Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

How to Get Your First Job as a Script Coordinator

So as not to bury the lede, I’ll say this: If you’re looking for a job as a script coordinator or any job on a television show set or movie production, the prerequisite is tenacity. You can land a job in one of the many roles that can lead to a writing position as long as you’re ready to put in the work.

With that said, it’s unlikely you’ll find these job listings on any job posting website, so you also need to make some connections. You may try one of several other jobs in the entertainment industry first and climb from there.

That’s how script coordinator Marc Gaffen did it, but of course, it’s not the only way.

Hold Your Place in Line!

Get early access to SoCreate Screenwriting Software. It’s FREE to sign up!

“There is no one way to break into the business, and there’s no one way to become a script coordinator or a writer’s assistant or a writer,” he told me. “Everyone has their own story.”

Gaffen most recently worked as a script coordinator on the hit HBO show “Mare of Easttown,” created by Brad Ingelsby, and “New Amsterdam” on NBC, created by David Schulner. He ultimately wants to write, and he’s had that chance a couple of times now for showrunners who were willing to give him a shot. He also wrote and published his own graphic novel, named “Tuskers.” He described his story up until this point as one of grit, relationships, and a little luck.

“I came to L.A. my last semester in college. I sent out a hundred-plus faxes of my resume,” he said.

He added that he only received one response. But it only takes one response! It was from “The Bernie Mac Show,” and they needed a camera assistant. He jumped at the chance, even though no writing was involved. 

“From there, I was able to move on to become an assistant to a line producer. And they’re the ones who also hire everyone on the crew. So, if you get in with the right line producer, it helps because they can hire you for whatever you want,” he explained.

Gaffen let the line producer know that he wanted to get into the writing side of the business, and the line producer explained that the next job jump he should take is as a script coordinator.

A script coordinator is responsible for editing the script so that it’s formatted to the showrunner’s liking, makes sense, tracks against other episodes, and tells a solid story. There’s a lot more to the job, which I describe in detail in my blog, What Does a Script Coordinator Do. You’ll need to be highly organized, efficient, and easy to work with, and possess strong writing skills, for starters. Though he wouldn’t be putting pen to paper (or fingers to laptop) himself, the role would give Gaffen access to the writers’ room, where he’d get a better understanding of why certain story decisions were made and prove his prowess as a story, grammar, and writing expert.

Two pilots were coming up – “Lost and Found” and “To Protect and Serve” both needed script coordinators – and the line producer gave Gaffen a shot at both gigs.

The only problem? Gaffen had no idea how to succeed at the role of a script coordinator.

“And so I asked the current script coordinator on the shows I was on, like “Las Vegas” and “The Starter Wife,” to teach me the basics of it,” he said. But, it wasn’t an easy road. “It’s a job you can’t really learn unless you’re doing it on the job because you’re going to make so many mistakes. You’re going to see so many problems coming up.”

Gaffen had tenacity, however. Despite any mistakes he was making, he kept working hard at the position to be the most successful he could be in the role.

“And the key to success in the business total, be it writing, production, or post-production, is anticipation. And if you’re able to anticipate problems that are coming up or see problems that are coming up, you will succeed.

On a third pilot script coordinator project, the television show got picked up to series, and the rest is history.

“From that show, I continued being a script coordinator on other shows like “Grimm,” and that’s how I got going on the process of being on the writing side of everything.”

To recap, Gaffen went from college student to camera assistant, to line producer’s assistant, to pilot script coordinator, to full-time script coordinator. He met tons of people who helped him along the way, and he made plenty of mistakes. But in the process, he learned what it takes to make it in entertainment.

“And the only way to do that is to do the job,” he concluded.

Start climbing that ladder,

You may also be interested in...

All the Jobs in a Writers' Room

All the Jobs in a Writers' Room

If you're an aspiring television writer, then you probably dream of the day that you'll finally score a job granting you access to the room where it happens, the writers' room! But how much do you know about writers' rooms? For instance, all the writers on a television show are, well, writers, but their jobs can be broken down more specifically than that, and there's an actual hierarchy to the various positions. Keep reading to learn about all the jobs in a writers' room and where you might fit in one day!...
Internship Opportunities
For Screenwriters

Screenwriting Internships

Internship Alert! There are SO many more remote opportunities for film industry internships than ever before. Are you looking for internships this fall? If you can earn college credit, there may be an opportunity here for you. SoCreate is not affiliated with the following internship opportunities. Please direct all questions to the email address provided for each internship listing. Do you want to list an internship opportunity? Comment below with your listing and we'll add it to our page with the next update!
‘Stranger Things’ Showrunner's Assistant Explains Other Jobs for Aspiring Screenwriters

‘Stranger Things’ SA Explains Alternative Jobs for Aspiring Screenwriters

If your screenwriting career hasn’t taken off just yet, and you still need to keep your day job, it’d be nice if you could work in a relevant field or related screenwriting job. It keeps your mind in the game, allows you to build connections with like-minded people, and learn more about the movie and television business. Take Caitlin Schneiderhan, for example. She’s a screenwriter with many accolades to her name, including being named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her scripts have placed in the Austin Film Festival’s AMC One Hour Pilot Competition, Screencraft Pilot Competition...