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How To Pick A Script Consultant In 4 Easy Steps

 

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by Script Reader Pro in Script Coverage
September 1, 2014 4 comments
script consultant

So, you’ve decided to hire a script consultant to review your script. But finding someone suitable among all the hundreds out there can be a monumental task. 

Follow these four steps and you should come away with a much clearer idea of who to choose.

script consultant1. Ask Yourself If You Need A Screenplay Consultant Or A Script Reader

Okay, so firstly you need to take into account the fact that we’re talking about people who get paid to offer feedback on aspiring writers’ screenplays, not people with jobs at agencies, management or production companies whose job it is to see if a script’s worth producing. (or if a writer’s worth hiring)

Now, within all the people in the first category who get paid to provide professional feedback on screenplays, there’s a difference between script writing consultants and script readers. Both terms have become fairly interchangeable in recent years but, technically, the difference is this:

The Role Of A Script Reader 

If you want to just have your screenplay reviewed, script coverage written up and sent back to you, then a script reader is probably all you’ll need.

These written reports range from basic “studio style” notes of one or two pages, to full-blown development notes of twelve pages or more.

The main advantages of receiving a script coverage report like this are:

  • Cost. They’re fairly cheap, which gets a big thumbs up from most writers.
  • Honest feedback on what a professional really thinks of your script. Something that’s hard to find from a friend, even if they work in the industry. i.e. you’ll get a solid idea of the current state of your script and your writing ability.
  • Depending on the company, constructive feedback, so you can fix what’s wrong with the script before sending it out to screenwriting contests, agents, managers, etc.  (hint: go for someone who offers practical advice and cool suggestions on how to fix the script’s problems, rather than just four pages reeling off what’s wrong with it.)

The Role Of Script Consultants 

On the other hand, if you want to work with someone on your script, then this is more of a screenplay consultant’s job.

The main advantages of hiring a consultant are:

  • Rather than just receiving a screenplay coverage report on your script, you get to work with someone on it  — exchange and develop ideas, get honest feedback and a fresh perspective, etc.
  •  Improve your writing skills as well as one particular script. Working with a screenplay consultant can do wonders for your writing ability as a whole as they get the chance to get to know you and how to improve your capabilities.

The main disadvantage with hiring a script consultant is, of course, cost. They’re generally not cheap and this is because of the very nature of the more intensive working relationship that’s developed between screenwriter and consultant.

2. See Who Exactly Will Be Working On Your Script

If you’re targeting script consultancies as well as individual “gurus,” this is probably the most important step.

Many consultancies are awfully vague when it comes to revealing who will actually be doing the work on your screenplay. They’ll write things like “All of our consultants have worked for XYZ companies” but not say exactly who they are.

This could be a red flag, as it suggests they don’t want to reveal who they are. Are they qualified to be reading your script and giving notes? Or are they interns, doing all the work for no pay?

If the website doesn’t state exactly who will be reading your screenplay, send them an email. If they then say they don’t reveal names for “confidentiality” reasons, proceed with caution.

3. Find Out What Qualifies Them To Work On Your Script

Ideally, you want to work with someone who not only has years of experience reading and developing scripts, but is a working screenwriter themselves.

It may be a bit of a cliche to say “those who can’t do, teach”, but when it comes to handing over big dollars for someone to read your script, it’s worth taking this into consideration.

Try and find out the following: 

  • Have they ever sold a screenplay and/or had one produced? This is what sets certain script consultancies, such as our own, apart from the crowd. A script reader or consultant who has actually sold or had a screenplay produced obviously knows what they’re talking about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic guys out there who’ve never even tried to sell a screenplay, but it’s definitely something to think about.
  • You can also try to find out if they have agency or management representation? Have they won or placed highly in any major screenwriting contests? Do they have an MFA in screenwriting from one of the big name universities, such as UCLA or USC? Again, none of this is essential to being a great interpreter of your screenplay and wealth of ideas on how to fix it, but it can all help you in making up your mind.

4. Ask To See Evidence Of Past Successes

Any script writing consultant worth their salt will be able to readily produce examples of writers they’ve helped place highly in screenwriting contests, gain representation, or option / sell a screenplay.

At the very least they should be able to provide you with script coverage examples of work they’ve completed for clients. If they’re not already posted online, email them and ask to see one.

Nail down a shortlist of five or so script writing consultants and review each of their resumes and screenplay coverage examples. From these samples, you want to look out for a few key elements such as:

  • Does the reader nail the writer’s intention in the logline? Do you get the sense they really understood what the writer was trying to convey?
  • Does the reader start their coverage report with the most important advice — the thing you first need to tackle in your next draft? Or do they begin with typos or the title?
  • Look at how they discuss the characters: Do they talk not only in terms of there being a lack of depth, but give solutions to add more depth? Do they talk about arcs for major and minor characters? etc.
  • Look at how they discuss structure: Do they talk in terms of generic 3 act structure or in terms of sequences? Do they talk about A, B and C stories? Do they mention scene structure? etc.

We can’t possibly list all the areas of judgment a good script analyst uses without boring you to death and coming across like an advertisement for ScriptReaderPro! The point is, make sure you do your homework before parting with your hard-earned cash to hire someone and you should be okay.

Good luck!

4 Comments
  1. Alvaro 85 says:

    I’m nervous to spend money as I don’t have much but will try you guys..

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We look forward to working with you, Alvaro.

  2. Billie Urabazo says:

    Thank you for the informative article and for spelling out the differences between a script reader and a script consultant. I see that you have phenomenal people on board at Script Reader Pro,

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the comment Billie!

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