How Much Should I Charge for Writing a Screenplay?

As a screenwriter, your ultimate goal is to be able to make a living from screenwriting. I’m talking money. So how much money should you charge when you’re lucky enough to be hired for screenwriting work? Just a heads up we will be answering the question for freelance screenwriters only screenwriters without agents or managers who need to gauge their fees as compared to the market.

How much should you charge for writing a screenplay? For a feature-length screenplay, the average is around $4,000.

Let me show you how I got to that number.

Now your price should be lower or higher depending on two factors.

  1. Experience in the industry
  2. A History of compeleted projects

And out of 30 professionals researched the averagenumber was around $4,000

Let’s go over the complete ranges for all four types of screenplay writing work.

Screenplay TypePrice
Freelance feature script$1,000 – $15,000
Freelance TV script$2,000 – $4,000
Freelance short film script$100 – $1,000
Freelance script rewrites$600 – $3,500

As you can see, the ranges of potential prices to charge for screenplays is quite large.

But what if you are a union writer what should you charge?

Charging for Screenplays a Non-Union Writer

One thing worth mentioning that you may notice is that the prices listed in the above table are pretty different from what the official screenwriter’s union, the WGA (Writers Guild of America) lists as minimum prices for their writers.

Here, you can see what the WGA requires its members to charge according to its 2020 Schedule of Minimums.

WGA ScreeplaysMoney Earned
WGA feature films$77,495 – $145,469
WGA TV scripts$5,052 – $57,480
WGA script rewrites$25,424 – $38,759

For more information on what you get as a union writer click here.

As you can see, these rates are much higher than those listed above.

If you’re in the WGA, your compensation will be very different, official, and may be negotiated for you by an agent or manager.

However, if you don’t have representation or WGA membership, you can consult the following information to help determine what you’ll be able to justify charging as a freelance screenwriter.

How Much Should I Charge for Writing a Feature Screenplay?

One of the most common types of screenplays you’ll write as a freelance screenwriter is the feature screenplay for a usually 90 to 120 minute feature film. For these, it’s standard to charge between $1,000 – $15,000, with the most common price coming to around $3,000 to $5,000.

Other factors to consider include whether the screenplay is original or non-original. It’s standard to charge less for a non-original screenplay.

It’s also common to break up payment into installments delivered after the treatment, first draft, and second draft.

So for the more standard television script length of 30 or 60 pages, you can stick to the $2,000 to $4,000 range. If you’re writing much less or more than this length, then you might go a bit above or below the range.

It’s also fairly common for screenwriters to charge more for a pilot – the first episode of a television show – than for subsequent episodes.

A mark-up of about 50% is to be expected for a pilot. So if you’d charge $3,000 for a 30-minute TV episode, you can fairly ask for $4,500 for a TV pilot.

How Much Should I Charge for Writing a Short Film?

For a short film, you can plan to charge about $100 to $1,000.

The two biggest factors you’ll likely want to think about when setting your short film prices are the length of the script and the film’s budget. Most short films are made on a much lower budget than features and TV episodes, often being produced independently and/or by students.

That being the case, it’s very common for short films to be created on a shoestring budget, meaning that their capacity for payment will generally be quite low. That’s why it’s even standard to charge as little as $100 for a short film script.

If you’re just doing a quick polish of a short script, a few hundred dollars is a fair price. But if you’re rewriting a feature film from the ground up, don’t hesitate to charge closer to the rate that you would for writing an original feature film screenplay.

Even as a freelance screenwriter, the work you do is valuable and you deserve fair compensation.

Now its time to hear from you:

Did I miss anything?

Are there screenwriting rate factors you consider that haven’t been listed above?

Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.

Happy Writing.

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