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10 Things A Screenwriter Should Do (or Consider) for Success in 2024.


Guest blog by produced screenwriter Rick Hansberry. To stay current with Screenwriting Staffing, join our mailing list.


As the first month of 2024 closes, a lot of new year’s resolutions get filed under “Maybe next year” but there’s almost a full year ahead! Treat it like a deadline on a paid commission. Don’t rely on inspiration to swoop down and carry you forward. Put in the work and make your own opportunities.


Before delving in, to enhance your prospects for success in 2004, consider equipping yourself with a powerful pitch deck to complement your script. be sure to you enroll in our masterclass this month.







Here’s my Top 10 Things a Screenwriter Should Do (or Consider) in order to achieve success in 2024!



Write Every Day.


Obvious, yes. Are you doing it? If not every day, write more often. Create content. Blocked for a new idea? You have something to polish. You better. Can’t commit to a feature? Write a short. Can’t commit to a short? Write a micro-short. Can’t commit to that? Maybe you don’t really want to be a writer. Writers write. Prove it.


Stay Current with Sought Material.


Look at the Job Boards here on Screenwriting Staffing and other industry sites. Notice a consistent thread? Every month someone is looking for a contained script or a possible one or two location script. Got one? Challenge yourself. At the very least, you’ll have a submission for these ads. Deliver it. 


Do It Again but Do It Differently.


After you have a contained script, stand it on its head and write another. Take the mystery premise and make it a horror flick. Take the warehouse or abandoned school and populate it with different characters for a different genre. They key flex here is to NOT pigeonhole yourself as a one-trick writer. Diversify your portfolio so its not a regurgitation of the same idea with different character names. Challenge yourself. You’re not just creating content, you’re ‘working out’ as a writer.  Stretching and bending different muscles. 


Read.


When you’re not writing, you should be – nay – you MUST be reading. Not scrolling. Not surfing. Not binging. Not procrastinating. Actual reading. And not just scripts. Read Biographies; How To books; Fiction, etc. If you get stuck for what to read, bookmark and read Wikipedia every day. It’s a guaranteed rabbit hole of information.


Compile Your Contacts List.


Years ago, I kept a data base of Agents and Managers that might accept an unsolicited submission. There’s a thick layer of dust on that file. Why? I ditched it and kept a list of industry contacts compiled from auditions, contests, film festivals, networking events, seminars and workshops. The best way to connect is to immerse yourself in the industry. Be an active player. There’s no excuse for not reaching out to the people in your area or in your circle that are making the movies that you want to make.


Don’t write.


Wait, what? Yes, don’t spend ALL your time locked away on your keyboard typing out screenplays. Want to make a scene about being grilled in an interview breathtakingly authentic? Go do it. Think you might want to write about skydiving? Yep. Go do it first. Pull the rip cord on your inhibitions and experience some real life, white-knuckle challenges. Every day offers possibilities for experiences that can then become fodder for scripts and your scenes will jump off the page because they’ll be rooted in authenticity.


You’re a professional.


Act like it. If you’ve sold a short or optioned a feature or been paid for your writing, guess what? You’re a professional. With great powers comes great responsibility. Yes, no matter how small and no matter what the scope is – you now have taxable income. Sure, it’s taxable but embrace what else comes with? The glory of itemized deductions. Subscriptions and fees to industry sites; web site fees; mileage to auditions and location scouting, even the cost of having your tax return prepared for you by a tax service or accountant. Bottom line (see what I did there?), there are advantages to treating yourself like a professional writer. You’ve put in the work to get this far, now see it all the way through.


Self-Produce A Short or Micro-Short.


I see your eye roll but I’m serious. Producing opens your writing network to a whole new realm of possibilities. This past year, I self-produced two of my own shorts. The contacts I made during that process garnered me a rewrite gig for a feature, three Patreon subscribers and a polish gig for a short currently in festivals world-wide. The process of producing – hiring a crew, securing locations, auditioning actors, developing a budget and a shooting schedule. All screenwriters know that it’s important to network but this process mandates personal interaction and consistent communication, so you’re connected and consistently interacting and sharing. Producers will go through your script and eliminate scenes that are not needed to advance your plot even though you’re Protag gets to say your favorite wisecrack. There should be no fat in what will become your shooting script and the best way to practice that is to have to pay for it by producing the material. It’ll force your creativity to a new level and, while daunting conceptually, I highly encourage you to make small. 3 pages or make it a 1 page micro-short. Those still have Producer credits and are the least expensive films. 


Teach.


If you’ve written a few screenplays and invested the time to learn formatting and industry standards etc., you have acquired unique knowledge. Think every instructor of screenwriting has sold a script or had a film produced? No way. Acquired knowledge is just that. You’ve learned a new skill or method of expression. I suggest teaching it (at a basic introductory level) because it will force you to return to the basics. If you’ve never taught, I highly recommend it. You’ll approach sharing what you know in a basic way. You’ll feel revigorated by the nuances in sharing the components of a slug line and how one page of a screenplay equates to approximately one minute of screen time. Check out Screenwriting Staffing's new class!


Have Fun!


Screenwriting is a craft and a profession and a way to make money and a creative outlet like no other. It’s also entertainment and, by its nature, entertainment is a diversion and should be enjoyable. So much so that you sacrifice to get to experience it. So, don’t ‘toil over the keyboard’ or ‘sweat blood’ over pages. Have an absolute blast blowing through page counts. Howl with laughter as you let an extremely comedic scene play out with no restrictions. The rewrite will be there in due time but don’t forget to let loose and get absolutely energized by your script. Get hyped to share it with your trusted readers! Be pumped to have the vomit draft to work with. Take the win in lopping off the ball of clay so the real art and be bent and shaped into something amazing. We need you. You’re the creators of our future entertainment!

 

Explore a plethora of resources provided by Screenwriting Staffing to advance your career in 2024, including classes, script searches, and consultations. Make sure to explore our diverse range of services!


 

Blog written by Rick Hansberry

Rick Hansberry is an award-winning screenwriter with more than 25 years of experience. With more than a dozen credits on his IMDb page, Rick has also produced and directed several short films. Currently, he has two shorts playing in international film festivals. Rick is available for hire, as well as consulting and collaborative projects. More information on Rick and his writing services as well as his Patreon page can be found at: www.oscarstrailer.com

 

 


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