Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 decade ago

Is being a screenplay writer a good career choice?

I have been into film for years, but never knew which part I wanted to do. I liked doing everything, but if I want to make it in the film industry I have to pick something whether it's being a D.P. or video editor.My mom keeps telling people that I want to be a director , but I really don't wish to do that and i don't understand why she keeps bragging about me so much when I haven't created much yet. All my life I have been pretty creative, and do a little writing. Thats why I have thought about studying screenplay writing in college.

If anyone has feed back about being a screenplay writer and can give me the pros and cons about it I would greatly appreciate it. If anyone knows about colleges and teen workshops that specialize in screenplay writing I would greatly appreciate that too. I've looked up a few by myself, but I haven't found much.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Ok, first thing to know, screenplay writers can be broken down to 3 types (more if you're interested in non-movie/non-TV media). First you have your big idea guys... these are the ones who come up with the concept, go around pitching it to various studios and pray someone picks it up. In movies, unless you're an established/reputable writer already or you are directing it yourself, you tend to get paid for the rights to use the screenplay then get sent on your way because the original writer is often viewed as "meddlesome" and too married to the original concept to allow for the creative license the director needs.

    Next, you get the guy who replaced the original writer, or in the case of most TV shows, the guy who supplements the original writer's work. I don't know what you'd call him, but basically he's the guy who rewrites the script to fit the director's needs and adds filler to gaps in the original writer's work (like say a television series where the original writer only wrote enough for 12 episodes and they want a 20 episode run or they scripted an episode for 30 minutes when it's supposed to be 45...). While you still have to be creative if this is your role, you're ultimately just the director's pen, not a driving force. You're not likely to become a household name, but your work will be more stable.

    Next you have the writer pool types. How a writer pool works is different from company to company that utilizes them, but basically it works as a pool or relatively low paid writers who get sent a work order by one of any number of directors/producers. The writers take the work order, come up with multiple solutions for the work order, script it, then send one or more of the solutions back to the producer. Originality in this environment is very limited and you can expect to work on almost anything from sitcoms to dramas to reality TV (yes, they do require scripts).

    Again, this could all be broken down even further and there are groups left out, but the basic idea I'm trying to get across is that screenplay writers don't really get as much respect as they should as they're kind of seen as disposable. There's a quite a bit of truth to the TV depiction of the writer working as a waiter for years and years, dropping copies of their script where they think someone important might see it. I'm not saying don't go for it... I'm just saying be prepared to compromise a lot.

    Now I'd like to say I know what your mom is trying to do. She's pushing you to be a director because the best way for your script to be taken seriously and to remain your idea is to be the director. Joss Whedon, Sam Raimi, M. Night Shymalan (I'm certain I spelled that wrong), J. J. Abrams... They're all big industry names known for writing and directing their own stuff. They all still take on additional staff writing (the second set I referred to), but if you want to retain control over your creation, they're the ones you want to model your career after.

    All that said, I'd go for directing just because it's really hard to give away your baby and watch someone else twist it around to something it wasn't... which can and will happen. As for what school to go to... I really can't recommend one. Certainly some people go to big name schools for this stuff, but ultimately determination, selling yourself to the right people, and a willingness to put your own neck on the line are the keys to getting a start in the industry.

  • 5 years ago

    To become a screenplay writer, producer, and director for the film industry, there is no any certain criteria. The job can be done having involve with any kind of profession. First you become a good doctor or a law expert, than try to understand the process of screenplay writing, the skill of a producer and a director who were doing well in the film industry. You will get the way as you desire to be successful.

  • 1 decade ago

    I hang out online with screenwriters for a little while every morning. Many are aspiring, but a handful are supporting themselves and their families with sales.

    The pros are that you get to work at home, wherever home happens to be, although it's handy to be able to commute to southern California easily if you don't live there, for meetings. The income can be good if you make WGA rates or better. Somebody pays you for your stories.

    The cons are many. The work is not steady even when you're a person with plenty of sales. There's no health insurance. Your brainchild is frequently mangled in rewrites and/or in production until you'd hardly recognize it; the dumpy 40-something is suddenly Charlize Theron, the monastery an elite prep school. Worst of all, though, are the odds of success.

    About four hundred films are made a year in the US, and about four thousand scripts are optioned. However, more than a million speculative scripts are submitted a year. So if all four hundred movies that are made came out of that million spec scripts submitted, the success rate would be four one-hundredths of a percent. (400/1,000,000 = .0004, or 0.04%)

    Just to make it that much more discouraging, only about eight percent of the movies made in a given year are from pitched ideas or spec scripts. The rest come from script assignments, novel adaptations, documentary adaptations, true stories, amusement park rides, sequels, remakes, plays, TV shows, comic book adaptations, and game adaptations. The success rate of original spec scripts shrinks to thirty-two one-thousandths of a percent. (0.0004 x 0.08 [or 8%] = 0.000032, or 0.0032%.)

    So, in a typical year, thirty-two spec scripts are produced for every million scripts. You have to be amazingly good to be among their number. The likelihood of success is very, very small.

    But it's not zero. If it's what you want, chase the dream (I second NYU, USC, and UCLA as the places to do it)--but at the time time, prepare for a real world in which you need a day job while you write at night.

  • LitGuy
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Nothing is a bad idea until they shut off the lights...

    I think you'd be best advised to pursue what you want-- everyone has to chase a dream for a minute, but to keep in mind that very very few get to live those dreams. As long as you have a back up plan, swing for the fences!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Hmm...It might depend on how good your work is as to snatch up someone's attention.I think choosing that career path is a risk as it might take years to get some producers to take notice and meanwhile not earn much to support yourself.But if it does make it big...BAM!Like I said,a risk.Still if you aren't afraid of taking risks,you think your work is good,and you have a passion for screenplay writing,then why not?

  • mac
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    USC, UCLA, or NYU offer the most opportunities for screenwriting careers since those universities are epicenters for show biz connections.

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