What do they do?
Create stories and characters for film, TV, radio, internet. This could be original ideas, but the majority of scriptwriting is book adaptations.
Who would you work for?
Most are freelancers. Some large production companies have in-house script development teams, e.g. BBC and ITV.
Are there actually any jobs in this sector?
Yes, but you have to be persistent! Most screen writers have a “portfolio career”, i.e. more than one job to supplement their income. Ideally get work in complementary roles, e.g. I spoke to a Runner for a film production company and a Lecturer in screenwriting who both also work as freelance screen writers.
Writing talent! You don’t have to have any particular qualifications, but a degree in English can be very useful to learn about storytelling. You can do a Masters in screenwriting, which can help with technical skills like structure etc., but there are also lots of online and other resources if you prefer to self-teach. To succeed in the industry you need to be self-motivated, resilient, self-aware, well organised and able to meet tight deadlines.
Tips for getting in?
Start writing and read lots of scripts. Get work experience. Network with media professionals. Get an agent, as they will help negotiate your fees with producers.
- Blogs with loads of good info: http://johnaugust.com/scriptnotes
- Database of film/tv scripts – http://www.simplyscripts.com/movie.html
- BBC writers room, loads of scripts, competitions, interviews and blogs, (and they also have open submissions once a year, so you can potentially get feedback) – www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/
- Celtx, free script/playwriting software that does all the formatting for you – www.celtx.com/index.html
- Books recommended by recent York English grad working in screenwriting:
Careers in writing blog: