Screenwriting : What qualifies someone as a screenwriter? by Patrick Hampton

Patrick Hampton

What qualifies someone as a screenwriter?

I find more people call them self screenwriters without any qualifications. I am curious what would qualify some of these people as screenwriters. I didn't start calling myself a screenwriter until I won my first award and writing for a few professional groups in LA. What's your story?

Lisa Clemens

My story: I was asked to try my hand at it for someone already working in the industry as a director/ stunt choreographer, that I had interviewed for a magazine years before. He didn't tell me then, but he was looking for a writing partner. So he gave me one to try rewriting, to see what I could do. When I handed my work to him and gave him time to read it, I called and told him I had enjoyed working on it and hoped he'd think of me if he had another in the future. He told me "As far as I'm concerned, you're my partner for as long as you enjoy it!" He gave me some tips and became my mentor. When I was hired and paid to write one, then I became a professional screenwriter. So in my opinion, anyone who is serious about the craft, who wants to do this as a career and does what they can to improve and grow as a writer IS a screenwriter. Before my partner had asked me to do the rewrite, I had played around with turning some stories I wrote into scripts but I did not consider myself a screenwriter because I did not take it seriously. It was only when I realized I could really do this and that I wanted to improve and make this a career, that I became a real screenwriter.

Jason Lawson

I sold the movie rights to my novel,and wrote the screenplay for the producer, thats my story...

Daemon

Back in the old age of movies did screenwriter have qualifications? .I think if you have a story to tell whether its a novel or from a movie, If someone writes something good down they are a writer. That is my opinion.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

I agree with Steven. I have people tell me I'm good and I've earned a couple awards here and there, but it has never once come out of my mouth that I am a screenwriter. Well, maybe to myself in the shower. I HAVE told people that I write screenplays, and although I spend more time on my scripts more than I do my actual job, I don't make it seem as though it's my profession, because it is not. I don't pay my bills and go on vacations with the money I made from writing.

Richard Allis

How you define yourself is up to you, not the person that buys your first script. Just don't be telling people that you make a living at it when you haven't sold anything. THAT would be a lie instead of a definition.

Lisa Clemens

I bristle at the words "Playing at or pretending" until I was hired/sell. I was not pretending when I worked the rewrite that got me started with my writing partner/mentor and I was not pretending to help him to write the projects he plans on directing! I was working hard and doing everything I could to get those words right and prove to him he made the right choice. It was not taken lightly. Whether it's for hire, my own spec scripts or one with my partner, it's never pretend and I would never waste his time or mine by playing!

Lisa Clemens

I don't see it as an art though. I do see it as a creative business, and always have.

Brad Harrod

If you never sold a script but enjoy writing them, what do you call yourself other than a screenwriter? Screenwriter enthusiast?

Lisa Clemens

How about this answer from Brian Koppelman. I've gotten great advice from him in the past (he is very approachable and does try to answer questions on twitter and his blog!) https://v.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/EB55D4CE6A1088652672493658112_209aebc1efb...

Becca-Chris M

A screenwriter is someone who writes screenplays. So I wouldn't say the writer needs to have sold something in order to be titled a screenwriter. In order to be taken seriously, it appears they need to have sold something. But in order to simply call themselves a screenwriter? All they need to do is write screenplays. Though there's a big difference between "professional screenwriter" and plain "screenwriter."

Lisa Clemens

Lisa S, to quote one of my fave lines from one of the Lethal Weapon films, "Semantics? I'm always up for Some antics!"

Jeffrey Gold

When I was at Cambridge University, I discovered the undergraduates in the UK refer to themselves by the titles of their chosen fields. I like the psychology of that; e.g., someone who studied physics was a physicist (that was my field at the time). I suppose the lesson in that is: Own it. Then become it. If a screenwriter is what you are, then that's what you are. If you are living it, breathing it, chances are you are it. I suppose you can always amplify it with Optioned or Sold or Guilded later on. Or, as Nike says, "Just Do It."

Ross Horn

I just want to say I loved your comment about one of the members here at stage 32 being on crack.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

^^^ ????!!!

Richard Allis

Looking back, I don’t feel I really became a screenwriter/playwright until I could read through something I wrote three months later and not cringe at my writing. Whatever I called myself before that, I was just a beginning/aspiring/pretending-I-was-better-at-this-than-I-really-was kind of writer. And I probably wouldn’t call myself a professional writer until I was reasonably able to support myself through it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well said, Dan. There are also aspiring screenwriters.

William Martell

I have no idea why people call themselves anything. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I either say I write explosions or I put words in actor's mouths... and when I was working in a warehouse I said I was a forklift jockey. I had optioned a couple of scripts (and even had a film made) but I was earning my living moving pallets from place to place. Who cares? I have a friend who is a director and has business cards that say he makes custom septic tanks to fit your unique personality.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

William, I DON'T believe that last part. I NEED proof because I died of laughter!

William Martell

I'll try to get one of his cards next time I see him and take a picture.

Laddie Ervin

I try not to get caught up in what other people are doing, saying, or calling themselves. IMHO, to be a screenwriter, you just need to write a screenplay. To be a Professional Screenwriter, you have to be paid for writing a screenplay. To be a Working Screenwriter, you should be making a living from writing screenplays. Everyone in the business knows the difference. There's nothing wrong with aspiring to be employed in your chosen profession and telling people about it. There's someone out there right now who's a "wanna-be" who will eventually take home an academy award. Who are any of us to choose what is the appropriate label for them at this moment? Do good work. The world wants great stories.

Kristopher Rickards

When I joined Stage 32, it asked me what my talent was and I had to choose at least one option. Therefore I'm a screenwriter :D

Tony Mcgrady

I thought that myself. But didn't give taxi driver as a option

Dougie Brimson

Well I've had three screenplays produced, have two currently under option and a number of others in work and I still don't consider myself to be a legitimate screenwriter. The reason being that for me, screenwriting is a sideline as I'm primarily an author and with 15 published titles under my belt, even I feel that label to be justifiable. Mind you, if I could pick a title which encompasses both, I guess it's be storyteller. Now that's a label I'd like.

Michael Eddy

A "screenwriter" is someone who writes screenplays. Preferably ones that begin FADE IN and end some 110 pages later with FADE OUT. Writes on a daily basis. Has an agent. May have sold something for actual money. Produced or otherwise. A writer writes. And rewrites. Anyone can call themselves anything at all - but it doesn't necessarily make it so. In this case - writing in and of itself is proof that you are doing it - and not just talking about it. You can show script pages to someone. Unlike someone who calls themselves a director. Or a producer. Or an actor. Tougher to show proof of those.

Beth Fox Heisinger

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." --Stephen King, taken from his book "On Writing." ...Nothing really about being "published" as proof of your existence as a writer. ;)

Lisa Clemens

Stephen King also said, "if you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! That's great, Lisa! Well, we are talking about "labels" here not really about "talent" or "craft" -- both subjects worthy of much more attention, consideration and importance. :)

Jeffrey Gold

Not sure I agree with Beth. Are you a writer if your work is never seen (outside of friends and family)? Will your work be miraculously discovered long after your death? How will they know to look? When the estate movers come, will they read your journals or will they end up at the dump? Am I a champion card player if I'm in the middle of the desert dealing myself straight flushes? Questions. You can call yourself whatever you are or whatever you want—hoist that flag—but if it doesn't work out, how will you honestly account for that? (Only YOU can prevent forest fires.)

Linda Perkins

If a person has written a screenplay, how else would one define themselves? Its just a title to represent your craft...aspiring or otherwise. When the question is raised during the course of a conversation, 'screenwriter' is a poignant response. Less is always good; and if more information is required, let the interested party inquire.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Good grief.... YES, you are a writer even if your work is never seen. You write, therefore you are a writer. Now, whether one's work enables a person to make a living out of their writing is solely up to that person and not their "title" -- their ambition; their talent; their business sense; their work ethics; their everything creates success. Being overly concerned about "titles" or "labels" indicates a craving for some kind of outside validation. A person who writes screenplays is a screenwriter. If one prefers to divvy this pursuit into formal categories, or levels, or stages, there are three: aspiring, amateur and professional. I'm now going to bow out of this discussion by reverting to what Dougie Brimson called himself: a storyteller. Personally, I find that to be a more noble calling.

Michael Eddy

To Lisa - I like your Stephen King quote. A writer is someone who writes. Period. A writer who sells is "talented" according to Mr. King. Reminded me of my first agent, who, after optioning my first script, admonished me "not to spend it all in one place. Could be 3 years til the next sale". turns out he was right. Three years. I took his advice though, unlike a buddy who after HIS first sale (at a considerably larger payday than mine), bought a Porsche. When April came around and a tax bill was due - he'd spent the money. A word to the wise, and "talented".

Mary Ellen Gavin

My students ask for this definition all the time and I tell them: As soon as you finish your first script -- refer to yourself as a Screenwriter. As soon as your script gets OPTIONED, refer to yourself as a Lucky Screenwriter. As soon as your script gets PRODUCED, refer to yourself as a Blessed Screenwriter.

Pierre Langenegger

Agreed. If you write, you're a writer. If you write screenplays, you're a screenwriter. If they're filmed, you're a produced screenwriter. None of this bullshit "You're not a writer if you don't have IMDb credit" , that's just absolute, pretentious garbage.

Jeffrey Gold

It is amazing to me how questions like these always generate a fusillade of responses, but when one posts a question like, "What are the best ways to effectively replace (switch) a character prominent in Act 1 (who disappears) with a substitute/surrogate character in Act 2 (to carry on that thread), only to revert to the original character in Act 3 (without the Act 2 substitute)," there are no responses.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I've never seen a post quite like that... but, that specific of a question about a specific story requires someone to read the script in its entirety in order to answer the question well. Off the top of my head, I'd say it sounds like a bad plot device. :/

Jeffrey Gold

@Beth Not a bad plot device—sometimes a natural story element. It is an occurrence that can exist in more skillful structures well beyond Save The Cat—not unlike the midpoint goal change in BLOW (money to daughter) or the magnificent (rarely well-executed) genre change in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (from dramatic comedy to comedic drama). I have seen films in which a major character is replaced by another character in a major story position (friend, mentor, love interest, antagonist), so these constructions are not only possible, but one must be well versed in the craft to employ other dramatic devices to engineer the appearance of continuity where, in the hands of an amateur, a chasm would be created.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, I am well beyond Save the Cat as are many of us here... Best to you, Jeff.

Marilyn Du Toit

I will call myself a screenwriter because I have written a screenplay...it was analysed and found to be 60 % great...40% I have to work on...I may not be a professional screenwriter yet but I will get there someday. Same as I call myself an author, I have had a short story and poem published. Niether have ISBN numbers, one was published online and one was put in anthology but I was never paid for it. The release was signed compulsory when you entered the competition...I never too it further,kind of shocked Christian organisation would do that to people. But I am still a writer and one day the world will know. I have also written a novel but it needs a definite rewrite. You have to give yourself a title, because lets face it...we writers are not like ordinary folk whom have never written anything.

Jeffrey Gold

@Beth I wasn't sure where you were coming from, because you immediately characterized it as a bad plot device.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey, I said "off the top of my head." Plus, your description wasn't very clear. No examples were given. Then, you seemed to insult my intelligence, as well as others. I assure you we all take our craft seriously. So, no worries. Let's move on. Sometimes things are misinterpreted. Again, best to you. :)

David Navarro

Hmm... So am I or am I not a screenwriter? In my opinion, once someone puts the pen to paper and writes FADE IN: --- That individual is a SCREENWRITER -- all else is semantics.

Mary Ellen Gavin

David .... may I suggest that once a writer types FADE OUT on their first script-- he/she is a screenwriter--one who has completed a screenplay. I know many who have started to be a screenwriter and never finished the job.

Pierre Langenegger

David, what do you consider yourself to be?

Diego Lopes Silveira

I think that if you want to be a writer and you try doing it, you are one. Not necessarily a good one, but still. Ed Wood could barely be considered a filmmaker, as he was terrible at it and his movies had little to no acclaim when he was alive. Still, he did it anyway and now he's remembered for it. Rob Schneider is an actor. Michael Bay is a director. Good God, E. L. James is a writer. You don't have to be good or competent to be named after a job title. Either way, Michael Bay is making more than all of us combined, so what do I know, right?

Walter Andrew Carmona

I HAVE WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY AND WON PITCH OF THE DAY AT SUNDANCE. THE WIN DIDN'T MAKE ME A SCREENWRITER. The screenplay itself ( which we are now pitching to AMC, TNT among others) meant I was now a screenwriter. But, yes; a writer is a writer because he /she writes. Whether one gets picked up or not does not make that person more or less of a writer. No high horses here. Where is ones self esteem? Actualization of one's self? It is in the act of writing, not winning awards. I AM a screenwriter. I AM an actor. I AM an author. (Published). Big deal. I was an author when I began writing my first book. I was an actor one day when I looked in the mirror and made a stupid face. I knew I was an actor right then! I became a better actor, writer as I delved into my work, practiced and wrote and wrote and wrote! Acted and acted and acted. Honed, honed and honing!!!

Walter Andrew Carmona

Glad you made it thus far Patrick. Now we need to catch up to you.

Pierre Langenegger

I have no idea what you're saying, Walter

Walter Andrew Carmona

Its not rocket science. You are what you think you are. You are what you do. You think so you are. THINK! You will understand if you think Pierrrrrre!!! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I can write it in Spanish if you like! Smile!

Kevin Pacheco

i've been writing scripts/screenplays since 2008, and i'm only 23. lol. i think, Patrick, you don't need a piece of paper to proove to be a writer or screenwriter. Also, you honestly don't need to have an award to be a writer, just have confidence in yourself and never give up. start from the bottom up. its hard at first, but later it'll become easier.

