National Screenwriters Day
annually on January 5th (since 2017)
ScreenwritingU in July 2016
Films, television programs, and even video games are created from screenplays, which are written and rewritten by screenwriters. Although a director might get the most credit for shaping a project, and be the name most visibly connected with it, the creative spark, story, characters, dialogue, and action behind it are usually on account of a screenwriter. ScreenwritingU, which offers online screenwriting classes, created National Screenwriters Day to celebrate screenwriters and their contributions to film and television, and "to honor the creativity and work that goes into the screenwriting long before a single frame of film is shot." The day not only celebrates big-name Hollywood screenwriters but recognizes aspiring screenwriters everywhere who labor and write and dream of having their vision make it to the big screen. ScreenwritingU has hosted events on the day and has organized a "Thirty Day Screenplay" challenge, where writers pledge to write a screenplay or other writing project in a month.
Being a screenwriter requires no degree or formal education, but storytelling abilities and imagination are needed to be successful. A screenwriter may base a story on an original idea, a person's life, or a book. Screenwriters are freelance writers who do contract work, who may work for hire or work on spec, the latter meaning they create a screenplay without first being hired, with anticipation or speculation that it may be picked up. Most screenwriters start out by writing on spec. Screenwriters usually initiate film projects, which are known as "pitched" assignments or "exclusive" assignments. But sometimes there are "open" assignments, where a studio, production company, or producer wants a film project done and goes out to find a screenwriter to complete it. Screenwriters compete for these assignments, which are work-for-hire projects. Screenwriters sometimes also work as script doctors, where they labor to better scripts so that they are more appealing to a director or studio.
After completion of a writing project, the screenwriter often teams up with someone in the film industry—like a director, producer, literary agent, entertainment lawyer, or entertainment executive—and they work to further the project. They may pitch the script to investors, with the goal of selling it. Screenwriters may also participate in screenplay contests or pitch fests to try to get connected to producers. A screenwriter may reach the upper echelons of entertainment, where their screenplays are produced by studios or networks, or they may make low budget movies while working with small producers and filmmakers. From big-budget box office smashes to cheaply made B movies, all projects owe a large debt of gratitude to screenwriters, and we celebrate them today!
How to Observe National Screenwriters Day
Some ways you could spend the day include:
- Check the day's official website for events and resources. You could also visit the day's Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Take part in the Thirty Day Screenplay challenge. Join the Facebook group for more information.
- Join a screenwriting group.
- Take online screenwriting classes from ScreenwritingU, the creator of National Screenwriters Day.
- Read one of the best screenplays of all time, an Academy Award winning screenplay, a screenplay by one of the greatest screenwriters of all time, or a screenplay of one of your favorite films. Many screenplays can be found online at the Internet Movie Script Database. You could also watch the film of whatever screenplay you read.
- Pick up a book about screenwriting or learn more about screenplays online.
- If you know any screenwriters, wish them a happy National Screenwriters Day.
- Start writing your own screenplay.
- Explore online resources for screenwriters like Final Draft, Bulletproof Screenwriting, The Script Lab, Stage 32, InkTip, and Screenwriting Magazine.
- Join the Writers Guild of America or the American Screenwriters Association.