As a new or freelance writer, how much money should you actually spend on yourself to stay connected, develop your craft, and increase your overall productivity? In other words, what’s your annual screenwriting budget? Let’s crunch some numbers.
OK, let’s assume you already have screenwriting software and a computer, the basics. The first thing you might want to consider is a cinema subscription, which gives you unlimited access to see every film that’s released. Then there’s the various TV subscriptions; you’ll probably have Netflix or Amazon or both, at the very least.
Networking’s going to be important. But how much should you spend? Well, you can minimise costs by attending individual screenings or events, or you can go to something like the London Screenwriters Festival and cram all your networking into one weekend.
If you’re setting your sights farther afield, like the Cannes Film Festival, you can actually get a free ticket to attend but flight, accommodation and food is where the expense will hit.
ADVERTISING & PROMOTION
The basic promotional tools for a writer are having a website and some decent looking business cards. They’re non-essential in some ways but they’re fairly inexpensive so why not have a basic shop window and accessible contact details for you and your work?
COURSE, BOOKS & MAGAZINES
Weekend screenwriting courses are affordable and provide a nice hit of insight and inspiration, you might want to attend a couple of them a year. And then there’s books and magazines. Broadcast, Screen Daily, Empire, various screenwriting books. All of which you’re probably going to dip into at some point.
TRAVEL & SUSTENANCE
Let’s face it, you’re going to have to get out of the house and probably feed yourself on at least one occasion especially if you’re going to network and hustle with the best of them. This means train fares, flights, drinks and dinners, not to mention probably buying other people drinks and dinners. It all adds up.
Assuming you’re really going to go for it, your top end screenwriting budget will likely be in the £1-£2K a year bracket, while the more parsimonious among you will get by under the £1k radar. Having a screenwriting budget is a good way to plan your year, and focus on the premium content that’s going to help you. And remember, it’s pretty much all tax deductible. Basically though, be smart with your cash but invest in your craft.