Are you as tired as I was of vague, cliched screenwriting advice like "Let the story breathe"? Script Reader Pro — the screenplay consultancy I set up in 2010 — was born out of this exact frustration. Back in the 2000s as a struggling screenwriter, I often found myself frustrated with the quality of script coverage I received on my scripts. All too often I found them pretty unhelpful when it came to taking my work forward in the next draft, and this was the genesis of my deciding to do something about it.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same issues I have when it comes to screenplay coverage, like vagueness for example. Phrases like “The tone is fun throughout, though it might be helpful to solidify it”, “Try to add some more layers to her character”, and “Make the dialogue more punchy”, really don’t do much of anything. When no analysis is given of how to 3x these problems — they’re just left as bald statements hanging in mid-air — things can quickly get frustrating.
Another problem I encountered in script reports was that they spent too much time on inconsequential problems. In one report, I had a reader spend the entire “Structure” section (nearly a page) on the fact the script was 89 pages long and not between 90 or 120. In another, the 3rd long paragraph was taken up with commenting on the fact that a comma was missing in the title.
But most frustrating of all perhaps, was advice that was just simply plain wrong. For example, contrary to what many script readers seem to think, your protagonist does not have to be likable. This is one of those rules that seem only to apply in Screenplay Consultancy Land and drove me absolutely nuts.
And these weren’t lowly, cheap reading companies I was sending my script o; to either. These were the big guys with glowing reviews on the websites, and yet somehow I often still wound up disappointed. This is why I decided to set up Script Reader Pro. I wanted to create a script consultancy built around a solid philosophy in which all the readers agreed on, and were trained in, the following principals:
- Don’t be vague — back up everything with solid examples of how to 3x problems.
- Don’t waffle on about minor problems. Start the report with the biggest issues and work down to things like formatting, title and writing style at the end.
- Don’t tell writers to follow rules that only exist in Screenplay Consultancy Land, and not in the real world. Who cares if you occasionally use camera angles??
Another important factor I wanted to include in the company was to only employ readers who had actually achieved screenwriting success themselves, and make them visible to prospective clients.
All too often I used to get coverage back from an anonymous set of initials. On the website all I’d know about the reader was that they “Have many years of experience reading for the top studios and production companies”. That’s why at Script Reader Pro I wanted writers to be able to read proper bios of who’d be working on their scripts, and be able to choose the one who best chimed with their genre and writing sensibilities.
Over the years I’ve really enjoyed building up the company and we’ve now built up a substantial base of repeat clients, so it looks like I wasn’t the only one frustrated by the vague, confusing, non-actionable advice out there!
*** Alex Bloom is the founder of Script Reader Pro — a screenplay consultancy made up of working Hollywood writers, speakers, and consultants. They have also produced a practical, hands-on screenwriting course, and book on screenwriting structure using sequences.
Anvil Springs Entertainment seeks out undiscovered talents and innovative film concepts and we encourage you to pursue your writing. Remember rejections aren't personal, they are opportunities to take knowledge and make it your wisdom. We welcome all experience levels to submit to us after ensuring that your screenplay has had coverage and you've completed the steps on our contact page. We highly recommend Script Reader Pro services for the coverage notes you will need for our submission process.