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To make a great film, you need three things–the script, the script and the script.

Alfred Hitchcock, film director

Whether it’s a story idea that came from a previously published book, the retelling of actual events, or an original fiction story, the screenwriter builds a bridge that allows the story to be put on the screen in a way that brings it to life.

Take some time to appreciate those who are behind the stories that appear on the silver screen on National Screenwriters Day!

History of National Screenwriters Day

Screen writers have been around almost since the beginning of the time when movies started. The first person to be recognized as a screenwriter was Georges Méliès, who wrote the 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon. Since then, screenwriters have been working their creative magic to build a foundation for films, television shows and more.

Also called screenplay writers, these artists use their writing skills to make it possible for readers to understand and recreate the feelings and emotions as well as the setting of a story. Screenwriters work in collaboration with directors and producers to make a film or television show into something that viewers will want to see.

In 2016, the first National Screenwriters Day was celebrated, established by ScreenwritingU in an effort to acknowledge the talent and genius of those who write screenplays. Now, each year at this time, the people who work the magic to put the stories on screen are honored on National Screenwriters Day.

National Screenwriters Day Timeline

1902

First screenplay is written 

Georges Méliès writes what is considered to be the first example of a modern script with A Trip to the Moon.[1]

1920

Screen Writers’ Guild is formed 

Precursor of today’s Writers’ Guild of America, this organization is formed as both a social and professional organization.[2]

1957

First screenplay Academy Award

The first Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is given to George Wells for Designing Woman.[3]

2016

First National Screenwriters Day 

National Screenwriters Day is initiated by ScreenwritingU.com.[4]

2018

First African-American screenwriter to win an Oscar

Jordan Peele becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Get Out.[5]

How to Celebrate National Screenwriters Day

Get involved in showing appreciation and celebrating some favorite screenplay writers by implementing some fun ideas on National Screenwriters Day. Start with some of these ways to enjoy the day:

Encourage a Writer

National Screenwriters Day is the perfect time to give support and encouragement to those young and budding writers who have dreams of becoming successful! Perhaps write a note to encourage a young writer, or even donate to a scholarship fund that helps screenwriters pay for their education.

Watch a Favorite Film

One of the best ways to show appreciation for the art of screenwriting is by watching the finished product! Of course, it would be ideal to choose films that have won awards for their screenwriting skills, like the Academy Award or Golden Globe Award for the Best Original Screenplay.

Consider watching some of these films from Oscar winning screenwriters:

  • Get Out by Jordan Peele (2017). This psychological horror film represents Jordan Peele’s screenwriting talents as the first African American to ever win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
  • Good Will Hunting by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (1997). The film that brought Damon and Affleck into the limelight, this film stars the two screenwriters as well as Minnie Driver and Robin Williams.
  • Chariots of Fire by Colin Welland (1981). The British historical sports drama is based on the true story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics, one of whom is Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian who is a long distance runner.
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by William Rose (1967). Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn star in this romantic-comedy drama story that dealt with the cutting edge topic of interracial marriage.

Throw a National Screenwriters Day Party

Those who simply love everything to do with film can celebrate National Screenwriters Day by hosting a gathering of friends, neighbors and family members. Invite friends over for the evening and have them dress up as their favorite character from a film or movie.

As part of the fun of a National Screenwriters Day party, provide snacks and goodies that are themed with some of the best silver screen movies. Of course, popcorn, red licorice, nachos, Junior Mints and other snacks are classic movie-going treats. Or make cookies in the shape of golden stars or Oscar award statues.

Read a Screenwriter Memoir or Biography

One great way to show appreciation on National Screenwriters Day is to read and learn more about some of the best of them. Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson is a great way to get started, featuring stories of 50 different screenwriters.

Or consider reading some of these other biographies or memoirs about screenwriters:

  • Phantom Lady by Christina Lane (2020). Telling the story of the woman behind Alfred Hitchcock, this book is about Joan Harrison who started out as a sales girl in London but eventually became an Academy Award nominated screenwriter.
  • Finding Fish by Antwone Q. Fisher (2001). Born in prison to a single mother, Antwone “Fish” made his way from foster care to the navy to becoming a well-known Hollywood screenwriter. Fisher is known for writing the screenplay for his own biographical film of the same name, starring Denzel Washington.
  • Becoming Superman by Michael J. Straczynski (2019). Another autobiographical book, this one features the rags to riches story of one of the most successful film writers, including scripts to films such as Babylon 5, Changeling and Thor.
  • When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry by Rosanne Welch (2018). Featuring essays about 23 different female screenwriters of the Golden Age of Hollywood from classics like Ben Hur, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Try a Hand at Writing a Screenplay

Anyone who has considered themselves to have story writing ideas and skills may just want to use National Screenwriters Day as an inspiration and motivation. Perhaps use the time to think of an original story that might make a delightful screenplay, or maybe even consider getting permission to convert a favorite novel into a story that could be told on the screen.

Take a Writing Class

Don’t know how to write a screenplay? That’s okay! Get some experience and practice by taking a class at a local community college or even participating in an online class. For instance, The Los Angeles Film School, Nashville Film Institute and the New York Film Academy offer online classes for screenwriting. Masterclass and Udemy are other educators that provide online classes for budding screenwriters.

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