1408646162Kill Your Darlings © 2013 Killer Films


Personality type:

The lowdown

  • Researching and developing story ideas
  • Writing screenplays

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • Have an in-depth understanding of story, plot and narrative
  • Understand the different ways that films affect audiences
  • Be familiar with current formats for presenting screenplays
  • Be able to demonstrate creative imagination
  • Be able to bring to life the individuality of characters
  • Be able to write visually, using sound and dialogue to support action
  • Be dedicated and well organised
  • Be able to work as part of a team
  • Be able to work to strict deadlines
  • Be able to handle frequent rejection
  • Be ambitious
  • Be realistic

What does a Screenwriter do?

Screenwriters create screenplays for films. They provide the blueprint for the creative input of the Producer, Director, Production Designer, Composer and Editor, cast and crew.

Screenplays should allow whoever is reading it to imagine how the film will work on screen. It should feature fascinating characters, an exciting plot, and a great idea for a marketable film. It should also fit in with basic principles of dramatic construction, and fit the format and style expected in the industry.

Screenwriters have to produce highly creative writing, to strict deadlines. They work with a script development team to create a finished product that is likely to be financed and made. Sometimes producers bring in an additional Screenwriter to improve certain aspects of the screenplay. In this case, the Screenwriter may share a credit with the original Screenwriter. Or they may be credited for Additional Dialogue, or as a Story Consultant.

In some cases the original Screenwriter may be replaced entirely by another Screenwriter. In this case the original Screenwriter may then receive a "Screenstory by..." credit on the finished film.

Screenwriters are almost always freelancers. They either pitch original ideas to Producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold. Or they are commissioned by a Producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screenwork or a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story.

Many more screenplays are commissioned than films are made. Only a few top UK Screenwriters make enough money to sustain themselves entirely through writing screenplays.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need formal training or a specific qualification. You can go on screenwriting courses or take an MA. If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What's the best route in?

You will need to write some original short and feature screenplays 'on spec' (self-financed) to try to attract the attention of Producers and Agents. A screenplay is always a first draft screenplay until it is sold and you will also need to prepare pitches, synopses and outlines. Producers sometimes ask for these before they are prepared to read the screenplay itself.


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up