Screenwriting Assignments Are on the Wane, but Here’s How to Break Into the Game (Guest Blog)

The Rep Sheet: “It’s really about launching your client with a great piece of material and socializing them in the right way,” MGMT’s Michael Diamond says

A big chunk of a screenwriter’s income often comes from assignments (which of course means their agent or manager’s income as well). Agents and managers use a grid to track open writing assignments at studios and production companies.

Since the 2007-08 screenwriters strike, the number of assignments has contracted significantly, MGMT Entertainment’s Michael Diamond explained. “When I was an assistant at UTA, there were hundreds and hundreds of assignments. And you could just go through those grids and position your clients for them.”

Circle of Confusion’s Zach Cox said: “(It’s) more challenging in that the studios make less movies now than when I got into the business in the mid-2000s.” Thus, there are fewer open writing assignments. “The studios have decided to take bigger bets on bigger movies that they can make billions in return.”

“They are certainly not developing as much as they were pre-writers strike,” Jake Wagner from Good Fear said. “The studio financiers only focus on developing on movies they intend to make. Back in the day, they would just develop volume and see what scripts came in strong.”

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Jim Cirile

Jim Cirile

Jim Cirile is an L.A.-based writer, producer and musician and the founder of CoverageInk.com. He's written about the biz since 2002 for Script and Creative Screenwriting magazines, among other outlets. He is co-writer and co-executive producer of the animated horror feature "To Your Last Death," starring Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise and William Shatner.