Hello! My name is Jon Kohan and I’m a screenwriter from Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
When you think of Pennsylvania you don’t really think Hollywood. In the history of my hometown, there have only been two major Hollywood movies filmed in the city; Slap Shot (1977) and All the Right Moves (1983).
A lot of us have dreams that in order for us to see them to fruition, we must make a literal move. In the case of filmmaking, if you want to make movies you have to go where movies are made. The obvious place to go? Hollywood.
How many people a year move out to Hollywood chasing their dreams? How many find themselves moving back home shortly thereafter, broken emotionally and financially?
Here’s an even more important question; How many people never make the move to begin with? How many people figure this “dream” of theirs isn’t worth pursuing because they figure there’s no other way to make their dreams come true without being in the middle of the action.
Well, that might have been true years ago, but with Stage 32 right at your fingertips, that old way of thinking is no more. Take it from me, a young screenwriter from Pennsylvania who added real screenwriting credits and made lasting connections with fellow filmmakers all from this site.
If you’re a screenwriter and are looking for a way to get some credits under your name, then continue reading. While this is aimed towards my fellow writer friends, all filmmakers (directors, editors, producers, cameramen, etc) could take these same steps and possibly find success as well.
Stage 32 has a ton of features and opportunities for screenwriters. One that I hope isn’t overlooked by my fellow writers is the Stage 32 Jobs page.
This is where I’ve personally made two connections that have been instrumental in my screenwriting career.
You can search for jobs posted near your area which makes sense for crew members or even actors. But when it comes to screenwriting, we can do our job basically anywhere, so we can, and you should, look for opportunities all over the world.
Filmmakers are always looking for a writer to help them with their project. Every time I take a look at the most recent job postings I always find several pages filled with cool – interesting projects that are in need of a talented screenwriter.
If you’re looking to get your start as a writer or you’re looking to add some real IMDB credits, go apply for some jobs now. This is what I did when I was starting off and was hired to write two short scripts for two talented directors. Both of those projects were produced and even did well on their individual festival runs.
Since initially being hired by these two directors, I’ve worked on several other projects with them.
Having these credits also allowed me to gain more attention from other producers, directors, and production companies. The momentum builds from there.
But, don’t just simply apply for every writing job you see and hope someone hires you. To give yourself a better chance of getting hired then you need to...
When you start applying for screenwriting jobs, make sure you’re ready to impress. Have at least one short script completed that you can send the person looking to hire a writer as your writing example. This is the BEST way to not only show your skill as a writer but also allows them to get a sense of your style and the way you tell a story.
There is no better way to have someone hire you than to have a killer spec script.
Make sure it’s a short script. The reason for this is because a feature is usually at least 90 pages and the person looking to hire might not have time to read several feature-length screenplays. Now if you have a short, something between 1-20 pages that they can read quickly, that is more doable.
As someone who’s looked to hire as well, you wouldn’t believe the number of writers that don’t have a writing example to share. So, if you are one of those rare writers that DOES have a writing example, you can see how that will put you out in front of all the other candidates setting you apart.
You’re closer to being hired!
It shouldn’t be this way, but just as with any other line of work, when you’re starting off you might have to do some free work in exchange for future payment or opportunities.
In my case, this was the truth for the two connections I made this way.
Both jobs I applied to were looking for a screenwriter to write a short film. Both stated that this wouldn’t be a paid job but that the writer would receive proper screenwriting credit.
As an up-and-coming writer, I was willing to not be paid for my services in these two instances because the pros outweighed the cons.
CONS - No pay
To me, the choice was clear. Looking back I think I made the correct decision. Both shorts have won several awards including Best Comedy and the other is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
You’ve applied for a job that sounded really exciting with some talented filmmakers already attached to the project. You sent your spec script and sent all your links/information. The director has made his decision and has hired you to work on the project.
Now follow through.
You might only have to write a four-page script. Or you might have to write a thirty-page script. You might have to do several drafts. You might be asked to join a conference call. You might have to submit additional materials. You might have a tight deadline.
Do the work. Put your heart into every word on every page. Give it your everything. This is what you wanted to be. Sure, it might not be this summers major blockbuster, but there’s no difference between you and the person that wrote that summer blockbuster.
You are now a screenwriter. You know have credits to your name. You are building your career momentum and it all started from looking at the jobs page and betting on yourself and your talent.
I’m Jon Kohan an award-winning* screenwriter of both film and television. Some of my credits include, Family Game Night*, Spilled Paint*, Deer Grandma*, and Ernie and Cerbie. I offer screenwriting services and mentoring through my Patreon and Fiverr pages.
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