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How film studio readers work

Posted in - In Development on January 22nd 2015 0 Comments 2014-03-08 15.10.31

There are many types of readers ranging from story analysts who evaluate the concept to script analysts who evaluate the structural components of the story.

Studio readers must keep track of literary properties the studio already owns and also of incoming new projects; so there is plenty of reading and monitoring to be done.

Typically there are 4-6 pages of extended coverage addressing the various story components including character, concept, dialogue and plot. Oftentimes, there are also an additional 6-7 pages of development notes telling the writer how to improve the script.

Studio coverage differs from standard coverage in that synopses and summaries are the norm. Creative executives prefer to read summaries than full scripts. Time constraints demand this.

Studio Readers are part of the Screen Editors’ Guild; a difficult club to get into, but cushy once you’re in. However, the pay is higher and you often read pre-sorted scripts.

There is no efficient way to determine if a script is good or bad other than by reading it. Seasoned readers can sense a quality script in the first page or so they say. Over 90% of scripts score a pass. Some a poor, but most are in the nebulous middle. That means, most submitted scripts are average. At the very least, scripts from new writers need to be average average to get noticed.

The common route to being a script reader/ story analyst is via internships. Everyone is on the lookout for the next hit, so most prestigious production companies have internships for new readers. It helps develop your story craft, provides valuable experience for those seeking a career in creative development and helps improve your own writing because you read so many scripts.

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