This may be the most comprehensive article of our 10-part Screenwriting Staffing industry series, but for a good reason. It could easily be the most important investment you make in your screenwriting career -- and it doesn't cost you a penny. To stay current, join our mailing list.
There are many screenwriting sites all over the web that help get you discovered, your screenplays noticed, and connect you with buyers and pros. Screenwriting Staffing being one of them. Some sites are worth the subscriptions, while others are not. Screenwriting is all about investing, not just with money, but your time.
Social media takes a lot of time. But it doesn’t cost you a penny.
But why do so many screenwriters not utilize the power of social media? Introverts, ego, or even fear?
What if I told you a screenwriter sold their first screenplay through a rant and tweet exchange over Twitter? HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER morphed into a feature film after being discovered on Twitter. Read the full article here.
During this year’s TheWrap’s annual media conference, Jason Newman, a Producer at Untitled Entertainment, said this about casting: “If I have two actors up for the same role and it’s between actor A and B, and actor B has 2 million followers across all social media platforms, and actor A has 20 million… we know if we convert one and a half to two percent of their social media following to buyers, I’m hiring that person.”
Do you think social media followers and activity only applies to those in front of the camera? Do you think producers, film festivals, distributors, buyers, sales agents, directors, and studios do not consider a writer’s online presence, social media following, and fan base? Let me be the first to tell you that they do care -- and it plays a factor (while sometimes very small) in the hiring and buying process.
Movie theaters are dying. It’s sad. So, where are a majority of companies and distributors making back their money? Social Media. When was the last time you heard someone say they were unveiling over a dozen original shows?
How about Snapchat.
In 2018, Snapchat launched 12 original shows. We are not talking about children producing content. We are talking about producers and creators behind projects like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS. They were short, original, and could be streamed straight from your phone. Read the full article here:
Successful screenwriters and creators have been using online and social media platforms (like YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook Live) to get their video content out there for nearly a decade. Here are 10 TV shows that got discovered online and/or social media: CHEAT SHEET ENTERTAINMENT
Generation Z Screenwriters
By far, the most knowledgeable when it comes to using social media in creative ways. They are also on social media more than any other generation group.
Their problem? They use the wrong social media platforms. Furthermore, they use it for entertainment, not business.
This generation is unique in the sense they grew up during the movie theater blockbuster hits in the 90’s, while also experiencing the rise of streaming services. They utilize the right social media pages and understand (through experience and education) how to properly market themselves and their projects on social media.
Their problem? They can’t keep their politics, religion, ego, and emotions off their pages. They, and by they, I also speak about myself, tend to talk before they listen. We let our emotions get a hold of us, and with one post/tweet, we can tank our reputation forever.
Generation X & Boomer Screenwriters
For the most part, this generation understands modesty and respect. They usually paint a professional-like image of themselves online. You won’t find them with racy photos.
Their problem? Many don't embrace change. Many also fear technology. They either avoid social media because they feel they don’t have the skillset to navigate the internet or flat-out believe social media is a sham and serves no purpose.
Regardless of what category you fall in, we can all improve our screenwriting career by understanding how to use (and how not to use) social media when marketing ourselves as writers and our screenplay/films.
BREAKING DOWN THE TOP 4 SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR SCREENWRITERS.
FACEBOOK. Yes, Facebook has become a platform where grandma, mom, child, and grandchild all use the site. Facebook knows that they are not the leader anymore, so they buyout competitors (like Instagram) as quickly as possible.
But when it comes to screenwriting, it may very well be the best site for screenwriters.
HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD USE FACEBOOK:
-- Facebook Groups. There are hundreds upon thousands of film and screenwriting groups all over FB. Groups just for collaborating; groups solely for screenwriting jobs; groups where investors and producers seek new material; pages designed just for writers to ask questions; even groups just for networking with industry pros in your city. Joining a group and networking is free. Much cheaper than any industry mixer in Los Angeles. Be sure to join Screenwriting Staffing's FB Group.
