How to Get Started as a Script Reader Story Analyst

by Johnny Kilhefner
If you write a screenplay, chances are it'll be read by a script reader before a director picks it up.

If you write a screenplay, chances are it'll be read by a script reader before a director picks it up.

Script readers are the first line of defense against weak screenplays. Production companies hire people to read scripts and make recommendations on the script for the next person reading it higher up the food chain. To be a script reader, you need a desire to read. You also need to be a capable writer to pen your coverage of the story.

Learn to Write Coverage

Script readers provide coverage of the scripts they read. Coverage isn't like reviewing a film or critiquing it for theme. Instead, script readers have to think like filmmakers and make recommendations about what works in the film and what doesn't from the perspective of a director or producer. Coverage includes five parts: a header, logline, comment summary, synopsis and comments. The header states the time and setting of the story, as well as the date of the draft and authors names. Your logline is an objective, one-line summary of the plot. Comment summary is another one-line summary, this time of your opinion of the script. The synopsis describes major plot points, characters and action. The comments section is reserved for your opinion on whether or not the script is worth producing.

Know Movies

Script readers must know movies. They must love them. Gain experience in how to read a film by taking classes related to film production and criticism. A reader should be familiar with the technical aspects of filming, such as the visual and thematic difference between a dolly shot and a pull-back shot. Script readers must be able to translate the text from the screenplay into a vision of how it would work on film.

Move to Los Angeles

If you're serious about reading scripts for a living or doing anything within the film industry, the best place to start your career is Los Angeles. LA has the largest film industry, infrastructure and community in America. Most production companies aren't going to take their chances on a script reader from out of town; they want readers who are embedded in the industry they wish to recommend scripts to. New York also has a large film industry presence, but your chances of becoming a script reader are greater in LA.

Network and Intern

Apply for an internship at a production company. Build relationships with the other interns because, someday, some of them might be in positions that could help you land a full-time job as a script reader. Companies look for readers who can tell how much it would cost to make a certain script, if there are other similar scripts out there and if the script is something an actor wants to attach himself to. These are skills learned by working in Hollywood and meeting people to understand how films are made.

About the Author

Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.

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