Who knew a computer could be so freaking stupid?
Feb 29, 2024
This morning, a really lovely NFS reader reached out to me and wanted my opinion on a program called ScriptReader.AI, which charges $10 for a complete screenplay breakdown, comparable to Greenlight Coverage, which we did a write-up on.
Upon glancing at the website, I thought it had some real big issues! First off, they have a vault of copyrighted screenplays, and it appears as if they ran through their language model to determine what is a good and what is a bad screenplay—but I have no proof of that, just wondering!
I would assume there's a lawsuit to be had somewhere in there, especially by some of the more litigious studios. They should look into it.
What I thought was hilarious was that the service was offering coverage for $10.
Yes, it took a few weeks for these AI coverage places to undercut each other to the point of costing as much as a large oatmilk latte at Alfred Coffee. When I saw that price point, I knew I had to try it.
Look, I get it, f*** these AI programs. I hate giving them money, but I think you may need to expose the scam by participating.
So, save your $10 and come with me on my journey.
I Wrote One Of The Greatest Screenplays of All Time
A few years ago, I sent my screenplay, Jafsie, out to three coverage services, and we rated them here. The script was favorably reviewed, and I have done a polish since then.
So I took it, uploaded it to the site, and paid my $10.
About two hours later, I got the full coverage report.
It even came with the AI generated poster that's above - complete with gibberish all over it.
Basically, the report goes through every scene in your screenplay and rates it on a scale from 1-10. And then it rates each scene on a ton of other elements as well.
It's kind of hard to fathom the breadth here without seeing it.
So check out the slideshow below.
The AI Coverage Report
<p>As you can see from this report, I am better at formatting than Eric Roth, better at plotting than James Cameron, I move story better than the Wachowskis, and I have the same style as Mamet and Sorkin. </p><p>I would love to let all this go to my head, but the market has dictated that I am not those guys. And if this screenplay was as good as it said, it would have sold already. </p><p>Now, I do think this script has a hard time because it's a period piece with no attachments, and with my new reps, we are trying to get it out there, but I certainly don't think I beat <em>Schindler's List</em> in emotional impact. </p>
The Inherent Flaw of All AI Coverage
I write movies and TV because I want to make people feel something. I'm not sitting here typing to try to beat an algorithm.
I want the human being who reads my work to have a visceral reaction to what's on the page.
I am endlessly trying to write the best blueprint for a movie I possibly can.
Computers cannot think and feel. They have zero sense of nuance. And you cannot take their coverage seriously. No matter how nice it is.
AI coverage is worthless!
The way you feel about a movie or TV show is not quantifiable by math.
It's a complete and singular human reaction to art.
Pay for play sucks, and seeing how expensive some coverage services can be. It sucks to know people not in LA feel like that's their only way to enter the business.
The Best Way to Break In Is to Write a Great Screenplay and Network in LA
How to Break into Modern Hollywood
I'm a two-time Black List writer with a movie made, and another movie set to shoot this summer. I've written on TV, and sold pitches, and I can safely say none of this would have happened for me if I didn't make the leap of moving to Los Angeles.
Back in 2013 when I put my screenplay, Shovel Buddies, on The Black List, it was a new site, and my script scored high immediately -- a year later, I was on the actual Black List in Hollywood—a year after that, my script sold, and the following year we were in production on the movie.
But none of that forward momentum happened just because of the site; it happened because when the script got hot, I was in Los Angeles, working as an assistant, and had a Rolodex of friends who wanted to help me out.
Those friends would come in handy, because years later, when I had no reps a decade later, they were the ones who read my spec, Himbo, and passed it around, which got me back on the Black List and helped me continue my career with new reps, and also landed me more jobs.
At the end of the day, these paid sites are all trying to get you to pay something to get into Hollywood.
You can move here, get a job, and be paid to work and learn. I learned so much as an assistant. I made friends with future presidents of companies, big directors, and even agents. Those have been way more valuable in the long run than just paying for a read or notes.
I also got to hear real pros pitch, see how they talked to my bosses, and even make friends and get first-hand advice from them.
Sure, paying for the Black List opened the door, but the act of sustaining the ability to write for a living has come via working with friends, and with the support of people I met out here who believe in me. And I truly am not sure that if I had no friends out here, my hot BL script in 2013 may not have been passed around as much as it was - because I know for a fact, friends passed it up the ladder because they saw my name on it and because we had been in the trenches together.
I am well aware not everyone can move here, but if you're weighing the options, coming here and getting a job is a way better way to attempt to break in than just throwing money at contests.
The first thing I did after writing this article was delete my script from that AI website. I hope that removes it from any sort or large langue model training. Or protects me from having the idea plagiarized by a computer.
But maybe it doesn't.
If you have to pay for coverage, save up and pay a human.
Unless you are trying to get into this business to entertain robots.
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