How Much Do Screenwriters Get Paid?

It depends whether you’re being paid by a penniless director just out of film school or someone more established.

But there are some factors that do tend to feed in reliably…

Crudely put, it all depends on a combination of:

  • How much you are in demand as a writer – how ‘hot’ you are
  • The quality of the script
  • How ‘hot’ the script is – (not the same as how good the script is)
  • The budget of the movie (you usually end up with about 2% of that, but it’s a fiendish calculation that is highly negotiable)
  • The size and quality of the production company
  • Which country you are in
  • Whether you are writing a tv show or a movie.

Just to pull a figure out of the air – and independent movie made here in the UK with a name star and a good, in demand, director could make you £30,000 - £40,000 for the script.

Agents always tell me the fee tends to be 1 or 2% of the entire production budget – but there are so many variables attached to that it’s kind of hard to say.

I guess, if I were to sell a script in the UK, with my level of experience, and it was to the average UK company, not a big American outfit, I’d expect between $60 and $100K, if that helps.

TV writers in the UK earn between £8K and upwards of £50K per hour of drama, depending on how successful they are, with the bulk of writers earning around £10-15k per hour. 

With these kind of figures floating around, screenwriting can be a very, very desirable job indeed... 

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