-- Millennials and Generation X are the most active users on Facebook. Why is this important? According to Filmonomics Data: “Mid-career talents in their forties account for the highest volume of films that are seen in movie houses.” As you will see from the article, the most successful and active pros in the film and tv industry are between 36-50. This is why you need to be active on Facebook. This age-group spends an ungodly amount of time on Facebook.
-- Facebook still has the largest audience of any social media site. This is important when trying to connect with someone. If you have ever been to a film festival, worked on-set, or even met someone at a bar, you can pretty much guarantee they have a FB page. They may not actively use it every day, but they have one. This is the best way (even over exchanging phone numbers) to stay connected with someone. Regularly posting your screenwriting and film success will eventually grab the attention of the producer you connected with at, let’s say... the American Film Market 5 years ago.
-- Facebook allows you to create an official FB page (AKA fan page). If you are just starting out, you may not want to go down this route -- yet. But it’s an option for those with produced work. It’s a great place to link your sites and IMDb, share your latest work, and add to your SEO visibility.
HOW NOT TO USE FACEBOOK:
-- It’s election season in the U.S., so everyone’s feed is flooded with political propaganda. There is a misconception that everyone who works in film is a liberal. There is a strong silent majority in Hollywood who stays quiet due to blacklisting. Regardless if you fall on the Left or Right, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by airing out your extreme political views. It’s hard enough to break into this industry as an uber-talented writer, don’t ruin your chances even more by rubbing someone the wrong way. If you feel you must, create 2 pages: one with close friends and family and another just for the entertainment industry.
-- School teachers are constantly fired after posting racy photos on their FB feed. If you use FB correctly, you will have several thousand friends on your page who exclusively work in the entertainment industry. These may be people you have met and worked with before or people you may work with in the future. Think carefully when sharing personal photos. If you post a picture of yourself passed out drunk at a strip club, what do you think the chances of a producer paying you to pen their story idea are? There is nothing wrong with sharing photos of yourself with a cocktail in your hand.
Show the film world you know how to balance business and pleasure. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
-- Facebook is NOT the place to PM someone your screenplay, writing reel, or your latest book you published on Amazon. For screenwriters, Facebook is designed to keep you connected with people you have already met or those with whom you have mutual friends with. It’s a way to stay in contact, share your success (on your page), re-share other people’s success stories, and express your artistic vision. Think of FB as an old school address book. It’s there to keep all your contacts in one place.
-- Screenwriting and film/producer FB group pages can be of great value for screenwriters of all levels. But only if used correctly. Before you argue with someone over a post, think if you would engage with that person if you were face-to-face. Bullying on Facebook (or any social media site) is a sure-fire way to get blacklisted. Don’t ruin your reputation all because you can’t conduct yourself professionally online.
If you can’t handle yourself on a FB group, you surely can’t control yourself in a writers' room or film set.
SCREENWRITING TIPS FOR FACEBOOK:
-- As stated above, it’s all about connecting with people who work in the industry. But what purpose does it serve to have them in your network if they don’t know what you are working on? You must share every accomplishment -- big or small. The best example is placing or winning in a contest. Share it! Tag the competition, give a shoutout to anyone who helped you, write out your logline, and direct your network to a URL where they can learn more.
-- Many of you are not working screenwriters. By that, I mean, you don’t make a living solely from writing and selling scripts. So many of your FB friends view you as something else. Guess what? It’s time they know you are a screenwriter, a very serious one, who understands and appreciates the craft. So outside of posting your accomplishments, share entertainment and film resources, articles, and movie reviews. Talk a little bit about your thoughts on the article. It’s also important to share photos when you attend a film festival or mixer. FB is there to show the world where your passion lies.
-- If someone in your network shares their success story, be sure to re-share it and/or like it. As soon as you have success, that person will return the favor. You want their network to know about you. Don't look at screenwriting as a competition.
