So, how do you get paid for doing something that you’ve been willingly do for free for all of these years? Well, you have to have a track record of some success first, if you intend to make substantial (i.e. livable annual salary) money. Hopefully, you’ve had some successes in contests or an option or two, perhaps a produced work, or some other kinds of credits that are easily verifiable. So, to achieve this, you should be writing marketable spec screenplays that are perfectly formatted for the spec market, with a strong concept and well-written.
Beyond that, you MUST network. I realize “network” is a nasty word to some of you who prefer the shadows of your writing hovel only to come out for the occasional Twinkie and Sports Center update. But, it’s true; you really need to put yourself out there, technologically-speaking. For example, whenever I come across an indie producer looking for a script, I contact them (especially if I don’t have what they’re looking for) and ask them if they would be okay with me helping them to locate the best script for them. Now, they always say yes- because I have a network of 20,000 entertainment-related people, mostly writers like you, and they know this. They always ask “what’s in it for you?” and I tell them: I want the lead role and $100K in cash only. No, actually I tell them I’m not looking for anything, except perhaps, their professional friendship and possible future collaboration of some kind. True. No money, no credits, nothing. It’s a ton of hard work I’m willing to do for zip. Their friendship, that’s it. Sounds corny; it may sound unbelievable, but I can give you a laundry list of those I’ve helped, and still stay in contact with over the years. Many of these producers have gone on to bigger and better things in the industry, and I knew them and helped them when they were doing ultra-low budget ketchup horrors. So, that’s one way of getting your foot in the door to nice paying assignment writing; offer to help them without any expectations on YOUR end. Believe me; they’ll remember you and you will cash in on that good karma soon.
You also have to go to where the jobs are. The sites are plentiful, and I mention them all of the time: Craigslist, Mandy, Elance, SimplyHired, Media Match, GetFilmJobs, Mooncasting and a host of others. Now, some of these may require a paid membership, but they almost always allow you to try it for FREE first. So, sign up, fill out your profile, and check out the jobs. Elance is by far the best for paying jobs in general, and they have a sweet set-up. Mandy is excellent for screenwriting jobs, specifically. On Craigslist, instead of checking just Los Angeles or New York, check out “classifiedadsnationwide.com” and do you search. I scour all of these sites, and many more, and try to provide only the PAYING screenwriting jobs or script searches on our LinkedIn and Facebook sites “Script Assignments and Searches”.
One last note: those screenwriting “job” newsletters like “International Screenwriting Association” (ISA) and Screenwriting Staffing Utopia (SSU)? Total scams. Don’t spend a dime on them, even though they BOTH ask for $100 for a “premium” account. ISA is owned and operated by an actor who simply cuts and pastes the ads found at the same websites we find ours. The difference is they withhold the contact information “for five days” unless, of course, you PAY the premium price, and then you’ll receive their contact information by accessing their website. Total scam, and the owner doesn’t deny doing this (well, he can’t because it’s true). So, save your hunnit and do the research yourself- 15 minutes, tops, once you get used to it.
As far as SSU goes, well, they are just a bunch of criminals from the get-go. Jacob Stuart and Sarah Stutsman are the sleaziest assholes you’ll ever meet, so don’t EVER send a dime their way. They also “cut-and-paste” their ads, but they go one step further; they claim these leads as their own. They INTENTIONALLY try to deceive the public into believing they’ve cultivated the clients through their own contact- of which they have NONE. I know this because I was personally scammed out of $2600 from them by being a partner and Vice President of their business. He lied to me as well, folks, and once the truth was revealed, I left immediately, but far too late. He claims to have worked FOR ISA in the past, from which he was fired (a claim denied by the ISA founder) so he started a business mirroring the ISA model. Once I called them BOTH out for plagiarism, as well as fraud, Jacob Stuart and Sarah Stutsman began “re-writing” the ads in their own words (which, to no one’s surprise, are mostly misspelled) in an effort to avoid detection. FAIL- as so is their business! If YOU have been victimized by EITHER of these newsletters, demand you full reimbursement today! Let them know you can find the same jobs and opportunities on your own or on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages. When they refuse to comply and not return your money, let us know: we’ll tell the world…or at least 20K industry-related people!
We will be the “light” to these cockroaches!