Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reading Realities

Script reading sounds interesting and, hey, even glamorous (maybe??) but what’s it really like, and where can I find the opportunities?

First of all, read THIS if you want to be a script reader, or any of the screenwriting blogs on the sidebar (like Lucy, Lianne, Scott, Fun Joel etc). If you really want to know what it’s like, or simply want to improve your level of writing, then here’s what you do:-

Read ten scripts in a week.

Write a report on each of them that includes a logline, a brief (couple of sentences to sum up your verdict), a full synopsis (1/2 pages) and your critique (1/2 pages).

If you do this, here’s what will happen:

The discipline of reading ten scripts and giving them full and fair assessment will give you an insight into all of the screenwriting advice that is swimming around the scribosphere. “Oh, so that’s what they mean by making the first ten pages interesting…”

You will immediately spot similar techniques, ideas, dialogue and scenes from your own work but now that you’re reading them in someone else’s script, you’ll realise that the techniques are not as good, or original or clever, as you once thought.

A ten script workload is common for a professional reader. It’s tough work. A well-written, properly presented and lean script will go down a treat, even more so if the story doesn’t suck. Realisation: make the script easy to read and the story interesting, engaging and entertaining.

You might be lucky to read a good script in your batch but, ironically, you may be thinking of plonking a PASS on both Writer and Project. The writing will probably impress for its style and characterisation but the story doesn’t really deliver, or it’s not really a film. Realisation: even good scripts, and good writing, can get a Pass. A Consider or Recommend really needs to be good (or - shock! - better than your own work) to merit the nod.

So, are you up for it? Want to read ten scripts in a week and do reports on all of them? It’s easy to pick up ten scripts. All you have to do is visit Trigger Street or Zoetrope and download (you’ll even get reviews on your own work for the effort), or simply tell your writer friends that you’re willing to do a reader’s report on ten of their scripts.

Ten scripts. Not four. Six, or eight. Ten.

You’ll change your view about readers and execs, and maybe even the system, and learn a lot about the process. At the very least, you’ll have sample coverage to show to production companies. That is, if you really want to be a script reader.


Lucy V said...


Omigod I think I'm gonna die laughing.

My day is taken up reading scripts, eating bulgar wheat and rhubarb and custard sweets, taking phone calls from nice weird and irate people (sometimes all 3 at the same time) from time to time and stopping the baby from peeing in the wardrobe. Oh, and writing script reports. And writing the blog. Of course.

Lucy V said...

P.S. I don't eat the rhubarb and custard sweets IN the bulgar wheat. Unless I'm pregnant. Which I'm not. At the moment, anyway... Spring is in the air! Kidding.

Andy Phillips said...

Okay, Danny, you're on. But I'm going to start with five, not ten. I've been a trigger street member for a while and not done anything, so I'll get some TS points and learn a thing or two while I'm at it. I'm plotting a ghost story at the moment, so I'll do five ghost stories from fellow strugglers, rather than reading produced scripts from Daily Script et al.

Oli said...

I logged onto the Zoetrope site to get some feedback on one of my screenplays; to read any feedback you get, of course, you have to read and review at least four other screenplays.

I have new respect for readers and development guys after this ordeal. On my time on Zoetrope I've found one screenplay that I'd recommend. One. Maybe another two or three that I liked but that needed work. The rest, and I've downloaded maybe forty now, are tripe.

There are hundreds of these things on there, and I imagine that the good/bad ratio is indicative of what indie producers, agents and the BBC recieve.

You poor, poor readers.