Many of you might be wondering if it’s absolutely necessary to join an MFA program in Screenwriting in order to break into film or television. More of you (myself included), may want to go to a screenwriting program, but simply can’t afford the $100,000 price tag. Does this mean that you’re doomed? Absolutely not! As someone who believes very strongly in the art of the hustle and in trying one’s best to make his own way, I sought after some sound advice. I asked folks who have been in my position re: trying to break into Hollywood, walking the hot-coaled road, and finally succeeding. Writers from shows like Leverage on TNT, movies for TV on Syfy, Thundercats, and former TV Writer Fellowships participants all chimed in with their wonderful pieces of advice. The one overriding message I got was:
You do not have to go to an MFA program just to break into Hollywood!
In fact, many folks in the biz won’t care at all that you have a screenwriting degree. They care more about your skills and talent as a writer, the relationships you’ve fostered with people, and your work ethic and passion!
As I take the plunge and focus on all three of these areas (honing my craft, fostering relationships, and displaying work ethic and passion), feel free to join me on my journey. We can learn from my mistakes and my successes together! In the meantime, check out this killer book list that you can invest in (below) that will help you to start honing your writing and professional skills as you make your way towards writing for the big and small screens. Get a head start on your reading because we’re about to throw on the travel packs and head to the City of Angels!
Books on Television Writing (General)
Breakfast with Sharks by Michael Lent (for films, but get it anyway)
Books on Writing for TV Drama
Books on Writing for TV Sitcoms (Comedy)
Writing Television Sitcoms by Evan S. Smith (recommended for everyone)
The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus (an oldie but goldie, let’s petition Vorhaus to write a new edition!)
Books on Screenplay Structure and Formatting
Books on Breaking In, Pitching, Selling, and Assisting
Write on, rock on,