How to make a living as a scriptwriter
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Jay Basu is writer of a range of feature films including Fast Girls, The Dinosour Project and Monsters: Dark Continent (sequel to Gareth Edwards’ Monsters). He recently came in to speak to Met Film School’s MA Screenwriting students. He provided us with a range of tips to help those considering making a living as a screenwriter.
- Collaboration is key. It’s easy as a scriptwriter to work in isolation developing your ideas. However, filmmaking is all about teamwork. Part of the key to success is getting out there and building connections with people who can provide you with constructive feedback. Getting input from for example, producers and directors early on will help you enhance your end work.
- Take a risk. Sometimes you need to be willing to produce work for free in the hope of getting a break. You have to be open to doing this. Often a treatment won’t be enough for you to gain attention. Jay had to do this himself to get his first break, when he gained interest in his treatment of a screenplay based on the Ted Lewis book, GBH.
- Work on your craft. Contacts can only take you so far, you’ve got to be able to write and write extremely well to make a living as a screenwriter. The only way to do this is to continually practice to improve your work. Seek out others and work on filmed projects together and build your skills.
- Forget genre, start out by writing about what you love. The key thing is you’re passionate about the story and this comes through in the script. Write something that you would be willing to go and spend £20 to see in a West End cinema. The goal is to create something that can be used as an example of your writing style in the future.
- Think beyond a feature film. Television is a real growth area currently with screenwriters gaining more influence in crafting narratives. If you would like to make a steady income as a scriptwriter, television offers a wide range of writing opportunities and the chance for you to further build your writing experience.
- Build interest before seeking an agent. Yes agents can open doors for you, but you have to get their attention. Ultimately agents are interested in making money and if you already have a few scripts in development and producer interest, they will be more interested in marketing your work.
- Don’t Give up! It takes perseverance, and a dash of talent to make it as a screenwriter. Keep connecting and collaborating with others. Places like Met Film School provide a great way for you to build up both your skills and gain future connections.
If you are interested in screenwriting request a Met Film School prospectus and learn more about our MA Screenwriting programme, a course designed to give students a comprehensive grasp of professional screenwriting practice and prepare them for the requirements of today’s competitive creative marketplace.