Pierre Langenegger

You're not helping your cause any. Sober up, sleep it off, what ever you gotta do then get back to us when you can make a more coherent sentence

Siegal Annette

Don't be so aggressive dear Pierre. I started to write a script after learning the basic at cinema and script schools. so now I'm a scriptwriter!.I'm also a doctor in.medecine even that I'm retired and also a pathologist even not dissecting anymore corpses. You are what you decided to be and that' s enough of a quite sterile discussion on success or failure in finishing, selling and earning your life with scripts.It' s the same for any profession or occupation.You are what you are. And No reason to be aggressive as as said.

Pierre Langenegger

I'm not being aggressive Siegal. I told Walter that he's not making a lot of sense and I gotta say, your post is not the clearest thing I have ever read either. If someone writes a post that doesn't make sense, how is it aggressive by telling them that I don't understand?

Siegal Annette

Nobody is perfect ...essentially ...for you most probably

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

I think Siegal was saying you were being aggressive because you called that guy a drunk. This discussion is interesting. I love it.

Christopher Binder

Having actually written a screenplay helps.

David Navarro

@Mary Ellen - "semantics" @Pierre - I am a filmmaker.

Pierre Langenegger

I'd like to apologise to Walter and Siegal, for offending them. Let's blame it on a late night

Michael E. Berg

I call myself a screenwriter on here cause I have to advertise myself as something. Otherwise I say "I write screenplays." If people ask if I'm a screenwriter, I'll say yes that is my chosen hobby of artistic expression. I finished my first feature script, and it placed as a Finalist in a major competition. Then I finished my 2nd one and it did the same thing. Then a short of mine was optioned. So am I a screenwriter? I feel like I'm getting closer. The one thing I've never done, is call myself a professional screenwriter... because I don't support myself doing it, yet.

Michael Eddy

Siegal (or Annette? Not even sure which is your 1st name...), at the risk of opening another in a long line of cans of worms - I have to agree with Pierre L. about your posting being a bit confusing and grammatically incoherent. This site is about movies/screenwriting - and you mention being a doctor, but you mispelled "medicine". so some of your credibility takes a bit of a hit. But I'll give you a pass since a later post begins "Nobody's perfect" which is one of the great last lines of one of my favorite movies: "Some Like It Hot" by Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

I definitely dissect corpses for a living. I am a theatre critic and that's a good job description. (Memo to self: revise the business cards.)

Kenneth David Swenson

Just to drift...I didn't consider myself an author (unpublished) until a friend of mine who writes paranormal romance introduced me to a group that way...

Diego Lopes Silveira

I considered myself a writer after I read "50 Shades of Grey". I thought: Well, if this crap was actually released, I'm sure I can write SOMETHING good eventually.

Michael Eddy

LindaAnn - color me confused. You "dissect corpses for a living" AND you're a theater critic? - or your "job description" of being a theater critic is dissecting corpses for a living. If you work in the M.E.s office by day and are a critic at night - that's quite an eclectic mix. If you're a full time theater critic - and your attitude is that all theater you see is dead on arrival - than that would make you a lousy critic. I do read various critics for their opinions of theater, film and TV - although I try to find ones that are on a similar wavelength to myself to use as a useful gauge. Although I'm not immune to finding a critic here and there with whom I disagree so much of the time, and am so diametrically opposed to in sensibilities - that I'm able to use them as a reverse barometer. They love something - I stay away. They hate it - I go. For most critics, the most appropriate comment I've heard is that they are the ones who go onto the battlefield after the war's been fought - and shoot the wounded.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Michael Eddy - my bio is posted on Stage32 and you may read it, if you like.

Walter Andrew Carmona

forgiveness is hereby given to Pierre. Sometimes I don't make sense to some, but that's because I'm HUMAN, and a writer.

Walter Andrew Carmona

I do not drink. Mind altering liquids that is. Been there, done that; don't like it or need it.

Siegal Annette

Thanks Sam.You touch a very difficuly problem.English is.my second language as well as hebrew.Let's see everybody write french as well as my unperfect english.By the way this is why I have an american script doctor who made me arrive to the finalists in the 2014 Creative World Award competition.I am very pleased that finaly somebody las Sam understands me and my english and does not criticize .Be tolerant please to foreigners( if you are capable of this effort.)

Michael Eddy

LindaAnn: Thanks for the invite. Just checked your bio. So, I guess you're not a coroner after all, which makes your remark about "dissecting corpses for a living" even more indecipherable. But congrats on "Diamond Lil" etc. I see between 35-40 plays/musicals a year in NYC (last two were A Delicate Balance and It's Only A Play - both terrific BTW) - maybe I'll catch your next effort on the Great White Way. Best of luck with your screenplay.

Siegal Annette

I'm a retired pathologist, really.Now I'm dissecting my mind to find a good script to write with the help of my life experience (quite a long one) .Hope to continue until 120 as jews wish each others .

Michael Eddy

Again with the dissecting? I guess it's trending here on Stage 32. Maybe you two should start watching FOREVER on ABC.

Joseph Chastain

A swimmer is someone who swims. A runner is someone who runs. A writer is someone who writes. To me anyone who has finished one screenplay is a screenwriter, regardless if it sells or not. Now you're not a professional until you've made money at it, but you're still a screenwriter. Like Robert Rodriquez said in his book, if you want to be a filmmaker call yourself a filmmaker.

Wendy Kitts

I agree, Joseph-I facilitate workshops on freelance writing and I say that all the time-you're a writer because you write - period. And if you do it for pay, you are doing it as a profession.

Jeffrey Gold

You have to define the term first. That probably entails coming up with some criteria that separates those who are actual screenwriters (really know the craft) from those who have merely written something that looks (is formatted) like a screenplay. Much like great art, an expert knows the difference. I may administer the occasional band-aid, but I don't call myself a nurse, nor do I call myself a doctor. I cook, but I'm not a cook, much less a chef. I think you will know it when you become it—and when it becomes you.

Walter Andrew Carmona

I sent you, Jeffrey Gold a screenplay. It may not be worthy of Cambridge, or it may have technical faults, yet it is a tremendous story. Some of us who are starting out must polish our work as you did, but we start somewhere. I would hate to see a great story set aside because of a technical writing or format flaw. By the way have you any feedback and did you pass it on to the gentleman you mentioned?

Kenneth David Swenson

I may have said this; if I have please forgive me. I never referred to myself as an Author until the day an Author friend of mine called me that during a panel at a convention.

Bill Costantini

Descartes' belief - "I think, therefore I am" - applies to how people define themselves, but then again, Descartes never sold a screenplay. That belief was pretty clearly illustrated one day a few years back when I met a guy who told me he was in the movie business, and a few weeks later I saw him working as a sales associate at a Blockbuster in Sherman Oaks. I was appropriately renting the Mel Brooks movie, "History of the World - Part 1", which feautured this great exchange between Comicus and the Welfare Office Clerk. Clerk: Occupation? Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. Clerk: What? Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human experience into a viable and meaningful comprehension. Clerk: Oh, a bullshit artist! Comicus: Humph!

Walter Andrew Carmona

And...

Walter Andrew Carmona

No, Jake, I disagree. It has to do with envisioning yourself as as confident in what you do. One has to envision success and then do what is necessary to be what you are and get better. It starts with self esteem.

