Skip to main content

COVID-19 Got You (Locked) Down?

With the country deep into the COVID-19 lockdown, Heather Hale shares advice and links to emergency artist grants, free screenplay download resources and extended free-trial codes for streaming shows.

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers!

covid quarantine writer resources

Has the Virus Attacked Your Income?

Budget suddenly tightened because you're sheltering in place?

The New York Foundation for the Arts has curated an exhaustive list of generous viral-crisis emergency grants for writers, actors, directors, artists, dancers, musicians and other artists. Check 'em out and see if you (or anyone you know) might be eligible for any of these financial sustenance resources.

Stir Crazy with Cabin Fever? Chompin' at the bit to do something to further improve your craft? 

How about making the most of this "down time" by targeting your quarantine binge-watching and screenplay reading? Below are links to everything from development resources and entertainment industry education to just pure leisure distraction.

We write scripts because we love something (or many things) about storytelling, right? Now's a great time to really discern and hone what you're striving to capture and express by studying your project's comparables and researching your genre(s). 

Note: None of these are affiliate links, they're just here as a courtesy for your convenience.

A Great Time to Read Great Scripts

[Script Extra: How to Find Professional Screenplays to Download]

Sundance Institute Masterclasses - for Free!

The Sundance Institute has generously made their Masterclasses available - for free - for two months.

Explore Binge-Worthy TV with Extended Free Trials

It's a great time for screenwriters to explore the Over-the-Top Streamer landscape. Surf these free trials one after another like 0% interest rate credit cards until you figure out which one (if any) are right for you (just don't forget to put the expiration dates in your calendar to cancel the free trial if there's not enough content to warrant your continued subscription).

Acorn TV Promo code "FREE30" gets new subscribers 30 days of British, Australian and Canadian TV shows and foreign-language thrillers. [$5.99/mo or $59.99/year.]

CBS' Binge-worthy SciFi: Picard

CBS' Binge-worthy SciFi: Picard

Amazon Prime Video offers a free 30-day trial. [$13/mo or $119/year]

Apple TV+ has a free 7-day trial (or one-year free subscription with purchase of an Apple product). [$4.99/mo]

CBS All Access The promo code "ALL" gets you everything FREE for a month (offer expires April 30) gets one month free with the [$5.99/mo (with commercials) or $9.99/mo without; 15% off wwith annual plan.]

Cinemax’s Max Go has no free trial.

Crunchyroll offers 14-days free of anime and Japanese programming. [$7.99/mo; $22.99/3 months or $79.99/year.]

CW Seed is free for all CBS and Warner Bros. ad-supported shows including originals and syndicated.

CW Seed Especially Binge-Worthy:

[Script Extra: BALLS OF STEEL™: Tips for Writers (and Other Humans) During the COVID-19 Lockdown]

Disney+'s 7-day free trial includes Disney classics, Pixar adventures, Marvel epics, Star Wars sagas, National Geographic explorations and 20th Century Fox content. [$6.99/mo or $69.99/yr; $12.99 bundles Hulu and ESPN]

Kids bound-to-binge: Frozen II

FandangoNow (no current deals, just including to be as complete as possible)

Google-Play has a bunch of free movies, series (and ebooks, music and apps)

HBO Now's streaming service offers a 7-day free trial of pilots and series. [$14.99/mo]

Hulu has a 30-day free trial. [$5.99/mo with ads; $60.99/mo for ad-free Hulu + Live TV. HBO®, SHOWTIME®, CINEMAX® and STARZ® are all available as add-ons.

IMDb TV is Amazon’s free (ad-supported) streaming service that offers thousands of movies and TV shows including “Legally Blonde,” “Shrek Forever After,” “The Social Network,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Friday Night Lights.” [No subscription required]

Microsoft Movies & TV (no deals shown)

MotorTrend on Demand gives 1 month of “Top Gear,” behind the scenes of NASCAR racing, barn finds, road trips and rebuilds for .99 cents. [$4.99/mo or $1.99/mo annual]

Netflix has 30 days free.

[Script Extra: Are You Really Too Busy To Write?]

PBS is streaming Ken Burns’ 9-part (18-hour-) documentary “Baseball” for free.

Philo has a 7-day free trial of 59+ channels including A&E Networks, AMC Networks, Discovery, Scripps Networks and Viacom. 1st 2 days are mobile only; Day 3 requires a credit card to get days 3 - 7 at no charge. [$20/mo]

Plex has some ad-supported free content. Their Premium Plex Pass = $4.99/mo; $39.99/year or $149.99 for life for a 3-day viewing window and 30-day recording window.]

Pluto TV is ad-supported free for live TV and movies and TV series on demand (6 James Bond features)

The Roku Channel has a lot of free content that you could bundle with premium subscriptions to other channels.

Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial to new subscribers (expires May 3). [$10.99/mo; $109.90/yr]

Shudder's promo code "SHUTIN" gets you 30 days of features, horror movies and shows, thrillers and suspense. [$4.99/mo or $47.88/yr]

STARZ's new customers are $4.99/mo for the first 3 mos [$8.99/mo]

The Sundance Institute has generously made their Sundance Co//ab Master Classes available for free for two months.

Sundance Now's promo code SUNDANCENOW30 gets new customers true-crime series, thrillers and original dramas free for 30 days. [$6.99/mo; $4.99/mo paid annually].

The Los Angeles County Library is offering a 90-day temporary digital library card for access to movies and TV for county residents who didn’t have one before the libraries shut down. This includes 10 play credits per month on their streaming service Kanopy which includes temporary unlimited access through mid-April to Kanopy for Kids, which offers educational programs including Sesame Street and Arthur.

The Los Angeles Public Library is also offering free streaming content which includes documentary films and movies.

Tubi's free (ad supported) content comes from 200+ partners including Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM.

UMC' promo code "UMCFREE30" gets you a free 30-day trial of the Urban Movie Channel's black TV and movies (Black Love, All of Us, Harlem Nights), original series and docuseries. [$4.99/mo or $49.99/yr].

UP Faith & Family 14-day free trial of Christian movies and wedding shows. [$5.99/mo or $53.99/yr]

Vudu has some free movies and TV (and different pricing structures).

XUMO's free, ad-supported streaming service offers 200 channels of movies and TV shows, live news, kids’ entertainment, sports, documentaries, music videos and Spanish-language TV. [No sign-up, subscription or registration is required.]

NOTE: Please feel free to update any additional resources that might be of help to other writers and other artrepreneurs, update any new promo codes or add any OTT platforms I might've missed.

Tech Note: Players vs. OTT Platforms

As I discuss in my book, How to Work the Film & TV Markets, technology is causing the film and television worlds to collide almost inextricably (and imperceptibly to many consumers). The following might be obvious to the more tech- or biz-savvy among you but in the interests of clarifying... 

AmazonFireApple TV and Roku are examples of "players" - the actual physical, tangible hardware, be it a smart television or some sort of a device (think old school "cable" box with a remote control) that levels up an older TV to secure access to paid content.

As opposed to OTT ("Over-the-Top-(of)-TV") streaming "platforms" - like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and The Roku Channel - which are simply video content "Distributors." They represent the merging of old school broadcast "networks" and cable "channels" with brick and mortar cinemas - into a seamless home theater experience - and a whole new socioeconomic media landscape.

As a behemoth example: Amazon (which took 14 years to make a profit, Bezos had vision!) owns Amazon Studios which produces their own Amazon Originals - Movies and Series - which are distributed via their own Amazon Prime Video - where you could also watch content created by others (or buy DVDs in their online "store"). 

[Script Extra: 7 Ways To Turn Technology Into Writing Productivity]

Right now you can pay to watch HBO, Showtime, BET, Lifetime, MTV, Comedy Central, and a whole buffet of others "platforms'" menus - on any brand's TV, smart phone or tablet "player." But if, say, Disney decided to limit distribution of their content ONLY via Disney+, that would really shake up the marketplace. 

As all of these competitors morph and overlap, scraping to survive and thrive in this latest media "survival of the fittest" evolution, all sorts of "interesting bed fellows" have sprung up. Co-productions and joint ventures strive to get noticed amongst the din of this chaotic marketplace with Emmy, Oscar, Indie Spirit and People's Choice Award nods and wins that they hope will translate to SVOD, AVOD and TVOD dollars (i.e.: Subscription, Advertising-Supported and Transactional Video on Demand).

If you don't know where you're going, how will you know how to get there?

If you don't know where you're going, how will you know how to get there?

What Does All This Mean To Me? As A Screenwriter? Or Author?

As I tease in my workshops: "If you don't know where you're going, how will you know how to get there?" 

Understanding the lay of the land - even as it shifts and transmutes (seemingly daily) - is critical for you to be able to identify your points of entry (and repeated re-entry!) for you - and each of your different literary assets or concepts. 

If you are selling a completed movie or series, then ANY of these outlets might be prospective buyers for you - like four-walling a movie or Oprah's show being one of the first - but undeniably the best - to nail literally market-by-market syndication.

If you are trying to sell a screenplay or get an original television series set up (be it scripted or not), these distributors MIGHT be prospects but more likely: your real prospects are their development, financing and production arms - or production companies that have deals negotiated with them to deliver content.

Hot Tip!: To discover who's got deals with whom, visit "Film & TV Research" on 

The World Needs Your Stories. 

No matter how much the globe shrinks or technology changes the world we live in - we ALL need stories to feel connected, find meaning and purpose. 

Imagine being quarantined without film and television, books and music...

Stay safe. 

We need you.




More articles by Heather Hale

Learn more tips for Heather Hale in her on-demand webinars at The Writers Store


heather hale ws products