-- Facebook has it where you can list your education, your profession, links to your work, bio, favorite movies, etcetera. If you use Facebook correctly, people will see your success and hard work and click on your profile. When they do, you want them to know who you are and where they can learn more about you. You need to start looking at Facebook like you would with a LinkedIn. This is a business account, so keep it professional, and make sure to fill out all the boxes with film-related content.
You can follow Screenwriting Staffing's official FB page here.
LINKEDIN. Okay, so as a screenwriter, you probably have a LinkedIn. But how detailed is your profile? How often do you post? Do you have an extensive network?
Screenwriters tend to look at LinkedIn as a job board. You aren’t going to find a lot of screenwriting gigs on LinkedIn.
But that is not why LinkedIn exists for you. It’s the largest film/television business-oriented networking platform online. While Stage 32 "considers" themselves the largest networking site for film and tv minds, they don’t even belong in the same sentence with LI, which was created over 17 years ago.
I like Stage 32. They provide a lot of free resources. But you are not going to find major producers, agents, companies -- and even screenwriters -- actively using the site. Most of the profiles are aspiring filmmakers who self-promote.
Just about every significant literary manager and agent has a LI profile. Just about every indie to studio-level producer has a profile. Not only are their pages detailed, but they post and share regularly.
HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD USE LINKEDIN:
-- Even if you pay monthly for a personalized website on GoDaddy, it still won't come up first when googling your name. Your LinkedIn profile will. If you think producers only search for you on IMDb, think again. They type your name in the Google search engine. LinkedIn is free. It’s a place to upload your resume, list your credits, write out your bio, upload a photo, share blogs and articles, list your education, get recommendations, and so much more. What employer or recruiter would not want all of this in one place? MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM.
-- The most successful screenwriters on the planet don’t use IMDb Pro when researching a producer or employer. Why? Because IMDb Pro will only list the person’s credits. Occasionally, it will list out where they are employed. Sometimes, you might find their contact info. But on LI, you will find their interests, which companies they follow, who endorsed them, what groups they are a part of, their skillset, their entire employment background, their location, a photo of them, occasionally their contact information, and their most recent posts. Need to prepare for a pitch with a producer? LI will provide you with more inside scoop than IMDb. It’s also a great way to see if you have any “real” mutual friends.
-- Like Facebook, it allows you to save all your contacts in one place. But what’s even better, LI is only complied of professionals, so you don’t have to worry about your buddy from the 3rd grade or mother commenting on your post.
-- While Facebook has better groups, LI also has groups. LI is stacked with entertainment and film groups. Some are active daily, while others are not. The great thing about posting in these groups over Facebook is that you tend to find people who are more serious about the business side of film and television -- and as screenwriters, we need that -- those who have or can access funds.
If you don’t know by now, movies are not funded by filmmakers -- they are funded by bankers, lawyers, doctors, business owners, even athletes. You won’t find these types of people on IMDB or Stage 32 -- only LI.
HOW NOT TO USE LINKEDIN:
-- It might be hard to determine someone’s role in film by clicking on their FB page. But with LI, there is no excuse. So, why do I get so many people messaging me daily asking me to publish their book, produce their script, or even work in customer service at their furniture store? It’s a mix between laziness and unprofessionalism. It’s an easy way to get blocked and blacklisted, too. Like FB, LI is not the place to submit your script or teaser trailer for your film. Is it okay to send a short and personal note thanking them for connecting? Absolutely. How about sending a 4,000 word query letter for your script? No. Before reaching out to anyone, please, please read their profile. Why do people ask me to publish their book? If they even scrolled through my profile for 10 seconds, they would know I am not remotely a publisher.
-- LI, unfortunately, is starting to become like other social media platforms. They just introduced their “story” feature. LinkedIn is also becoming a place where people post memes, their political affiliation, and their dislikes. Next time you see someone post a meme, for example, read all the comments. It angers people. Those who have used LI since its creation want to preserve the platform. Don’t be one of the people who are trying to destroy it.
