November 8, 2018

What is Script Coverage? (with Script Coverage Examples)

What is script coverage- Audrey
Given how many scripts there are out there, how do people decide which ones to read? Script coverage. 

There’s nothing more satisfying than typing “Fade Out,” but how do you know if your script is any good?

Each year thousands of people turn to script coverage services to get read. Who reads them? What are they looking for? Welcome to understanding script coverage. 

Today we’re going to learn how to write script coverage, we'll grab a script coverage template, plus get some tips as to how you can entertain the person doing your script coverage.

Let’s fade in on this topic.

What is Script Coverage?

Script coverage is an assignment given to script readers. Coverage is a document they prepare that summarizes your screenplay and gives the company advice on how to proceed with it. Script coverage is standard all over Hollywood. Agencies, management companies, production companies, and contests all use script coverage.

Who Does Script Coverage?

Back in the day, people paid and employed full-time script readers to write a bunch of coverages a week.

Then, to save money, script coverage fell to the interns who provided free script coverage.

When I was an intern, I was probably covering 5-6 scripts a week. And books as well. Now, script coverage is either still done by interns (hopefully paid ones), assistants, and even some independent reading agencies.

Most places pay freelancers a specific price per coverage, and have readers they rush for overnight and expedited coverage.

Why Do People Do Script Coverage?

Script coverage helps companies decide what to buy. It’s one of the most critical steps in the process of  going from an idea to a movie or TV show.

Script reader comments truly move the needle in Hollywood.

Once you’re done your script coverage, it gets passed around where you work. Execs can read it, check out the summary, the comments, and then decide whether or not the screenplay is worth their time. Frequently, they’ll pass or pursue a project based on the script coverage alone.  

That’s a lot of power, and it’s what makes excellent script coverage such a hot commodity.

Script Coverage Example

Most script coverage analyzes the script based on various criteria. And it’s not just whether or not the screenplay is good or bad.

The company or studio has to decide whether or not it’s right for them.

Disney is not going to make a horror movie.

Blumhouse is not going to make a romcom.

Netflix can make anything they want.

You don’t just have to impress the script reader when it comes to quality, but you also have to show them why their script fits under their banner.

We had Evan Littman, an Acquisitions Executive, break down who’s reading your script. You can check out his summation, but one thing was very clear.

Quality can get you to the top, but dollar signs can get you further.

Companies are employing script readers to find the projects that can make money. If you want to take a look at script coverage example, check out this one from Hollywood Script Express. It’s a great script coverage PDF.

Now that you understand script coverage, check out or template to help you get started.

Script Coverage Template

If you’re learning to write script coverage or considering becoming a script reader full time, you’re going to need

Screenplay Title - This is self-explanatory

Screenplay Author -  We need to know who wrote it. Is it a hot name?

Attachments - Is there a director attached? High profile actors and actresses?   

Who Submitted It - An agent? A manager? A lawyer?  

Coverage By: If you’re trying to build a reputation as a script reader who provides good coverage, this is your calling card.

Logline: What’s the script about? Use 2-3 sentences max.  

Plot Synopsis: This should be around one to one and a half pages, single-spaced unless informed otherwise.

Comments: These usually range from half a page to a full page. What was good, what was bad, is it marketable, what are some similar titles, did they make money?

Audience: Who is this script targeting? Moms? Dads? Families? Teenagers? Is it rated R?

Verdict: This is where you tell them whether to Pass, Consider with Reservations, or Consider. You might want to provide a sentence of explanation, but usually, it’s just one of the aforementioned summations.

Okay, now that you have your script coverage template, it’s time to find your script reading jobs!   

Script Coverage Jobs and Script Reader Jobs

Script analyst jobs are hard to come by.

Usually, you have to work your way up to Story Editor at a production company to be in charge of the script coverage.

I used to do script coverage for extra income while I was taking meetings as a writer. Lots of script readers are actually writers trying to learn more about their trade.

Or, as I mentioned above, you’re doing coverage because you work at a production company, management company, agency, or studio.

Script reader jobs go quick, so you need an in, or to be one of the first people to respond.

I know a few people who read regularly for some larger companies and can make a decent income off being a professional script reader. Their services are sought out by huge companies. And if you’re a professional script reader it means you have an excellent reputation.

But there are lots of places that pay inexperienced readers low wages to determine if your script is any good. Be wary of lots of contests. And beware any script coverage service that offers free script coverage.

You get what you pay for when it comes to script coverage.

You can look for script coverage jobs, or script analyst jobs, on sites like Indeed or LinkedIn, but most of those places hire within the industry. The best way to get a script coverage job is to move to Los Angeles, intern, and look from there.

Summing Up Script Coverage

So you’ve learned a lot about screenplay coverage today. Professional screenwriter Terry Rossio supplied an entire checklist for aspiring writers to learn how to beat the script reader.

And we have an article all about what Hollywood script readers really think about your screenplays.

So get writing, get reading, and good luck!     

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