Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Don’t Ask This One Question When Networking, Screenwriter

Oh, the urge to ask this question is real! In fact, I bet you have already made this major networking mistake, screenwriter. But, what do we writers do? Try, try, try again. And, after reading this, you can’t say you didn’t know.

We asked Disney screenwriter Ricky Roxburgh what he thinks is the biggest networking mistake that screenwriters make, and he was eager to answer because he says he’s seen the same goofs repeatedly.

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“This might be the best [question],” he said. “People misunderstand how to network with other writers.”

He broke it down for us by describing a good networking meeting and a bad one.

What does good screenwriter networking look like?

“The best meetings are the ones where I sit down, and they just want to talk, they just want to know what the process is, they want to know how I got where I got,” he told us.

People misunderstand how to network with other writers. The best meetings are the ones where I sit down, and they just want to talk, they just want to know what the process is, they want to know how I got where I got.
Ricky Roxburgh

Networking Dos:

  • Think of networking as friend making, rather than thinking about what’s in it for you. What’s in it for them? I’d hope they’d at least get some pleasant conversation out of the meeting or learn something from you.

  • One of the best ways to break the ice when networking is to ask the person about themselves. What do you genuinely want to know about this person and their experience? What can you learn from them? The conversation should flow from there.

  • Keep some talking points in your back pocket in case the conversation gets awkwardly quiet. Some examples include, “So, what are you working on these days?” “Do you have any hobbies outside of screenwriting?” “What’s your favorite movie/script/TV show you’ve seen recently?”

What does bad screenwriter networking look like?

“The worst ones are, “Here’s my script.” That’s the wrong thing to do,” he said. “I think they should be asking to read my script because my script has been through the wringer, produced by Disney. How can you learn and grow from them? And in doing that, you will gain a contact.”

Networking Don’ts:

  • Don’t make the conversation about yourself. Try to put the person you’re meeting at the center of the interaction. Make it about them, get them talking about their experience, and they’ll naturally be curious about yours.

  • After the meeting, don’t lose touch, or what would it all have been for? Follow up on your conversation, that person’s recent projects (not your own), and anything else they shared with you about their lives. Don’t just rack up contacts – stay in touch with your network and consider it more of a community of people on a similar journey to your own.

  • Don’t ask them to read your script. Don’t ask them for a job. Don’t ask them for a connection. In that case, don’t ask! You’re here to build and learn from your network, not to ask for favors. If anything, do something for them. How can you help, and who can you introduce them to? It doesn’t have to be industry-related. Hey, it could be your plumber!

“Odds are that writer isn’t in a position to like, hire you. It’s better to gain their confidence and look at them as more of a possible mentor,” Ricky said. “Whereas, if you sit down with somebody and go, “Hey, can you read my script?” in the first meeting, I’m immediately looking at you going, “Oh god, I’ve got to read your script.”

So, can I read your script?

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