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Script Reader

Industries:
Film | High End TV | TV
Personality type:
Communicator
Departments:
Development | Script

The lowdown

  • Analysing screenplays
  • Evaluating Screenwriters' work
  • Making recommendations to Producers 

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to: 

  • Be familiar with screenplay format and layout
  • Understand the contents of a reader's report
  • Know the key points required in a screenplay
  • Understand the art of the synopsis
  • Understand the screenplay development process
  • Be able to write clearly 
  • Understand the different markets for films
  • Understand trends in film production
  • Be aware of developments in the arts and culture 
  • Have an interest in new work in film, fiction and poetry
  • Watch as many films as possible
  • Read lots of good original screenplays and transcripts

What does a Script Reader do?

Script Readers mainly work for public funded bodies. Some UK film companies use Script Readers, and in this situation they are usually trusted Readers or Script Editors. They are chosen because their opinions are highly respected by Producers or Development Executives. 

Script Readers may also be commissioned by Screenwriters to provide objective opinions on screenplays before sending them to Producers or funding bodies. Script Readers assess whether screenplays are professionally crafted, and write a reader's report (or 'coverage' report). 

In most instances, screenplays are only read by one Script Reader. When a Producer is applying for funding, the final draft screenplay may be read by two or more Script Readers for an objective assessment. 

The typical Reader's Report includes a breakdown of the story and an assessment of the story's suitability for production. This report typically contains seven different parts. A logline is a one line summary of the central idea. A premise is the analysis of the originality and commercial potential of the central concept. The synopsis is a breakdown of the story. Tone and genre is an analysis of whether the writing matches the intentions. Comments detail the strengths and weaknesses of the Concept, Premise, Plot (and subplots), Structure, Character (and in some cases possible casting), Dialogue, and Technical execution. The report will end with a summary and verdict. 

When screenplays are read as part of a screenwriting competition or short film production scheme, Script Readers may also be asked to indicate whether it should receive funding, be short-listed or rejected. Script Readers assessing screenplays for awards may also be required to complete a Reader Response Form, detailing whether the project satisfies other funding criteria.

Script Readers may work in other roles in the industry and read scripts to make extra money. The work is not always well paid, but it can be very satisfying, and is a good way of honing analytical skills. 

Will I need a qualification?

You will usually need a BA or MA degree. You can also take a graduate Script Reading training course. 

If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

You will have to send off examples of coverage work you have written, to funding bodies or production companies. This role is a good entry route into Script Editing, Script Development, and Producing. 

Interested? Find out more…

For more information on job roles in the creative industries, take a look at Hiive's job roles website.  

Websites

  • Writers' Guild of Great Britain - a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames.
  • BECTU - a trade union for media and entertainment, that provides advice and support, including a script registration service 
  • BBC Writers Room - top tips on script writing, plus opportunities and events for writers
  • European Writers' Council - the federation of 50 national and transnational organisations of professional writers and literary translators in 34 countries
  • Federation Screenwriters Europe - a network of national and regional associations, guilds and unions of writers for the screen in Europe

Publications

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