-- Your bio should not state “seeking work as a screenwriter or script reader”. A producer or employer wants to know you are actively working, or if you are not, you are in-demand (even if you are not) and currently fielding opportunities. It should also not list out all the scripts you’ve ever written. If you have that many scripts written, why have they not been produced?
Your bio should invite the viewer to continue through your page.
You can quickly tell a future employer that you are open to writing assignments and coverage opportunities by listing your experience under the employment/credit section. LI is not a cover letter where you are applying for a screenwriting position. It’s a resume where producers can learn a little more about you and what you can bring to the table if they wish to hire you.
-- Screenwriters tend to spam industry groups more on LI than FB. It’s because on FB you will be called out more quickly since there is more activity. With LI, people are not as active in groups. But don’t think people are not watching. If you want to promote your movie or script, create a post, or write a blog through the LI article function. Even include a link on your profile. Please do not use LI groups to continually promote your new book/script.
LINKEDIN TIPS FOR SCREENWRITERS:
-- Follow your favorite companies. From Disney to Universal, every major studio and indie company has a LI page that is maintained and active. They update company information, share company breaking news, and promote current employees. Publications like Variety and Deadline are great to learn about what companies are developing. But if you want to hear directly from the source, follow their company pages. This also looks good to future employers. Why? Because at the bottom of your profile, it lists who you follow. You will also be able to see who works for that company in your network quickly.
Are you applying for a writer’s assistant role at Fox? Maybe message one of your connections on LI who work there and ask them if they have any recommendations or tips during the interview process.
-- You will find your top screenwriting agents from WME, CAA, and UTA on LI over a FB. For the most part, if you send these people an invitation, they will accept. That does not mean you message them right away -- I can assure you, they are bombarded with messages. So how do you stand out? Post regularly. Share important news. During their lunch break, they may scroll through their feed -- and there it is -- your post, your success story. The more you do it, the more they will remember you. Also, endorse them. Most importantly, create a killer page so that they immediately want to reach out to you when they do click on it.
-- LinkedIn is all about sharing professional accomplishments. Do not hold back. Taking a screenshot of the script you just finished and sharing it to your network is not an accomplishment. But having your epic fantasy-drama recently optioned IS.
-- LinkedIn is a job board in some ways. You will occasionally find screenwriting jobs there. You will also find creative gigs, development positions, and producing opportunities too. Be sure to scroll through regularly. It will take 5 minutes out of your day. You can even tailor it to your location. You never know -- you might just find your dream job -- and it’s FREE.
-- Lastly, LI serves you no purpose if you don’t fill out all the necessary boxes. You MUST have a photo, location, education, a mini-bio/intro, current and previous employment (do not list the time you worked at McDonalds in the 9th grade; keep it industry-specific), your skills, and screenwriting software you are versed in. If you use their article feature, your contacts will see what you write about in their notifications. Be sure to endorse and recommend others. Typically, they will return the favor. This shows up on your profile and adds validation to your resume.
There is also a download function that turns your profile into a professional PDF resume that you can use when submitting to gigs.
Follow Screenwriting Staffing's official LI page for news and updates.
TWITTER. Since the project is in development, I can’t list out the details. But just earlier this year, a screenwriter-director friend of mine got his film funded by actively sharing his project over Twitter. It wasn’t only links, like LEARN MORE HERE. But with creative anecdotes, quotes, images, re-tweeting the right people, and sharing motivational messages -- all directly related to his project. Yes, the budget is just under 100K. But his film is being FUNDED, all through proper marketing, advertising, and networking through Twitter.
We all scroll through Twitter during the premiere of our favorite show on TV. We love to see people’s reactions and comments and memes. Same goes with the NFL on Sunday. Just a few days ago, I followed what was trending on Twitter for the World Series. However, there was more on the newest Bachelorette... (that's Twitter for you)
But did you know it’s becoming popular for television writers to live-tweet during their shows? This has been going on for years. The TV series EXTANT (2015), staring Hale Berry, writers would live-tweet during certain episodes airing on CBS. This is a growing trend among shows airing on FOX, NBC, and CBS.
