I've been thinking lately about where I stand in my writing. Then I realized I shouldn't compare.
But I did think of something that may be of use to you writers out there. It's a basic Writer Level comparison chart. Well it's not really a chart, but it's a list of levels that could easily be made in to a chart. But I don't have the time. Either way, the information is there.
The basic levels for writers that we use in Television are:
- Staff Writer
- Story Editor
- Executive Story Editor
- Co-Executive Producer
- Executive Producer
Consulting Producers are thrown in there sometimes as well. The consultants are usually higher level than producer, but they don't want to give away profits on the show like an EP.
Features don't have a level system like this, but they do have increasing levels of pay depending on how much you made on your last writing job and how much the studio believes your work is worth.
I thought of a few levels myself, some that can help paint a better picture of how the work and dedication that goes into becoming a full-time TV or Film writer can pay off. Here they are:
- Novice Writer: Anyone from those just starting out to those who have written a great deal but haven't been staffed on a show or been given a professional writing job. No this does not include Independent films unless you win awards and/or get wide distribution for the film.
- Beginning Writer: You've landed a staff writer position or you've sold a spec screenplay. You have officially been put on the map as a writer worth your business. You can now continue to work your way up the ladder.
- Intermediate Writer: You have been on staff for a while, maybe you're a Producer (TV only) by now. You have a few pilots or features in the works that you're trying to sell around town. You know the game and it doesn't surprise you. Writers at this level have been known to secure Blind Script Deals or feature writing assignments.
- Advanced Writer: You've sold one or more pilots. You may have even had your pilot go to series. One of your features has made it all the way to the theaters and you have retained credit (believe it or not, this is a very hard thing to do). People now recognize you as a writer by trade and you might be hassled by novices after a Q&A sometime.
- Expert Writer: You have been a showrunner, you have had several features made, you are an officially recognized (by IMDb and others) writer. Congratulations. Now good luck getting your next project off the ground (because your neighbors cousin just made millions selling his stupid YouTube channel to MTV).
It seems that an individual can jump from Novice to higher levels depending on success, but this is a very hard thing to do. Everything in this town is about popularity. It's just the way it is.
Maybe you can talk to your neighbor's cousin for a job on his YouTube show?