Screenwriter

Screenwriters write the stories for feature films, TV programmes and computer games.

Average salary (a year)

Variable

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 variable

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become a Screenwriter

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • applying directly

University

Some screenwriters have degrees or postgraduate qualifications in creative writing, English or journalism, but this isn't essential.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

More information

College

When you're starting out you may find it useful to take a college course. A course could help you to develop your skills and understand dramatic structure. Courses are available in:

  • creative writing
  • scriptwriting

These are widely available at colleges, adult education centres and universities.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this route.

More information

Direct application

If you want to get directly into this job, you may have an advantage if you have writing and storytelling experience from another field such as journalism, advertising copywriting or acting.

You’ll normally start by coming up with your own screenplays and ideas, and trying to sell them to agents and producers. Once you have had some work accepted and started to build a professional reputation, producers might then commission you to produce scripts for them.

More information

Career tips

As a new writer, you could get yourself noticed by entering screenwriting competitions. These competitions are run by broadcasters and regional screen agencies to discover new talent.

Further information

You can get more advice on careers in film and TV from ScreenSkills.

You can also find advice about submitting your work to the BBC at BBC Writers Room.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent written communication skills
  • persistence and determination
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • Being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day activities may include:

  • coming up with themes and ideas
  • researching background material
  • developing believable plots and characters
  • laying out the screenplay to an agreed format
  • preparing short summaries of your ideas 
  • selling your ideas or ‘pitching' to producers
  • getting feedback on your work from producers or script editors
  • rewriting the script before arriving at an agreed version
  • networking with agents and producers
  • handling your own tax and accounts, if freelance

Working environment

You could work in an office, from home, at a film studio, at a tv studio or on a film set.

Career path and progression

Your career will depend on how successful you are, and how popular your work is.

You could combine writing with other work like teaching, lecturing or editing.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Screenwriter right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Ways into screenwriting: an introduction

  • Provider: CITY LIT
  • Start date: 21 July 2019
  • Location: London

Start Screenwriting Course

  • Provider: CREATIVE MEDIA SKILLS LIMITED
  • Start date: 18 February 2019
  • Location: IVER

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