If you haven’t already, be sure to join the #SCRIPTCHAT community on Twitter. According to their site: Scriptchat is an online Twitter chat for screenwriters and writers, bringing a community of artists together to share tips and advice on succeeding in a screenwriting career.
This feed is chock-full of professional screenwriting gems.
HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD USE TWITTER:
-- Twitter is not just for A-list celebrities. They are used by A-list screenwriters, too! As writers, we write for a living, right? So why wouldn’t writers -- at all levels -- utilize a platform that is merely for sharing your writing? You don't think the Twitter world is fascinated by the creators of their favorite movies and shows? Check out Paul Fig’s Twitter -- over 2MM followers. Michael Ian Black has 1.9MM. Top 25 writers to follow on Twitter.
-- If used correctly, your tweets will let the Twittersphere know your style of writing.
If you are a comedy or satire writer, your tweets should be humorous and sarcastic. The goal is to build an audience/brand geared towards your writing style.
So if comedy is your thing, the only way to attract people with a sense of humor is to be damn funny and witty.
-- I always preach less is more. Your loglines should be short. Your screenplay’s description lines should be brief -- hell, even scripts need to be shorter now. What better way to showcase your creativity, your ability to pare down your pros, and get in and out then regularly writing 280 and less character limited tweets?
-- According to StyleCaster, Megan Beer's career began on YouTube and the lip-syncing app Music.ly. In 2012, at 13 years old, Justin Bieber discovered Madison Beer after he shared a video of her singing Etta James's "At Last" to his millions of Twitter followers. The rest is history. One tweet changes careers. You are a writer with a voice. Since Twitter’s creation, people have been sharing their voice through Twitter. Believe it or not, some tweets have CHANGED MANKIND. Tweets from Edward Snowdan to Barack Obama: Check out top tweets that CHANGED THE WORLD.
-- Like Fb and LI, Twitter is another excellent way to promote your work. It’s an easy way to post a URL to an article written by you, your IMDb page, a trailer to your new movie, your logline, or the festival/contests you just placed in (always tag the contest). Throw up a brilliant intro, add some popular hashtags, and who knows -- you may be the next person trending.
HOW NOT TO USE TWITTER:
-- Do not recycle your posts on all platforms. If you have photos of yourself at a film premiere, IG may be a better place. If an online publication interviewed you, LI would be more suited to share. FB would be the right place to post a link to a trailer for your new horror film. Twitter, however, should be used to showcase your writing ability. You don’t want your followers on IG to not follow you on Twitter simply because you post the same thing.
-- Twitter was created so you would have a voice. So your entire Twitter feed should not be re-tweets from someone else. Yes, it’s good to share other people’s posts if you think it would be beneficial to your fan base, but at the end of the day, people want to hear what you have to say -- not what others have to say.
-- Twitter is full of controversial tweets and opinions. Some very ludacris. Whether it is a politician or an athlete, there are always tweets that rub us the wrong way. That doesn’t mean you have to respond. Did you know that everyone can see your responses? On your profile, there is a whole section for tweets and replies. Before engaging in some meaningless fight over Lebron or Jordan that turns into an outright bloodbath, think if you want the whole Twitter world to see.
-- Out of all the platforms I mention for screenwriters, Twitter would be the place to express the things that matter most to you. Controversial opinions tend to get the most likes, comments, and re-tweets. This provides you with a lot of opportunity when expanding your brand as a screenwriter. But bear in mind, one negative tweet can tank your career forever. Roseanne Barr’s critically-acclaimed show ROSEANNE was coming back for a Season 2 -- that is, until she tweeted what many believed to be a racist tweet. Regardless of whether you agreed with her firing or not, Hollywood executives knew that the backlash of keeping her on did not outweigh the show's current success. She won't work in Hollywood again.
