Getting your foot in the door for professional screenwriting opportunities can feel incredibly competitive. Landing those initial internships at TV studios, film production companies, agencies, and more mark those first pivotal steps toward establishing your career as a working film or TV script writer.
This comprehensive guide covers actionable tips on crafting attention-grabbing applications, prepping for interview questions, maximizing connections, and setting yourself up for success once you’ve secured that competitive development, writers’ room, or screenwriting internship slot.
Follow these steps and you’ll position yourself ahead of other candidates vying for key openings that provide hands-on learning under industry veterans.
Why Screenwriting Internships Are Essential
Before diving into the tactics to get screenwriting internships, let’s cover why they are so valuable:
Build an Actual Portfolio of Writing Samples
Beyond just competing for top grades in screenwriting programs, internships let you actively develop new portfolio script pages and television spec scripts under the guidance of working Hollywood professionals.
This showcases not just theoretical potential, but rather tangible examples of comedy sketches, television pilots, screenplay act breakdowns, and more vetted through industry feedback while in the internship.
Learn the Craft from Working Professionals
Spending time in active TV studios and production company offices exposes you directly to the pros honing and workshopping scenes, dissecting story arcs, coordinating rewrites under showrunners, and navigating notes from network executives daily. Observing these workflows and participating hands-on builds real screenwriting muscles and relationships.
Gain Crucial Connections
The entertainment industry heavily leverages personal referrals and connections for landing jobs even at the upper echelons. Locking down strong references from a screenwriting internship supervisor or industry colleagues in your cohort can make or break future staffing potential on exciting projects. Use this access to build legitimate industry relationships.
Clarify If This Career Is Really For You
Invaluable insider access through internships provides the full perspective on the hustle needed to not just break in, but thrive as a screenwriter or TV scribe.
Before shelling out additional money on MFA programs, an internship creates clearer visibility if this competitive creative role is truly the best-fit long-term professionally and personally.
Build “Soft Skills” Critical for Writers’ Rooms
Beyond script writing itself, TV and film scribes need exceptional personal skills to actively collaborate, accept feedback constructively, and smoothly support directors, actors, and the full production team. An internship accelerates developing this flexibility and maturity future employers demand.
Determine Which Screenwriting Paths Interest You
Before randomly applying to every internship listing that includes the word “screenwriting”, thoughtfully examine what specific aspects of this career path truly excite you so you can target relevant opportunities accordingly:
Features vs. TV Writing
Do you see yourself primarily writing self-contained 120-page film screenplays or shorter episodic scripts for television? This affects what kinds of internships working in active writers’ rooms vs. production companies attached to film projects make the most sense.
Animation vs. Live Action Genres
Certain internships specifically center around fast-paced group joke writing for adult animation sitcoms, kid-friendly action cartoons, or Disney musical narratives.
Make sure you not only have existing script samples tailoring to the genre but desire to focus a majority of your career output on children’s entertainment for instance.
Identify Target Companies and Studios
Research specific production houses, show creators, or film producers that manifest the specific creative visions you support through previous movies, shows, or web series they’ve released.
Pivot your application content around already exhibiting familiarity with their established projects and personal artistic sensibilities based on their work so far.
Set an Internship Timeframe
Plot out what periods make sense for an internship during your undergraduate years, summer breaks, gap years pre-graduate programs.
Optimally build incremental skills across multiple internships vs trying to accomplish every goal in one shot. Remember that fall/spring semesters may restrict potential opportunities depending on your current academic schedule as well.
Finding Screenwriting Internships Actively Hiring
So you’ve narrowed your preferred script writing focus area. Where exactly do you find those coveted openings to apply for?
Entertainment Industry Job Boards
Industry insiders actively review major film and TV job listing hubs like EntertainmentCareers.net and Stage32.com which commonly highlight internship availabilities at boutique production houses up to big studios like Netflix, HBO or Marvel.
Professional Social Platforms
Expand your search across broader professional platforms like LinkedIn which incorporate internship postings alongside full-time job openings. Follow Company pages for specific studios/shows and turn on alerts for listings with “screenwriting” or “writers’ assistant” keywords.
