From our friend Skyler over at ScreenplayCoverage.com….
A producer asked me to put the word out that he’s searching for a script of this type, and has potential funding and distribution lined up, providing the script and package are right.
Feature length screenplay – It’s required that it be a female lead, early to mid 20s; coming of age, fish out of water. Examples would be similar to “Flashdance”, “Devil Wears Prada”, and “Coyote Ugly”. If you have something like this, please respond to this e-mail with some info about your script (logline and synopsis if you have it). I will forward all responses along.
Any other producers who would like to put a word out about a type of script you’re looking for, let me know and I can send a blast like this (no charge).
info [at] screenplaycoverage [dot] com
Welcome to Day #2!
Hopefully you’ve poked around ScreenwritingMasterClass.com as well as Go Into the Story and you’ve dipped your big toe into the wide ocean which is the Screenwriting underworld and didn’t get it all Soul Surfer’d.
Water’s not so bad, eh? And did you check out the 14 Days of Screenplays and immerse yourself in professional writerly shtuff? Hope so. Then you’re ready for the next step…no, you’re not ready to face the Hollywood Reader…WAY to soon for that. But you are ready to acknowledge the existence of the Hollywood Reader.
What is the Hollywood Reader? There’s a great book out about it that’s got a detailed explanation to that, but the short answer is that in the Hollywood Coliseum, they are the Emperors who thumb up or thumb down your little gladiator…er…script. Thumbs up? They get to move to the next level. The next set of eyes. One step closer to that bidding war we always wanted culminating in a 7-figure payout with backend points. Thumbs down? Fed to the lions. Tossed in the slushpile…the island of misfit scripts without so much as a Return to Sender or “here’s why your script stinks…” note or nothin’. Nada. Bupkiss. This is Sparta! Bamf!
Each year between 400-500 movies find some form of theatrical release in the United States, all the way from tiny independent films which manage to grab one screen for a weekend to a major blockbuster which opens on 10,000 screens or more. Typically, the major Hollywood studios, including their specialty/art house divisions (e.g., Miramax, Dimension, Fine Line, Fox 2000), produce approximately 60% of the movie fare which reaches the marketplace.
Hollywood Screenwriter Scott Myers delves deeper into the idea of the Screenplay…
What does an agent sell? What does an actor act?
What does a script reader read? What does a director direct?
What does a studio buy and develop? What does a producer package?
What do line producers budget? What do marketing departments base their ads on?
What does every key grip, sound guy, stunt woman, animal trainer, production assistant, script supervisor, and every other below-the-line worker rely on to ply their trade and make a buck?
That’s right, a screenplay. In Hollywood, nothing starts without the script. And in this universe, we answer the question “What is a screenplay” with this answer – It is a commodity.
And that’s what the Hollywood Reader is looking for. Imagine, if it were your job to read through scripts all day and one day across your desk came “Unforgiven” or “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Shawshank Redemption”. After days and months of 2nd rate Tarantino-wannabe hack work and badly formatted vampire drivel, you come across this gem, this magnum opus. It’s as if the heavens have opened up and shine down upon you.
That’s what they want, the Hollywood Reader. And they go into each script hoping to unearth that diamond in the rough. And generally, they’ll give it about 10 pages before they decide it’s fate. You’ve got 10 pages to hook them (or less!)
A story analyst/script reader reads a script and provides coverage. Coverage is the reader’s evaluation of submitted material. It consists of a log-line, an encapsulation of the concept in one sentence; a two-three page synopsis of the story and characters; a one-page commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the material; a box-score rating system where the analyst “grades” the material in the following areas – Concept, Plot, Character, Dialogue, and Writing; and at the very end of the document, a one-word assessment of the material – PASS, NOT RECOMMENDED, CONSIDER, RECOMMEND.
Pass = Substandard, unacceptable submission
Not Recommended = A glorified pass, maybe one-two good elements
Consider = Strong, salable material with some problems, but promising enough to warrant a look
Recommend = Happens once in a blue moon
Anything with a Consider or Recommend goes up the food chain to the company’s story department. Anything else goes directly into the slush pile (recycling bin). Which means how the reader responds to your script and what the reader says about it in coverage are of critical importance to you.
AND WHAT IS THE READER LOOKING FOR…?
- Is this a high concept project? One with a commercial hook? Is it striking, extraordinary, fresh, imaginative?
- Has it already been done?
- Does it have mass appeal or blockbuster potential?
- Is it better suited to the art house circuit? Is it too small in scope for a studio picture?
- Have similar ideas already done well in the marketplace?
- Is it strong enough to warrant a buy if poorly written?
- Does it provide a solid foundation on which to build a motion picture?
- Does it have a solid marketing potential? Can the studio or production company sell it to an audience?
STORY: WHAT’S IT ABOUT
- Does it hook me within the first 5-15 pages? Does it immediately capture my attention?’
