How much does a script reader make?
Not much. A reader gets £40-£50 per script report from the industry. Freelance readers who read for the general public will charge a bit more. For example, I charge £60 for a general report, but this differs from industry coverage because it doesn’t have a synopsis, just 3-4 pages of constructive comment.
The standard fee nowadays is £45 per script report while some companies pay £50. I’m aware of some companies not paying their readers anything, which I think is outrageous but I suppose if it gives a new and keen reader the break they need, then that’s one way to go.
If you’re lucky to get £50 per report (people like the UK Film Council), and you’re struggling to earn a living as a writer, then you need to be reading more than 5 scripts a week.
To make a living from it, you will need to read about 10 scripts a week. That’s £500. The drawback with this is that it takes up all of your time, it’s exhausting, the money’s not great and you get no writing done. And you’ll need to be reading for more than one company (preferably about three or four) to be sure of that kind of workload.
A more realistic and regular workload is between 2-4 scripts a week. This adds up to a part-time wage but it’s better than flipping burgers in some dodgy drive through. Four scripts a week shouldn’t be more than two days’ reading work (including writing the reports), leaving the remainder of the week to work on your scripts and prepare for that big sale or commission.
Of course, while this sounds appealing and manageable, the real world demands more of your time and money than coasting through on four scripts a week and polishing your latest blockbuster. So, you should have a commission or option every now and then to help ease the pressure. But as we all know, that’s no easy task.
So what’s a reader/writer to do?
Stick at it. Read and write. Find a way to balance the work and pay the bills. All that reading and insight will feed into your work, and lead the way for a more comfortable lifestyle. We hope.