal and heart-felt material will get you noticed as an aspiring screenwriter.
What events have made a lasting impression on your life? What has brought you the most happiness or sadness? There are good starting points for your screenwriting.
If you keep a diary, crack it open and share it with the world. Those feelings you always thought you shouldn’t share with the world should become the basis for your next screenplay.
Hustling aside, every screenwriter needs to constantly be writing. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised. Talking about screenwriting isn’t actual writing. It’s almost impossible to sell a movie concept as a newbie.
Breaking in to screenwriting
The first step getting noticed as an emerging screenwriter is a good story concept that means something to you and will ultimately hook the reader. The second is to get your screenplay read and the third to get a meeting with either an agent, manager or producer. Most companies are looking for new quality material to develop. Even the ones that state “no unsolicited submissions” will often read query letters from newer writers.
I’ve discussed the anatomy of query letters in previous posts. Do your research on imdb, and elsewhere. Match your queries to an appropriate production company. Don’t send your torture porn script to a Nickelodeon executive. It is disrespectful to both you and them and a waste of everyone’s time.
That said, find out exactly what type of material the industry is currently seeking. Their track record may not always reflect what they want to produce next. They may be looking for female driven films, scripts that can be produced within a certain budget range or targeted towards a particular actor or director. They may have a deal with a distributor, exhibitor or TV network. That is why you should read the trades.
Initially target your query letters to managers and production companies. You are likely to get a better response than with agents. It’s not that agents are mean spirited, they have mountains of unread scripts from their existing clients.
The most effective way to generate interest in your screenwriting is via industry referral. If you live in L.A attend as many networking events as possible and contact everyone you know in the industry. If you don’t live in tinsel town, attend guest seminars, film festivals, writers groups and any event that comes to town. The miracle of the internet has made the tyranny of distance less of a problem. There are countless ways to network.
Enter prestigious screenwriting contests, particularly the ones offering feedback. Volunteer to be a reader for contests. Since most use electronic means to judge scripts, you can live anywhere and it will be a worthwhile learning experience.
Write a screenwriting blog. Subscribe to as many blogs and facebook groups as possible. Become part of the screenwriting community no matter where you live because the geographical barriers are becoming less of issue.
Never forget why you chose to become a screenwriter. It’s to touch the world with your stories.
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