Walter Andrew Carmona

Some of the comments on this sight are very demeaning and lack insight. Some are very aggressive and many are just put-downs to some people who are trying very hard to be or become screenwriters. I think the sight should be for CONSTRUCTIVE criticism and advice and conversation conducive to growth as writers. One can disagree without being high and mighty in their speech, or without insult. Tact is defined thus: The ability to tell someone they suck and to go to hell and make them feel happy about going there. We do not know the people we are writing to, nor do we know about their lives, endeavors, inner thoughts or aspirations...so lets be constructive and tactful, and perhaps let a bit of kindness permeate our words. I love advice and constructive criticism about my work, and when I feel it is valid I use it, and what I feel are eggshells fit for a garbage can I throw out.

Michael Eddy

Walter - agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. And I enjoyed your definition of "tact". At times, I've felt the urge to tell someone to go to hell and give them directions. Hopefully, most will adhere to your wishes - but I fear not all. On Stage 32 - it's the nature of the beast. Or some of them anyways.

Walter Andrew Carmona

Thanx Michael. I have not thus far felt personally offended by any comments , yet I did feel for some of the recipients of the slaughter.

Walter Andrew Carmona

I was not referring to anything specific on this thread, rather in general since I joined Stage 32 in February. Perhaps slaughter was a bit acidic. Let's let that one go as I would prefer to talk about writing. I was not addressing the general readership of this sight, rather, commenting on Michael's answer to me. (sorry).

Walter Andrew Carmona

Quite alright Dan. I am not easily offended. None taken. Glad we can converse fellow creative dude!

Richard Toscan

I once got a business card pressed on me at a Hollywood party that said under the guy's name: Screenwriting and Light Yard Work.

Walter Andrew Carmona

Irrelevant jake.

Michael Eddy

Richard - impressed the guy who spend bux to actually print up biz cards when he could have just made a cardboard sign that said, "Will write for Food". And Walter, "Irrelevant Jake" - isn't that a line from "Chinatown"? (Last one: joking, so no one has to tell me I'm misquoting Robert Towne).

Walter Andrew Carmona

Yes, Michael. But It was not intentional use. Just came out of my head. After you asked, I checked it out. I watch so many movies and read lots, so I guess the lines are just floating around in my neuron soup. LOL!

Doug Nelson

Qualifications to becoming a screenwriter? It's not like being a Doctor, Lawyer, Appraiser... where you must be licensed or certified based on some formal schooling/training. The only qualification that seems necessary is the ability to spell screenwriter. Some people drive themselves to achieve a higher plane, others not so much. Successfully combining the craft and art requires a vast commitment and is not for those having only half-vast ambition and/or drive. Once I sold a couple of magazine articles – I thought of myself officially as a writer; once I sold a script and saw my story on the screen, I thought of myself as a screenwriter. Office qualifications? None.

Kenneth David Swenson

@John...I hear ya...I've got boxes of "parked" in my apartment right now.

Margaret M Hall

Yes, as my mentor says... Writers write ergo Screenwriters write Screenplays. End of it.

Marilyn Du Toit

Jake don't let the credential thing deter you. All writers have the credentials of full serial rights on their story if you created it. Of course published as a novel it would hold more water but it is still a valid credential because they know with that story no costly copyright negotiations will have to take place. There are plenty brilliant movies out there by first time screenwriters.

Stephen Weatherman Phillips

I call myself a writer even though I haven't won an award or established yet but I write every single day for 3 to 4 hours so I class my self as a writer.

Stephen Weatherman Phillips

Yes I have finished some short films and currently writing my first feature as well!

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

I like to call my self a screen play writer, I seriously pursue with unshakable aim. I do not think many even those to whom I have discussed my full script may get to do it that original as I can do, but yet some may try to do it before me. I do not care.

Mike Tyrrell

A screenwriter is anyone who writes a screenplay. But is it a good screenplay? Is it or has it been produced as a film or tv show? I believe the only real difference is whether you script has been made into film or tv show and possibly how much you got paid. So screenwriter vs professional screenwriter? We had a team of writers come together to write the script for our film Theories. As far as I know, I was the only person to have written full length screenplays before the project and am writing screenplays after the project. No one else had or is currently writing. So they have contributed, but I wouldn't call them screenwriters. That old saying "writers write" screenplay writers write screenplays. Hope that helps! And if you're interested in writing short screenplays for fun, money and the chance to call yourself a professional screenwriter, check out my current film and my recent post regarding webisodes: http://www.cinecoup.com/theories/differentiator https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/Calling-All-Writers-Write-s...

Jim Fisher

There are screenwriters, and there are screenwriters. If a writer is yet to produce a finished work, well, they may call themselves a screenwriter, and they may be working on something, but. . . I've finished five screenplays but I don't call myself a screenwriter. It's a hobby and fun. My professional focus is nonfiction, especially science. How could I understand what may or may not be of interest to a working screenwriter if I had never attempted the form?

Mark S. Jenkins

IMHO I must say the REAL difference is this as stated already: PROFESSIONAL ... Anyone who does anything in any field may call themselves x ,but they should ONLY call themselves a PROFESSIONAL X if they have been PAID for what it is they are doing. To just blanket cover all those who write and say they are not writers smacks a little of arrogance and snobbery. I am a professional sound engineer, camera op, music video producer, etc. ... Is my work any good? Maybe, maybe not, but folks seem to think it is, and enough so to keep paying me. Now I am writing screenplays and working on a large novel. Am I a screenwriter, am I a novelist ... YES I am because I have written them, BUT, I am NOT in any way shape or fashion a PROFESSIONAL at this new craft I have endeavored to learn. That IMO would actually be an insult to those who are getting paid. So is the underlying issue the way those that WILL actually pay you, (Hollywood) think of how you present yourself? Which in itself is an interesting quandary. How do you pitch a screenplay when you cannot say you are a screenwriter? I wrote it but can't say I wrote it as a real screenwriter even though it is a screenplay ... WHAT? LOL I think, like I said: Professional or Amateur sets the correct status. Peace and Success to all who challenge themselves to venture into new areas of life!

Bill Costantini

This thread has longer legs than Uma.

Kevin Fukunaga

I have never really worried about the semantics of calling myself or anyone else a "screenwriter" or not. I guess I think it's appropriate when a writer treats it as a job and acts like a professional. If you're entering competitions and fellowships, learning about the craft - reading books and other screenplays, listening to podcasts, etc. - and improving your writing, networking and taking meetings, keeping up with the industry and most importantly, working on other screenplays and projects, then I think you're a "screenwriter". If you've slapped together a screenplay convinced that some producer will give you a sack full of cash for it if you could just get it in their hands, then I'd say you're probably just someone who wrote a script. (Unless of course a producer or studio exec has in fact given you a sack full of cash for your script, in which case I retract my previous statement...) While being paid for your writing, certainly gives credence to the "professional" status vs. "amateur", I know a lot of writers who work in the industry (in a capacity other than as a screenwriter or are a professional writer in another field - books, comics, video games, etc.), have solid representation, have won or been finalists in prominent screenwriting contests, taken tons of meetings with producers, executives, filmmakers, etc., but have not been paid a single penny as a screenwriter yet. I think they would be considered a "screenwriter" of the professional variety and I bet the industry execs and producers they are meeting with, would as well. Just my 2 cents. Don't worry about the labels, just focus on the writing and you'll be ok. ;)

Kevin Fukunaga

@Dan - was that in reference to what I wrote? If so, please elaborate.

