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