Being a working screenwriter in Hollywood is a career to which many screenwriting hopefuls aspire. Suppose this is a dream that you can relate to. In that case, you likely have the following – an indelible passion for film or television, various completed scripts that you're dying to get out into the world, and career goals in mind for what you're interested in accomplishing with your writing. You feel like you're well on your way! But the recipe for success includes that intangible step: breaking in! How the heck do I break into this industry? Keep reading for tips on how to get discovered as a screenwriter.
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Look For a Manager
Writers are often in too big of a rush to find representation. It would help if you directed your energy towards strengthening your craft, not finding a manager or agent when you're starting. While I caution against feeling like you need to find representation right away, finding a manager can be an important step in your career when you have a few scripts under your belt. Managers are more likely to work with a newer writer and take a hands-on approach to the relationship. They'll read your drafts and help develop your scripts, and then they'll take it and shop it around to see if the script generates any interest. (Agents can do this as well, but they're more about selling scripts and tend to work with more established writers.) Managers can be integral in helping you figure out and shape who you are as a writer. Having the guidance and support of a manager can get your career moving in a positive direction.
Get a Mentor
Forming a mentor-mentee relationship with someone in the industry can be a great way to get started in the business. Someone who can give advice and suggestions about career moves can be invaluable to have in your corner. There are even mentorship programs hosted by organizations like Sundance or networks like CBS that aim to provide aspiring writers with opportunities for career guidance. Read up on how writers like Jonathan Maberry landed mentors among the likes of Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson and how you can, too.
It's Who You Know
You probably hear it all the time; this industry is all about who you know. Well, you hear it a lot because it's true. Networking is crucial to breaking into the industry and being discovered. You never know what connection, what relationship, what meeting will be the one that carves a path of opportunity for your career. So, get out there! Attend writer's meetups, go to film festivals, and reach out and talk to people on social media! Network, network, network! Be sure to be engaged, kind, and receptive as you meet various industry professionals; always strive to leave them with a good and memorable impression of you.
Get Your Scripts Out There
Do you have a script that you've done numerous edits to and feel like it's ready to be seen by the world? One option is to start submitting to screenwriting competitions. Many acclaimed competitions can help aspiring screenwriters get discovered and launch their careers. These competitions also incorporate some of my previous tips, providing mentorship, introducing writers to managers and agents, and allowing for networking opportunities.
No matter where you are in your career, you should never stop writing! If your aim is for screenwriting to be your career, you must work to hone your craft. You can only become a better writer by writing! Get in the habit of writing all the time. Try always to have a new script that you're working on. You can't sell a script that doesn't exist yet, so put fingers to the keyboard and get it written down!
Being discovered as a screenwriter in this industry can be challenging; it's not something that happens overnight. If you want your dream to come true, you're going to need to hang in there and be persistent. There are many paths to launching a screenwriting career, and each working writer's journey is unique to them. So, hang in there and keep an eye out for opportunities that can set you on the path to being discovered! Good luck and happy writing!