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What Is a Script Consultant? A Complete Guide For Aspiring Writers.

Dispel the myths, find out if you really need a script consultant and how to not get burned if you do.

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by Script Reader Pro in Script Coverage
June 29, 2021 25 comments
script consultant

What is a script consultant? A complete guide for aspiring writers.

What’s one thing smart aspiring screenwriters have in common with professional screenwriters?

They get feedback on their work by industry professionals before sending it work off anywhere important—like to a manager, producer or studio executive.

One great option often used by aspiring writers is a “script consultant.” But what is a script consultant exactly? And how do they differ from script readers and script doctors?

Furthermore, how do you pick a script consultant? And how do you know you can trust their advice?

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to choosing and vetting the right script consultant and this is what we’re going to do in this post.

Here’s what’s coming up:

What is a script consultant?

Script consultant vs. script reader

How to choose a script consultant

Advantages and disadvantages of hiring a script consultant

Real script consultants discuss their role

So let’s jump on in!

What is a script consultant?

A script consultant gives writers advice on how to improve their screenplay and get it ready for the market.

They are sometimes hired by production companies, but more commonly by aspiring writers looking for feedback on their script. (Professional writers generally get notes from their manager, writer friends or other industry people.)

Script consultants write up extensive notes on writers’ scripts of 4-8 pages or even longer in-depth development notes of 12-25 pages.

Sometimes script consultants are hired to give on-the-page “margin notes”—feedback written directly on the page on how to improve scenes, characters, dialogue, etc.

Unlike a Hollywood script doctor, a script consultant doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional screenwriter, or have any qualifications at all. Anyone can set up a script consultancy online so we recommend you properly vet their credentials.

A script consultant will usually perform one or all of the following:

• Give writers written notes. Fixing the story, characters or specific scenes, for example. Here at Script Reader Pro we have a range of written script coverage services for film, television, synopses/treatments and short films.

• Give verbal feedback. Exchanging and developing ideas with writers. Giving them a fresh perspective and motivation to rewrite the script themselves.

Script consultants are also hired by producers and execs. Or by industry players working independently. Likewise, script consultants often set themselves up as freelancers on their own, or at script consultancies.

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Script consultant vs. script reader.

First, a script consultant is not to be confused with a script reader (or “story analyst”). Many of these terms have become fairly interchangeable in recent years but, technically, the main differences are these:

• Type of work. A script consultant is likely to get involved in brainstorming sessions and writing long, detailed notes. A script reader engages in writing short, one or two-page script coverage reports. These notes briefly outline whether the script is worth passing up the chain at their company.

• Job status. A script consultant usually has a lot more experience and knowledge than a script reader. Consequently, they earn more. Script readers are generally regarded as fairly low-level employees at companies. They are the first line that must be cracked.

• Cost. The work performed by a script consultant is often not cheap as they can (usually) really help writers improve their work. Script readers, on the other hand, are free. You send your script in to “ACME Management” and your only reward is a call back if they liked it.

None of this is set in stone, however, as there is no “Constitution of Screenplay Feedback Rules” that everyone adheres to. For example, the terms “script consultant” and “script reader” are often interchangeable.

Let’s say you have a screenplay consultant who freelances at a script consultancy. Well, they may also write standard script coverage as part of their job.

How to choose a script consultant.

Let’s take a look at the three main areas you should consider before handing over your screenplay to a script consultant.

1. Avoid anonymous script consultants.

Many script consultancies are suspiciously vague when it comes to revealing who will actually be doing the work on your screenplay. They’ll write things like “All of our script consultants have worked for XYZ companies,” but not give any names or real details.

It’s always a good idea to find out the name of the script consultant who’ll be working on your script and also what credits they have.

If the website doesn’t give the name and resume of the script consultant, send them an email and ask. If they reply that they don’t reveal names for “confidentiality” reasons, we recommend you opt for a script consultant who’s actually willing to give you some concrete details.

You can see the bios of all of our Script Reader Pro screenplay consultants here.

2. Find out what qualifications the script consultant has.

Ideally, you want to work with someone who not only has years of experience reading and developing scripts but is a working screenwriter themselves. That’s why all of our script consultants at Script Reader Pro are currently also working in the industry.

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, it’s worth taking this into consideration.

Try to get answers to the following:

• Do they have an agent and/or manager? If so, who? Are they signed with a big agency, such as William Morris? Or someplace you’ve never heard of? 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 toward making up your mind.

