As much as great directors, producers, and actors don’t like to admit it, screenwriters power the film industry. Their creativity keeps directors on set, studios in business, and actors fed, but with all of the great writers competing for limited spots, it can be difficult to stand out. That’s why on top of producing creative, insightful work, screenwriters must also market themselves like pros.
Some screenwriters will do anything to stand out. They’ll gamble on bold campaigns like taking out a full-size billboard for their latest script, but there are better ways to market yourself. So before you consider billboard advertising, here are some alternatives methods screenwriters can use to market themselves.
Use every marketing tool in your arsenal.
When it comes to marketing, you are your own biggest ally. That’s why, when used in unison, every platform you promote yourself on has a purpose. Depending on your style, you can use Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram to build a following and promote your point of view and your work. Facebook is also great for connecting with film groups and staying in touch with peers. LinkedIn proves useful for job postings and filmmaking social networks like FilmUp are a simple way to showcase your work and make connections in the film industry.
Even though you may interact with different audiences on each of these social networks, you should keep your message consistent. Keeping your profile photo, name, and bio consistent between your social networks will help build a consistent profile that people recognize. When you’re building an online presence, abide by the mantra of promotion over pitching. You’re not selling your script directly to your followers and connection, you’re selling yourself.
Network like it’s your job (because it is).
Once your screenplay is complete, the hours you once spent writing in solitude can now be focused on promotion and networking. When you’re starting out as a writer and haven’t build a reputation, self-promotion falls on your plate. There’s more than one way to get your name and your work out there but engaging with the filmmaking community is the best place to start.
Join local or online writing groups, volunteer for local film festivals or screenings, and apply for fellowships and screenwriting competitions. The more people who read your work and hear your pitch, the better. Once you find an audience and begin contributing to or creating films, your work will help you pitch your projects to agent or managers who can help put you in touch with producers and studios.
Aline Brosh McKenna, producer and screenwriter known for The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses, frames networking this way. “Young writers seem to forget that people in the industry are desperate for good material. The business isn’t constructed to keep you out of it, but to bring you into it. More than ever now, there are so many contests and agents and producers… If you write something great, and you know somebody who is even peripherally involved in the industry, like the assistant director’s brother-in-law’s niece, it’ll find its way to someone. It may not get greenlit and turned into a blockbuster immediately, but it’ll get read, and if it’s really good, it’ll start your career.”
Being a successful screenwriter takes both dedication to writing and connecting.
Make writing your business.
Marketing yourself does strictly need to happen in your free time. If you’re lucky enough to land a job in the entertainment industry you can make connections that will help grow your career and talents. And contrary to popular belief, the entertainment industry does not only exist in Los Angeles and New York. There are opportunities in local markets across the country for hardworking writers.
Even entry-level jobs such as a PA on a film set or an executive assistant are great foot-in-the-door opportunities that will help you make friends and market your work. Like Aline Brosh McKenna put it, you never know where your next connection will come from.
No matter what stage of your career you’re in a little shameless marketing never hurt. If you’re going to feel comfortable marketing your film’s premiere one day, you should practice marketing yourself and your work today.