One of the unfortunate truths about a screenwriting career is – networking is essential. The other essential, of course, is writing talent. You could even say they are equally important. Again, unfortunately.
So where do you meet up with other screenwriters in Hollywood?
There are dozens of places screenwriters will hang out or work –including bars, coffee shops, restaurants, tattoo parlors, on the bus, at the beach and just about anywhere else you can carry a laptop.
There are workshops, seminars, webinars, writers’ groups, and writing classes. There are events that are held pretty much for the sole purpose of finding other writers. Those include lectures, Q & A’s, panel discussions, breakfasts, coffees, cocktail hours, brunched, parties and retreats.
You can also find other screenwriters on line. For example, you can find them on LinkedIn. Hundreds of screenwriters and TV writers are listed on the site. Among the groups represented here – are The Scriptwriter’s Network, Stage 32, and The Writers’ Club of Los Angeles.
You can go to MeetUp.com. You’ll find groups there that cater to locales, like South Bay Screenwriters 2.0 and Santa Monica Writers and Screenwriters. You’ll also find groups like Write Out Loud!, which embraces LGBTQ writers. Other examples; Write It Up!, Ink Tank, Writers Blok.
On Facebook you can find many screenwriting groups. For example; The Craft of Screenwriting, The Art of Story, Thirty Day Screenplay, LA TV Writers, 1 Page A Day, Writing in the Modern World, Screenwriting, Hippy-Dippy Screenwriters, and Screenwriters Who Know How to Write.
What goes on in these Facebook groups?
Members argue about what’s the best screenwriting software, (answer – FinalDraft). They argue whether the screenwriting book Save The Cat is worthless (answer – no). They argue about whether it’s better to copyright a script or to register it with the Writers Guild (answer – copyright it).
For the most part they are all well-meaning writers with varying degrees of success. So, you check in with these people online and get to know them. Like their posts and discuss writer’s issues with them. Once you get to know who they are, you can set up a meeting to have coffee with them in person.
There are there are plenty of networking events that are specifically designed for writers. There are events at screenwriting conferences, at scriptwriting contests, and at “Pitch Fests,” where writers pitch movie ideas to producers and agents.
All these methods are available to writers in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, if you don’t live in LA, they are not that plentiful. However, there are aspiring screenwriters all over the world. You should be able to meet with, or at least email other writers in your area.
Networking with other writers can help your career in many ways. Other writers can read your work and give you feedback. You can learn which classes, seminars and groups they belong to. You will have someone you can talk with about films, stories and ideas. Maybe more importantly, you’ll be able to commiserate with them when everything goes wrong.
While meeting with other writers is good for your career, meeting with agents, managers, directors, producers, and even actors can be just as beneficial. After all, you ultimately want to sell your script, and you’re not likely to sell it to another writer. Actors, directors, producers and representatives can help make that happen.
Why not try to do some of your networking with non-writing industry people?
Check out different events designed for for actors, producers and directors. For one thing, you won’t look and sound like everybody else in the room. You won’t be competing for attention with other writers. Those other people may seek you out.
At a certain level, actors and directors are all looking for a great screenplay. They’re looking for great parts, and great stories to showcase their talents. You might find they are more interested in forming a relationship with you than other writers. After all, you write the screenplays hat can make their careers happen.
So where can you go to find these folks? Well at back on MeetUp.com, you can find groups like LA Actors and Filmmakers, Entertainment Entrepreneurs and Performers, LA Neo-Noir Cinemasters, and Creativity Workshop (LA).
On LinkedIn you can find the Film Job Board for Los Angeles, the Film Financing Group, Film and TV Professionals, Independent Filmmakers, and Actors and Casting Directors.
On Facebook you can find the Indie Film Scene, Movieworld, the Independent Film Society, Cinema Discussions, Creative Designers and Writers, Film Industry Network, and Film and TV Professionals.
Networking at film festivals in LA.
Another place where you might find actors directors and producers in addition to writers is at the various film festivals that take place in and around Los Angeles
One of LA’s best known festivals is the Sundance Next Fest, which brings Sundance films to screen in LA. They hold screenings in downtown Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel Theater.
Dances with Films is the name of another film festival that takes place at the TCL Chinese multiplex theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
For horror film fans the Scream Fest runs for 10 days before Halloween at the Chinese theater. It’s the largest and longest running horror film festival in the country.
The AFI Film Festival screens at the Chinese and the Egyptian theaters in Hollywood. One big benefit of the AFI Film Festival is that it’s free.
You can also join organizations like Film Independent. They sponsor the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards. They host over 250 screenings and other industry events each year.
Film schools also sponsor events that are open to the public. LA has some of the best film programs, including, Loyola Marymount, Chapman, CalArts, AFI, UCLA and USC.
Check out their websites. You’ll find events like mixers (Scripts, Wine & Chips), and screenings, like UCLA’s Movies on the Green, and Beachside Cinema.
Hopefully, you’ll meet a director or a producer who likes your ideas. You might even find and agent. Remember not to be too pushy. Don’t ask for help when you first meet these people. You nurture relationships. You keep in touch. You help them. Then Karma kicks in, and all your hard work gets paid back.