• Have they ever sold a screenplay? Have they had a screenplay produced? This is what sets certain script consultancies apart from the crowd. A script consultant whose actually sold a script or had one produced might be better placed to advise you on how to do the same.

Again, this is purely subjective. There are some fantastic script consultants out there who’ve never even tried to sell a screenplay. But it’s definitely something to think about.

3. Ask to see a sample of their work.

Any script writing consultant worth their salt should be able to readily produce examples of their own screenwriting as well as
notes they’ve produced for other writers.

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

Review each of their resumes and examples of their work while asking yourself these questions:

• Does the script consultant nail the writer’s intention in the logline? Do you get the sense they really understood what the writer was trying to convey?

• Is this script consultant someone who focuses their notes on the most important advice? The things the writer needs to tackle first in their next draft? Or do they spend a lot of time discussing formatting or that missing comma in the title?

• Look at how the screenplay consultant discusses 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.

We can’t possibly list all the areas of judgment a good script consultant uses without boring you to death, but the point is this: read their examples thoroughly. And make sure their style jives with the kind of notes you’re looking for.

Do all of the above and you will be in a good position to make an informed choice about which script consultant to hire.

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The advantages and disadvantages of hiring a script consultant.

Let’s take a brief look at the main advantages and disadvantages of hiring a script consultant.

Advantages of hiring a script consultant.

• More extensive work means better and faster results. You get what you pay for. You could purchase a much cheaper script coverage report, but the level of analysis will be much less. This means things may be left unsaid and overall the amount of time it will take to get the script where it needs to will be longer.

• Improve your writing skills overall. Working with a screenplay consultant can do wonders for your writing ability as a whole. They will get the chance to get to know you and how to improve your capabilities.

• Develop a writing relationship. There’s not much point getting advice from a friend or family member, but honest feedback from a professional writer can be invaluable. Working with a script consultant may free you up creatively so you don’t actually have to hire them to do any costly hands-on work.

Disadvantages of hiring a script consultant.

• Cost. The main disadvantage with hiring a script consultant is, of course, cost. They’re generally not cheap and often this is because of the more intensive working relationship developed between screenwriter and screenplay consultant.

• Clash of opinions. Sometimes a script consultant may say things about your script that you don’t necessarily agree with. Or they may try to lead the story down a different path that you hadn’t envisioned.

This can lead to a bruised ego and disappointment that they “don’t get it.” However, this is a part of the game all writers are in.

If you want to become a professional, you’re going to have to take much harsher criticism on your script from execs, producers, managers than any consultant will ever give you.

One exec may love your script, another dislike it. And it’s the exact same script. The best advice we can give is that if you don’t agree with a note, get a second opinion on it. If two or more people are giving a similar note, then there’s probably something to it that needs fixing.

• Credits. Some script consultants may want to claim credit for any work they do on your screenplay. (This is not something we ever do at Script Reader Pro.) Proceed with caution if a screenplay consultant ever asks for a credit on your script and make sure you don’t sign anything without first getting someone else to look over the contract. Preferably an entertainment lawyer.

Real script consultants discuss their role.

Here are few professional screenwriters who moonlight as script consultants/script doctors here at Script Reader Pro, discussing what they bring to the table.

As you’ll see, the role of a script consultant is much more hands-on than that of a script reader. It’s not “just a job” to most script consultants. It’s a passion for the craft of storytelling and helping writers achieve their potential that drives them.

“I would like to save the writers I work with from that same heartache. So that they can make their opportunities count. So that when they get a shot at the big break they are prepared and have the confidence that honing your craft brings.

“I’ve done every aspect of film production on a creative level: writing, directing, producing, working with editors and music supervisors and even making distribution deals with major studios so I’m able to arm these writers with an arsenal of information so that they are prepared for whatever this business throws at them. And it can throw a lot at you.

“The key to success in this business is knowledge. And I love sharing that knowledge with people who want to succeed. I’ve been very fortunate in this business, but the journey would’ve been infinitely easier and faster if I’d had an experienced guide.”
— Jenna Mattison (pro screenwriter @ScriptReaderPro)

script consultancy“There is also something magical about helping another writer get to that epiphany-type of moment where they finally get it. Where it clicks. Where their excitement just can’t be contained. Being a part of that is something very special, and truly important to me.

“Some writers are great at writing, but not great teachers. Not everybody can explain the deeper workings of what makes a screenplay effective. But some people can, and from the feedback and relationships that I have grown through mentoring tells me that I can consistently help writers cross that plane.

