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Was talking with a mentee the other day about the best way to "break in" as a screenwriter... A couple thoughts maybe worth sharing, though caveat emptor––as someone smarter than me once said, I can't tell you how to rob a bank. But I can show you how I did it. 1/18
I think there's a common prevailing notion that "breaking in" means selling a script––but "selling a script" doesn't even necessarily mean what it used to. 2/18
Compared with 10 or 20 years ago, the ratio of spec buys to green-lit movies is WAY smaller––put another way, studios are buying fewer spec scripts (but possibly making a greater number of the ones they do buy, silver lining?) 3/18
But here's the thing––"naked specs" are selling even less. (A "naked spec" is one that has no attachment––director, star, producer, etc.) Almost never right now in fact, even if you're an established writer. 4/18
Most scripts that are being "bought" are ones that have been able to attract meaningful attachments, but even then a script is more likely to be optioned than bought outright––again, studios hedging against spending $$ on scripts that never get made. 5/18
Sounds depressing. But this is where the misconception comes in as far as "breaking in" goes. From my perspective, being a working screenwriter is less about selling spec scripts and more about doing A-list quality work for A-list quality partners. 6/18
This all started for me with a spec script my writing partner and I wrote and rewrote and got to a point where is was great. Not good, but great. When people read a great script, they react differently than they do to a good script, starting with: they call you. 7/18
In our case, one of the people we'd given it to called and said she knew two reps who would love it and could she send it to them. We said yes, duh. Those two reps are our manager and agent of over 10 years now. 8/18
But when we first met, they were candid: there's not a huge chance this script will sell. What they told us was people would love the script, and could they send it out to producers, studio execs, prod cos, etc. We said yes, duh. 9/18
This ultimately led to over a hundred meetings on our "water bottle tour." (It's called this because when you go on these general meetings, you're always offered a water bottle 🤣 Sometimes it's something fancier.) 10/18
But in these hundred plus meetings, we were introduced to the people who make movies. They hire writers on assignment. They source material. They need things fixed. They are the ones we've worked for over the past decade plus. 11/18
The moral here from my perspective boils down to a couple simple things: make sure your sample is great, not just good. This takes work, perseverance and patience. Then do everything you can to get it in front of people who will want to help you, because your spec is great. 12/18
This may be unpopular, but screenplay contests and "querying" can be wholly disconnected from the apparatus that actually makes movies in Hollywood. In these scenarios you are throwing your work into a literally never-ending pile that (maybe) gets read by low-level readers. 13/18
If you've got a great spec, treat it that way. Get it to the person or people who are closest to producers and execs and agents and managers––ideally people who like you and want to help get your great script the attention it deserves. 14/18
(Just a reminder here that this is another reason why your spec has to be great. All of this falls apart if it's just good. Or godforbid not good 😬.) 15/18
And then just keep after it. Keep meeting new people, making new friends in the industry. Getting your material in front of new people until the right one clicks. 16/18
Steven Soderbergh once wrote that talent + perseverance = luck. I believe this. Do everything you can to improve your craft, work hard, don't quit. And have faith. That will get you through the dark times. 17/18
I really hope this perspective helps. For what it's worth I have to remind myself of it often... this is a tough and mercurial business and writers get stepped on a lot. But ultimately it's been completely worth it. Good luck our there––keep up the great work! 18/18

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An EXCELLENT thread about screenwriting and the work that it really takes to get consistent gigs.