Jim Fisher

Professionals do things for money, amateurs do things for the love of it. Or the experience. Or the pure enjoyment of it. Having tried my hand at screenwriting has given me a different perspective on the movies I watch, and that alone is enough in return.

Jim Fisher

Also have read perhaps two dozen screen plays like High Noon and Casablanca. Also an education that helps my understanding of the films I watch. By the way, who is aware of the glaring continuity error in Casablanca? Just curious.

Jim Fisher

Geno: Hope you don't have a thin skin.

Jim Fisher

. . . and if frogs had wings they wouldn't bruise their ass every time they jumped.

Royce Allen Dudley

If you can claim Screenwriter as profession on your tax return, then you are one.

Doug Nelson

!45 comments over semantics so far (and still going strong.) I like to think these public forums can be useful sources of knowledge – I guess I’m wrong. (Doug has left the building.)

Rodrigo de Souza

A teacher can be a teacher if teaches for a little child?

Marilyn Du Toit

If you teach someone something you are a teacher. Why does a piece of paper make you a teacher? All good parents are natural teachers as the kid comes a complete blank slate and you have to teach it, and when you can teach other peoples kids and other people...you are a teacher. Anyone who writes is a writer whether you are published or not. I have earned money from writing even though I am not published. And what I did get published earned me nothing. The real writer is the one that does not see writing as a job but as a part of their life.

Wesley Reid

A screenwriter is someone who, at the very least, gets optioned. Without being published as such, would you call yourself a novelist?

Dougie Brimson

John Hunter, that is the single most sensible thing I've read on this thread in weeks. Please let this die...

Michael Eddy

I'm amused by Kathryn's last comment and find myself in agreement. Since we've agreed that a writer writes, let's say that a writer/screenwriter should be doing that - and not arguing incessantly (and wasting time) about what defines the foregoing. WRITE!! Unless you're looking to do your own dictionary or start a debate club.

Jessie Bernard

You are screenwriter if you say you are. Point blank. If you have written a script and produced it but received no profit. That are you to say? I am person who wrote a script but not a screenwriter? Writing is an art form. Not everything is about profit or money some people.

Jonathan Kramer

Mike Jones, one of the more innovative writers and producers in Australia feels that writers who label themselves eliminate opportunity to tell stories on other platforms. So rather than say "I'm a screenwriter, playwright, author or TV writer", you say I'm a Creative Storyteller. And speaking of such, we're seeking the kind of writers that understand the future is Social TV/Film where we engage the audience on several platforms.

Walter Andrew Carmona

I agree w/ Kathryn.

Cherie Grant

Kathryn why do you feel the need to control where a thread goes and for how long? If people want to talk about it or argue semantics let them! It should be a free world.

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy

There are artists that have splattered globs of paint on a big canvass and made a fortune. There are lousy writers that produce crap and it gets made into film; and there are obscure writers who produce great work that never sees the light of day. All art is subjective. Anyone can call themselves a screenwriter. if you put your work out into the ether and others like it then they will call you a screenwriter too.

Chanel Ashley

Kathryn, I agree with Cherie, why make an issue of something a little inane - why CONTROL a thread? To what purpose? Sure, you're a moderator, so what if people argue semantics - it's simple, if one doesn't like it, withdraw, don't participate, it's really not that difficult an equation to comprehend - you say people have complained, fair enough, but I'm complaining about their objections that may end a thread i derive enjoyment from.

Chanel Ashley

This is an interesting question, I believe if you have a passion for writing, have completed screenplays, you are a screenwriter - for those that suggest the criteria must include selling some of one's work before they are deemed screenwriters, I say the following - Vincent Van Gogh created 900 paintings, 1,100 drawings and sketches, yet only sold one - is he deemed a painter? an artist? What say, you?

Chanel Ashley

Wow, can't believe we agree on something, Lisa, but good one, girl - one must be "objective" - I have a pretty good guess you made the complaint, what do you think, Cherie, lol?

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Complaints? I'm here to collaborate and learn from others. If it's moderated and censored, I need it like an optional body function. Keep at it Lisa. If you piss me off, I'll let you know and then our work may improve.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Conversation waxes, wanes, changes and turns. Join in. Bow out. Whatever. New members find a thread and choose to share their opinion. I've seen threads come back after going quiet for years. Really, it's all good. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

You are correct, Lawrence, we are all here to collaborate, share ideas, challenge each other and create. Stage 32 is a community of like-minded folks. Nonetheless, we do receive complaints about negative behavior -- particularity in regards to derogatory statements, personal attacks and vulgarity. Those things are not appreciated. Great conversation and debate are always welcome. :) If anyone has questions about the site please look over "Terms of Use." Otherwise, carry on!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan, we do appreciate your thoughts and insights. Always. :) We do have a criteria. Kathryn misspoke about that, just in quick passing. My apologies to her and to you. If I can help in any way, I'm happy to do so. With that, I kindly suggest we return to the topic of the thread. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

John, you do not know our inner workings or how we communicate.

Marilyn Du Toit

I think the posts only really need moderation if it starts getting out of hand and bullying and name calling etc...but this one is really just interesting how writers see themselves and how important to some is success and others not.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan, I have no hatchets. :) Great answers to the OP's questions. I couldn't agree more.

Beth Fox Heisinger

John, please move on. Again, you do not know all the facts nor our inner workings. Kathryn is well-aware and we are just fine, thanks.

Chanel Ashley

Beth, shall I presume then, you are a moderator, to my knowledge you have never confirmed this status - on the premise that you are, indeed, a moderator, it certainly explains many of your actions in the past.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, Chanel, I have confirmed that fact myself within different threads. Plus, I am noted as such by "MOD" next to my name. RB also included a statement in his Friday blog and listed the six of us by name.

Chanel Ashley

Thanks Beth, I have never noticed the "MOD" before next to your name, my mistake - it at least explains to me why you behaved in the manner you did re past threads/posts - cheers.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sure thing, Chanel. :) The fabulous Kathryn and Shawn Speake are the other two screenwriters who are moderators. We're here to help. Now let's get back to thread topic. Onward. :)

Richard Allis

Virginia, look under "loglines".

