Film Scriptwriters are an essential part of any film because they’re responsible for creating the dialogue, characters, and storyline that make up a movie script, or screenplay. Like television writers, screenwriters often specialize in a particular genre, such as comedy or science fiction.

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Film Scriptwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to the Producers. They are almost always freelancers who either pitch original ideas to Producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or who are commissioned by a Producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screenwork or literary work, such as a novel or short story.

Screenwriters write or adapt the film’s story into a script.
The story may exist in another form, such as a novel or play, or may be based on actual events. Other times, screenwriters write the script from their own ideas.

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For an adaptation, screenwriters must first obtain the legal rights to use the material and then rewrite this material to suit their purposes. They may keep much of the source material or make big changes and insert some of their own ideas.

For scripts based on actual events, screenwriters research the events and then write the script based on the research. For an original story, screenwriters brainstorm ideas before beginning to write.

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They may have a colleague edit the script and make suggestions. When the script is done, screenwriters find a producer willing to fund the project. They work with the producer and director during pre-production to discuss, edit, and develop the script.

Duties & Responsibilities of Screenwriters

The job generally requires the ability to perform the following duties:

  • Develop and research ideas for original movie screenplays.
  • Create an initial framework, or treatment, for screenplays.
  • Write or adapt a story into a script.
  • Meet with film executives to pitch screenplays and ideas.
  • Weave together visual elements in scenes with plot and dialogue.
  • Work with producers and directors to edit and adjust the script as needed.
  • Screenwriters may come up with original material, write a script based on actual events, or adapt an existing work (such as a book, play, or film).

Skills

  • Writing skills: A strong command of the English language and the ability to write a compelling story is a must for this job.
  • Observational skills: Many screenwriters base characters, plot lines, and much of the dialogue of a script on real events, places, and people they’ve observed in real life.
  • Creativity: Screenwriters must be able to come up with new ideas and also envision what a film might be like before it’s made.
  • Interpersonal skills: When working on a film, screenwriters must work with the producer, director, and other team members to adjust the screenplay as needed. They also must be able to effectively pitch their screenplays.

Training

Film Screenwriters aren’t required to have specific education, training, or certification, but aspiring screenwriters could benefit from taking classes in creative writing and film. Some colleges and universities offer specialized screenwriting programs and degrees.

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