First Break is a unique professional development program designed to give talented, aspiring screenwriters the opportunity to gain in-demand and practical skills, develop their understanding of the industry, and build industry connections.

Working as a note-taker in a writers’ room has always been a great entry point to the industry. The trouble is, how do you gain the necessary skills to apply for this type of role? And once you have the skills, how do you break in?

First Break is designed to provide participants with the skills, training and understanding to obtain work in these roles, get their start in the industry and build vital networks.

At the conclusion of First Break, participants will be promoted to industry via the AWG Pathways website. The Pathways First Break tab is a permanent resource for industry looking for talented new writers who have valuable skills to offer in writers’ rooms. It has been running successfully for the past two years, providing many early career writers with their first experience in a working writers’ room.

WHAT DOES FIRST BREAK INVOLVE?
First Break is a day-long workshop run by Libby Butler, a highly experienced, working writer. Libby Butler is a screenwriter/producer/director based in Victoria. Her credits include Surviving Summer, Neighbours, The Heights and the award-winning lockdown web series Loving Captivity. Covering note-taking, script coordinating and the basics of a writers’ room, participants will come away with the skills required to get that first break and begin their career in the film and television industry.

Libby has run this workshop for organisations such as ACMI, Screen Australia, SBS, VCA, Screen Queensland and Screen Tasmania. In addition to her detailed note-taking training, Libby runs a mock writers’ room with two fellow writers to enable participants to test their newly acquired note-taking skills in a live writers’ room. Participants receive written feedback on their notes after the workshop via email. Each participant also receives comprehensive notes post-workshop including notetaking ‘hacks’ like how to create content pages, how to create amendments on a production, how to create contents pages, and the do’s and don’ts of note-taking.

The First Break Victoria workshops will take place at a central and fully accessible Melbourne venue. Each workshop will accommodate 10 participants. Applicants will be asked to nominate a preferred date in the entry form below.

PREPARING YOUR APPLICATION
Working successfully in a writers’ room as a note-taker requires a specific set of skills. Applicants can exhibit their potential and suitability for this opportunity by taking particular care with their application.

We encourage all applicants to submit a single PDF which includes:
• Expression of Interest – 500 words maximum. (Explain why you want this opportunity and how you will make the most of it.)
• One Page Bio – 500 words maximum. (Any credits you might have, industry experience, training.)
• Writing Sample – must not exceed five pages and should be presented and formatted to industry standards. You can find the suggested film/television script layout here.

Your writing sample should be your own work, not a collaboration. In preparing your application to First Break we encourage you to think carefully about the opportunity and how you might exhibit the skills the selection panel are looking for.

These skills include attention to detail (including proofreading and presentation), good computer skills and strong writing ability. For example:
• Applicants are asked to submit a single PDF containing EOI, bio and sample script. You should ensure you have done this.
• You should observe maximum word counts.

Unfortunately, we are not able to provide individual feedback on entries. The selection panel’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the outcome. Further enquiries can be directed to: [email protected]

Applications for First Break 2024 have now closed.