Michael Eddy

Swore I'd avoid getting re-embroiled in this semantical debate, but since I almost posted about this a few times - thought I'd just do it and get it over with. The WGA actually defines a "professional writer" as someone with prior credit (in anything - stage, a radio play, teleplay etc). I found this out the hard way on my very first PAYING gig - when I optioned an original screenplay (for a nominal amount) and was paid WGA minimum for a rewrite. Later in the process (SOP), I was replaced as the writer and my script was butchered (my opinion). In reading my contract - I came across a clause that stated that as the writier of "an original screenplay" - I was not allowed to be replaced if the option payment for said work was "less than 10% of the applicable purchase price"). It was. Way less than 10%. Remember - first deal - made a nominal option price. In the event that I was replaced - it would obligate the production company to pay me my FULL sole credit production bonus - whether the movie was made or not. (It was not in production at that time - and never got made). But as a result of making this deal - I had immediately joined the WGA - paid my one time fee to join and 1 and 1/2% of the monies earned on the project - and was a proud union member. So I called the Guild and told them what had happened - and at first blush - they were thrilled to inform me that they would be notifying the (signatory) company that they owned me some dough. Later - they backed off of that - and called me back to say they could not pursue such action - because for the purposes of this contract - I was NOT a "professional writer" because this was my first sale/deal - no priors. I explained that they could look at my tax returns - I was listed as a writer. I did nothing else. No part time jobs. Joined the Guild based on this. Paid my dues. Etc. Etc. Etc, as the King of Siam would say. Sorry - you're a "pro" going forward - but not for this. First sale, no priors - they can replace you and rewrite you even though your option payment was a pittance - no recourse. Needless to say, I was pissed off. I lobbied going forward with the union to tell them that this was a loophole in thgeir MBA which was prejudicial against first time writers and needed to be closed. They agreed and said they would take it up with the studios at the next negotiation. That was a long time ago. And to my knowledge - that definition of a "professional writer" calling for prior credits - is still in existence - and has never been changed.

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Yes Maichael Eddy sir, I appreciate your spirit to make the arrogance in IPR business NAKED. I consider such are the SELFISH MAD GREEDY, FIT TO BE IN ICU IN MENTAL ASYLUM. I have complied facts of life that cause Malnutrition & Corruption, the VERTEX of corruption being the Tax-Heaven, their own children victim, patrons to Heroine peddlers. That is the LAW OF NATURE. I have written a Novel, the first part of it in cinema script form and the second part to convert in to script depending on the producers' wish as to who to be the Hero. I face similar hurdle. Thank you, Yours sincerely, K.S.Nagarajan Chennai, India.

Cherie Grant

What?

Chanel Ashley

Glad it's not just me, perhaps Michael will explain, lol.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

That was quite a post Mr. Nagarajan. A little complex for me. Perhaps if you read it aloud to someone and edit it, some might get more value from it. Simple is better.

Marilyn Du Toit

I wonder, Michael what the point of being on WGA is for the first time writer if this can just be done, what is stopping exploitation and every first time writer getting had like that, one would never get credit and will have sold plenty of screenplays for almost nothing and be technically a professional but not on record. Glad to know this maybe some changes in the contracts signed need to be looked at.

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Thank you Lawrence. Yes we are living in a theatrical absurdity now. So my writing appears a little complicated. It is complicated because it is compressed. It deals all about the LAW OF NATURE INFLUENCING ALL CREATION so it is the state of mind of the last breath and the state of mind of parents at conception, we get the pleasure and pain. Malnutrition and the Causers need to be awakened to this truth, so that we leave a civilized world to our own children or else we leave a huge wealth of LIFE FULL OF FEAR FOR THEM TO SURVIVE ONLY PAYING PROTECTION MONEY. My script does this. It tries to awaken all from this theatrical absurdity. I am looking for a producer. Thank you for taking pain to read and giving your feed back so that I have tried to explain it sir. K.S.Nagarajan. Chennai, India.

Michael Eddy

Dan - I know that this post was NOT created to ask for a definition of a "professional writer", and that is why I hesitated to even add my most recent post - but I thought it all of a piece in defining who and what we are by what we do. Even the union created to protect the rights and credits of writers has an out of date and less than reasonable definition on its official books. Chalk it up to experience - one in the not so great column. As for Mr. Nagarajan - I'm at a loss. I have no idea what his point is. I would assume that English is not his first language - and makes him all the more brave for venturing forth onto this site - but I have no idea what his point is - on either post - or how any of it apllies to what I wrote. And Marilyn: the point of the story was simply to point out a decades old and improper definition of "professional" by the union which in this particular instance - cost me some money. It did NOT cost me a screen credit - as the movie was not produced. If it had - I would have had the same protections as a veteran member of the WGA in getting my just credit. This was a loophole which is minor - in that it ONLY applies to writers taken advantage of early in their careers (and bear in mind, the fault/blame for the problem could just as easily have been divvied up amongst the union's definition as well as my agent negotiating a crappy deal - even though his leverage was nil on a first timer - as well as my own decision to agree to it (the option payment for one year on the original script was $100.00) - and had the producer not farmed the script out to someone else after we disgareed on creative issues - it would not have come up either). I lived and learned. That being said - and even though later in my career - I had even larger issues with the union - I still support them and their efforts on behalf of all writers - early in their careers or veterans - and the health and pension benefits which come with membership - which are life saving and invaluable - and their efforts (although lacking in many regards) to at least TRY to attribute proper screen credit where due. The WGA's good FAR outweighs it's faults. First thing I did when my first deal was done - was fill out the paperwork to join. Proud that I did.

Bill Costantini

The funniest thing about "The Thread that Will Not Die" is that the originator hasn't been back on this website since he posted it.

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy

He quit screenwriting after he read halfway down this Homeric collection of opinions.

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Dear Mr. Michael Eddy sir, every system to regulate to civilized barter, work against the objective for which it is created is the norm and justice to weak is rare. My script addresses this issue and awaken the sufferers & Causers for a democratic resolution, to leave a civilized world to our own children. I empathize as I am also first time writer to cinema but I have written hundreds of times in news papers, on the same subject. Thank you for your kindness to read my message to you. Thank you sir, Yours sincerely, K.S.Nagarajan. Chennai, India

Pierre Langenegger

That's so funny, Bill. I see that a lot here and on other sites, people knocking themselves out to respond to threads when the poster hasn't been back since posting. Particularly when it's an old thread.

Michael Eddy

Mr. Nagarajan - you're welcome. I think. I wish you much luck in your endeavors as a "first time writer to cinema", but I do not share that designation with you - as I've been writing for quite a long time. You may have misunderstood my earlier post and what happened to me as a first time writer. But that was in the past. I am far from a novice, having been writing, optioning, selling material for decades.

Kent Flaagan

You can't call yourself a screenwriter until you sit in a room with 1000 monkeys and come up with a better story than they do.

Michael Eddy

Hey Kent - were you in a room full of monkeys when you came up with that post? Grab one of their bananas - I hear they're rich in potassium.

Kent Flaagan

This is the room, we are the monkeys;-)

Chanel Ashley

Speak for yourself, Kent.

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy

I was in a room with 998 monkeys once. One of them stole my script. I mean literally grabbed it and took it up a tree. I still write better than he does. As least I think it was a he. What was this thread about again?

Richard Avirett

I think you are what you say you are... Its up to others to agree and pay you for what you do... Or not.,..

Kent Flaagan

Oye, the Australian kicked me right in the head! Good come back Chanel #5

Chanel Ashley

Haha, I like a good sense of humour, Kent - you sound more Pom (English) than Yank.

Alex Sarris

Qualifications ??? The best screenwriters ever, had little or no qualifications. You need a very vivid imagination and a knack for writing. It's a tough gig so many screenwriters turn bitter. persistence pays.

