Sometimes, finding a credible, potential screenwriting job can be difficult. Writers often find themselves falling victim to scams, or paying to receive newsletters with possible leads when there are free alternatives available, like The Script Mentor.
To help you find potential, credible, paying leads when searching for screenwriting jobs or considering submitting to a script search, we developed a list of top ten tips to help you find the best:
The source is key!
Don’t just give away your intellectual property for free! Know who you’re dealing with. Sites like Craigslist offer a whole bunch of job listings from anonymous sources with a lack of “security checks”–but don’t let that shy you away, some of them are real opportunities. Send a letter of introduction letting the client know you have a screenplay that may suit their needs and/or an official resume before giving it all away.
What’s the catch?
Like the aforementioned job “newsletters”, a lot of potential leads are only in the business to rip you off for information that is available for free elsewhere. And if that lead comes from a source encouraging you to buy additional job leads, RUN! Ninety-nine percent of the time, job newsletters advertise “new” jobs that are actually just cut-and-pasted ads from outside sources, disguising it as something else, or posting already-filled positions lifted from other, free, job sites. Avoid them at all costs. If you’re required to pay for a membership, or any additional costs, don’t do it. You’re getting duped.
Location, location, location!
The law isn’t always the same when it comes to protecting intellectual property in every country, so know where your client is based out of. There is virtually nothing stopping a director or producer from taking your script and creating a project without you ever knowing if the laws of their location deems it legal. When this is the case, consider a non-disclosure agreement to protect yourself and your script.
Internet scams are so popular because of the sheer lack of humanity in an email exchange. Tone can easily be misinterpreted in an email, and watching out for “catfish” (someone pretending to be something that they’re not) is something we all need to do, in all avenues of life. But especially in securing a screenwriting job, try Skyping, FaceTiming, or simply talking on the telephone to help put any feelings of hesitancy of who you’re dealing with at ease.
Do your homework
If client information is revealed early on (think: information in the initial ad, email signatures) research it as much as possible. Check out their website(s), affiliated social media accounts, and any articles mentioning the client. If you can’t find anything, chances are you’re probably not going to get paid that promised $10k for your final draft.
Get your money
If you’ve got a resume to be proud of–produced projects, awards, placement in substantials contests–you should never have to write for free. And while you should take into consideration that producers and directors advertising through sites like Craigslist or Mandy are also taking a risk, albeit not as large a risk as you, watch out for yourself. If potential clients disclose the amount they’re willing to pay for your work, request 50 percent upfront and 50 percent after completion of the final draft.
Avoid false promises
Scams often throw around words and phrases like “Oscars,” “Emmys,” or “millions of dollars!” to make their advertisements more attractive. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case, and often these people aren’t living in the real world. Is it impossible? No. But a film that sourced its screenwriter from a Craigslist ad offering $500 for the finished project most likely won’t garner the attention project’s need for The Academy to take notice.
If payments are advertised as back-end agreements, beware. While it’s up to your discretion, you’re most likely going to end up working for free. If you just want to get your work out there, go for it.
Leaps of faith
It’s the goal for all writers to get paid for their work, but sometimes opportunities come around that are difficult to pass up. Don’t overlook them just because the compensation is less-than desirable. If there’s a significant amount of potential in the project, with plans to enter it into many film festivals, it may be an amazing project you’re proud to be apart of. Plus, often awesome opportunities that don’t pay, or don’t pay as much as you’d like, lead to more lucrative opportunities.
You never really know who’s waiting on the other side of a job listing, so be respectful, but don’t put yourself in a sketchy situation. If you aren’t comfortable with a certain arrangement or feel like it’s too-good-to-be-true, remember you have the control to say no or pull out at your discretion. You might have to kiss a lot of frogs before landing the perfect screenwriting job.