8 Things Screenwriters Can Still Do During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

COVID-19 is taking the world by storm.

Film and TV shows are shutting down. Production houses are suffering major financial losses. Festivals are being postponed and cancelled. Populations are being asked to self-isolate in order to limit the spread to those who are"at risk". This pandemic is changing our day-to-day lives.

But, that doesn't mean you should sit at home, consumed with fear, paranoia or boredom. As a screenwriter, you are among the lucky few who can work from any location. Whether screenwriting is a full time job or a part time hobby, staying home is giving all of us the gift of time. I say, let's focus on that positive. Let's use this time to our advantage so that when this health crisis passes, we can step back into the world with a gleaming portfolio and a memorized pitch dancing on the tips of our tongues!

So, if you are self-isolating or social distancing screenwriter, here are 8 things you can do from home right now:

1. Work on Your Screenplays

Too obvious? Maybe that's because it's true. If you are someone that typically has a commute, you've just gained some free time in your day. Even if you don't commute, there are a lot of other external activities that pull us from our homes and our writing. Take advantage of your time in self-isolation to work on your screenwriting projects.

2. Submit to Festivals

Most screenwriting festivals remain open and there are a lot of deadlines coming up in the next couple of weeks (Page International, Austin Screenwriting Competition, Screencraft, Academy Nicholl...etc). Use your time to research these festivals and start submitting your work! This can all be done online.

3. Pitch It!

The world is on pause... and for once, the film industry actually has the time to read your screenplay. Take advantage of this! Pitch your script! Send out query letters. Set up meetings. Work on that sale! We recommend Virtual Pitch Fest for those just starting out.

4. Network Online

With huge segments of the population at home, everyone is bound to go a little stir crazy. Take advantage of this by networking online through sites like LinkedIn or Stage32. Connect with industry professionals (or peers!) and increase your film industry network. Producers may not be willing to buy right now... but maybe they'll consider reading?

5. Build a "Producer List"

Do some research into Producers and Production companies that have made films similar to yours. Start to put together your own list of people/companies to reach out to. Dig deep here. Find out who is in charge of sourcing their materials and find their direct contact information. You can get pretty far using IMDb Pro (they have a 30 day free trial). Keep adding to this list over time and you will have a nice go-to list of gate keepers that you can pitch your work to.

6. Design Your Professional Website

Every aspiring screenwriter should have a professional website that includes a bio and a list of completed works (with loglines and synopsis). This is your calling card. This is what you give to a producer after you've pitched an idea to them and they ask, "What else do you have?" There are lots of super easy website design tools that can help you get started (like Wix and Squarespace).

7. Take An Online Screenwriting Program

Why not? Continue to improve your writing and commit yourself to the deadlines of the program. Taking an online program will help to break up your days in self-isolation, providing a sense of structure and purpose to your work. Script Society has two online programs that are both open for enrolment as we speak!

8. Take Care of Yourself

Last, but certainly not least. Social distancing doesn't mean you can't go outside. Go for a walk. Play with your dogs. Exercise. Bake a cake. Dance to some music. Play cards. Reconnect with those you are living with outside of screens!

Monitor the symptoms of yourself and loved ones. Wash your hands frequently, disinfect any frequently touched surfaces, cough into your elbow, and try not to touch your face! Even if you aren't in an "at risk" group, you may know someone that is. We need to stop the spread of this for those people.

We will beat this together, but only if we all take proactive measures to reduce its ability to spread.

Stay safe!

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