TWITTER TIPS FOR SCREENWRITERS:
-- You must interact. Follow your favorite writers, celebrities, friends, companies -- whatever tickles your fantasy. But don’t just follow them, comment and communicate. That does not mean to be hateful if you disagree. Friendly and open debate is always welcome. But also congratulate. Read or watch what they share, and articulately share your thoughts. You’d be surprised how many people -- big or small - read through comments. You never know -- you might get a reply. Happens all the time. Happens to me frequently.
-- Your bio should be a call-to-action.
Your bio should tell writers why they need to follow you without asking them to follow you.
You need to show wit, personality, and confidence. Keywords are important. Somewhere, anywhere in your bio, the word screenwriter, tv writer, or just plain writer needs to be listed. But don’t just tell them you are a writer -- there are millions of writers. Your clever adage will ultimately decide if they click the follow button or not.
-- When you are a famous writer, like John August, it’s best just to list out what you’ve done (as many may know his movies, but not his name). Here is what he writes: Writer of Go, Big Fish, and Arlo Finch. Maker of Highland. Co-host of Scriptnotes podcast.
But, if you want something that grabs the attention of someone at first click, try what @sixthformpoet says: Please buy my book, I owe people money.
The ONION: America’s finest news source.
@aparnapkin: I am a scrunched up napkin with recyclable dreams. Also a comedian in some cultures. Total drag in others. Mostly here to feel bad.
Twitter, when you get right down to it, is all about sarcasm. Anyone who takes Twitter too seriously does not get Twitter’s purpose. Find your niche, find your voice, and find your target audience -- then create a killer bio.
-- Don’t go overboard, but there is no harm in tagging producers, talent, and companies to your posts. I never understand why screenwriters are so scared to send out their work. If no one reads it, no one will buy or make it. Same with your tweets and voice. You need the world to know what you are doing. Tag the people you believe should know or benefit from what you are saying. You never know, they may re-tweet it -- or reach out to you directly. HAPPENS MORE OFTEN THAN YOU THINK. Someone with a large following re-tweeting something you wrote could change your career overnight for the better. But how will they ever know if you don't include them?
-- Hashtags are king when it comes to Twitter. Hashtagging a keyword, like #screenwriting, will help you show up more easily in the Twitter search -- especially if it’s screenwriting-related. Hashtagging #travel would be suitable for a travel blogger, but not you as a screenwriter.
Learn the appropriate and popular hashtags in the entertainment industry. Follow hashtag trends. There is a reason why every brand has their own hashtag -- #shareacoke
-- We may not have the largest social media following as writers, at least compared to celebrities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t leverage their network. That is what social media is all about—especially Twitter. You can’t survive Twitter on your own. You need friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers to like and share your tweets. But believe it or not, you know someone, I bet, who has a decent following. Exploit it. But in a good way. For my new film DE GRINGO A LA TUMBA, I rely heavily on my site's social media following and e-mail list, as well as the massive following of my attached cast. It's the easiest way to get the word out about my feature film. Learn about joining our timey border film HERE.
INSTAGRAM. I know some writers are skeptical, but Instagram does serve a purpose for screenwriters.
There is a reason why social media influencers -- whether foodies, fitness, or celebrities -- make most of their money through IG.
IG has all the features that today’s world wants: IGTV, Stories, Posts, and Instant Messaging.
We write for a visual medium. So it only makes sense for us to use a site designed just for visuals.
When I’m bored, out of all the social media platforms I mention throughout this article, I find myself on IG the most. It requires the least amount of thinking on my part -- but requires the most amount of thinking for the person posting, which is why I find it the most unique out of all the platforms.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE INSTAGRAM:
-- We all know social media is not real life. And I’d venture to say IG paints the most unrealistic image of ourselves -- yet, for some reason, we like to believe that our friend’s life is really that glamorous. In this industry, it’s all about appearance. It’s by no accident that the junior producer who has only $100 in her account before her next pay check drives a BMW to her small shared office at Paramount. If you want to play the part, you better fit the role.
