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Script Readers

Does anyone out there have any experience with professional screenplay readers?

For feedback and development. I'm kinda interested in hearing about people's experiences in using a script reader in a general sense. If it was worth it, how it worked etc...

And please do send me any recommendations!

Xenia x

  • I was on The Black List and they rubbished it. Stephen Fry loved it, said it was the best he'd read in a long time, and asked for a part. He's now to play Goering in www.MargeryBooth.com so don't waste your time. Distributors use MA students as gatekeepers. What do they know???

    7 months ago
  • I use them regularly to get a completely fresh impartial pair of eyes on the script. I generally get coverage from two separate readers at the same time. I usually find about 50% of the notes are useful, while the other 50% they seem to go off on a complete tangent.

    I always go through the same process when getting the feedback: firstly it's "WTF are they thinking, did they even read the script properly!?" Then I put the notes in a drawer and come back to them a few days later and re-read them and realise that actually they are making some valid points, forcing me to really dig a bit deeper and evaluate the script again and consider what they're saying and why they're picking up on those issues.

    Whenever both sets of readers pick up on exactly the same problems, then it's always something that needed fixing, usually something I was aware of, but was procrastinating over.

    I've always found it worth it, and my scripts have always improved from the coverage.

    I've used Industrial Scripts, ScriptMechanic and ScriptReader Pro and Screenplay Readers and always had good useful feedback.

    I also have a group of friends whose feedback I trust, plus I run a monthly scriptwriters meeting where we read each other's scripts and give each other feedback. ScriptJam Meetup in London organises table readings and feedback. I also always do a table reading with professional actors when a script feels like it could be ready which I find is invaluable.

    7 months ago
  • Hey, Xenia,

    Look forward to seeing you again on the circuit.

    I've used various coverage services, and what they say about recent film school graduates writing coverage rings very true. To once again quote Yogi Berra, "In theory, there's not a lot difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there's A LOT of difference between theory and practice."

    You want a script analyst with some scars from the production trenches.

    One thing (although it makes me a bit of Luddite) is to request an analyst who handwrites notes on the script. More and more services are just commenting in the Word document, which in my experience, results in very facile, Truby-Goldman-Save-the-Cat critiques. Just that little bit of extra of physical effort required between thought and pen stroke results in in a more-in-depth analysis.

    But please post the results of your experiences. Curious minds want to know.

    7 months ago
  • I would say if you're going to use a reader, then make sure you get your money's worth. Make sure your script is as good as possible before you send it off otherwise you are wasting your money. I used Donna Michelle Anderson in LA (check out planetdma.com - lots of useful resources for writers). She's not cheap but she was a former studio exec and she is really on the money - if you're writing a commercial script. However, I would suggest that you join a writers group first - loads on Meetup, also Facebook (check out Chicks with Bics). It's a cheap way of getting feedback.

    7 months ago
  • As a script reader/consultant, I'm interested to know how what I do comes across and is received by clients. I'm well aware that what I write in my script reports is often very hard to read because of the emotional attachment we all have to our creations. One of the many challenges screenwriters face with their scripts is subjectivity; they are often so deeply invested in what they write that they can't see the wood for the trees. Objectivity is gold dust. But I am aware it can be painful. Screenwriters must break down their egos, however; this can be a major step forward for us all.

    www.topukscriptdoctor.com

    7 months ago
  • I went to a one day filmmaking raindance seminar a few years ago and while the main raindance guy (can't remember his name as I'm writing this) was doing his spiel on stage he mentioned when he used to run his own script feedback service he would just copy and paste some template advice and change the character names and was making a tidy profit as he could churn loads out an hour.

    ...so after hearing that I've never bothered with any script readers or feedback services off my own back other than if a scripts been optioned and the producers have then hired a script editor themselves.

    I'm sure there are some good ones out there somewhere though

    7 months ago
  • Hey Xenia,

    I think there's a misconception about script readers that I have to let you know, having been a professional script reader for several film, TV and theatre companies over several years. When a script reader reads a script for a company, we are reading to a specific brief.

    So for example if the company I am reading for is looking for comedies, and your script isn't a comedy, even if it was a good script, your script would be rejected and you as a writer, would get a rejection letter saying send us your next script.

    Sometimes in theatres, we would suggest the writer send their script to a theatre, we knew was looking for that kind of script. The most helpful thing you can do for your script, especially an early draft, is to have a listening.

    Spend the money you would spend on a reader's fee, paying the travel of some actors or provide snacks and get a group of actors to read the script out loud for you. Have a couple of other people you trust, to attend as listeners.

