Stories and languages are unique to humans. We create a whole magical universe with the power of our imagination and make them evergreen with the skill of putting them down on paper. With the booming media industry, screenwriting has become a highly prominent profession. In this blog, we have provided you with a guide to kickstart your journey as a screenwriter.
Table of contents
- What is Screenwriting?
- What Does a Screenwriter Do?
- Skills Required to Become a Screenwriter
- How to Become a Screenwriter in India?
- Scriptwriting Curriculum
- Institutes Offering Screenwriting Courses in India
- Top Universities Abroad for Screenwriting Courses
- Career Prospects in Screenwriting
What is Screenwriting?
Screenwriting is the craft of writing scripts for any visual medium, be it films or TV shows or commercials. They provide a basic foundational structure for the story to be built on. Developing a script can be either an individual or a collaborative effort. Although it is largely a creative process, academic precedence to become a screenwriter is no necessity. However, having an academic background and expertise for this profession can be fruitful for an individual.
“There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.” – Richard Attenborough
What Does a Screenwriter Do?
A screenwriter is a professional who writes content for a visual medium. It can include screenplays, dialogues, teleplays and other writing materials dealing with the structuring theme, plot, characters of any form of media. This could be for feature films, short films, plays, television, documentaries, commercials, video games, music videos, online content, and educational material. The basic functions of a screenwriter are:
- Form a basic structure of the story that they aspire to portray
- Develop characters and integrate them into the story
- Visualise the story for the medium they’re working for
- Work in accordance with the production and the commercial aspects of the story
- Coordinate with directors, and the cast and crew attached to the project
“Audiences are harder to please if you’re just giving them effects, but they’re easy to please if it’s a good story.” – Steven Spielberg
Skills Required to Become a Screenwriter
More than education and training, Screenwriting is a unique craft that requires a set of skills. These skills can either be gifted or learnt through dedication and hard work. The art screenwriting can be learnt by reading and understanding other screenplays, reading books and learning the format. Here are a set of skills that are expected to become a screenwriter.
- Passion for the art of storytelling
- Proficiency in language
- Interpersonal skills to form networks
- Persistence and determination
- Conviction on their work
- Constant learning
How to Become a Screenwriter in India?
Here is the career map to become a screenwriter in India:
Step 1: Getting an Academic Knowledge
There isn’t a prerequisite academic background that one needs to become a screenwriter. However, there are many courses available for one to pursue the same in order to know the craft better and have an advantage over others.
- One can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in screenwriting which is a complete three-year course and provides a comprehensive study of, and practice in, the art and craft of screenwriting and related filmmaking disciplines.
- There is a Bachelor’s of Fine Art (Screenwriting) course that is available as well to students.
- In India, there are limited colleges that provide these courses. One can pursue a bachelor’s with a focus on film direction or creative writing as well.
- One can pursue a graduate or a postgraduate degree in literature and then go for various certificate and diploma courses offered by film institute’s throughout the country providing knowledge and skills of screenplay writing.
Duration of Various Courses:
- BA screenwriting or BFA screenwriting course: 3 years
- Certificate course; 1 year.
- Diploma and Post Graduate level courses: 2 years.
Step 2: Training
After completing one’s education, one should acquire on the job training in the field by working under some big film house, media house or in assistance to a director or some experienced screenplay writer. After this, one can either do freelancing or get employed in a media house.
Step 3: Portfolio Building
As a screenwriter, it is important that they have a body of work ready to be presented. Writing is so crucial to their job that they should never stop experimenting. Whether you’re working on a movie script or a video game script, keep building on your portfolio.
Step 4: Networking
Screenwriters are usually employed in the entertainment and media industry and thus, need the support of industry professionals to steer their careers. A manager can help them market their scripts while an agent can help them find work opportunities and form and negotiate contracts. Making networks and connections of people in the business especially producers, creative executives, developers etc. can help one succeed professionally.
Explore How to Become a Filmmaker?
The curriculum for screenwriting courses is given below.
- Learning about the evolution of Indian screenplay
- Understanding the Premise
- Identifying the Theme
- Creating Well-rounded characters
- Writing Dialogue
- Writing good Opening Scenes and Effective climax
- Designing a Scene
- Structuring the story
- The Art of Adaptation
- Intellectual Property Rights
- Collaborating with writers, Producers and Directors
- Writing Reality Shows
- Writing Fiction for TV
- Formatting a Screenplay
Institutes Offering Screenwriting Courses in India
Here are the top institutions that offer screenwriting courses. These universities can also help you make your breakthrough in Bollywood movies and TV shows,
- R.K. Films and Media Academy (RKFMA), New Delhi
- Annapurna International School of Film and Media (AISFM), Hyderabad
- Digital Academy, Mumbai
- Satyajit Ray Film Institute
- Livewires- The Media Institute, Mumbai
- Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
- Whistling Woods International, Mumbai
- SenseIndia Foundation, Mumbai
- Mindscreen Institute, Mumbai
- Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment, Mumbai
Top Universities Abroad for Screenwriting Courses
The following are the top universities abroad for students who wish to explore various screenwriting courses. These institutions provide unique training and help you build the skills required to become a competent screenwriter abroad.
- Middlesex University Dubai
- Central Film School, UK
- New York Film Academy, USA
- Compass College of Cinematic Arts
- University of Southern California, USA
- Loyola Marymount College, USA
- Central Film School, London
- University of Suffolk, England
- University of Chichester, England
Also Read: Top 25 Film Schools in the World
Career Prospects in Screenwriting
With more investments, bigger projects and the greater reach of the media industry, the position and job prospects of a screenwriter are expanding within India and abroad. Similar job profiles for screenwriters are as follows.
- Advertising copywriters
- Content writers
- Print Journalist
- Program writers
- Radio scriptwriters
- Short story writers
- Television writers
- Verse writers
At the beginning of your career, you can get a salary of 35,000-40,000 per project. You can also opt for a stable desk job at some production or media house like T.V. show writer which can pay you 50k- a few lakhs a month. As a screenwriter, salaries are largely negotiable and highly dependent on your experience and the project.
Screenwriting is an integral part of filmmaking. As George Cukor once said, “Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.” Hope this blog helped you find a pathway for how to become a screenwriter. If you are looking for courses abroad, our experts at Leverage Edu can help you with choosing the best course and university for you.