- Is the central conflict strong and clearly defined? Is it clear what the story is about?
- Are the stakes of the story high enough to make it compelling?
- Does the world of the story (setting or milieu) offer enough for the big screen?
- Do I like what the story is about? What it says? What it means?
- Might it offend a certain segment of the population?
- Is it racially biased or morally reprehensible?
- Is it sexist or misogynist?
- Does it contain elements that will draw an audience into the theaters?
- Is this an extraordinary story, or rather a simple, ordinary plot with some extraordinary touches?
- Is there a strong emotional pull? Do I laugh, cry, get angry, feel happy? Do I genuinely care about what happens from page to page?
- Is it credible? Plausible? Logical?
- Is it timely, or dated? Does it offer something for today’s audience?
- Is there a subplot or more? Does the subplot intersect with the main plot, creating more narrative complexity and affecting the life of the protagonist, or does it dangle in the middle of nowhere and could just as well be left out?
STRUCTURE: HOW IT’S TOLD
- Is the structure appropriate to the genre?
- Is there a clear-cut beginning, middle and end?
- Does the first act set up the central conflict, establish what the protagonist wants and what s/he is up against?
- Does the second act build? Is there an increasing sense of jeopardy, urgency, tension?
- Does the third act solve the central conflict?
- Are there climaxes at the end of each act?
- Is there sufficient conflict throughout?
- Does the script move, build, intensify, continually hold attention? Is the dramatic progression strong?
- Is there a logical, causal connection between each scene?
- Is there enough new information, or does repetition set in?
- How is the exposition handled? Is it conveyed through conflict, or stagnant dialogue?
- Is the plotting predictable, obvious? Too simplistic or complex? Too vague, disjointed?
- Is the script cohesive? Does it gel? Does it flow?
- Is it written with clarity?
- Does the resolution tied up any and all loose ends? Is too much left to the audience’s imagination?
- If the ending is predictable, is the inevitable delayed as creatively and imaginatively as possible? Is the ending too pat and trite?
- Is there a satisfying payoff? Does the writer reward the audience for paying attention?
- Is it believable, witty, intelligent? Compelling, sparkling, razor sharp?
- Is it wordy, stilted, artificial? Hackneyed, contrive, flat?
- Is it coherent? Too rambling or nonsensical?
- Is it consistently well-suited to each character?
- Does each character have his/her own manner of speaking?
- Is the dialogue too expository?
- Is it too “on-the-nose,” revealing exactly what everyone means, thinks, feels?
- Does the dialogue lack subtext? Is there no other meaning beneath the lines themselves?
- Does the dialogue artfully and seamlessly reveal character?
- Are there too many long, dull speeches?
- Is the dialogue crisp and well-paced?
- Does the writer rely too heavily on dialogue to propel the story?
- Is the dialogue too profane or sexually explicit? Crude or offensive?
- Is it appropriate to the genre, adding humor to a comedy or tension to a drama? Is it consistent?
- Is the protagonist likeable, sympathetic, empathetic, identifiable? Will an audience locate the story’s center of good in this protagonist?
- Is the protagonist an engaging, credible, dynamic character who can carry a motion picture? Are they worth watching for two hours?
- Is it a star role, perhaps suited to one actor in particular?
- Is the protagonist launched in quest of a specific goal? Is this goal strong enough to hook and hold an audience throughout?
- Does the protagonist fight for what they want amidst conflict, forced to take greater and greater actions?
- Is the protagonist active or reactive?
- Do they have the will and capacity to continue the struggle?
- Do I root for this character to succeed? Do I care? Do I become enmeshed in their world?
- Does the protagonist sufficiently “arc” through the story? Do they undergo a significant change by the story’s end?
- Is the antagonist (or forces of antagonism) strong enough to challenge the protagonist and continually thwart the protagonist’s efforts? Throw sizable obstacles in their way?
- Is the villain a truly formidable foe? Sufficiently bad, evil, dangerous, frightening? Do they make it too easy for the protagonist?
- How are the secondary characters handled? Are they colorful and fresh, or cliched stereotypes? What purpose do they serve in connection to the protagonist? Has the writer maximized the opportunity for conflict?
- How are the characters revealed? Via action or dialogue? Do they mostly sit around talking about themselves and each other?
- Do all of the main characters have individual traits, quirks, idiosyncrasies? Are they true standouts or just average? What are their strengths and weaknesses as far as their viability for the screen?
If you’ve written a script, take a look at these questions and answer them honestly. Or give your script and these questions to a trusted friend or industry insider and have them look over your work objectively. If you haven’t written a script yet, let these questions simmer in your brain stew while you consider what concept you’re going to turn into the next “500 Days of Summer.”
Wired4Film gratefully acknowledges the help and contribution of Hollywood Screenwriter Scott Myers and author Jennifer Lerch to unravelling the mystery of the Hollywood Reader!