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Oh So You're A "Screenwriter"

Writing a screenplay is tough work.  No, it's not building bridges or saving lives in an emergency room (not sure why those are the first two things I think of, and in such an odd order) but it's still something that takes a lot of time, involves a lot of hair pulling, cursing and self-deprecation.  There are so many written and unwritten rules of screenwriting that it makes it difficult to even know where to start sometimes.  I have many books on the subject and most of them say different things.  Then any of my screenwriter friends (okay, just the one, hi Diego) would say something completely different.  It's a lot of mix and match with the rules and that can be... challenging to say the least.

Last summer I came to the realization that I hadn't completed a feature-length screenplay in about seven years.  I was 22 at the time.  That means that my four finished screenplays had been done before I was even 16.  And what did I have to show for the past seven years?  A bunch of half completed messes of movies.  They'd feature a cool scene or a cool premise but then I'd phizzle out and not really know where to go next with it.  So that just resulted in document after document on my computer that was just a couple pages long.  Don't get me wrong, if I could combine all my script documents into one giant mess, I'd have a 400+ page epic.  But they were nothing more than ideas for no one's eyes but my own.

Yet if people were to ask what I write, I'd say screenplays were my specialty.  But then, if they were to ask to read one, I wouldn't have any for them to read.  My old scripts hardly counted as scripts as is since I didn't understand many basic concepts at the time, and what had I written lately?  Nothing.  So I'd call myself a screenwriter and then not write screenplays.  Can anyone call themselves a writer if they don't actually write?

All of this is to say that if you're going to call yourself something, then you need to actually do it.  I've started refraining from calling myself an editor anymore because, truthfully, I don't really edit anything anymore.  And how can I call myself an editor if I don't do the most base thing there is in that field: edit.  Same with videography.  I haven't done that in months so I don't feel comfortable calling myself that.  Have I done enough in the past to still pick either back up?  Absolutely, and I intend to.  As a matter of fact, I'm currently planning a web series with an actor friend.  But all of it is hypothetical right now as I have not captured image on film or edited a single frame.  At that moment I'll be an editor and videographer again.  But the statute of limitations has to come into play at some point.  I can't say I'm still a football player just because I played in High School.

At this moment, I'm confident in calling myself a screenwriter.  Amateur yes, but still a screenwriter.  I just finished my second script in the past six months and will be sending them both out to agents/producers in the coming weeks.  Do I list "screenwriter" in my facebook occupation section?  No, because I haven't made money off of it yet but that doesn't mean I can't treat the work like I am a professional.  And that's really all you can do when you're starting out, no matter what the field.  Want to be an actor?  Act in bullshit short films that only make it to youtube.  It's still acting and yeah, you still get enjoyment out of it but most importantly it gets you closer to your career goal.  Writing these screenplays for me is like writing a letter to get into college or writing a resume.  A professional will read it and decide if it, given the work I put in, is something they want to make or someone they want to hire.  That's why writing, to me, is more than just a hobby, it's an interview for my future.

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