I Barely Graduated High School, But I Managed To Find A Career As A Screenwriter And Consultant

Flickr / Joe Flood
Flickr / Joe Flood

Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What are some stories of people who have gotten jobs/gigs despite a lack of experience or training? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.


I’m a high school graduate. That is the extent of my academic experience. Furthermore, I was a D-average high school student in the end. I barely graduated (primarily because I just didn’t like school).

When I moved to a city away from home, I worked at a video store. I then worked at a college campus head shop (that sold bongs and pipes for “tobacco”) where I was fired. I eventually worked in retail and managed to make my way into management. But, again, with all due respect, it was retail.

Flash forward to my present day resume.

I’m a former studio liaison for a major movie studio (Sony).

I had moved from Wisconsin to California to pursue a career in film. I did not attend a film school and certainly did not have the experience to attain a liaison position.

Instead, my wife and I moved across the street from Sony Studios. After months of trying to figure out how to get into that studio that I jogged around every day, gazing into the gates, I walked up to a security guard and said, “How do I get a job here?” Two weeks later I was a Sony security guard.

I worked and networked my way into an office position until I became the studio liaison working with incoming film and television productions. I found myself playing basketball with Adam Sandler, walking freely onto movie sets, moving around the studio lot in my own golf cart, etc.

I’m a former script reader/story analyst for a major movie studio (Sony).

During my liaison job, I met an incoming development executive that was moving onto the lot. I had no film degree and had only written two terrible screenplays at the time. I had interned briefly with a name director from the 70s, but beyond that, I had little to no experience writing studio coverage.

As I gave this development executive his Sony ID and parking spot, I mentioned that if he needed any script readers, I had some experience. He did have the need and asked me to send him some samples of script coverage. I sent him what little I had and two weeks later I was a script reader/story analyst for a major studio.

I became a represented and produced screenwriter.

With no film school experience and having exhausted the film contacts I did have from my studio days to no avail, I submitted my first notable script (after working as a script reader and writing three “warm up” scripts) to an alumni from the University of Wisconsin (where I was from and where my wife attended school) that was working at Paramount. It tracked well through their system and he connected me with a well-connected manager. He signed me right away. He took the script wide to all studios and major producers, which nabbed me meetings at Sony, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, and Disney.

I then made the life decision to have my newborn son, wife, and I move back to Wisconsin to raise him close to our family.

My follow up script nabbed me a deal at Lionsgate, despite living 2000 plus miles from Hollywood.

Later on, after a long dry spell, I had contact with a Hollywood producer that was a Wisconsin native. On a whim, I said that if he needed a writer for any assignments, I had samples for him to check out. I sent him samples through my manager and the next thing I knew I was assigned to back-to-back paid assignments, despite having no previous onscreen credits, the second of which went into production with a name cast.

I became a consultant for the Silicon Valley tech industry.

I had no college degree. I had no technology knowledge or experience. I had never set foot in the Silicon Valley at the time. I knew nobody within the tech industry.

Yet I am now currently a consultant for a Silicon Valley successful company (former startup), valued at upwards of $900 million plus with hundreds of millions in VC backing.

I work in the company’s publishing branch. And yes, I had never had any experience in publishing, content creation, content management, etc. Yet I am part of a three person team that handles all of the publishing partner aspects of such a successful company and former startup.

Life is good. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This answer originally appeared at Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge.

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