    You will be able to tell immediately if the script is working or not. If your script is a comedy for example, and no one is laughing, then the script isn't working.

    Ask the two listeners to tell you the story separately, if they tell you the same story back, then your story is clear. If they tell you different stories after listening to the same script, then your story is not clear.

    If the actors are tripping over the dialogue, for example, then your dialogue isn't working. say your script is 2 hours long, make the listening 4 hours, so that you have time to discuss, what worked or didn't work. This is the best way for writers to get useful and practical feedback, from more than one person in a single session and to test the script on its first audience.

    Also with actors, you can ask them to improvise around any areas of the script you are not sure of. A script reader can't do that for you.

    You can repeat this with subsequent drafts until you feel your script is ready. When your script is as ready as it can be, you need to research production companies and their slate, to find the best home for your script. There is no such thing as a good script. A good script doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is only good if the script is what the production company/ funding body is looking for. I hope this helps, good luck with your script.
    Afia

    7 months ago
  • Whoever you choose I think it's important you know what story you're trying to tell to get the most out of it... You can ask questions about what you hope your script is achieving and let them challenge your perception

    That said you can also get a readers report to see if you have a story at all.

    As has already been said your objectivity is key to getting the most out of it... assess what's being fed back and take what you think improves your script.

    It's no magic wand - just an impartial opinion. And it's criticism of your script, not you as a person.

    Best of luck

    Stuart

    7 months ago
  • Yes a Writer's Group is a good start to see how your work is developing before investing in a reader :)

    7 months ago
  • A good script reader brings several important things that you often can't see yourself because you are inside the project. They are seeing it new and fresh, and what they should be seeing is:- the dialogue; the characters, how engaging they are, how they evolve, and how necessary they are to the story and what the story is about; the pace; the plot line and how it works; the structure; and what the whole thing is about, which is a different thing to the story.
    Further, they should look at the production problems 'The ship crashes into the rocks at the foot of the lighthouse' or, famously, 'the two armies fight' might cost a lot. 'ext Night' and 'ext storm' might cause more work than they are worth.
    Of course creative direction and great acting will add a lot, but sometimes cutting, or changing a character, or merging two into one, adding or more usually losing a scene will bring everything into better focus.
    I do this for scripts that I like the sound of, for a measly £120. Back usually in a week. I'm not cruel, but I am real. The writers give me good feedback too.

    7 months ago
  • hey guys, I've put a bit more information the alternative way to get feedback with actors on my blog. It's called NO SUCH THING AS A 'GOOD' SCRIPT Here is the link if you're interested: filmmakera.bombaxmedia.com/#home

    7 months ago
  • Hey guys, thought I'd chip in on this that as well as running longstanding studio-quality script reports for writers and producers through WriteMovies for Hollywood and the international market, I also run a regional Script Development Group in Birmingham for anyone looking to take their scripts to professional standards, and that's only £15 a month including a Mini-Masterclass from industry experts. I'd be happy to set up others around the country if there's demand? And I'll run some Introduction to Professional Screenwriting courses this autumn too, again in Birmingham and wherever there's demand. Email me at ian@iqkennedy.co.uk if that's of interest. writemovies.com/ and screenwritersforum.org/monthly-script-de...

    7 months ago
  • The problem is as writers it's hard to hear criticism but so useful if done in a constructive way . I would recommend Euroscript. Writers groups are good too. I absolutely would avoid Raindance who sent me a script appraisal without even Bothering to sign a name to it or state the person's qualifications to give advice as they shredded it. 3 producers and a Load of good actors like it such as Sophie Ward and ToyAh Willcox and it's going ahead so as Franz says at the top of the page whilst sometimes script readers help they might alternatively put you down but don't let them til you've tried a few options.

    7 months ago
  • I agree with Jane that objective, constructive criticism is invaluable. I recently paid for analysis of a third-draft screenplay from Industrial Scripts from recommendations on this site, and it was well worth the money. The analysis has been a huge help setting me up for the fourth-draft rewrite, despite it turning out that I had more work ahead of me than I expected. I think inevitably you need feedback from people who know something about structure. I have writer friends who have dismissed script reports very easily because they didn't like the idea that the road ahead was much longer than they expected. Analysts have 'misunderstood' the purpose of the story and so on. Ultimately that's not constructive.

    7 months ago
  • Yeah definitely, I always advise our analysts to work out what the writer is actually trying to achieve, and help them towards that goal, rather than assess the script against what the analyst's personal expectations, tastes and prejudices would point them towards.

    7 months ago