A newly formed alliance of top Hollywood writers worked with ScriptHop to develop a game changing new way to get your script seen and taken seriously.
Mar 01, 2024
One of the most difficult aspects of being a screenwriter trying to break into the industry is somewhat cyclically ironic—the battle to get the right people to read it. No matter how skilled of a writer you are, your biggest roadblock can often be getting past an underpaid (likely hardworking!) assistant that could kill your chances to get to the next level based on a snap, biased judgement.
And then (broken record alert), there's the encroaching threat of AI coverage looming to systematically and generically make that process even more difficult and dehumanized. Yikes.
Lucky for us, some of the most creative and successful minds in Hollywood are paying attention. Working with tech company savant ScriptHop, the likes of Shane Black (The Nice Guys), Brian Gunn (Brightburn), Gladys Rodriguez (The Lincoln Lawyer), and Akela Cooper (M3gan), among many others, have developed a new way to get your script seen by the people that count.
Enter the Gauntlet.
The Gauntlet is designed on a hierarchal system built on the infrastructure to give your script the best chance to get eyes and feedback in a way that Hollywood has never had the courtesy to try. The coverage service breaks down your script by concept, story, characters, dialogue, structure, writing, and marketability by hired professional industry readers chosen with genre and sexual and gender preferences in mind. The concept is designed, in theory, to give you the best shot at success.
CEO Brian Austin's intentions are earnest, stating, "To many writers trying to break into the industry, competitions and The Black List feel like the only options. We wanted to offer something different, and the people that are participating are do doing because they see the value in what we’re doing."
Worst case? You get otherwise unheard of feedback and a free re-entry to further develop your script if it isn't quite yet up to the best place it can be.
Below is an in-depth look at how it works and what it could mean for the industry at large.
How Does The Gauntlet Work?
Visual breakdown of the Gauntlet
Courtesy of ScriptHop
As diagrammed above, the Gauntlet works on a three tier system, each tier giving your script more eyeballs and a deeper level of analysis the farther it gets—level 1: seven high-caliber readers read 20 pages, level 2: five high-caliber analysts read half of the script, level 3: 5 executive-level readers read the entire script.
The most controversial aspect is the amount of pages read on each level—one that is totally fair to be upset paying the price point for to be denied. Read on for more on that.
The idea is to gauge interest and consider how someone watching your (ideally one day produced) movie would hold an audiences attention.
Another interesting element is the "golden buzzer", a "power up" if you will that enables the reader to take your script outside the gauntlet and present it to an agency or production house in their network. This forgoes the process if you really catch a particular reader along the way.
And, if it makes it to the top, it will get the "Seal of Consensus". This is quoted to be "certified group endorsement that includes both blurbs and signatures of all the readers who have chosen to champion a script — something with real power to potentially propel your project even beyond a greenlight."
Is The Gauntlet Worth The Price?
Example of a Gauntlet scorecard
Courtesy of ScriptHop
The current price point for the Gauntlet is a teeny bit pricey, we must admit, clocking in at $380. That said, the Gauntlet is valuable for many reasons, and the developers seem to earnestly care for creatives rather than appearing to gauge hopeful screenwriters.
After the program was announced, people flocked to Screenwriting Reddit to talk about it. The creators of the app got in trouble for peddling their wares there and ran into some commenters who pointed out that for $380, there was not a single guarantee that anyone would finish reading their screenplay.
In fact, to guarantee a full read, you have to get to the third level—which may not be likely if you're looking for feedback on an idea, and is still slim, even if you have a great screenplay.
It would be really hard to stomach paying that much money and getting nothing from the process. And that may in fact be true. And I, we, the filmmaking community, hope that isn't true. If it is, I hope accountability will be had.
That being said...
To be blunt here, the screenwriting game as it stands can be extremely brutal. Writers are often expected to enter numerous contests (that also cost quite a bit), send their scripts blindly to readers who don't may not give their work the proper time of day, or (perhaps a more cynical take) never develop as a screenwriter because they aren't getting the proper feedback they need.
As co-founder Scott Foster puts it, "Real script analysis is a creative skill you develop—it takes time to develop true literary insight. Many of our analysts have been reading for decades—and, crucially, they all still have their industry day jobs, meaning they have their foot in the door where films get made."
And, again, I'm as annoyed as you are reading it to be typing it, the age of AI script coverage is upon us, and that is... pretty lame, and pretty scary.
What Does This Mean For The Industry at Large?
Well, in my humble opinion, it means quite a lot.
I think if anything it warms my heart that someone is taking initiative to change the game and (hopefully) shake up the industry a bit. If the last couple years have shown us anything, the stagnancy of Hollywood is experiencing serious repercussions and making it harder and harder for people to survive in this silly industry.
The criticism and fear is fair–hey, we're all some amount of cynical in Hollywood.Worst case, I hope the aforementioned accountability is in place. That also, also said? I'm an optimist and humanist and I want to believe this is a positive step that cares for screenwriters.
Will the Gauntlet be the next big thing that fosters the next generation of all-star writers? Maybe! Maybe not. But if not, at least someone is trying.
Try your might at the Gauntlet here. And, for the record, your're welcome for not making more 80s arcade references. It was tough.
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