Don’t pay for cheap, quickie script coverage for your screenplay because you will get cheap, quickie notes that will not get you any closer to your craft and career goals! Many inexpensive coverage services employ unqualified readers with no industry experience who will only scan your screenplay.
I would like to tell you the truth about screenplay coverage, how it is used in the movie industry and how it is misused in the script consultation services business.
Firstly, why I am qualified to tell you this: I am a former major studio Reader who has written hundreds of coverage reports on screenplays, books and other pieces of material like films, comic books, newspaper stories and graphic novels. I worked as a Senior Story Analyst for years for Miramax Films and Dimension Films, Staff Reader for Fox 2000 (Twentieth Century Fox) and freelance reader for several other employers, including the production company of Oscar-Winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs). I worked as an A-list Reader for the movie executives behind hits like CHICAGO, SCREAM, ULEE’S GOLD, CHOCOLAT, MIMIC, THE FACULTY, THE GAME, THE WEDDING SINGER and SPY KIDS.
I have worked as a private Screenplay Consultant for over a decade with hundreds of private writers, giving them detailed analysis and advice in regards to their screenplays and careers. I am the author of the best-selling Story Maps series of screenwriting books.
So when it comes to this topic I know what I’m talking about. I have the specific experience in the industry that the majority of readers who write coverage do NOT have.
And here’s the basics that I would like you to know…
- Script Coverage is an evaluation of a screenplay in terms of its craft and its potential to become a successful movie for a specific production company or agency in the entertainment industry.
- Script Coverage reports are written by Readers/Story Analysts in these companies and they are not shared with other companies. They are proprietary material and do not come from a general database that all the major players in Hollywood draw from. Each coverage report is specific to its company.
- Script Coverage reports are not used nearly as often in the industry any more as a result of shrinking development budgets.
- Script Coverage only contains one page of actual script analysis, with a good majority of that often being synopsis or very general comments.
- “True” industry coverage is never shared with the writer nor is it intended to be helpful to them to improve their craft or chances at a sale. It is an anonymous, brutal, terse internal document meant only for employees.
- The Script Coverage that you purchase from a website is not “true” industry coverage.
- “Web Coverage” (for lack of a better term) is a short, quick evaluation that usually does not go into the type of detail that a writer needs to really analyze and improve their script.
- Many websites hire unqualified readers with no industry experience and a questionable understanding of screenwriting.
- Many websites pay their readers as little as $10 to read and evaluate a screenplay. Many contests pay nothing, “hiring” readers/judges as interns. If a person is being paid that little, or nothing, to read and evaluate your script, how much time do you think they will dedicate to the task? How deeply will they analyze your narrative, skills on the page and commercial instincts? Will they spend 8-10 hours on it?
- Let’s say a website is only charging you $49 for coverage, I’d estimate that at most they’re giving the reader 50%, otherwise it would not make financial sense for them to even stay in business. So in that scenario, your reader is making $25. Any better?
- Many websites will assign an anonymous reader to your script coverage. You may never know who’s reading and evaluating your work. Not all sites, but many do, so I highly recommend never paying for notes from an anonymous reader, no matter the level of the service.
That’s my experience, coming from years as a true industry professional, seeing many of these coverages and having heard many horror stories from clients and friends about the terrible notes they received from a cheap service (or an expensive con artist).
I believe that if you are looking for insight and guidance with your screenwriting, you should invest in an experienced professional like myself who has industry experience. You will pay more than you would pay for a coverage report, but I guarantee you that my insights will take you 100 times farther in your craft.
My consultation packages have multiple features, and one of the best is my own evaluation notes sheet that I call the “15 Crucial Questions Sheet.” This is MY version of coverage, if you will, and I’d like to show you the difference between mine and standard web coverage.
Here’s a sample of just the first 6 questions from my 15 Crucial Questions Sheet …
…now compare this to a sample “Coverage” on the same script…which is based on samples sent to me by clients and friends…
I encourage you to look around my site and learn more about how I can help you to develop your craft and career as a screenwriter. As always I say…
Good luck and happy writing!
Where are you at in the screenwriting process?
- I would like to develop an all-new concept into a screenplay with the guidance of a professional major movie studio Script Doctor.
- I would like to get professional notes and coaching on my completed screenplay.
- I would like to hire an industry pro to write or rewrite my script for me.