“I love being a champion to writers, especially those who match my passion for this magical beast we call a screenplay. It’s what feeds my soul.
— Scott Parisien (pro screenwriter @ScriptReaderPro

Script Reader Pro - Tennyson Stead“While many of my pet projects are united by an interest in science-fiction, fantasy, and other forms of world building, challenging and empowering actors to grow as performers is my real passion as a screenwriter.

“Giving a director and a cast the tools and support to do their very best work is a screenplay’s only measure of excellence.

“My uncompromising eye for structure and specificity is what inspires producers, actors, and directors to keep relying on me. No matter what genre you might be working in, you can count on me for that as well.”
— Tennyson E. Stead (pro screenwriter @ScriptReaderPro

Jenna, Scott and Tennyson are just part of the Script Reader Pro team of script consultants who are also working professional screenwriters.

If you’d like to work with Jenna, Scott or Tennyson or any other member of our team, we have a Script Doctor Service and Screenwriting Mentorship Program that you can use to hash out your script with a pro writer.

You can even choose who you’d like to work with according to your screenplay’s genre. For more info, check out our Meet the Team page.

Conclusion. 

Sending your screenplay off to a script consultant for written feedback, mentoring or a one-on-one consultation is a big deal.

This is your baby and you want to make sure it’s in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing. Whether you decide to hire us or a different script consultancy, make sure you do your homework before parting with your hard-earned cash and you’ll be okay.

We hope this post has helped bring you one step closer to working with the perfect script consultant for your project!

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Thinking of hiring a script consultant? Or have you had one work on your screenplay before? What were the results? Would you recommend it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

protagonist and antagonist

Enjoyed this post? Learn more about script consultants, script readers and script doctors…

What Is a Script Doctor? The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring One For Your Script

Script Coverage Example Free Downloads

How Do You Know If Your Script’s Ready to Send Out Into the Industry?

[© Photo credits: Unsplash

25 Comments
  1. cnucrmeqht says:

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  2. oscar julian lopez rincon says:

    great-job, guys!!!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Oscar!

  3. Alice Carroll says:

    I’m planning to create a short film to serve as a gift to my husband for our fifth anniversary this coming November so I am currently looking for film production services behind his back. You made a good point that getting a script consultant would yield faster results due to the intensive work. Some of the actors I got had day jobs so scheduling would be quite tight so getting a person whose full-time job is to help out with the script would be great.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Alice, we have a Short Film Coverage service you can check out here.

  4. Holly Lumpkin says:

    My script is for a stage play. Does that matter to you guys to for the consultant I hire.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We don’t usually cover stage plays. If you email us directly or on Facebook with details about the play we may be able to find a reader for you, but this is a screenwriting website so you may want to check elsewhere.

  5. Niq Huq says:

    How do I know you guys are realy screenwriters?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You can find our bios and writing credits on our About Us page.

  6. Samantha A says:

    I love this, thank you for the clarification.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Samantha.

  7. Yannik says:

    I need script coverage can you help?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Yes, here are all our script coverage services.

  8. stefan janoski says:

    Excellent advice. I was always getting confused between script consultant and script doctor and script reader but this has really helped.

  9. Nikki says:

    How do I hire a script consultant with not much money? Can i afford to take a gamble at throwing big bucks at you guys? I am poor student, literally a starving artist and can’t risk wasting money on services if I don’t know they will help. Your taking peoples money but with little or no guarantees of success.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      There are no guarantees of success in this business. And no one’s saying you have to spend money on a script consultant in order to be successful as a writer. It’s totally up to you if you want to invest in your screenwriting career or not.

      You could get feedback from friends in the industry, screenwriting groups, forums, contests that include notes, etc. Or you could simply trust your gut and send your work out into the industry without it being reviewed. But that’s the real gamble.

  10. Juliano Angeliano says:

    Hi guys … Does a script need to be finished to have a script consultant

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Hi Juliano, no it doesn’t. You could get a script consultant on board at any stage – to brainstorm ideas, give you notes on Act 1, a treatment or any number of stages of development.

  11. Paul McCartney says:

    I’m a script consultant for a well-known company and this article is spot on. Got any jobs going?

  12. Heather says:

    How do I get a job as a script consultant?

  13. Matt says:

    Nothing’s straightforward when it comes to screenwriting is it? Lol.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

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