Michael Eddy

To paraphrase Charlton Heston in the original "Planet of the Apes" - "Keep your damned hairy opposable thumb off my laptop you dirty stinking ape!" I've made monkey references in the past - but never as a qualification for being a successful scribe - I find that insulting - instead - to say that with the track record of most studio execs - you could put a monkey in a room with a desk covered with scripts - and make those he touches with his banana and not make those he skips - and have as much success as the suits with the green lights.

CJ Walley

This is like debating how much sugar or salt you should put in porridge. Everything has their own interpretation of the term so it's pointless trying to find a consensus.

Andrew Martin Smith

I find it fascinating that in this day and age - there is an obsession with qualifications. That there is a belief that you can undertake a Masters in screenwriting and then be deemed to be qualified to write for the industry. That some how going to college and undertaking a writing course is going to qualify/equip you to become a writer. I suspect Hemingway would be roaring obscenities in his cups - on reading this. It's interesting to note - that the five professional screenwriters I know all believe that a writer is born not made - and that a writer above everything else is a storyteller - and like weathered limestone becomes a better writer by sucking on the teat of life. When I was a kid - aspiring writers hit the road with a battered Pentax, a rucksack and an even more battered copy of Steinbeck in their back pocket. Everybody was familiar with the notice board in the Pudding Shop and it was ingrained in their DNA that only travel and the experience of meeting a rich host of characters could forge - the creative beast. As an aside none of those professional writers i spoke of - read creative writing at Uni - all are historians or self educated. The cynic in me says - that apart from a handful of film schools that have been long linked to the Industry - the rest are just college creative writing courses that have no links to the film industry whatsoever - other than wishful thinking. If your teacher has never written a movie - all you are undertaking is an academic exercise? You want to be a screenwriter - get a life outside of your comfort zone and watch movies - making every effort to explore cinema's great storytelling decades. Sod the directors - look for the writers of world cinema and seek out their films. As a young buck - I washed up in Hollywood and was fortunate to meet a classic studio hack and be introduced to others of his ilk. They were all hard old devils to a man - who were children of the depression and recipients of the GI bill. All had led rich and varied lives and as I quickly discovered - they were great storytellers.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Andrew, I'm sure you firmly believe that a great storyteller is born, not made, but I hope you're a bit off base. I wrote my first piece of fiction when I was 52. Now, I'm finishing up one of those heinous courses in screenwriting. It's been a long road to learn how to write. Should I look for openings at Walmart as a greeter? From what you're saying, my "hobby" is as useful as model choo-choos. I hope you're wrong. I like the creatives I've encountered so far and I don't want to do that "walk of shame" to the door on the set.

Andrew Martin Smith

Or maybe Lawrence - all those years of formative experience are coming together to write a psychological thriller that will blow my socks off. I said born - I didn't say when? But - what you are going to discover at the end of your creative writing course - is - are a you a storyteller?

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I would suspect storytelling might be in my blood; sometimes it has survival value. I recall a frontispiece reference inside "My Voice Will Go With You: the teaching tales of Milton H. Erickson" a collection of the therapeutic metaphors of Dr. Erickson by Sidney Rosen. To paraphrase: A man wanted to know if his computer would ever think like a human. He programmed it to examine its own thinking, set it about calculating a result, and ran to the printer where, as computers are wont to do, read the result. It said, "That reminds me of a story." I've told stories in most therapeutic session I've had over the past (oh my gawd) 40 years and over 35 years teaching graduate and undergraduate psychology students. I thought of them as helping people change and remember things. Judging from test results, from undergrads, not so powerful an effect. BUT, I think that while you might have a constitutional tendency to be a storyteller, without beating yourself into shape as a kind of apprentice, it ain't happening'. Discuss among yourselves. (once a teacher.....)

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Research (including mine) suggests that the left hemisphere of the brain... why do we say hemisphere? the brain isn't round. ...anyway that side CONTROLS..doesn't DO... categorial, linear, language operations.. I found it really just likes to name things.. The right handles incomplete, vague, sloppy information and processes. It was easy enough to demonstrate and that was like in 1975. So, if you think of yourself as right or left brained, that's what you're dealing with. We're writers.. we have to contend with both. Computers, btw, are totally linear...That's why they can't tell stories (download Atlanta Nights.. it's free from Writer's Beware, a SFWA service.. one of the chapters was written by a computer.. see if you can tell which one). Since computers are binary and human brains are... a bloody mess of processes, computers just aren't designed to do what humans do. They probably never will be, Isaac Asimov notwithstanding. Uncertainty principles just don't quite do it. Be grateful for a sloppy brain. We'd all be doing something interesting like um..........

Marc Sigoloff

I won't call myself a screenwriter until I sell one.

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Those sensitive to real life issues, find easy positive solutions or think differently from others, those who inherit positive imagination can be story tellers. Yes, an experienced teacher may help such to sequence, to deliver in an order that can barter for a living. To-day we see the glamorous girls competition, results in young age suicides unable to reconcile to their personal life comfortable. That is Vulgar and there is the violence, the heroes rob the stunt artists credits, that never suits real life. So to-day, the Cinema as the market place sell, artificial mangoes made in rock painted from out side to appear a mango. These market dealers throw the stories to dustbin, means they require rock mangoes marketable and not real mangoes, consumable, energetic. Story tellers will never perish. Thank you all, wish you all the best of luck ..ck the market dealers. Story tellers can never be any thing different.

Richard Allis

Came across a quote today: “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.” – Alistair Cooke, journalist

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Lawrence Kotkin Sir, I was a trade unionist and used to speak just the truth I learnt & believed in public when I was 30s. In 40s as most Hindus do I read Gita, Maha Bharat, the war between Dharma & Adharma meaning the war between just and unjust. First reading lands any one somewhere according to one's virtue. Repeated reading brings one in resonance to understand the Law of Nature in the creations. In Chemistry & electronics, they learn that there are 7 orbits or layers and the eight th one does not participate in any chemical combinations, this Hindus call, 7 fore-father's list and the eightth one is the bliss, outside the birth & death cycle. After understanding this, I started exploring, relating every thing to the Law of nature that really co-relates. So it is in the virtue of of a sculptor, gold or blacksmith, carpenter, potter, weaver, teacher etc. A desirable service provider is one with the inherent virtue. The greedy, selfish automation, and market, profit, has off-set all these virtuous. The concept of Barter attributed as foolish but those greedy who run the race to be the world's richest, forget that they could not choose their parents, neither brought a dollar at birth nor take one at death, yet, they pile up huge wealth of life full of FEAR to survive by paying protection money. We can leave a civilized world too. Choice is ours. I have focused my story/ novel/non-fiction to awaken world wide audience to leave a civilized world to our own children.

Cherie Grant

I'd love what you're smokin'.

Debbie Croysdale

This is always an entertaining thread, I've been picking it up from the start, worthy of a character based play relying on dialogue. I have my own answer, but it's so long, I need to do a bit of editing first.

William Martell

The smell.

