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Screenwriter

Screenwriter

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Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplay
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

s from which mass media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 such as film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

s, television program
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

s, Comics
Comics
Comics denotes a hybrid medium having verbal side of its vocabulary tightly tied to its visual side in order to convey narrative or information only, the latter in case of non-fiction comics, seeking synergy by using both visual and verbal side in...

 or video games are based.

Profession


Screenwriting is a freelance profession. No education is required to become a professional screenwriter but good storytelling abilities are required. Screenwriters are not hired employees, they are contracted freelancers. Most, if not all, screenwriters start their careers writing on speculation (spec), meaning they write without being hired or paid for it. When such a script is sold, it is called a spec script
Spec script
A spec script, also known as a speculative screenplay, is a non-commissioned unsolicited screenplay. It is usually written by a screenwriter who hopes to have the script optioned and eventually purchased by a producer, production company, or studio....

. What separates a professional
Professional
A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialised set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to estate agents, surveyors , environmental scientists,...

 screenwriter from an amateur
Amateur
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....

 screenwriter is that professional screenwriters are usually represented by a talent agency. Also, professional screenwriters do not work for free often, an amateur will often work for free and are considered writers "in training". Spec scripts are usually penned by unknown professional screenwriters and amateur screenwriters. There are a legion of would-be screenwriters who attempt to enter the film industry but it often takes years of trial-and-error, failure, and gritty persistence to achieve success.

Screenwriting in the film industry


Every screenplay and teleplay begins with an idea, and screenwriters use those ideas to write scripts, with the intention of selling them and having them produced. The majority of the time, a film project gets initiated by a screenwriter and because they initiated the project, the writing assignment exclusively becomes his or hers. These are referred to as "exclusive" assignments or "pitched" assignments. Screenwriters who often pitch new projects, whether original or an adaptation, often do not have to worry about competing for assignments and are often more successful. When word is put out about a project a studio or production company or producer wants done, these are referred to as "open" assignments. Open assignments are more competitive. In situations where screenwriters are competing for an open assignment, more established writers will usually win these assignments. A screenwriter can also be approached and personally offered a writing assignment.

Script doctoring


Many screenwriters also work as full or part time "script doctor
Script doctor
A script doctor, also called script consultant, is a highly-skilled screenwriter, hired by a film or television production, to rewrite or polish specific aspects of an existing screenplay, including structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing, theme, and other elements...

s", attempting to better a script to suit the desires of a director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 or studio
Movie studio
A movie studio is a term used to describe a major entertainment company or production company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to film movies...

. For instance, studio management may have a complaint that the motivations of the characters are unclear or that the dialogue is weak.

Script-doctoring can be quite lucrative, especially for the better known writers. David Mamet
David Mamet
David Alan Mamet is an American playwright, essayist, screenwriter and film director.Best known as a playwright, Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize and received a Tony nomination for Glengarry Glen Ross . He also received a Tony nomination for Speed-the-Plow . As a screenwriter, he received Oscar...

 and John Sayles
John Sayles
John Thomas Sayles is an American independent film director, screenwriter and author.-Early life:Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary , a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator. He was raised Catholic and took to labeling himself "a Catholic atheist"...

, for instance, fund the movies they direct themselves, usually from their own screenplays, by writing and doctoring scripts for others. In fact, some writers make very profitable careers out of being the ninth or tenth writer to work on a piece; in many cases, working on projects that never see exposure to an audience of any size. Script doctoring companies, also known as script consultancies, are also often used by directors, production companies and individual screenwriters. These usually do not offer full re-writes, but are used when a production company or an individual requires feedback on whether or not a script is marketable, how it can be improved, and whether or not it holds any potential for development. Many up and coming screenwriters also "ghost write" projects and allow more established screenwriters take public credit for the project.

Development process of a project


After a screenwriter finishes a project, he or she pairs with an industry-based representative, such as a producer
Film producer
A film producer oversees and delivers a film project to all relevant parties while preserving the integrity, voice and vision of the film. They will also often take on some financial risk by using their own money, especially during the pre-production period, before a film is fully financed.The...

, director , literary agent
Literary agent
A literary agent is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers and film producers and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same. Literary agents most often represent novelists, screenwriters and major non-fiction writers...

, entertainment lawyer, or a entertainment executive. These partnerships will often pitch their project to investors or others in a position to further a project. Once the script is sold the writer only has the rights that were agreed with the purchaser. A screenwriter becomes credible once their work is recognized, giving the writer the opportunity to earn a higher income.

Production involvement


Screenwriters are rarely involved in the development of a film. Sometimes they come on as advisors, or if they are established, as a producer. Some screenwriters also direct. Although many scripts are sold each year, many do not make it into production because the amount of scripts that are purchased every year outnumber the amount of professional directors that are working in the film and tv industry. When a screenwriter finishes a project and sells it to a studio or production company or producer, he or she often has to continue networking, mainly with directors or executives, and push to have their projects "chosen" and turned into films or TV shows. If interest in a script begins to fade, a project can go dead.

Video game writing


Video game writing is also considered to be a form of screenwriting. Some film and television writers also work in this industry.

Union


Most professional screenwriters in the U.S. are unionized and are represented by organizations such as the Writers Guild of America
Writers Guild of America
The Writers Guild of America is a generic term referring to the joint efforts of two different US labor unions:* The Writers Guild of America, East , representing TV and film writers East of the Mississippi....

. Although membership in the WGA is recommended, it is not required of a screenwriter to join. The WGA is the final arbiter on awarding writing credit
WGA screenwriting credit system
In the United States, screenwriting credit for motion pictures and television programs under its jurisdiction is determined by either the Writers Guild of America, East or the Writers Guild of America, West . Since 1941, the Guilds have been the final arbiter of who receives credit for writing a...

 for projects under its jurisdiction.

See also

  • Screenwriter's salary
  • Screenplay
    Screenplay
    A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

  • Playwright
    Playwright
    A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

  • Script (comics)
  • WGA screenwriting credit system
    WGA screenwriting credit system
    In the United States, screenwriting credit for motion pictures and television programs under its jurisdiction is determined by either the Writers Guild of America, East or the Writers Guild of America, West . Since 1941, the Guilds have been the final arbiter of who receives credit for writing a...

  • List of screenwriting software
  • Television crew
    Television crew
    Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.-Pre-production:-Casting Director:-Costume designer:-Director:* Associate Director -Location Manager:-Make-up artist:...

  • Film crew
    Film crew
    Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew positions.A film crew is a group of people hired by a production company for the purpose of producing a film or motion picture. Crew are distinguished from cast, the Actors who appear in front of the camera or provide voices for...