We order the most expensive wine at the parties. We buy a new suit for the pitch meeting. We take the check during the business lunch. Not because we can afford it, but we want to give the industry the illusion that we are a someone. That’s where IG comes in. Fake it until you make it BIG.
-- IG is riddled with inspiration. From creative art prints to stunning videos. IG takes you all over the world. We see places that we never knew existed. As writers, we need all the inspiration we can get. IG, if you choose who you follow carefully, will provide this for you.
-- As I mentioned with FB, it’s essential to let the film world know where you are. FB, though, is not always the best platform to share your photos at Cannes. But IG is. IG was created solely to show images and videos -- not text (like Twitter). People scroll through IG to see where people are and what they are doing. And those who use IG best share photos/videos of places that most people don’t have access to in the industry. You can elevate your screenwriting image/stature by merely letting your network know you attend these soirees.
-- It takes many people to make a film, way beyond a producer, director, and writer. Some of the most underappreciated people in the biz are production designers, art directors, editors, and gaffers. I can assure you, all these people are on IG -- and they are always sharing their newest work and photos on-set (or behind-the-scenes). Since IG is solely a visual medium, it makes sense that everyone, both in front of and behind the CAMERA, would take pictures of their film-making experience.
HOW NOT TO USE INSTAGRAM:
-- IG is pretty self-explanatory. So it’s tough to screw up IG. Like FB, IG is not the place, at least as a screenwriter, to post racy photos of yourself. IG, believe it or not, can be used as a professional screenwriting account that you include when applying for gigs -- but only if done right. There is a bio section and a link for your portfolio. Do not leave these blank.
-- No one rarely reads what you write on IG. You know that person you follow on IG that you have a crush on? How often do you read what he/she writes? NEVER. I know that person writes some recycled quotes, but it’s the image you are attracted to. Save your mind-bending and intellectual rants for Twitter -- not IG. It will go unread.
-- With FB, LI, and Twitter, you are most likely following people you know, work with (or want to work with) or people you admire or are entertained by. Unlike FB, you can’t hide your IG followers. If you use IG for purposes outside of promoting and networking, be sure to keep your account private or create a separate one for screenwriting. It will be hard for anyone to take you seriously if everyone you follow is in a bikini.
Furthermore, IG uses what and who you follow to recommend videos and images. If you want to use IG for business purposes, it will behoove you to follow business-related film/television content and people. Enjoy horror movies? Follow Blumhouse’s IG page.
INSTAGRAM TIPS FOR SCREENWRITERS:
-- Above all, in the industry, actors and actresses use IG the most. It makes sense. It’s a great way to throw up their latest headshot, share a still from a movie they starred in, or even a group photo with the cast and crew. But don’t think that none of this applies to you. Talent understands the power of IG. That’s why you see them tagging people all the time. They want you to re-share the image or video. The only way up-and-coming talent survive in this industry is by having likes, shares, and comments. It’s not uncommon for them to tag the writer. I can’t think of a script that I’ve written (even a short) where the actor/actress didn’t tag me when on-set… or during the premiere. But they will only do this if you are following them. So… follow all the people you work with… especially the talent!
-- As writers, we may not want our face blasted all over the web. If we did, we would be actors, not writers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post. Some of my favorite writers who post online share quotes combined with images, stills from movies (with the dialogue included), photos of the cool and unique places they are writing (i.e., some stunning balcony in Venice, Italy), or the poster of their movie. While I’m not a huge fan of writers taking pictures of their script and sharing it over social media (only because we all have one. What makes yours unique?), this would be the one place people might appreciate it.
-- Promote your work, not ideas. People don’t want to see/hear what you plan on working on, but what you are actually working on. But only to an extent. What do they really want to see? What you have produced or published. Use IG to self-promote -- I promise you, the more people see your smiling mug holding up a certificate of your winning screenplay at a contest, the more the world will recognize you as a screenwriter. It’s...all...about...appearance.
-- Like Twitter, Hashtags play a considerable role when it comes to being seen. Know your hashtags. Look up your favorite production companies, writers, and directors -- see what they use. Eventually, with IG, you want to get to a place where you have so many followers you don’t need hashtags -- but until then, hashtag the hell out of your posts!
