Professional Screenwriting Career Profile
Screenwriters are responsible for crafting the words that are spoken by actors in film, television and videogames. A screenwriter's primary function is to create intellectual property in the form of screenplays of scripts. Screenwriters write scripts that are turned into movies or TV programs. They begin bybrainstorming for ideas and follow up with in-depth research, which usually includes Internet and libraryresearch as well as interviews. From this point, material is selected and the topic narrowed appropriatelyuntil the actual writing process begins.Screenwriters work either on speculation (also known as "on spec") or on assignment. When working onspec, a screenwriter writes a script and shops it around to prospective buyers and studios. If working onassignment, a screenwriter has been commissioned by a buyer to write a script. Most screenwriters workon spec. Not only must a professional screenwriter write a script, he or she must also create a logline, or premise, and pitch the script through a presentation.Screenwriters often work with directors and producers who keep them on schedule. A screenwriter needsto make up a 'shooting script' that contains instructions regarding the shots, lighting and camera angles.The screenwriter may need to rewrite the script numerous times during the course of production. Thosewriting for a TV show need to come up with a script weekly.
In order to be a successful professional screenwriter, one must possess certain skills, among whichwriting and research skills are key, along with creativity and talent. There are no particular educationalrequirements for this field, as experience, self-motivation, ability to take criticism, a strong portfolio of workand creative talent are the main prerequisites. Screenwriters generally have experience as freelanceeditors or writers and some may have a bachelor's degree. They need to acquire a understanding of howa film is made and be knowledgeable about film language. The majority of professional screenwritersnormally live and work in Los Angeles or New York, near the major film markets.
Salary and Compensation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salary and wage employment in the video and motion pictureindustry as a whole is anticipated to increase 11% in the next decade. This is due to the increasingnumber of satellite and cable TV channels that need programming and the demand for films, DVDs andvideos for Internet and in-home use. This growth maybe offset by the increasing number of films made inother countries and motion picture piracy, which leads to loss in revenue. Screenwriters can anticipatestiff competition, since high-paying, glamorous jobs are fewer in numbers and have more applicants.The average professional screenwriter salary is based on the different compensation available for variousscreenwritingjobs. According to a 2010-11 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, screenwriters fallunder the "Authors, Writers and Editors" category. Professionals in thiscareer field earn an averagesalary of $53,070. According to the Writer's Guild of America, as of January 2011, the minimum amountearned for sellingan original screenplay and treatment is $62,642. An original treatment, or outline of ascript, can be sold for a minimum of $28,382. Rewriting an existing screenplay can earn a minimum of $20,554 for the screenwriter. Screenwriters are generally paid a lump sum if they sell a script. Those working in television as a staff writer may make two to five thousand a week. An accomplished, in-demand movie screenwriter can make