For almost as long as screenwriting has existed, so has the job of providing script coverage. What exactly is script coverage? As a writer, do you need script coverage? What if someone asks you to provide script coverage? What should it look like? Today, I'm providing script coverage examples and breaking down how it works!
What is Script Coverage?
Script coverage is a written report made up of a reader's feedback on a screenplay. You might also hear coverage referred to as "notes," but those terms usually refer to the same thing.
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There's no standard way to write script coverage. Different production companies, screenplay contests, or coverage services might go about giving notes in different ways.
Some common coverage categories usually include:
And a final rating of "recommend," "consider," or "pass"
Why Do I Need Script Coverage?
As a screenwriter, you might ask yourself, "do I need coverage?" The answer depends. While all writers need and benefit from having someone read their script and provide notes, pursuing professional coverage has multiple factors to consider.
With the increase in screenwriting competitions, there's been an increase in coverage services. These services can vary in terms of quality of the coverage provided and cost, so it's important to do your homework and research the service beforehand.
If you are entering screenwriting competitions, check and see if the contest provides coverage. The coverage will likely be at an additional cost, but some contests have specials that provide free or discounted coverage.
If the cost of coverage concerns you, there are some free ways to receive coverage.
Have friends or family read your scripts. While they won't provide you with professional script reader critique, I still find the feedback of non-industry friends to be helpful.
If you have screenwriting friends, you can swap scripts and provide notes for each other.
Script Coverage Examples
To get a better idea of what script coverage looks like, here are some examples:
Hollywood Script Express is a company that provides coverage, proofreading, and script polish services. They provide an example here of how they go about giving coverage.
WeScreenplay is a coverage service I've used and had positive experiences with. They share how they approach giving coverage in this category-by-category breakdown on their blog.
Assemble Magazine has a great article that features a look at coverage for an early draft of "Bill and Ted Face The Music." I love this example because it's not often that you see coverage samples from production studios due to confidentiality agreements
Script Coverage Template
If you're looking for a script coverage template, then Screenplay Readers, a coverage service, has got you covered with five different types of downloadable templates.
Has a screenwriting friend asked you to provide last-minute coverage? Do you need a simple coverage template fast? Here's what you do! Type up the following:
- Name of script you're reviewing
Add this to the top of the page.
- Coverage by
Insert your name.
Write 1-2 sentences summarizing what the script is about
- Give the following categories a score based on 1 out of 10:
- Presentation (typos, formatting):
- Write 1-2 paragraphs explaining your scoring of the previous section
Describe what worked in their script and what didn't.
Describe the target audience for this script.
- Final thoughts or give a pass, consider or recommend Rating
Either type up a couple of sentences summarizing where you believe the script is at or end your coverage with a pass, consider, or recommend rating.
Note: I don't always do the rating at the end of my own coverage, especially if I'm doing coverage for friends. I find giving a few summary sentences is more helpful.
For example, "This is a strong, early draft of Example Screenplay. With more focus on adding depth to the characters and further developing the main themes, this will make for a compelling action film that audiences haven't seen before."
Hopefully, this blog was able to teach you more about script coverage! Remember, there's no industry standard format for providing script coverage, so the criteria might vary based on who's providing the notes. If you're a screenwriter looking for coverage, always research before paying for coverage to get the best notes at a fair price!