Sometimes significant accomplishments happen early in life for people, and we should celebrate that. It’s why we see articles listing the achievements of the youngest folks in a myriad of fields; athletes, authors, directors, and inventors. So why haven’t I seen such a list for screenwriters? I’ve written this blog to be just that, a list of the youngest screenwriters to achieve success! Just remember, success happens at every age.
- Youngest Credited Screenwriter
The youngest credited writer is Aaron Seltzer, who co-wrote “Spy Hard” at 22 in 1996.
It should be noted, though, that Robert Rodriguez’s son, Racer Max Rodriguez, at the age of 8, shared a writing credit on “The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D.”
- Youngest Winner of the Best Original Screenplay Oscar
Ben Affleck is the youngest person to win The Academy Award’s Best Original Screenplay at age 25. He won in 1997 alongside Matt Damon (who was 27 at the time) for “Goodwill Hunting.”
The next youngest recipient of the award was Orson Welles at age 26. He won for “Citizen Kane” in 1941.
- Youngest Television Show Creator
Josh Schwartz was 26 when he created “The O.C.” in 2003, becoming one of the youngest people in network television to be the creator and showrunner of a television show.
Lena Dunham was also 26 when she created the HBO show “Girls” in 2011.
- Other Notable Screenwriters Who Found Success Young
- Quentin Tarantino was 29 when he wrote “Reservoir Dogs.”
- Diablo Cody was 27 when she wrote “Juno,” winning her first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at 29.
- Damien Chazelle was 30 when he received his first Oscar nomination for writing 2014’s “Whiplash.”
While it’s great to celebrate people who achieve success at a young age, it’s important to note that less than six percent of writers of the highest-grossing films are under the age of 30. Over 40 percent of working writers are between 35 and 45 years old. The writer of “The King’s Speech,” David Seidler, won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at 73!
Through my research, I’ve come to realize just how varied in terms of age writers find success in screenwriting. It can happen for writers at any phase of life. Some writers have had other fruitful careers before making the transition to screenwriting and finding success. When it comes to writing, age doesn’t matter a whole lot, what matters will always be what’s on the pages of your script.
While it’s interesting and fun to acknowledge the ages at which people achieve their accomplishments, no one should compare or hold themselves to the speed at which others succeed at things. This is especially true when it comes to writing; scripts can only be written at certain times in your life. You wouldn’t be able to write the same script at age 18 that you’d write at age 38.
The best advice I can give is to not overly stress about when success happens. Success happens when it happens, and thankfully writing is not like playing a professional sport; you’ll never get too old to do it!