I’m going to end this with a list of a few other social media and online platforms I recommend for writers to experiment with. But, before doing so, I wanted to summarize why these top 4 are so important for writers.
You don’t have to have a huge following to get the attention of film festivals, producers, employers -- or even A to B list talent you want to attach to your film.
What they are really looking for is engagement and activity. They want to know you are relevant. They want to know people care what you have to say (even if it’s just a few followers). They want to know you have a unique voice. They need to know you are real. They need to find you online and vet your credentials (it’s one of the first things I google when producers post with me). They want to see how you conduct yourself online. Most importantly, they want to know that you understand how the industry works now.
Our industry is now centered around social media and online entertainment. If you aren’t active online, why would they think you could write for this market?
I talked about this in the screenplay contest article. Film, from pre-production to distribution, is a collective effort. The decision-makers want to know that you can actively promote their project. You can’t do this without being active online.
WORTH CONSIDERING: The following platforms may not be for every writer, but they are worth exploring if you aren’t finding success in the above 4 mentioned.
YOUTUBE (or VIMEO) is probably the best platform for any filmmaker. But as writers, YouTube doesn’t offer us a lot. It does, however, if you are a writer-director, and you are producing regular content. Having a video link to your work when applying for gigs is an easy way to getting hired. If you feel you have unique film experiences or inside information on storytelling and screenwriting, YouTube/Vimeo might be a good place to share your insight.
PODCASTING: Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart… these are all places where people listen to podcasts.
I hate it just as much as you, but industry buyers and pros will search everywhere for the next great story; they just don’t want to have to read a screenplay. That’s why they are turning to podcasts. Here are the 14 best shows/movies that came from a Podcast.
REDDIT. I feel like Reddit has too much information from people who are not always informed. However, Reddit is packed full of people who crave knowledge -- even if it’s pointless. There are, however, tons of screenwriting and film groups and subgroups, and can be an excellent place to ask questions, read industry articles/blogs, check out movie reviews, share your work, and even at times find producers looking to partner with writers.
GOODREADS. Not so much for screenwriters, but authors. Since many screenwriters are dabbling in literature now, this may be an excellent social site to check out—database of books and reviews and more. Even if you don’t write books, as screenwriters, we should always be reading.
PINTEREST. I’ve NEVER used it for my site or myself. But I do know that there are some writers and filmmakers who do. Similar to IG, in a few ways, you can upload images of your content and work. I doubt you will sell a script or get hired by a producer through this platform, but again, the more active you are online, the better chance you have of being seen. It should be noted that 81% of the users who use Pinterest are women. So if your market is geared towards women, this may be a platform worth checking out.
SOCIAL MESSENGER PLATFORMS
If you plan to have a lasting career in this industry, you will need the following at some point in time:
Whatsapp: It’s used by EVERYONE. It is about the only messaging app used in Mexico and Latin America. But people from Singapore to Sydney use it daily, too. It allows you to share texts, voice calls, videos, images, media, and more. Because my new feature film is across borders, I have Whatsapp groups just for my actors and producers to stay connected and updated.
WeChat is used in China. And as my Film China article stated, you will be working with someone in China at some point in time. You MUST have WeChat. Like Whatsapp, it’s used for messaging. WeChat, though, is also used as a social media platform. Remember, they can’t use Facebook. They use WeChat.
Zoom/Skype. I think we all used Skype before COVID, but no one knew what Zoom was until recently. Zoom is used for writers' rooms, interviews, film festivals, and more. People are even making movies on Zoom. I have used Zoom more for Screenwriting Staffing in the last 6-months than any other online platform/service. With everything being done virtually, you need both of these social apps downloaded on your phone/computer.
If you only take one thing from this article, take this: when contacting people you don't know on social media, don't ask what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.
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Article by Screenwriting Staffing's Founder, Jacob N. Stuart.
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