The scriptwriter is the artist who imagines the stories, the characters and the situations in film productions for example.
His / her role is crucial: he / she produces the narrative thread of an audiovisual project. Find here the scriptwriter’s missions, qualities, training and professional prospects.
The scriptwriter’s role and missions
In an artistic production, the scriptwriter plays the most important role.
Working in a team or by himself, he or she is responsible for writing the screenplay for a film, a television series, a music video, a play or a video game. His or her work is essential and forms the basis for the work of all the other teams involved in the production.
Of course, the scriptwriter’s work will mostly depend on the medium for which he or she is writing.
Scriptwriter for cinema
When he works for the cinema, which is the situation we most often imagine for the scriptwriter, he cooperates with the producers and the director in order to agree on a synopsis.
Then, the scriptwriter creates the dialogues, the adventures… All of this is done with a very specific vocabulary, and in accordance with the scenes and the stage guidelines.
He or she also works closely with the actors, the director and the film project teams. Of course, the script takes into account the context of the film, the story, and many other elements. It is even common for a script to be specifically written for an actor.
Scriptwriter for television
When he or she works for television, the scriptwriter writes screenplays for television movies or series. In this case, the writing work is more limited than in the cinema.
Both the channel’s spirit and the codes of the series must be respected. The work differs according to the freedom of writing allowed in the series, but also according to whether or not it is a new production. The indications of acting are more precise than in the cinema.
When the script is written, the author does not participate in the direction. He / she lets the production team put his / her text on stage.
Scriptwriter for video games
The scriptwriter working for a video game production plays a less important role than in cinema and television. However, he or she is still responsible for certain key aspects of the game.
Players must be able to identify with the characters to make the experience realistic and immersive. Today, many game productions use scriptwriters for their stories.
Scriptwriter for comic books
The work of a scriptwriter for comic books is very specific, since he systematically works in duo with a draftsman. It is not uncommon for a duo to collaborate in this way for many years.
The writing must adapt to the reading of illustrations and include short dialogues and very diverse situations.
Diplomas and training courses
To become a scriptwriter, talent is required above all, more than diplomas. However, some film training courses offering the “Audiovisual Director-Creator” RNCP Title of level 6 (equivalent to a Bac+3, and accessible after the baccalauréat) allow to master writing techniques and to move towards a career as a scriptwriter.
Students in cinema can choose to become scriptwriters through courses and workshops on scriptwriting.
In this way, they can acquire the techniques and artistic skills essential to the profession of scriptwriter in all fields: animation, television, web, video games, advertising, radio, etc.
Skills and required qualities
The scriptwriter is a professional who bases most of his work on creativity and imagination. Imagination is the most important quality required to become a scriptwriter .
If you want to become a scriptwriter, it is important to have the desire to tell stories, to create new situations, to imagine complex characters, to bring them to life through dialogues and perspectives…
The scriptwriter’s artistic sense is also highly developed, as are his or her writing and interpersonal skills. He / she needs to be open to all sources of inspiration, and maintain his / her creativity with other productions: films, series, books, etc.
Finally, as in any artistic profession, the scriptwriter must be persistent and have strong interpersonal skills.
Careers and professional opportunities
Entering the film industry is not easy. For the junior scriptwriter, it can be interesting to multiply professional and personal projects, in order to have his or her work recognised by other film professionals.
Short films and web series are nowadays projects that are increasingly developed by production companies looking for new scriptwriters and producers.
It should also be pointed out that scriptwriters do not benefit from the status of occasional workers: they essentially live off their copyright.
Television channels and production companies are constantly looking for scriptwriters for their film productions.
However, stable situations are unusual and most often apply to series production. There are no standard career paths to work in this profession or to evolve in it.
It is possible to write and produce upon completion of studies and even before. Other professionals become scriptwriters at the end of a very different career. However, it is possible to move on to novel writing, directing or even teaching.
A junior scriptwriter is entitled to a median gross monthly salary of 1,500€.
However, this salary varies considerably depending on the project, its budget, success or importance. A ninety-minute fiction (a film) can pay him between 15,000 and 61,000€ gross.
For a television series, one episode can represent an average salary of 1,500€. For an animated film, the scriptwriter’s salary is between 3,500 and 4,000€ gross.
However, there are many elements that define the scriptwriter’s salary. The project and its characteristics for example, but also the scriptwriter’s reputation, his past assignments and the projects he has worked on.
It is therefore difficult to determine his or her salary expectations in greater detail.