Script reading can be a helpful and educational job for screenwriters while they work to break into the film industry. How do you become a script reader? Keep reading to find out!
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What does a script reader do?
A script reader reads scripts and evaluates them via a script report called script coverage. Script coverage service can vary from company to company but usually includes notes, a logline, character breakdowns, a synopsis, and a grade. The grades are typically "pass," "consider," or "recommend," and, if "consider" or "recommend," the coverage and script then get passed up to the executives within a production company, talent agency, management company, or studio.
Pass, meaning a no, the script isn't ready.
Consider, meaning the script has some promise but requires work.
Recommend, meaning the script is worth optioning or buying.
Check a script coverage sample from Hollywood Script Express, a script consultant company that provides coverage services to writers.
Who hires script readers?
Production companies, screenplay competitions, or anyone who requires screenplays to be evaluated before higher-up employees see them will look to script readers to get the job done. Script readers help sort through piles of scripts to narrow them down to the best of the best. Assistants at production companies often read scripts as well. Being hired as a script reader is usually a freelance position.
How much do script readers make?
On average, freelance script readers can earn between $40-$60 per script. Since a lot of script reader work is freelance, the amount of actual script work you receive can vary.
Another way to pursue script reading is by becoming an assistant at a production company. Being an assistant can be a challenging job with lower pay. Many assistants make less than $50,000 a year while often needing to work 40+ hours a week.
How to become a script reader
Applying for script reader jobs can be challenging. Though a college degree isn't required, clients usually expect a freelance script reader to have some amount of experience before offering up their service. Some positions may request that you provide them with a sample coverage to demonstrate your ability. If you're looking to apply for a script reader position, it can be helpful to have some coverage samples ready to go. Check out a script coverage template or two if you're just getting started to learn what the industry-standard format looks like so you can mimic it for your portfolio.
Through networking, you might be able to find script reader jobs or assistant positions. Screenwriting competitions often look for readers and can be an excellent place to gain script reading experience. Script analysis and consulting websites that offer coverage to writers also need readers, so be sure to check those.
Gain relevant experience
If you're trying to gain experience before applying for a script reader job, I recommend practicing by providing story analysis to friends or other writers you know. This can give you an idea of what the process of providing coverage is like and provide you with samples to use when you apply for jobs in the entertainment industry.
Once you find a job as a script reader, it will help you gain experience and figure out if script reading is the job for you. Once you have that initial script reading experience, it should be easier for you to apply for other script reading jobs.
Learn about screenwriting
Script reading often teaches you more about screenwriting than you would learn in school. Script reading provides an insider understanding of what it takes for a script to sink or swim. You'll quickly learn what it takes to objectively analyze the scripts assigned to you based on the quality of the writing, story strength, budget, and more. You'll learn to be able to communicate what does and doesn't work within the movie script. The education script reading can give you is hugely helpful when you turn around and apply it to your own spec scripts.
Hopefully, this blog provided insight into the job of script reading! Script reading isn't for everyone; it's a job with a high burnout rate. It's by no means an easy paycheck. But script reading can also provide invaluable knowledge of what it takes for a script to succeed in this industry. Happy writing!