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A page of a screenplay
A page of a screenplay

A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ 7 Tips From Screenwriters
  • ✪ Learn How To Become A Working Screenwriter - Mark Sanderson [SCREENWRITING MASTERCLASS]
  • ✪ Gone Girl — Don't Underestimate the Screenwriter
  • ✪ 12 Tips To Help A Screenwriter Write A Better Screenplay
  • ✪ Advice for New Screenwriters


(inspiring music) - [Interviewer] What would you say, from your experience, in screenwriting, is an important thing that you can share with the people watching? (fast guitar music) - Well, one of the things that I try to do with anything I write is have it read out loud. And I think when we work by ourselves, and you do your own voice in your head while you're reading through what you're writing, sometimes it's you talking to you, and then you realize that there's not enough diversity in your characters. So if you can get people to get together and read it, so that you can hear it, that's really very helpful. You start to then realize, oh, well, I have like seven men in this scene. (laughs) Maybe, I have heard, I haven't heard her talk for two minutes, so that's very helpful. (guitar music) - I think the most valuable thing for me was being on set. You can sit there for months, working on your script. You can read the lines in your head, but until you're on set and you see how movement changes words, how some actors can play certain lines in a certain way, and others can't, how sometimes an actor will read a line that you've written, and you're thinking, "You got that, from that?" and how some jokes just refuse to play, you know. And the beauty, I found, of being on set and being allowed to keep working on the film while I was there, was that I got to see how it worked and how I could help the process. (guitar music) - My most practical piece of advice, I think that I've tumbled into in the last few years of my own screenwriting process, it's very logistical. And that is that I now pay someone to type while I dictate. And the person typing is on the clock, so I don't have that moment where, 33 minutes into my workday, I'm like (stretching noises) oh, I taped that show last night, I'm gonna go lie on the sofa and watch that first, and then I'll be good. The second thing is I don't get OCD and controlling about my own perfectionist writing process. If I'm not looking at the screen, trying to fix sentences, and wasting an hour just trying to make a sentence perfect. But something about the act of staring at the ceiling while you're creating from the blank page in a dictating way, that's related, psychically, to the experience of daydreaming, which is extremely different from the experience of controlling stuff that's going on on the screen. (guitar and drum music) - Well I'll tell you something I learned from working with Clint Eastwood, is I finally know what a movie set should look like. Calm as a library, everyone pulling in the same direction, nobody rushed a single moment and we came in, he came in, three days under, and made this movie, a $60 million, in 36 days. 36 days. Because, he goes methodically and he's prepared. And that is what every set I'm gonna be on in the future is going to aim for. (fast music) - I also tell people to take improv classes. Find a way that you have to put yourself in the acting, in the actor's world every once in awhile. 'Cause you'll notice when you really are just sitting at the table for awhile, or your job is mostly to go, "Well, what else?" Like when you're the question receptacle. (laughing) You know, to help propel someone else's story. The best scripts have everybody has something going on. (fast music) - And the only other thing I would say is be respectful of your director, because it's not your baby anymore and it's the director's baby. And if you're lucky enough to be on set, your job is just to sit back and be there if they want a line, but I think where things go wrong it's when people don't understand the hierarchy and the diplomacy. You know, a director's job is hard enough. (fast music) - The most important thing to write is just to write. You know? In cinema, cinema is a very complicated industry, where, when you're writing you need to think about lots of pragmatic things. And sometimes I feel that that way of thinking sometimes cripples creativity. When I wrote with my dad, Gravity, in a way we were very blessed that my dad never thought as a director in the whole writing process, 'cause otherwise he would have stopped in page 10 of the script and said "I don't wanna deal with this." And that's why the writing process was so incredible, because we never worried about the pragmatics those two months, we were just imagining the scenes how we wanted it, wanted them to play. (fast music)



Screenwriting is a freelance profession. No education is required to become a professional screenwriter, just good storytelling abilities and imagination. Screenwriters are not hired employees but contracted freelancers. Most, if not all, screenwriters start their careers writing on speculation (spec) and so write without being hired or paid for it. If such a script is sold, it is called a spec script. What separates a professional screenwriter from an amateur screenwriter is that professional screenwriters are usually represented by a talent agency. Also, professional screenwriters do not often work for free, but amateur screenwriters will often work for free and are considered "writers in training." Spec scripts are usually penned by unknown professional screenwriters and amateur screenwriters.

