Screenwriter Career

Many people do not truly consider career paths until they are in college. High school students try to cover all the majors and types of jobs, but they cannot begin to fathom how many options they have. Grades, interests, and extracurricular activities are many of the factors that will eventually lead you to a career. One of the best career choices is screenwriting.

Many people who are interested in creative writing, the movie industry, or simply telling stories would be good candidates for screenwriting. A lot of the time, you will be working with interesting, creative people and possibly seeing your name on the big screen, all for lucrative amounts of money (Kayne). You weave your ideas into words and create a story. Unlike writing a novel, though, the style is more of stating what is happening and who is saying what. There is no large description of scenery (other people take care of that). Screenwriters are responsible for creating a variety of new ideas and developing them into stories for many different purposes (DegreeFinders). They can create stories from books and real life, and make adaptations for movies, television series, and video games. A good screenwriter also keeps ahead with trends and the interests of the public (Ferguson). Some people compare screenwriting to a shark; if it doesn’t keep swimming, it dies (Allen). Competition will be strong, and the ones with
advanced training and experience will have the best opportunities, but the demand for them increases as the entertainment industry expands.

To prepare for a career in screenwriting, high school students might take drama, journalism, or advanced English courses (College Board). They might also take additional acting or theatre classes outside of school. Getting internships with local TV affiliates or movie theatres will help, too. Also, checking for local productions and additional classes at local colleges or universities can let you help in student films and video projects that may need an extra hand (Gervich). Craigslist can also list helpful opportunities. If available, attend film festivals or screenwriting expositions. Even joining a film club or writers group helps. And keep writing, always.

You absolutely have to have a high school degree to be a screenwriter. But many employers prefer applicants with a bachelor degree in screenwriting, drama, English, or another related field (DegreeFinders). Achieving a master degree from a professional film school doesn’t look too bad, either. To stay competitive, a screenwriter should join the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA). Good colleges to look into would be UCLA, USC, NYU, Chapman University, Loyola Marymount, Boston University, North Carolina school of arts, Miami University, Texas University, and the LA film school (Snyder). Most colleges will usually state if they have a film or screenwriting program. Before applying to these, you will probably need samples of creative writing, two official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation (UCLA).
If you ask a professional screenwriter what their work consists of, the most common answer you will receive will be, “rewriting” (Kayne). Generally, screenplays will be about 100-200 pages in length. Most people consider this easier than writing a 500 page novel. Many hours invested into screenwriting include sitting at a computer rewriting what you have written at least 20 times under great pressure to meet demanding, shifting, and costly production deadlines (Kayne). But sometimes writing screenplays can be done at your own leisurely pace, as well. You could work for yourself and just pitch your ideas to executive producers when it is done, or you could be hired by a less demanding studio. Sometimes, you may have to read a novel and create a screenplay off of it. Melissa Rosenberg spent weeks on end doing nothing but sitting in her house trying to write the screenplay for the movie adaptation of the novel Twilight, by Stephanie Myers (Rosenberg). Unless you are on a deadline, you should have plenty of time for family and other activities. There is no exact payment for a screenwriter (as it usually depends on the script and how well the movie has done). The general rule of thumb is that you get around 2.5% of the budget, including a piece of the DVD sales (YahooAnswers). So basically, you could make anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a couple million dollars for every movie. The better the screenplay, the better the pay.
Screenwriting may not be the best career path for everyone, but it is definitely a great option. People who love English or creative writing should try and consider this. The entertainment industry is very appealing and audiences are always in need of new material. The pay is good, and if you have the creativity and patience, this could be an ideal career.





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