Ever since AI burst onto the scene, hucksters have been keen on monetizing it for use in Hollywood. First, we needed the WGA and SAG to protect creative jobs against computers, and when the professionals took a stand, they started coming for the amateurs.

Today, I want to go over why I think all AI coverage is a scam. I'm doing this because I am sick and tired of seeing new services pop up that charge newbie writers for feedback that is essentially useless for them.

You don't even have to read the whole article; I'll summarize it right here.

The screenplays that break into the industry are the ones that connect with every level of reader, from the intern who gets it first, to the assistant, to the boss, to the principal of a company or agents, managers, and all the other disciplines across Hollywood. AI is nowhere near advanced enough to give you any meaningful feedback. And it will not be any time soon.

But let's expand on this further below.

Pay to Play

The Sting


One of the things I try to talk about on this website is the idea of paid entry to Hollywood. I think it's a predatory tactic that exploits amateurs for millions of dollars a year.

The basic concept behind paid entry is that you're paying someone to read and analyze your screenplay with the hopes that they'll like it, and connect you to your dream job.

Now, I get it. Most people cannot move to Hollywood, get a job in the industry, and work their way up. And they also cannot just move to Los Angeles, network, get read, and have their script passed around.

While these are still the best ways to be found, resources like The Black List do their best to translate money paid into an honest assessment of whether or not your screenplay is at the professional level in Hollywood.

If you're wondering about one of these sites, reach out to me. I'll ask around for you. I've even covered a few for this site.

I will always be critical of them, because they are essentially asking for money for access. But in a world where Hollywood needs new voices and to be more global—they are probably necessary.

But not if they're governed by AI.

Why AI Script Coverage Is A Scam

American Hustle


I can tell you that nothing feels better than to have written a screenplay that gets passed around because people like it. When I penned Shovel Buddies in 2013, it was a hot spec - same with Himbo in 2023. I went on hundreds of meetings and got to do a water bottle tour where people rained down accolades on me.

To this day, when times are tough—and they are a lot—I go back to some of the emails and nice words I got back then. And they sustain me.

I want that for you, reader, because nothing feels better than knowing the words you put on paper moved people. Maybe you made them laugh, maybe you made them cry, and maybe you did both while you changed their mind on an issue that means a lot to you.

The absolutely only way to do that is to get your screenplay into the hands of a human being, and to let what you put on the paper do the talking.

Because AI script coverage is a scam.

The Algorithm Has No Taste

The Matrix

Warner Bros.

AI has no taste and no emotions. It can only judge you based on what its programming can tell you. It has no sense of humor, it will not relate to or have empathy for what happens in your story.

You are paying for a machine that cannot judge the story you feed into it with anything that is mandatory to work in film and television.

When you interview for any assistant or executive job in Hollywood, your interviewer is going to ask you what scripts you've read that you love, what shows and movies you enjoy, and for your all-time favorites list.

They do this because they want to make sure your tastes align. If you're going to work together, they want to make sure you have similar goals.

Noe theses tastes differ all over town, and it's part of what makes creating film and TV so wonderful. You are looking for you people. You're looking for the one "yes" out there.

The one who is as passionate about your project as you are and who makes it their mission to make it.

No computer is ever going to do that.

And it's not worth your money.

The Low Price is Too High

IATSE Strike Don Draper Thats What the Money is For

Mad Men


One of the ways these AI coverage services are trying to get you is that they traditionally charge less than a human reader. We've seen them as low as $10 per coverage, and as high as $150.

No matter the price, you're wasting your money.

These companies are structured to make the most amount of money possible. They take a lionshare of the profit, since they don't have to pay a reader. In fact, it's almost free for them to run this through a computer.

But it is not free for you.

Here's how almost ALL AI coverage work: They use Advanced Language models to comb through your screenplay. Then they use an AI like Chat GPT—natural language processing (NLP) tools—to analyze specific script elements like plot, character, dialogue, pacing, tone, etc.

The AI then breaks the script down into its parts (e.g., scene headings, action lines, dialogue).

