Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Writer Bryan Young Explains Script Coverage for Screenwriters

There's screenwriting, and then there's the business of screenwriting. SoCreate will remove many barriers that keep writers from turning their great ideas into film scripts (). However, you'll still need to know a thing or two about how movies get made in the entertainment industry. We can rely on the excellent advice from creatives who live and breathe show business every day – writers like Bryan Young.

Bryan is an author, a filmmaker, a journalist, and a podcaster. The guy knows how to tell a story! He regularly writes for StarWars.com and hosts one of the most popular podcasts for Star Wars fans called "Full of Sith." We caught up with him for an in-depth interview on all things screenwriting, but today we're going to focus specifically on script coverage service. 

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There seems to be some confusion among writers about script coverage versus script notes versus script doctors versus script consultancy for feature screenplays and pilot scripts. And the confusion is valid – what's a screenwriter to do once they finish their screenplay? Well, it depends where you want to go next.

The Difference Between Script Feedback and Script Coverage

Script notes or paid script feedback will get you detailed notes on your script, directed at you, the screenwriter. But coverage is directed in-house, if you will, toward the decision-makers.

“Coverage is when a reader for a contest or at a studio or at an agent’s office has their reader go through and make basically a book report of your screenplay,” Bryan explained. “That reader is that first level of gatekeeper. They write down who the characters are, what sort of major action sequences there are, what the story is about, and then they rate it. This would be a pass, or an accept.”

Screenwriter and Journalist Bryan Young

Script Coverage Definition

Screenplay coverage is a document that includes script analysis and often ratings that represent step one in the creative development process for a studio, production company, management company, or agency. Script coverage is performed by professional readers who act as the gatekeepers to the higher-ups in the company. You have to get through their coverage before a development executive or producer reads your script. Their script coverage report is passed up the ranks (or thrown out, depending!), and it's not something that you, the writer, will ever get to see. 

However, writers can also pay for studio-style screenplay coverage services, which usually include several pages of screenplay analysis, including logline, synopsis, and character breakdowns. This coverage can help writers develop their feature film screenplay into something they can sell, since many script readers have worked for studios and production companies and understand what those companies will be looking for in your script. The coverage can also be submitted along with your script, which will help executives filter through massive volumes of work by simply leaning on the pass/consider/recommend rating. 

According to the coverage service WeScreenplay.com, a paid coverage report will usually include:

  1. A cover page with general information about the type of screenplay, including the title, writers, format, genre, setting/period, logline, tagline, comparables, page count, draft number, attachments, commercial potential, target audience, whether the project will be well-received by the target audience, and what platform the project should use, from film to television to other digital formats. The cover page is also where writers will find the "Pass/Consider/Recommend" rating to help you determine what someone in a script development role might think of your project..

  2. A 1/2 to three-page synopsis of the script, depending on what you paid for.

  3. One to two pages of comments or coverage notes on the script's strengths and weaknesses in categories like the story, structure, characters, dialogue, concept, formatting, and others. 

  4. Character breakdowns that include a brief description of each of the top characters. 

Want to see a script coverage sample? Coverage Ink offers up coverage examples in several genres. Screenplay Readers also offers a free, downloadable script coverage template for reference.

Where to Go For Screenplay Coverage Service

You can pay a company for script coverage and then use those evaluations to strengthen your spec script or use it as an aid to go to market when you submit your screenplay to various parties if the coverage is good. Coverage turnaround time is typically around 72 hours, though you can pay a rush fee for faster service. Some companies that offer paid coverage include:

Some screenplay competitions also offer feedback and coverage services as part of their entry fee or for an additional cost. 

You obviously would not want to submit anything to a studio or production company that's been given a "pass" rating through professional script coverage. If you're submitting your screenplay to a studio or agency that will assign its own screenplay reader to write a coverage report, make sure you're aiming for that "consider" pile by getting ample feedback and notes ahead of time and making your screenplay the absolute best it can be - don't waste your chance! 

“If it’s acceptance or maybe somewhere in between, the person above the reader, they will read that one-page book report and decide whether they want to read the screenplay themselves."

Understanding your audience – and I'm not talking about the audience who will eventually see your film – is essential. Remember that the professional script reader is your gatekeeper. 

“Your first audience is always that reader whose job it is to say ‘no’ for as many reasons as possible. Because they don’t want to be the person who said ‘yes’ to a screenplay that loses the studio $200 million.”

True!

Write the script that earns $200 million,

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