Screenwriting In The Age of The Coronavirus

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Screenwriting In The Age of The Coronavirus

Screenwriting in the age of the coronavirus may feel a bit pointless or irrelevant. The world feels like a movie, so taking the time to work on a script for a movie can be difficult. With all physical production stopped for the near future, there is also no tangible means to produce a film in this moment. But screenwriters should know that this, from a screenwriting perspective, is the calm before the storm.

Once the coronavirus tapers off, and life returns to some kind of normalcy, there is going to be an explosion of buying scripted material. Consider this – last year, Netflix spent 15 billion on original content. Amazon spent 6 billion. Hulu spent 2.5 billion.

Those numbers are tethered to produced content. Just those three buyers alone represent 23.5 billion dollars. The coronavirus hit at a time of unprecedented demand for scripted content, and plugged a hole in it.

Like a plugged hole in a dam, the water pressure is building. Executives will be buying content, and tons of it, once the fog has lifted and production on film and TV series can resume. Armed with this knowledge, what should a screenwriter do?

One immediate area to avoid is anything pandemic-related. There will be endless TV shows, movies, novels, comic books and so on reacting to the pandemic, in literal and metaphorical terms.

Past that, the coronavirus shutdown has afforded writers the opportunity to hunker down and really polish their original material to a fine sheen. Literally everyone is trapped at home, with time to read. Exchange drafts of your material with friends. Get notes on your script. Revise and revise and revise.

When the eventual gold rush happens, and scripted production resumes, writers will want to be armed with the strongest script possible. There will absolutely be a desperate need for great scripted content, when this concludes.

Stress and anxiety are normal to experience at this time. They can interfere with the creative process, certainly. But they can also fuel it. Write into that fear and anxiety. What does this period of uncertainty represent most to you? Financial concern? Health concern?

Whatever emotions you are experiencing most strongly, make those the basis of a fictional plot (again, not one directly or indirectly connected to the pandemic, as there will be a glut of that) and write away.

How are you handling screenwriting during the coronavirus? Let us know in the comments below.

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