For the most part, working towards making it as a screenwriter is a solitary effort. You’re the one who has to write the script and get it out there. It’s a tough journey, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Hence – networking.
Making that initial contact is great, but you should also strive to make it worth the other person’s while as much as you are for yourself.
Once you start to build up your own personal community of Other Writers, and those relationships gradually develop beyond the “Hi. Nice to meet you” stage, you’ll naturally seek out some help in the form of feedback – your latest draft, a query, a logline, what have you.
And that’s all well and good, but it’s equally important, if not more so, for you to return the favor. Rather than just popping up and saying “Hey, would you read my script?”, try “Hey, we’ve known each other a while, and you seem to know what you’re talking about, so would you be open to reading my script? And I’d be more than happy to reading one of yours.”
Helpful tip #1 – don’t be the person who asks for notes but isn’t willing to give them.
Helpful tip #2 – even if you don’t like what their notes say, you still need to hold up your end of the bargain and give them notes – especially if you’re the one who asked in the first place.
Sometimes the best kind of help is when it’s unexpected – either from you or from somebody you know.
A few years ago, a producer friend of a friend was looking for a certain kind of project. I didn’t have anything that met their criteria, but offered to post the listing on a few social media platforms. At least 20 writers responded. I sent their info to the producer, who then contacted a few of them (as far as I know).
What did I get out of it? Just being happy to help and the appreciation from all the writers – even the ones the producer didn’t follow up with.
I’ve also been fortunate to be on the receiving end, with friends sending me emails and messages about listings seeking scripts like mine.
A little effort really does go a long way – anything from forwarding a script or job listing to a few words of encouragement, or even offering congratulations for somebody achieving some kind of accomplishment. Don’t you like when somebody does that sort of thing for you?
As much as we’re all working towards our own individual success, we’re also part of a community; one where each member should help support the others in whatever way they can.
-Speaking of helping out… Veteran screenwriter Carole A. Parker is offering a reduced rate of $250 for her 4-week screenwriting course. This includes a script evaluation, weekly writing exercises (for newer writers) or friendly-but-detailed notes on your script (for more experienced writers), career guidance, and if she thinks your script is commercially viable, some help in getting it in front of the right people. Here’s a great article she wrote about staying determined. For more details, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.