Michael Eddy

This thread is vampiric in its refusal to die. Again - my opinion only - as each of us is doled out one navel, one a-hole and an opinion...I think if you look up the word "professional" in Webster's - it would allude to receiving payment for something that you do. That being said - one can call oneself whatever you want to - as long as you do it. If you write - you are a writer. If you sell - you are a pro. As for learning to write - and being born with the gene or being able to be taught...I think one is born with a vivid imagination. Every story doesn't have to be researched to death - you can glom onto a splendid idea from out of the ether. As far as being able to write - specifically a screenplay - structure can certainly be taught (again IMO) - in a class - from a book - from merely reading a few scripts. I went to film school. I took exactly one screenwriting course. My teacher was the esteemed storyteller, raconteur, big game hunter John Milius. He taught me next to nothing about writing - but it was one of the more spirited and entertaining classes I took in my collegiate career (He asked the class for casting suggestions when he was about to direct "The Wind and The Lion" and told us some crazed stories about setting up a production tent so that he could use it as camolflage to dig for buried treasure in Turkey based on a map that some loon had given him. And he did great John Huston imitations). I am of the opinion that you cannot teach someone how to formulate a great idea for a movie. A plot. A story. Fascinating characters. You fly alone for that. But once words are committed to paper - you can help someone to rewrite same - by offereing constructive criticism on the structure, plot, dialogue etc. Tell them what works, Tell them what doesn't. Offer suggestions on how to refine and fix and improve and make saleable something which is a work in progress. But if you're not an idea factory - and that might be something genetic - the best teacher in the world - or the guy who writes the so-called Bible of screenwriting books - used by the execs who couldn't write a grocery list to decide what works structurally - and then doles out idiotic notes on arcs and act breaks and other such BS - can NOT teach you how to come up with the brilliant germ of an idea. Ideas can't be taught. But rewriting can be guided by a steady and accomplished and experienced hand.

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy

Michael: Re: your post. I couldn't agree with you more. Have you seen the John Milius documentary on Netflix? It's very entertaining. Years ago, I had a whacked out sociology professor that didn't teach anything on topic, had us toss our textbooks and just had free form discussions. At the end, people got up an spoke about some profound event in their lives. One Viet Nam vet spoke about going to the war memorial and how it affected him emotionally. It was very powerful and unexpected. What I thought would turn out to be disastrous became extraordinary.

Debbie Croysdale

I was of course speaking hypothetically, about writing a play on a fictional panel. It's been done in films, group discussions, that show diverse and extreme opinions in live feed. This particular dialogue tactic mines deeper into character, as the friction caused by verbal interaction heightens. I once saw a film where someone blew up a radio station during a discussion panel. Tomorrow we may wake and this thread may have been obliterated by the powers that be! I don't agree, or disagree, with the comment made under my last post.

Krishnapuram Subramania Iyer Nagarajan

Hai Debbie Croysdale, Good Morning. I am 67, retired Electrical engineer from ONGC. I am untiring reader, socially concerned writer. I have a well researched, based on facts, Novel, the first half in Cinema script form and the other in Novel form to make in to script form suiting the taste of producer/actor producer as who shall be projected Hero of this film. The concept of the script is to democratically awaken those suffering Malnutrition and those causing to change to leave a civilized world to our own children. I am looking for a producer. This will be the NEED of the hour for world wide audience and for those who wish to leave their foot steps for the generations to come to praise & to follow. Thank you, Yours sincerely, K.S.Nagarajan. Chennai, India.

Andrew Martin Smith

My own view is that you can meet somebody's eye - and call yourself a SCREENWRITER - when your name appears before you on the screen or the back of a dvd box. Up to that point you are at your larval stage. As an aside, any praise will go to the DIRECTOR - who will have inevitably helped himself to a writing credit. If not him - praise will be showered on the cast. If it's a turkey - the critics will ask why the production went ahead with such a weak screenplay? As for awards - an awful lot of festivals still do not have a screenwriters award. As for payment - you will have been paid - but not much as you will have been involved at the beginning when the talk was of seed money. Plus the fact that you have a lousy head for business and are desperate to see one of your babies grow to adulthood. As for posterity - who knows the names of the writers that Hitchcock and Huston were beastly to? My old teacher (a brutal studio hack) used to tell me - you never get precious over a screenplay and if you can't take a joke become a novelist. He also used to remind me that in the day of the STUDIOS - they often forgot to invite him to the Premier. But then he was chunking out six screenplays a year. But - you will not care - because when your name appears on that screen - you will have made it. Tears of joy will then turn to tears of despair when you watch what they have done to your wonderful story. A figure I saw bandied around a few years back said - 80% of successful screenwriters who succeed in having a feature length movie made - never get a second production off the ground. It is a brutal blood soaked arena, strewn with millions of manuscripts where we stride and strive to strut our stuff.

Siegal Annette

OK its desperate and depressing.Facts.Now what's your proposition and solution from.now on .please open our eyes.Prophet !true one or false?

Andrew Martin Smith

Alas - my dear Siegal Annette I must swirl my cape and vanish in a puff of smoke because if you are storyteller - you know that writing is a damnable opiate and in truth I can offer you nothing but blood, sweat and tears and a Faustian pact with the Horned Producer - "and then though must be damned perpetually".

Lawrence R. Kotkin

It does sound like and opiate...worse, a crack fix. The more I read and the more I see, the more I want to play in the game even if I get picked last and get to play only in the extra left field position. It's a lonely place to stand with a well oiled, but virginal outfielder's glove. The flip side of the novelist's position is no less daunting: 85% of publishers' advances on book deals don't get repaid in sales. I assume cinema has an equally depressing statistic. I still want to play. Maybe I'll get a turn at bat. Even one.

Debbie Croysdale

Hi Krishnapuram, Your work sounds very interesting. I'm not a global producer, but will certainly pass on your information to people I know, who might be up for this project. I think the idea would also be suitable for a cutting edge documentary type film, it's a universal subject, so could have acting and commentary type footage. Don't forget you also need someone willing to do the air miles. Most Indie producers I know, like to visit the site.

Siegal Annette

We cannot survive by our script writing so we choose a rich husband or lover,we work in another profession from 8 to 4,we know that writing is a drug as you said Laurence so beautifully and we pray that our creation will be recognized some day even postmortem and a beautiful book or film will come out of it.This is exactly what an artist do and an artistic creation of all sort is a must for the artist whatever the public thinks of it. IF THE ARTIST IS DISCOVERED BEFORE HE IS DEAD, GREAT.if not it's a pity Continue to paint, sculpt,draw,write otherwise you'll die inside yourself. writing is not a drug which kills but a drug which make you survive beautifully.

Marc Sigoloff

While I'm waiting for my brilliance to be discovered I unload trucks. Most people would have given up by now, but quitting would empty my life.

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy

Rich lover? Where do I sign up for that program?

Siegal Annette

No chance I have already a rich husband and could not decently write and have such active sexual life.I am also 73 and feel quite old at this time of my life. I have missed you dear.sorry.

Michael Eddy

Philip: I have not seen the Milius documentary on Netflix. I haven't seen anything on Netflix. Don't have an account. But I will attempt to search it out and take a look. John was (and is) one of a kind.

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