Alumni Network Outreach
Tap into alumni from your current or former academic institutions who already work in the screenwriting space. Even if their specific companies may not be hiring at the moment, they can provide tips on other studios seeking interns.
Studio Career Pages
Massive entertainment studios like Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, and more operate direct career pages detailing openings across all business units – including internship options centered specifically around supporting their scripted TV endeavors or film slates.
Tailoring Your Screenwriting Internship Application
With target options identified, excelling through the highly competitive application process is the next hurdle. Set your materials apart with the following tactics:
Script Sample Supporting Skills
DO NOT submit full screenplays or pilots as writing samples here. Instead, provide short excerpts like a few scene dialogue exchanges that capture your script formatting style and creative vision succinctly in 5 pages or less.
Cover Letter Showcasing Goals
Articulate next to your resume what specific long-term career aspirations drew you to this internship opportunity. Outline the concrete knowledge/skills you plan to build through the internship via sitting in writers’ rooms, crafting television spec scripts, analyzing scripts for coverage practice, etc.
Resume Spotlighting Relevant Experiences
Beyond just listing your coursework and grades, include details like short films/web series written, previous internships allowing shadowing of development executives, and assistant jobs supporting comedian writers that built comedy room rapport skills. These demonstrate applicable transferable abilities.
Secure Feedback From Campus Groups
Leverage campus career center counselors or screenwriting teachers to critique the strength of your resume, cover letters, and script snapshots before applying.
Their insider view enhances critical elements that impress industry insiders reviewing submissions at prospective studios.
Preparing For Your Screenwriting Interview
Passed initial application screening? Now to convey you represent the ideal candidate through the interview:
Research Company Vision and Projects
From sizzle reels to company social media accounts, immerse yourself in what past and upcoming projects the studio or production company focuses on. Weave this actively into responses highlighting why their vision excites you specifically.
Discuss Strengths Alongside Areas For Growth
Confidently pitch how your existing writing talents and soft skills make you already equipped to excel in supporting studio projects as an intern. Yet also self-reflect on areas you still need mentorship on to level up writing at the professional pace they provide.
Talk Passionately About Favorite Movies and Shows
Elaborate on a few standout movies, shows, and web series that inspire you creatively and why. Explain what specifically about the plot, characters, dialogue and other elements resonated and may influence your own writing style. This organically showcases creative instincts.
Prepare To Address Expected Internship Interview Questions:
Along with those creative discussions, expect common criteria evaluation questions, for example:
- Why do you want to intern in TV/film screenwriting specifically?
- What attracts you to our company’s creative vision and projects?
- What relevant experience prepared you for this internship program?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a script-writing candidate?
- Are you willing to handle mundane tasks like script copying or coffee runs?
- Where do you envision your screenwriting career in 5 years if this internship goes well?
The more insightful and thoughtful answers ready for these common queries, the faster you’ll prove unmatched excitement for fast-paced entertainment content creation.
Making the Absolute Most of Your Screenwriting Internship
The application hustle pays off! How now do you optimize those 10 weeks in your prized slot supporting producers, showrunners, and the writing team?
Actively Seek Feedback and Learning
Ask questions, review revisions of drafts, and get clarity explaining why certain plot points or punchlines were changed. Understand the full methodology around decisions at each step.
Build Strong Relationships
Get to know writers’ assistants, coordinators, and junior staff socially through coffee meetups or lunches. Make memorable positive impressions through reliability and strong collaboration.
Thoroughly Complete Administrative Tasks
While yes repetitive script photocopying or data entry comes with the territory, execute every task thoroughly rather than rushing to get back to shadowing writers. This compounds positive team impact.
Explore Extension Opportunities
As the closing internship date nears, inquire if additional part-time weeks may get approved so you can keep contributing to key stages of the full-season writing process based on the value you’ve shown.
Getting the all-important call confirmation for your first screenwriting internship brings exhilaration knowing long nights mastering script formatting, studying protagonist arcs, and practicing joke punch-ups now pay dividends in breaking into entertainment content creation.
