Screenwriting Jobs: 5 Tips On How to Find Them
Have you been scouring the internet in search of screenwriting jobs? don’t worry!
Back in the glory days of the Hollywood Studio system, an aspiring screenwriter could find a job on the lot and work their way into the writers room.
In contrast, the modern screenwriting landscape would be unrecognisable to studio legends like Preston Sturges, Herman Mankiewicz, and Billy Wilder.
Because breaking into screenwriting can seem like a gigantic mystery from the outside, this article will focus on where and how to find screenwriting jobs.
Fire Up the Google Machine
While you might not be able to walk right through the door at Paramount or Universal, you certainly have Google.
Firstly, the good news. There are more screenwriting jobs available than ever before! The downside? You’ll have to do some targeted searches to find the right opportunity.
So, here’s a quick list of websites where you can search for screenwriting jobs:
The ISA offers a deep well of resources for finding screenwriting jobs. ISA features frequently updated script needs from production companies and industry professionals, writer’s resources, and services like log line reviews.
If you’re looking to land an indie rewrite or pen a short film for cash, check out ISA.
The Screenwriter’s Market is the simplified version of ISA. Post log lines, pitch your screenplays, and submit unsolicited scripts to producers. They offer a job board loaded with script needs, ranging from features and TV to shorts and digital projects.
Similarly to ISA, Production Hub offers listings from independent production companies and professionals. However, Production Hub caters towards all elements of filmmaking as well. Put up a profile and hustle some writing gigs with working pros!
Shooting People offers a diverse network of independent filmmakers a place to interact and crew up for projects. The job board includes screenwriting gigs as well as an option to pitch your scripts!
Oh, and one more teensy, tiny thing…
Because of its near universal name recognition, lots of people will try to find screenwriting jobs on Craigslist.
Almost 100% of these jobs will not be worth your time.
Because Craigslist is so easy to access, most of the screenwriting jobs are scams, unprofessional, or clueless.
While it’s true that we all have to start somewhere, keep the law of attraction in mind.
Due to the freelance nature of writing, it’s important to think of yourself as a business. Research has shown that 60% of all jobs are found through networking!
Almost all of your screenwriting jobs will come from opportunities you create for yourself.
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” While film festivals have screenwriter networking events, many year-round opportunities don’t require travel to London, LA, or NYC.
Here’s a quick rundown of ways you can network.
Do you live in or near the following cities?
- Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, DC, New Orleans, LA, NYC, Austin, Portland, Raleigh, Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Miami.
Go have a cocktail and talk to local screenwriters and filmmakers!
The Black List has launched countless careers (including your’s truly). They deeply care about the art and craft of screenwriting and provide a nurturing environment for success!
Maybe you can’t make it out to a physical event but still want to connect with the writing community.
Wine Wednesday is a weekly Facebook Live broadcast for ISA members and screenwriters everywhere. Each episode features a different topic and your screenwriting questions are always welcome.
Here’s a few more screenwriting events based in the UK.
- Screenwriters Festival (London)
- Writers Festival (Winchester)
- National Writers’ Conference (Birmingham)
- Craft of Comedy (Wales)
The social media trifecta. Here’s a brief rundown of each, listed in the order in which I think they will help you the most.
- LinkedIn offers a platform to market yourself as a working professional in addition to connecting with others and finding opportunities.
- Most noteworthy, you can directly contact just about anyone using LinkedIn and a 30-day free trial of IMDB Pro.
- Additionally, you can find worldwide gigs looking for screenwriters.
- Immersing yourself into Twitter communities can produce unique paths towards screenwriting jobs that other platforms can’t provide, such as #WGAStaffingBoost.
- Pitch yourselve, your writer skillset, and what you’d bring to a writers room!
- Whether they’ll admit it or not, screenwriters of all stripes procrastinate on Twitter. Find one and drop a line!
- Facebook groups can help you connect locally and find specified niche pages or groups.
- Check out groups like Screenwriters, ISA, and Screenwriter Networking.
Many dread the cold email, but you should warm yourself to the idea! (See what I did there? You’ll have to be more clever than that to get someone’s attention with a cold email).
Whether you find your contact through Google, LinkedIn, the Writer’s Market, or the Hollywood Creative Directory, you’ll need to send some messages “cold.”
There are many strategies for the cold email. The simplest way is to state who you are, your credentials, and why you’re contacting them. The most important part of the cold email is not to sell whatever you’re pitching, but to start a conversation.
Here is a real-life sample of a cold email I sent to a production company that resulted in a deal to write an original pilot script (I have removed names for company privacy).
My name is Simon Nagel. I graduated from AFI in 2012 and I wanted to reach out to [Company Name]! I’ve been an admirer of [Executive Producer/Director]’s work, particularly on “[TV Show]” (my all-time favourite show). I was thrilled to find out his involvement with [Company], and I thought I would contact you guys. I love that [Company] is raising online content to the level of television. I was wondering if there was any way that I could get involved in any capacity in writing for your channel!
A bit about me—I have had two screenplays advance to the semi-finals of the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship two years in a row, and I have sold a treatment to Toei Animation for a reboot of their anime series “Kitaro.” I have also served on the AFI’s Admissions Board, where I have read many, many (many) screenplays of potential incoming students and helped the faculty select their incoming class.
I have a screenplay that I think would be a great sample to display that I can write the type of content featuring strong female leads that [Company] thrives on. Here’s a log line:
Single mom TRINA SANDS fights to regain custody of her young son while coping with her destructive lifestyle and drug addiction.
Here’s a section of favourable coverage that the Black List gave it:
“Trina’s redemption and catharsis are earned and effective, and while her character arc could have easily felt contrived or melodramatic, the writer executes it with a measured sensibility that works quite well. It’s great to see a script that can wallow in unabashed grotesquerie and yet still find a bittersweet tone and sense of heart by the end.”
Please let me know if you are interested in reading, and I will happily send you the script. Thank you very much!
What Can You Do With Your Screenwriting Skills for Money?
Maybe the most well-kept yet obvious secret about screenwriting is how useful it can be for countless businesses.
Screenwriting is the art of telling emotionally compelling stories for a visual medium. Businesses desperately need your skills and abilities to tell their stories and offer tons of screenwriting jobs.
Advertising is 100% storytelling. You would be amazed at how many of your favorite directors shoot commercials for worldwide brands.
Checkout this 1984 Apple Super Bowl Commercial directed by Ridley Scott.
Screenwriting and advertising are so well matched that many great advertisers become successful screenwriters.
Steve Dildarian of Budweiser lizards fame went on to create the subversive HBO comedy The Life and Times of Tim.
Wrapping Up – Screenwriting Jobs
While screenwriting jobs might feel difficult to land at first, just remember that work begets work. Steadily building a portfolio and client list will eventually build a steady income with hard work and determination.
Trust yourself, believe in your abilities, and create opportunities to write!