There are a legion of would-be screenwriters who attempt to enter the film industry, but it often takes years of trial-and-error, failure, and gritty persistence to achieve success. In Writing Screenplays that Sell, Michael Hague writes, "Screenplays have become, for the last half of [the twentieth] century, what the Great American Novel was for the first half. Closet writers who used to dream of the glory of getting into print now dream of seeing their story on the big or small screen."[1]

Film industry

Every screenplay and teleplay begins with a thought or idea, and screenwriters use their ideas to write scripts, with the intention of selling them and having them produced.[2] In some cases, the script is based on an existing property, such as a book or person's life story, which is adapted by the screenwriter.[3] The majority of the time, a film project gets initiated by a screenwriter. The initiator of the project gets the exclusive writing assignment.[2] They are referred to as "exclusive" assignments or "pitched" assignments. Screenwriters who often pitch new projects, whether original or an adaptation, often do not have to worry about competing for assignments and are often more successful. When word is put out about a project a film studio, production company, or producer wants done, they are referred to as "open" assignments. Open assignments are more competitive. If screenwriters are competing for an open assignment, more-established writers usually win the assignments. A screenwriter can also be approached and personally offered a writing assignment.

Script doctoring

Many screenwriters also work as full or part-time script doctors, attempting to better a script to suit the desires of a director or studio. For instance, studio management may have a complaint that the motivations of the characters are unclear or that the dialogue is weak.

Script-doctoring can be quite lucrative, especially for the better-known writers. David Mamet and John Sayles, for instance, fund the movies that they direct themselves, usually from their own screenplays, by writing and doctoring scripts for others. In fact, some writers make very profitable careers out of being the ninth or tenth writer to work on a piece, and they often work on projects that never see exposure to an audience of any size. Many up-and-coming screenwriters also ghostwrite projects and allow more-established screenwriters to take public credit for the project to increase the chances of it getting picked up.

Development process

After a screenwriter finishes a project, he or she pairs with an industry-based representative, such as a producer, director, literary agent, entertainment lawyer, or entertainment executive. The partnerships often pitch their project to investors or others in a position to further a project. Once the script is sold, the writer has only the rights that were agreed with the purchaser.[2]

A screenwriter becomes credible by having work that is recognized, which gives the writer the opportunity to earn a higher income.[2] As more films are produced independently (outside the studio system), many up-and-coming screenwriters are turning to pitch fests, screenplay contests, and independent development services to gain access to established and credible independent producers. Many development executives are now working independently to incubate their own pet projects.

Production involvement

Screenwriters are rarely involved in the development of a film. Sometimes they come on as advisors, or if they are established, as a producer. Some screenwriters also direct. Although many scripts are sold each year, many do not make it into production because the number of scripts that are purchased every year exceeds the number of professional directors that are working in the film and TV industry. When a screenwriter finishes a project and sells it to a film studio, production company, TV network, or producer, he or she often has to continue networking, mainly with directors or executives, and push to have their projects "chosen" and turned into films or TV shows. If interest in a script begins to fade, a project can go dead.


Most professional screenwriters in the U.S. are unionized and are represented by the Writers Guild of America. Although membership in the WGA is recommended, it is not required of a screenwriter to join. The WGA is the final arbiter on awarding writing credit for projects under its jurisdiction. The WGA also looks upon and verifies film copyright materials.

See also


  1. ^ Hauge, Michael. Writing Screenplays That Sell.
  2. ^ a b c d Ferguson, Brooks (17 April 2009). "Creativity and integrity: Marketing the "in development" screenplay". Psychology and Marketing. 26 (5): 421–444. doi:10.1002/mar.20281.
  3. ^ Biopic & Book Adaptation -

External links

This page was last edited on 7 March 2019, at 23:51
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