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How Do I Become a Screenwriter?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Choosing to become a screenwriter is a bold career move that may entail years of training and a reliance on luck as well as skill. Nevertheless, screenwriting is an exciting profession that can lead to a crucial and deeply creative role in the film industry. While anyone with a computer or notebook can write a script, in order to become a screenwriter, it is important to get an education, read and write scripts, and develop a network in the film industry.

While some attend film school and obtain a bachelor's or master's degree, formal education is not the only path into film. Some screenwriters prefer to educate themselves by reading how-to books, attending casual classes or screenwriting seminars, and simply writing endlessly. One benefit formal education can offer is the opportunity to meet other young filmmakers and industry professionals, an experience that can be worth its weight in gold when trying to make a film or sell a script. On the other hand, film school can be extremely expensive, and leave a screenwriter with a large loan debt which can hinder progress professionally. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of film school versus self-education carefully, as it can greatly influence later steps on the road to become a screenwriter.

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Though it may go without saying, a screenwriter needs to both read scripts and write them. Reading scripts will give an aspiring writer a keen eye for analysis, which will be helpful when re-writing personal work. Additionally, reading scripts helps ingrain the principles of screenplay formatting, which is essential to writing a professional script. Writing scripts, is, of course, the bread and butter of a screenwriter's job; most professional writers have at least one script in the pipeline at all times, but many will simultaneously juggle two or three projects in various stages of development in order to keep their writing schedule consistent.

The film industry is, at heart, a collaborative business, and a movie cannot be made by one aspiring screenwriter alone. Forging contacts throughout the film industry is crucial to career success, and can involve a lot of work on a screenwriter's part. Living in a film-production town, such as Los Angeles or New York, is often essential for meeting agents, managers, producers, and other film professionals who can help a screenwriter forge a career. To create a strong network of contacts, consider volunteering to work on student productions or independent films, attending screenwriting seminars, and spending time at film festivals.

While none of these steps can guarantee a successful career as a screenwriter, they can help a talented writer improve his or her chances to find work. A large part of the path to become a screenwriter includes a large dollop of luck, such as meeting the right person searching for the right script at the right time. Though choosing to become a screenwriter can require years of dedication and perseverance, seeing “written by” on the silver screen for the first time can make it all worth the effort.

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anon327870
Post 1

I'm 14 years old and I've been interested in film since I can remember. I've always wanted to hone my skills on something I'm passionate about and I realized that I wanted to tell my stories on the big screen so people can witness what wonderful imagination I have encased in my creative brain.

I love films and watching how they start all the way until they end. This website has helped me a lot and has made me even more determined to become a successful screenwriter and director. Thank you so much!

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