Attention all screenwriters. Karmic Films is looking for screenwriters to help with the new superhero franchise, this will lead to a full-time writing position with our company. If you are interested, send in your resume and we will have one of our trained reps get in contact with you if we like you.”
Aspiring writers need to pay the rent, eat and somehow get around town while they are struggling to make in Hollywood. Some of the better jobs for writers include, “story analyst,’ “production assistant,” “writer’s assistant,” or “screenwriting gigs.” Where do you find these jobs?
There are a group of websites that advertise for writers, offer paid screenwriting jobs (which are almost always non-union low budget). Some advertise for personal assistants to help actors, directors, producers or screenwriters. Some of them pay, some are non-paid internships.
Interning with a producer, or a writer, or a talent agency can be a good experience if you’re taking film classes. Internships generally award you school credit instead of money. If you’re in a writing program, say at UCLA, you might be interested in the networking opportunities.
Websites known for advertising these types of jobs include; Craigslist, Indeed, Mandy, Entertainment Careers, Screenwriting Staffing, Upwork, Hubstaff Talent, International Screenwriting Association, The Anonymous Production assistant, Crewjobs, Internship.com, Monster, and Glassdoor.
And you’ll find more like these on the net. Be advised, proceed with caution. You may or may not be aware, but there are producers out there looking to get you to work for free. Not all, but plenty.
For example, I know a writer who’s had experience with the company “Karmic Films,” mentioned above. (not the real name by the way). This writer was contracted to write an episode of a series. After negotiations, this company offered only $200. Not only that, but the writer found out later, the $200 was “deferred,’ meaning payable after the company made it’s profit – which could be never.
Some writers might still take that deal to see their episode produced, and have something to show producers or agents. Others won’t work for that kind of money.
Watch out for producers who promise you “screen credit,” or “exposure,” or “experience,’’ or “access to contacts,” instead of money. They might ask to option one of your finished scripts for free, or for one dollar. They may say payment is TBD (to be decided) or “deferred.” I’d advise you to ask for decent money up front rather than giving the rights to your ideas away.
How much is decent? In the world of low-budget non-union films, producers will offer as little as $200 for a script. Writers Guild of America (WGA) guild minimums are more like $70,000 for big budget films, and $30,000 for low-budget. I wouldn’t accept less than $5,000 for a feature length script – and more like $15,000. (But that’s just me –everyone has their price).
You might wonder if it’s even worth your time to deal with low-budget producers. The truth is, the studios are buying fewer and fewer big budget screenplays – especially from newbies. The odds of beginning writers sell to a studio are astronomical.
Even produced writers have a hard time selling scripts. Newbies hardly stand a chance with the studio’s craving for re-boots, re-makes, prequels, sequels, and adaptations. Studios are looking for a built in audience.
So I think it makes sense to try to get your screenplay to a low-budget independent film producer. (You will need to start writing lower budget features – with say, six characters and six sets.) When you get a film made and released, or get a movie for television produced, it puts you on the map. Agents will be interested in signing you.
Whether you’re looking to just make a few bucks, or to sell a feature, you might want to look at these ads. Here are some examples. All of these ads appeared on various sites recently.
Female writer (with IMDb presence) looking for assistance to help with finding agents, producers, and for my unfinished scripts. Compensation – Hourly payment is negotiable. Part-time.”
This job has an hourly rate – which I’d want to earn while trying to break in. Before calling them I would verify that, in fact, this writer is a produced screenwriter. You can check her credits on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb). You can Google it. If this writer checks out – I would consider what I could learn from her, possibly – as a mentor.
“PRODUCER’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT.
Work hard, learn the business and get credit on docu-film. Compensation – $15 – $17 per hour, after 6 months, goes up to $20 per hour. $1,000 bonus. Part-time.”
This job looks even better in some ways. They offer an hourly rate, plus a bonus, and credit on the film. Keep in mind an “Associate Producer” credit might not be that impressive, but it can get you started on your own IMDb page.
“FILMMAKER SEEKS “ULB” SCREENPLAYS.
I am looking for Ultra Low Budget Screenplays that can be made for under 200K and I am open to all genres. I am looking for a like minded people who want to at least try to do something to get their work out there. If interested, please respond with LOGLINES ONLY.”
If I had a screenplay that fits this description I might consider submitting a logline to this producer. Again, I would research the production company – to verify they’re not too sketchy. I’d also copyright my screenplay before submitting it anywhere. (Copyright is the best protection for your work – better that registration with the WGA). Never send a script out without first copyrighting it.
“PERSONAL ASSISTANT/PROMOTIONAL MODEL NEEDED.
Seeking open-minded personal assistant to help with both business and personal life. Assistance on the business side involves setting up meetings and related stuff. Assistance on the personal side involves booking tables at clubs, cabanas at pool parties, and for my place after parties, personal shopping, etc.”
You will really need to be up for anything if go after this job. Who knows, it sounds like it could pay well, and might be a lot of fun – if you go in for that kind of thing. Use your best judgment when considering these jobs – and remember Hollywood attracts its share of sleazy producers, as well as legit ones.
The jobs or gigs you find on websites like these generally fall into the “entry-level positions” category. They are just be a means to an end. You get this experience, put in a year (or even less) and apply for better jobs. Of course, these aren’t your dream jobs. You will surpass them — and some day sell your scripts to WGA signatories.
If you’re trying to get your script out, or break in, feel free to talk with me at 310-850-4707.