Claudia Johnson & Matt Stevens co-authored Script Partners: How to Succeed at Co-Writing for Film & TV. Their latest feature, Ruby, has been optioned by Invitation Entertainment. Follow them on Facebook.Full bio.
If you can’t find the right writing partner among the people you know, you’ll need to get to know more people, as we say in our book Script Partners: How to Succeed at Co-Writing for Film & TV.
But easier said than done, right? Not necessarily.
If you’re in college, wake up and smell the collaborations! Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood; The People vs.Larry Flynt; The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) met at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (Intolerable Cruelty; Man of the House) met in film classes at Northwestern. Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen (Friends) did improv together at Yale. And Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay (Clash of the Titans; Ride Along franchise) did improv together at Brown. Follow their successful example. If you’re not already in film or scriptwriting classes, consider enrolling. Or take classes in drama or join a comedy/improv group.
If you’re not in college, nil desperandum. Take continuing education classes. Attend writers’ conferences. Start a writers’ support group. Join writers’ organizations. And socialize.
As the group of writers you know expands, so do your chances of finding a script partner. But if you still can’t find a collaborator among contacts and colleagues, consider this option:
Writer/director seeks scriptwriting partner. Goal: funny movies that are completely original and totally unlike Hollywood’s endless parade of remakes. Ideally your forte is solid character development. Please contact me. Are we a match? —Ad posted on the Internet
Hey, if you can find Mr./Ms. Right with an ad, why not the right writing partner? Whether you’re seeking a career collaborator or a co-writer for one particular script, you can post notices—as many do—on scriptwriting forum message boards online. Possibilities include but aren’t limited to the websites for Reddit, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter, or Craigslist.
Tony Urban and Michael Addis, who co-wrote the comedy Poor White Trash, met on the Internet. A struggling screenwriter in Pennsylvania, Urban started emailing story pitches to industry people, including L.A.-based writer/director Michael Addis.
“Absolutely everyone turned me down, including Mike,” Urban says on Wired.com. “Except Mike was more polite than everyone else, and asked me what else I was working on.”
So Urban pitched another idea—a true story about a waitress mom who resorts to crime to send her son to college. Addis was hooked, and the two writers “went AOL,” trading ideas back and forth via email until they had a detailed outline.
“I started feeling like a real web junkie/shut-in,” Addis adds about the online partnership. “But the process was working.”
Whether you look for the perfect partner among perfect strangers or people you know, it’s best to look for someone with the qualities that we—and the writers we interviewed—consider crucial to a good partnership. We’ll explore what these qualities are in our next four posts.
Get more tips on writing partnership in Claudia and Matt's book
Script Partners: How to Succeed at Co-Writing for Film & TV