Then the AI compares the patterns and elements present in your script against its database. It looks for similarities to known screenwriting tropes, structure types, character archetypes, etc.

They only way most of these work is that they've been trained on all the screenplay PDFs floating around the internet. Maybe they have 100 great scripts that they let the NLP scan, then tell the NLP or LLM (learning language model), that the way those are written are preferable.

So your screenplay will always be scanned against those to assess its quality.

Now, lots of places will tell you they have their own algo that is way better than this—but they won't tell me how it works. I've asked.

Many of them assure me they don't have a database - fine. What they do then is basically train the AI on things like a beat sheet. They take those beats and then "teach" it to find them using the same questions.

If your script cannot obviously answer those questions, it spits out "notes" for what you should work on. It doesn't mean they you didn't answer them, just that the algorithem couldn't explicitly find things.

Again, there's nuance in all these companies, but this is the basics.

In doing my research, I actually got a few of these places to admit, off the record, that this only costs them between 30 cents and 50 cents a screenplay.

That means, the rest they profit.

And with a range of $10 - $100 - you can see how big the margins are for these companies. Plus, they have no overhead paying a human being to read and react.

They are in this to make money, not to break you into the industry.

Truly, you could feed your script into ChatGPT or Gemini and then ask it questions, or to evaluate your work against a comparable title, and probably get the same results for free.

It's only a matter of time before they make these programs capable of that... and it still won't be worth it.

The Algorithm Has No Finger On the Pulse

'Dawn of the Dead'

Dawn of the Dead

United Artists

In almost every instance of success in my Hollywood career, I have lucked into writing a spec that hits at a time when that genre or idea gets hot. I accidentally had a contained spec that hit during COVID. I accidentally had a teen cancer spec at the height of Fault in Our Stars. I was pitching a survival movie when people were hellbent on shooting things outside.

Those sales got me into the WGA and have helped me sustain a career.

And they came because human beings, with a pulse, knew the industry needed those ideas right then. AI doesn't have that. It has no idea what's happening in the world.

It doesn't know the trends, doesn't know budgets, or marketability, or what's ruling at the box office right now.

Maybe it can mathematically figure this out in the future, but it will never understand what draws an audience to something, because it has never been drawn to anything.

The truth is, screenplays in Hollywood get hot because people think they can MAKE money from them, not take money from them. They get hot because agents, managers, lawyers, and production companies see the movie they can make from it, and know that movie could make them rich.

That's why pay to play is so offensive. But also, why trusting an AI to make those decisions is so asinine.

The Reality of the Situation

Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, walking up a cloud painted staircase in 'The Truman Show'

The Truman Show

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Look, I am aware this is a soapbox post. But the Hollywood I know and love is slipping away.

In my correspondence with these places, they all say that producers, studios, and some representatives are already using their services.

That really bums me out, even if they say it's like a first line of defense.

I would rather now that an intern read the first three pages of my script and passed because they were bored, than an algorithm read it and decided it was "good" because it adhered to some bullshit math.

But maybe I'm old fashioned.

I also know that it is really expensive to get good notes.

Not all human services are good, and sometimes you get a bad reader. Other times, you maybe write in a genre that the human reading it doesn't particularly like.

I suggest building your network of friendships to make sure you get a quality read. And find services where you can personally interact or request readers who you now do a good job.

I'm a big fan of GetMade, but it's pricey. And I broke in using The Black List website, which I think still works for many people.

Figure out what works for you, take your time.

This is a marathon, not sprint.

If you're going to spend the money, do the work and find a place of value. And a human being who can help you get the most out of your words.

Again, the best thing you can do is to save your money, move here, and network.

Summing It All Up

This is just my point of view, but I know many people across Hollywood who share it. And I've heard lots of rumors of lazy, bad execs who don't.

But I'm not so concerned with them.

My goal has always been to create something so good that it attracts the people I want to work with -- people with taste.

There is nothing more important in the world to me than making you feel something when you read a Jason Hellerman script.

I know I will not always succeed in this endeavor, but I'd rather quit than start writing slop in the hopes it makes a hard drive purr.