Follow the guidance outlined in this post to make genuine connections through unforgettable interview talking points, and continually expand your skills through daily writing room excellence, while building professional (and social!) contacts and converting into full-time television staff writer jobs faster than other peers just starting.
The future holds boundless potential..with your first screenwriting credit just one monumental internship away!
Additional Screenwriting Internship Resources:
- UClA Internship Program Listings
- TimLongSite.com TV Writing Fellowships
- NYFA Film School Career Development Hub
Hopefully, this long-form blog post gives excellent extensive advice for maximizing competitive television and film writing internships to truly set yourself up for an incredible screenwriting career in Hollywood’s fastest-growing studios! Let me know if you would like me to modify or improve this draft blog post in any way!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get into screenwriting with no experience?
- Take screenwriting classes offered online or at local colleges to learn script formatting and storytelling fundamentals.
- Read produced screenplays to study structure, characters, scenes, and descriptive language.
- Write short scripts for web series/YouTube to practice and build a portfolio.
- Join writing groups or screenwriting competitions for feedback.
- Consider freelancing as a script coverage reader.
- Secure an internship at a studio, production company, or agency.
How do I get a job as a screenwriter?
- Continually write strong spec scripts and teleplays in popular genres and formats (e.g. 1-hour drama pilot, sitcom) to showcase your skills to agents, producers, and showrunners when applying for writing jobs.
- Make connections in the industry by networking at screenwriting events and contests.
- Start as a writers’ production assistant or writer’s assistant to learn the writers’ room environment.
- Take meetings with managers, agents, and development executives to get your scripts read.
- Enroll in television writing fellowships designed to staff new writers.
How do I get screenwriting experience?
- Shadow a professional screenwriter who allows you to observe them working on drafts
- Take internships with production companies, TV studios, screenwriting contests/workshops
- Write short films or web series that get produced
- Become a script reader analyzing screenplay submissions for companies
- Enter diverse screenwriting competitions and fellowships across genres gaining visibility
How do I break into the screenwriting industry?
- Immerse yourself in the industry early through jobs/internships in any film/TV role
- Network constantly to make authentic relationships leading to referrals
- Have multiple polished, solid genre-appropriate spec scripts ready
- Start local – get shorts made, submit to regional contests and festivals
- Consider moving to LA or other major film/TV markets like Atlanta, NYC
How do you become a Netflix script writer?
- Study Netflix’s current and past original series to reflect their style in your spec scripts
- Follow Netflix Writers’ Twitter account and apply for their emerging writers’ staffing initiatives
- Start as a program assistant at Netflix to learn their internal development process
- Have an agent submit your pilot screenplay directly to Netflix development
- Meet with Netflix Creative Executives at screenwriting events and festivals
Is it hard to get a job as a screenwriter?
Yes, the screenwriting industry is very competitive. Only seasoned, well-connected screenwriters with several high-quality produced credits typically support themselves financially from writing jobs alone. Expect to hold other film/TV jobs while working toward your first staff writing role.
Are screenwriters in demand?
As streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Apple Plus produce more original content, new screenwriting jobs are steadily on the rise. Writers with specimens reflecting binge-able series that can span multiple seasons are in especially high demand currently.
What is the difference between a screenwriter and a scriptwriter?
Screenwriters develop full-length feature film scripts with acts/beats hitting specific story structure milestones expected for the film format. Scriptwriters is a broader term referring to writing for film, television, and plays and can involve different lengths from commercials and sketches up to episodic series.
Who is the highest-paid screenwriter in the world?
Some of the world’s current highest-paid screenwriters include Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) with a Netflix multi-year deal worth over 150 million dollars, Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) – 3 year Netflix deal worth $300 million, Greg Berlanti (You, Riverdale) earning over $400 million total for his TV work, and Robert Downey Jr reportedly paid over $10 million for writing Dolittle.
Hope this helps summarize answers to the pressing questions aspiring screenwriters have breaking into Hollywood! Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional FAQs to address.