When it comes to who wields the most power in Hollywood, it seems screenwriters fall near the bottom rung. Let’s be honest: we’re beholden to the gatekeepers, whether they’re script analysts, producers, or studio execs, who will greenlight the passion project we’ve toiled on for years. For a lot of screenwriters, writing life can feel like an eternal state of limbo. Wondering whether our beloved script will see the light of day can be heartbreaking. So how can screenwriters take their power back? There is much we cannot control in the business, but there is much we can.
Produce your own script
Granted this might not be the most easiest route – there is money to raise, hire a cast and crew, shoot, edit, find a distributor, and not to mention all the other ins and outs of producing – however producing your own script might help give you the edge you need to get noticed. So whether it’s a short film, a full-length, or a web series, explore your options.
Conduct an audit of your resources. What equipment, cast, crew and locations do you have access to? What favors can you call in?
Turn your script into a podcast
It seems like everyone has a podcast these, so why not you? Yes, it’s a competitive industry and, yes, it’s difficult to make actual money from a podcast (unless yours is incredibly successful and popular) but podcasts aren’t going anywhere. In fact, podcasts are probably one of the most important and relevant mediums out there right now. So if your script can adapt to a podcast, then yours might be the next “Serial.”
Podcasts can be interviews, a speech, a discussion, or even the new trend of scripted podcasts.
Don’t wait for your script to magically land on the right producer’s desk or leave it to your agent and/or manager to find a home for your script. This is your career, so it’s ultimately up to you on which direction you want to take it in. So, don’t be afraid to step up your networking game. Go to industry events, use social media, like LinkedIn, to follow up. Start by asking people what you can do for them. Build goodwill. Good things will follow.
While there’s a delicate balance to be found – it’s great to be ambitious but you also don’t want to come across too strongly – it’s way more important to go after what you want rather than waiting for someone to come to you.
This could mean mixers, conferences, or workshops. Join a writers’ group. Someone might know someone who knows someone who can introduce you to someone who can advance your career. You never know who you might meet.
Use social media
Social media isn’t go anywhere, and it’s a powerful tool not only to connect with the higher ups, but also to connect with fellow screenwriters as well as potential fans. Build a digital footprint. Get creative with your social media. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, including your POV and sense of humor. You could even test out jokes on Twitter or Instagram (we wouldn’t suggest posting actual pages of writing because, you know, copyright laws and all). Start a blog or a website, and give people an idea about who you are and what you like to write. Keep creating content, and interacting with others, and you never know what kind of traction you could make.
Writing is a tool, and if you’re a serious screenwriter, it’s a tool you keep sharpening no matter what the state your career is in. Which means you’re always working on the next spec script while training yourself to work on deadline and learning how to take notes as well as honing any other skills that you need to work on. Because if you want your script produced – and we know you do – you need to be prepared as a writer. You need to be ready. And being the best and most skilled screenwriter you can be is the superpower you already have within you.