We get so many questions about what makes a successful screenwriter and whether film school is necessary. While there is no set formula for becoming a successful screenwriter, let’s start by outlining some steps you can follow to increase your odds of success:
- Writing consistently and regularly to develop your skills and build a portfolio of work.
- Reading and studying successful screenplays to understand the craft and conventions of screenwriting.
- Networking with other writers, directors, and industry professionals to gain insight into the industry and make connections that may lead to opportunities.
- Learning about the business side of the industry and understanding how to pitch and sell your work.
- Being open to criticism and using it to improve your writing.
- Being persistent and not giving up on your goals, even if you face rejection or disappointment.
- Building a brand for yourself, to stand out from other screenwriters, and make yourself a more attractive prospect for producers and directors.Remember it’s a long journey and not an overnight success, stay persistent and stay true to your writing style. Most screenwriters won’t hit their prime until they’ve written at least 6-7 complete screenplays and spent no less than 6 months on each screenplay refining and polishing. It’s important to put your best foot forward and always push the bar to improve with each screenplay that you write so that you can reach your prime sooner. Blasting through a draft each month and coming out with 10 screenplays a year is not going to give you the gains you want in your screenwriting career.
When we talk about becoming a successful screenwriter, we can’t avoid the question of Film school is not necessary to become a successful screenwriter, as many successful screenwriters have not attended film school. However, film school can provide valuable training and resources for aspiring screenwriters. In film school, students learn about the technical aspects of filmmaking, such as camera angles, lighting, and sound design. They also learn about the history of cinema and the techniques used by famous directors and screenwriters. Additionally, film school can provide access to resources such as equipment, editing software, and industry professionals who can offer feedback and guidance on students’ work.
Additionally, attending film school can give you the opportunity to network with other aspiring filmmakers and make connections that can help you in your career. And also a chance to learn from experienced professors and professionals in the field. However, it is not the only way to become a successful screenwriter. You can also learn by reading screenplays, studying the craft, and writing consistently.
Ultimately, whether or not to attend film school is a personal decision that depends on your goals, resources, and learning style. If you have the resources and the desire to attend film school, it can be a valuable experience. But if it’s not an option for you, there are many other ways to learn about screenwriting and gain experience in the field.
The biggest hurdle to get over when contemplating film school is cost. The cost of film school can vary widely depending on the school and program. Some film schools are part of state universities and may have lower tuition rates, while others are private institutions that can be quite expensive. In the United States, film school can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per year for tuition and fees. Some prestigious private film schools such as the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts can charge up to $70,000 or more per year. It’s also important to keep in mind that the cost of living in the area where the school is located also play a role in the overall cost, as well as other expenses such as books, equipment, and housing. It’s worth noting that many film schools offer scholarships, grants, and financial aid for students who demonstrate financial need, so it’s always worth looking into these options. Additionally, there are also online film schools which can be cheaper compared to the traditional on-campus film schools. It is important to research and compare different film schools and their costs to find the best fit for you financially. It’s also important to consider the value of the education and resources you would be receiving in relation to the cost.
Some of the greatest filmmakers of our era never went to film school and were self-taught. Probably the greatest advantage of film school is the imposition of deadlines. If you aren’t good at setting deadlines for yourself, school will put the pressure on you. But if you can be disciplined and get to work, film school is nothing more than a training ground. Probably the biggest red flag about film school is that film schools don’t know how to get you a job as a screenwriter. It’s not like getting a business degree where a recruitment team when find you an available job fresh out of graduation. Nobody (not even your professors) in film school know how to get you a job. Today, there are many much cheaper options to pick up skills faster than going to film school. You just need to explore, put in the 40 hours of research online to see where those resources are, and make the best decision for your future.