Screenwriting is one of those professions that involve a lot of struggle and dedication. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be writers who come up with a single script in their entire life. And that single script will get made into a feature-length film. But for the rest of us, success doesn’t come that easy. We have to deal with the very real problems of paying bills, managing chores, and finding time to actually write. That’s why most screenwriters need a day job.
Many screenwriters have to manage two careers. The first is their passion, the writing, the thinking, and the dreaming that it will eventually reach the screen. The second is the more dreary career. The one we have to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. Screenwriters need jobs that allow them to focus more on their first career, i.e. screenwriting. In most cases, this means you’re not looking for a full-time career at a large multi-national corporation. What you need is to get in contact with the right temporary staffing agencies and ask them to find you the following openings:
- A Steady Career Job
- A Studio Temp
- A Script Reader
- An Agent’s Assistant
- Assisting Name Talent
Let’s dive right into them.
A Steady Career Job
This might seem counterintuitive, but many screenwriters are struggling to put food on the table as they work on their passion. A person has to eat, and there’s no shame in prioritizing financial stability. So if you feel you need peace of mind to write, and money brings you that, go for it. Put in your best efforts at landing a steady career job that pays well. Of course, it would be a bonus if you could find one in Los Angeles or nearby. That way you have a chance to cultivate industry contacts if you play your cards right.
A Studio Temp
If industry connections and a flexible work schedule are a priority for you, then you might consider temping at a studio. This comes with a lot of freedom to choose when you work and when you take time off to write. Many established writers have spent their early days working as temps for Hollywood studios. With luck, you can make contact with someone who is in a position to do something with your script.
A Script Reader
When it comes to the specific skills a screenwriter needs, there is no better gig than being a script reader. If you’re fairly new to the scene, a part-time or full-time gig as a script reader can offer you important insights into the craft. You can also learn the business aspect of writing a screenplay. The more scripts you read, the more you can improve on your own writing.
An Agent’s Assistant
Being an agent’s assistant is a tough job, but it pays off exceedingly well. You do all of the things a script reader does, plus get hands-on experience on how the industry works. Building a solid relationship with a Hollywood agent or manager can get you the in you need to make it on your own. You get to make tons of valuable contacts that can come in handy in the future. And you get to have fun while doing it.
Assisting Name Talent
If money is not the primary concern in your current career goals, then being an assistant to name talent might be a good temporary option for you. There is a lot to do. You may have to read scripts, pick up dry cleaning, groom a pet, answer phones, and a bunch of other things. But when you’re working closely with talent, you’re in a position to create a great working relationship. After a while, you may even be on a first-name basis. That is when you can pitch your script, and maybe get their support in getting it to a producer. Of course, you don’t want to appear like you’re cashing in on the relationship. So make sure your relationship is a comfortable one before you ask them to look at your script.
The job market out there is saturated. There are tons of people out there registering with sales recruiting agencies vying for the same jobs others are. That means you need to get moving right away. In Hollywood, you can make it big, or you can never make it despite years of effort. Either way, if you have faith in your screenwriting abilities, you should start looking into the day jobs listed above. They can help support your aspirations on their way to reality.