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There's no one way to break in: The benefits of joining Twitter's #screenwriting community

August 11, 2021
6 min read time

Yes, Twitter can be a disastrous minefield of cancel culture, politics and more. But it's also a convenient way to connect with all sorts of filmmakers, from all over the world, from the comfort (and safety) of your own home. There's no need to throw on some clean clothes or glam up, you don't have to stress about traffic, and no one can hold you hostage in conversation about their cat's latest antics.

Social media takes all of those hurdles away for you AND you don't have to wait for an invitation. Just sign on and start following the screenwriter hashtags (eg., #scriptchat #amwriting). Before you know it, you'll be up to speed on all the latest industry news, engaging with filmmakers at your level (and beyond if you're lucky) and if you play your cards right and hit a stroke of insane luck, you could even find your next writing gig.

Marketing: How your writing brand can work for you on Twitter

A successful screenwriting career goes beyond just knowing how to write a really solid script — it has to be marketable, and chances are very good you'll also have to do a little marketing of yourself along the way. Especially in television, you're not just trying to sell a script, you're marketing yourself as a person people want to be in the room with.

Know your space, AKA your brand, as a writer. Think about your writing style, genre and format as a brand or a market that you're targeting. If you haven't determined your brand as a writer and aren't even sure what that means, you can learn more here.

Your script is a new business venture within that market, so do your research of what already exists in your marketplace, what is in development, and what is performing well within your corner of that market. You can find all of these updates in real-time on Twitter or your favorite RSS feed. You can also find many writers and filmmakers from your favorite movies and television shows on Twitter — follow and learn about industry news from them!


Reads: The etiquette of the ask 

Writer Twitter is an overwhelmingly welcoming community of writers that ranges from aspiring to professional levels of experience, but the one thing all writers in this community have in common: READS. All writers need readers to review their material and provide constructive notes to improve your characters, dialogue, act breaks, and everything else you have to consider with each script you birth. Thus the Twitterverse can be a good place to find readers for your work, and vice-versa.

However, there are definitely rules to this — like in real life, keep in mind a little respect goes a long way — and you never ever want to burn a read. So, keep in mind the following as you're gathering your courage to make that all-important ask:

    • Build a relationship (online) with writers in your space. Follow, like their posts, and engage before you make any asks of any kind. You may find over time that you highly respect their opinion or that you strongly disagree with their approach — know who you are asking before you potentially waste your time engaging with someone you might not want to trade scripts with.

    • Trade! No one — not one person in this industry — owes you anything. If you are going to ask a fellow screenwriter for a read, the subtext (tweet) is that you will in turn read their script and provide thoughtful, helpful notes.

    • Good notes take time. Reads aren't turned around overnight, no matter how excited you are about your script, so keep your expectations realistic by asking how much time they might need before you follow up with them for their notes. 

    • Gratitude! No matter how you feel about the notes you receive (helpful or not), you were given that person's time free of charge. Always, always thank your readers for their time.

Hashtags: Find your people

As we noted earlier in this piece, following hashtags within the screenwriter space will give you automatic access to all of the relevant conversations and topics happening at that moment. Utilizing hashtags like #scriptchat, #pipelinewriters, and #amwriting is a good place to get started. Just type one of those in the search bar within Twitter's platform and select 'Latest' tweets. Scroll through the topics being discussed and start following names you see often, join in, retweet with purpose — engage. Names that pop up often are likely very active in the writing community and will lead you to even more writers. 

Eventually, you will have a core group of screenwriters you regularly engage with by participating in threads and celebrate wins together such as contest placement, signing on with a rep, optioning a script, etc.


Network: Create your community

Or, as some would say, your film family. What we mean is, don't just look for writers — there are all sorts of filmmakers on Twitter, and a well-rounded, meaningful network will consist of directors, producers, cinematographers and more. Building a mutually beneficial relationship with all kinds of filmmakers (at your level!) only opens up your possibilities to break in. Why? Eventually, one of you is going to get traction or have some success, and when that happens, you want to bring people along with you whom you trust to handle your project with care.


Leveling up: Connecting with the pros

This is a delicate one and requires decorum. Here're your basic do's and don'ts:

    • Never, ever send a direct message without permission, especially if you are making an ask.

    • Never, ever attach your script file to any direct message, email, or otherwise without expressed permission. There are legal ramifications you are unwittingly putting on the recipient by sharing your intellectual property. This act will result in them deleting your email and possibly blocking you for good.

    • Take it slow. Follow your favorite showrunner or creator and like their posts that resonate with you. Share their content if it resonates with you. Comment on a post they make. After some time has passed, they might start following you back. Don't jump in DMs just yet, though! Continue your engagement for another few months before asking if you can DM them about the possibility of a coffee. Babysteps are KING when trying to form an online professional relationship of any kind.

    • Finally, don't ask them to read you. If they are interested, THEY will ask YOU, because remember, you are building mutually beneficial relationships and no one owes you a thing. The only thing in your control here is your patience and decorum.

 

Stay safe out there...

We would be doing you a disservice if we didn't talk about the dark parts of Twitter that are specific to the writing community. There are trolls, grifters and worse, and they will eventually find your account where they will most likely bait you into an argument or try to sell you services you don't need. It's much easier to delete said tweet than to stop a Twitter fight from catching on like wildfire. You don't want your name coming up in those negative instances because the very people you may want a job from could see the exchange and may take a mental note to never engage (or work) with you.

 

For more advice and insight to managing your online presence, check out these related articles:

How not to network as a screenwriter
The Internet is a Minefield of Etiquette: Networking and Building a Career Online
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