Screenwriting : Is Screenwriting During This Pandemic Still Worth It, Or Should Other Mediums Be Pursued? by Michael Cantrell

Michael Cantrell

Is Screenwriting During This Pandemic Still Worth It, Or Should Other Mediums Be Pursued?

I'm actually wrestling pretty deeply with the question I posed in the title of this post. On the one hand, I really want to keep writing screenplays because that's something I really enjoy, but part of what I enjoy about it is the idea of possibly seeing a piece of writing turned into a film project. Sure, I could do that myself with some of my stuff, but that's beside the point.

I don't enjoy short stories and novellas -- I can't write a novel, I've tried many times -- as much as screenplays, but I do still enjoy the creative expression. I've also toyed with the idea of turning scripts into narrative podcasts or even comics, though that option is out the window due to a severe lack of budget to hire artists.

With the pandemic, there doesn't seem to be many projects getting made, so I wonder if pursuing a screenplay and selling it or using it to try and get assignments is worth it at this point.


Nick Assunto - Stage 32 Script Services Coordinator

Yes! Perfect time to catch up, if you think about it. I mean yeah the pessimist in me is definitely saying what's the point if the world ends haha. But the optimist in me is going great I can get a packet of features ready just in time for when people are starving to go back into production. So I've been focusing on that side of things as to not lose my mind.

Michael Cantrell

haha that's a great way to look at it, Nick!

Anthony Moore

Ever said "I wish I had time to write that [include medium here]"? Now you do.

Michael Cantrell

Good point. It's just a matter of trying to figure out what to do lol. I just finished a short film script for a contest. Maybe I'll write another.

Craig D Griffiths

We (the world) should have a vaccine in Feb. Another year to get it to a large amount of the population.

Since most of my stuff take a year to get great. Then a few more years to get made. This is a great time for me to keep writing.

For me nothing could be made quick enough to be worth my time. Just me personally.

Kiril Maksimoski

Even in pre-pandemic era bunch of scripts were bought off and never saw a light of a day in a the questions is, if you get money in your pocket will it matter to you?

William Martell

Well, there was just a 3 picture deal for Zoom horror movies with Blumhouse, and before that a 5 picture deal for "Screentime" (like SEARCHING) movies with Blumhouse. So there are companies that are finding ways to make films safely during all of this, so there might be a market for scripts like that.

But if you want to write a novel, that's cool, too.

Dan MaxXx

The pandemic/George Floyd's murder/Record Unemployment helped one of my writer-friends. Her spec pilot was passed to a TV showrunner on hiatus who introduced the writer to a Manager and now she's taking zoom meetings for TV staff jobs

Mark Simborg

Hi Michael. I think right now is not really much different form pre-pandemic, in the sense that it's always going to come down to the working relationships you've been able to make with producers and directors, and also your ability to be more than just a writer. I really do think that to succeed in screenwriting these days you also have to be an actor and/or a director and producer, if not all of the above. While the pandemic has slowed production down almost to a halt for many studios, things will at some point get going again and given the amount of time it takes for a screenplay to actually get made - ie, first optioned, then circulated with agencies, then circulated with talent, the circulated with funders, then bought, then made - it almost makes the pandemic a non-issue, assuming that widespread vaccination is coming at some point next year.

John Ellis

Well, Michael Cantrell if your idea was to write one screenplay, sell it and see it produced - that's a pretty flawed approach, even before the pandemic.

Write, write, write - your fifth or sixth script should be good enough to start garnering interest (still a long way from a successful career, but it's a start). The earlier ones are just practice.

So in this instance, the pandemic doesn't really affect your aspirations - screenwriting is a marathon, not a sprint

I'm not trying to be discouraging, just real.

David Stauffer

It usually takes a few years for a script to become a film in the best of cases, so anything you write now would probably find a world where we have a vaccine or some fractional normalcy compared to the present anyway.

Mark Simborg

To add to what I said before, something I forgot to mention: it's never about "this screenplay" or "that screenplay" - it's really about what "this screenplay" or "that screenplay" can do for you to help you forge relationships with people already working in Hollywood/TV/movies to, potentially, down the line, then give you the chance to actually work with them on something. Maybe it's their idea. Maybe it's yours. Maybe it's their cousin's or brother's or sister's, etc... This isn't meant to sound deflating but it's just what I learned about the reality of screenwriting many many years and many many screenplays into doing it. Working Hollywood producers and directors are literally FLOODED with scripts - even great scripts - but their attention is always on the work they're doing right now that's paying the bills for them. They may finally get around to your script and absolutely love it, and have nothing else on the slate and be ready to go to start putting it together, but the next day Bruce Willis's agent calls them and says they have a project they want to work on - and they don't like the idea - but... guess which one they will now put their attention to? Anyway - trying to help and this is all based on my working experience now, about 12 years deep into screenwriting.

Joseph F. Alexandre

You'd probably be best served to focus on making something. I think a lotta folks are in denial about what Covid is doing to the Industry, but it's def turning it upside down which is actually an opportunity for the little guy. OWNING content is king, the marketplace is a little whack now causes Fests are dark but if you can put something together w a few 'names' you could def sell it much easier than before.

I got a buddy writing on the new Chris Rock version of Fargo (black gangsters in KC) and he's worked on Justified, Deadwood, etc knows everybody in town & just said development right now is at a standstill (as is production- they are shooting Fargo but literally have 2 crews, like shooting 2 series in case someone in a dept gets sick. You can see how this isn't ideal budget-wise.) hell, they're even talking about replaying old commercials... replaying old commercials! It doesn't take a genius to figure the write down WB& Disney will take for Tenent & Mulan respectively!

But hey, you put together a nice Indie w solid cast you really have something. Think about shooting & making something.

Michael Cantrell

Thanks for all the feedback, folks! None of it was discouraging at all. Appreciate the input! I’m seriously considering some horror stop motion short films and some narrative fiction podcasts as a substitute for doing my own films as i have no damn clue what I’m doing lol. I can work on some features in spare time and hone my craft while producing actual stories and content.

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