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Most contests have a condition stating that you can't have received a certain amount of income from writing for TV/film in order to be eligible to enter. I wouldn't think this would include writing TV commercials, but thought I'd ask just to be sure. What do you think?
That's a toughie - I'd call the people running the contest and see what they say. It may vary from contest to contest.
Having worked as a copywriter, I do not believe writing for a tv commercial, counts as earnings from writing.
Well, a copywriter writes for the advertiser/client. In fact, it is copyrighted in their behalf. Plus, copywriters work in committee, well, at least with a graphic artist, and their commercial/idea stems from the clients input.
For example, the advertiser might already have a slogan that they want included in an ad, or they want certain words stressed in the commercial. When it all boils down, there is very little that is soley the product of the copywriter or anyone else for that matter.
I think the medium or the client is not relevant to the definition of a "Professional Writer". I believe contests put limits on amounts earned as a writer, i.e. money paid for you to write something, anything. If you make more than the income cap than they consider you to be a professional writer, by their standards.
Just playing Devil's advocate. If in doubt contact the contest and get their final word. Good luck.
What if you write instructions for a manual? Professional writer?
What if you write bills? Professional writer?
What if you are a song writer? Professional writer?
The former would be consider industrial writing. If I were to be big in the idustrial video producting market, I don't think those skills would count for a talent in creative writing. However, I would be considered a pro in that market.
If I were a big time song writer, I don't think I can get my foot in the door at William Morris? Tupak wrote some great lines, but I don't think the powers that be will allow him a budget without having proved his worth in a script.
If I wrote bills, I would be considered, a lawyer, maybe or someone who is familiar with the termonology used in law. But a professional writer? Yeah, in the sense of what was eluded to on the topic, a creative writer?
just playing devil's advocate.
You are right to suggest asking the contest, first.
However, as a psuedo lawyer, I think I can drive a truck through the loop holes of the word, "professinal writer."
Maybe, they didn't use those exact terms, but if they did, they better be prepared right their wrong.
I think we're both on the same wavelength in hating the legalese in itty bitty print on the contest entry forms.
I'd assume "professional writer" refers to film and/or TV work. I'm a tech writer for a major computer corporation. Professional writer? You bet. Professional scriptwriter? Nope. At least not to myself or the IRS. I think it'd be safe to use the Nicholl's guidelines on what a professional writer is, since that's considered by most to be the premiere screenwriting competition.
You devil you.
I agree with everything you said, and with Tim. The Nicholl Fellowship has an excellent set of guidelines that I think most contests would follow. My point was that the term "Professional Writer" is so vague it could apply to anyone writing anything and getting paid to do it, that's why I think if you are in doubt you should contact the contest administation and get their take on your situation. :-)
The WGA has a very specific set of criteria for a Professional Writer within the film/television industry.
It does include published journalists,
novelists & produced playwrights. You
would do well to query the organization
for their own rules/guidelines.
BTW, you can read a condensed version of the WGA criteria in their MBA handbook & probably at their online site as well (although I'm not certain about the latter. Check their Membership area.)
"Professional writer" was actually my terminology. Perhaps I shouldn't have put it in quotes.
From what I've seen, the language in most contests is generally something like "received over $5000 from writing for TV and/or film." As a copywriter, I don't write content for TV or film, although what I write does appear on TV.
Considering all the advertising copywriters in the country who have a screenplay on their Mac, I'm sure this issue has come up before. Either way, I'll check with the contests/WGA. Thanks for the advice.
I'm going to take a leap of faith (maybe Greg Beal could answer this question if he reads this post);
when a SCREENWRITING contest mentions "professional writers" in its rules, I'm assuming professional SCREENWRITERS. Folks who've written films/TV shows that have been produced. Copywriters are probably excempt, but corporate/educational/multimedia writers are a grey area.
Actually, the Nicholl Fellowships eligibility rules are pretty clear:
"No applicant may have earned money or other consideration as a screenwriter for theatrical films or television, or for the sale of, or sale of an option to, any original story, treatment, screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000."
By television, we mean network/cable fictional TV shows.
Thus copywriters, newswriters, documentarians, industrial film writers, multimedia writers, et al remain eligible for the Nicholl competition.
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