If you don’t live in LA, it can be hard to network and break into the film industry as a screenwriter. But! With more virtual opportunities to network popping up, it’s easier than ever to get your foot in the door of Hollywood.
Here are a few ways you can jumpstart your writing career and start networking with execs, managers, and showrunners, even if you don’t live in LA!
1. Attend Film Festival Mixers
Find film and TV festivals that interest you. While submitting your scripts to film festivals and screenplay competitions is a great way to get feedback and exposure, actually going to those festivals and competitions can be a great educational resource. One of the best ways to get face to face with the industry at festivals is to attend roundtable and happy hour mixers.
2. Master the Cold Query
Maybe your script has placed in a few competitions, gotten good industry feedback, or you’ve workshopped it in a screenwriting class – once your script is in a good place, it’s time to start thinking about the cold query.
Seek out literary managers and production execs who align with your writing voice. IMDbPro and Variety Insight are great resources to figure out who writers’ reps are and to find out about development deals. Then craft a short, punchy cold query email. While some may not reply, it only takes one person taking a chance on you to jumpstart your career.
3. Use Social Media
Twitter is a great way to connect with screenwriting peers and mentors. Following topics like #screenwriting and #prewga on Twitter can be a great way to see what’s possible for your career. They’re also great to help connect with other aspiring screenwriters and get advice from industry veterans!
4. Take Screenwriting Classes
While you don’t need to go to film school to succeed as a screenwriter, learning the fundamentals from seasoned professionals is invaluable. The right screenwriting class can take you to the next level and introduce you to potential writing partners and a cohort to grow your career with. Don’t forget to take advantage of programs that offer diversity or need-based scholarships, if you qualify.
5. Check Out Filmmaker Q&A’s
Get exposure to different career fields and the paths that people took to get there by attending filmmaker Q&A’s. Sign up for your favorite festival and filmmaker organization mailing lists to stay on top of their latest panels, Q&A’s, and lectures.
6. Seek Mentorship
A good mentor’s experience can help you navigate the ins and outs of Hollywood and prioritize the next steps you’ll need to take in reaching your goals. There are several free mentorship applications open to writers of underrepresented backgrounds (check out Connect the Writers and Mentorship Matters!) If you find an industry professional whose path you admire, you can cold query them for mentorship as well! Set specific goals and be able to articulate what next steps would best.
7. Share Screenwriting Opportunities
Stay on top of the network workshop applications for TV and for free applications for film. Sharing opportunities with your network is a great way to foster connections and grow together. Even if you don’t earn a spot in your dream writing workshop, applying will help you polish your work and better articulate your branding as a writer.
8. Form a Writer’s Group
Celebrating the highs and the lows and growing with like-minded peers is one of the best ways to turn the solitary act of writing into a rewarding community. Seek writers out from networking events, classes, and your community. Once you’ve formed a group, you can check out our blog on how to lead a sustainable writer’s group.
9. Get Genuinely Interested
One of the best parts of a writing community is getting to read the cool stuff your peers are making. Each writer shares something unique with the world, and it’s fun to celebrate that. Request to read your friends’ and acquaintances’ work, give thoughtful notes, and invite them to your table reads. Share your growth and surround yourself with artists whose careers you’re excited for!
When it comes to networking in the film industry, it’s easier now more than ever to meet peers and experts. Come prepared with work you’re proud of, root for yourself and your friends to succeed, and be bold. Networking is more than making business connections: approach it with a spirit of openness. You never know where you might find the right person to level up your career!