Want to write for TV or the movies? Here’s What You Definitely Need to Know
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Writing for TV or movies may be your big dream, but before you dive right into screenwriting, or decide to test the waters with your first script, you should know—the water is cold.
Have you ever wanted to write a script for a movie or TV show? Maybe you already have an idea or a draft and are thinking: Now what? Read on to see what I learned about scriptwriting from a former Hollywood TV and movie writer.
The journey of script writing is not for the faint of heart. It’s not only about coming up with ideas or learning the proper formatting, but also about understanding the process of getting what you write out into the world.
7 Things to Know Before and While You Write Your TV or Movie Script…
#1 - The film industry is a “different world”
The competition in the film market is steep, and the amount of scripts purchased are few. You should know that although not impossible, chances are slim. But there are a lot of adaptations happening. If you can come up with a screenplay based on a book or publish a book and then adapt it to a screenplay, then you might have better luck.
#2 - It’s expensive
The film Moonlight had a micro budget that was 5 million dollars, so coming up with the funds to shoot something original might be difficult without backing.
According to The Writers Guild of America, 50,000 new
screenplays are registered annually. At the same time,
only 25 spec scripts got sold in 2020.
#3 - Film festivals are your friend
Creating a short that makes it into a film festival can garner funding and support.
#4 - TV writing is a team sport
If you decide to rush out to Cali with script in hand, keep these three things in mind:
-You can’t sell your own script as a writer for TV
-You will most likely start out writing in a writing room with several other writers
-You will have to develop relationships with head writers and producers before you can sell to a network
#5 - Screenplay writers for films must take the back seat
Writers are low on priority on a screenplay and rarely have a say once script is accepted and purchased. It’s the director who has the unifying vision for the film, makes changes, and calls the shots.
#6 - Tell the stories that matter to you
Scriptwriting, just like any other type of writing, takes commitment and persistence. Make sure you're personally invested in the stories you want to tell so the work and the waiting and/or rejection feels worth it.
#7 - It’s a marathon not a sprint
There is no one and done. Settle in for the long haul and be willing to revise and revise. Since Hollywood doesn’t take unsolicited work, and you can't sell your own work, you’ll need a producer willing to take it on. And breaking into the industry generally takes years. For some, decades, so it’s important to keep writing and honing your craft.
In this industry, and in any competitive industry, you have to be persistent. Don’t give up on your dreams no matter what the odds are. Keep writing and keep trying. Try writing one script a month with a completely different idea. Make a lot of meatballs, throw them to the wall and see what sticks, but don’t give up.