5 Myths Screenplay Consultants Love to Perpetuate

B. O'MalleyLast updated: Script Coverage 101

Why script consultants hate script coverage

Why script consultants hate script coverageNewsflash! Many companies, large and small, now offer script coverage services. 

But ooooh, watch out. Because that really chaps the hide of many a high-priced script consultant selling their script consultant services online.

So many of those script consultants turn their noses up at script coverage services, mostly as a way to sort of “poo-poo” the more affordable “script coverage service” in order to show how awesome and necessary their more expensive, more in-depth script consultant services are.

And below, for the first time, I’ve compiled three of our favorite myths about script coverage which are perpetuated by many script consultants.

Myth: “Script consulting gives you more than what you get with script coverage”

True, in many cases! But script consultants are generally five times more expensive than script coverage, with their low-end services starting around $500 and skyrocketing up to the $1500’s from there.

I might be crazy, but the average struggling screenwriter looking to improve her script usually doesn’t have enough money to buy a round of drinks on Saturday, let alone $1200 to spend on script notes.

I’ve used a couple of these script consultants in the past, and flat out, let me tell you – some of them are decent.

But what I really needed to improve my script at that point was just a few different perspectives on what was working, and what wasn’t.

I needed a read or two, not a full-blown script consultant / script guru package.

Script coverage offers perspective in a much more affordable way, because for the price of one script consultant going over my script with a fine-toothed comb, I can order script coverage from 5 -10 different script readers, all of which are sure to have totally different backgrounds, (as different humans are wont to do.)

And each of those readers are going to give me a different take on my script. From those different “soundings,” I can choose the script notes I think are coming up in a pattern, and can ignore the rest.

If $200-$700 (and up) is in your budget, and you’re absolutely befuddled as to how to improve your script, a script consultant is definitely one route you could take. But you might be able to spend half of that dough and get the same results, simply by getting script coverage.

Myth: “You get what you pay for”

This is one of my favorites. It’s also a huge favorite of the big script consultants who poo-poo my company and companies like mine. (I love you guys anyway!)

Why I find it hilarious is because of its underlying premise, which is:

“Quality can only be attained if you fork over enough money.”

Which is so flatly wrong, and so patently lazy, and so obviously geared towards justifying high dollar script services, I have to chuckle.

 

Myth: “Script coverage is written by college interns and underpaid wage slaves”

Ah, that old delicious myth.

Think about it. How long would any script coverage company be in business if they hired folks to do their coverage who didn’t know what the heck they were talking about?

Every script company worth its salt does a great job at screening their script readers for maximum entertainment industry experience and script analysis skills.

UPDATE: It’s been a few years since I originally wrote this article. And in that time, scores of new script coverage companies have popped up, many of whom I’ve seen the actual coverage from, and have done subsequent research on.

As a result I’ve discovered, unfortunately, that the above “myth” is, sadly, starting to be more and more true, as a great number of these newer companies are clearly using interns and underpaid readers to churn out their sloppy, half-baked coverage. Including one or two companies with great brand recognition. 

That being said, there are still a great many of us out there who do not work with interns and pay our readers very well for their services.

Script consultants and script “gurus” have every right to tout their experience and skillset, but it’s often done by contrasting themselves, unfairly and inaccurately, against a whole population of super-talented script readers.

(And besides, that’s just patently offensive to some of those really talented college interns and underpaid wage slaves we all know.)

 

 

So take it all in, gentle screenwriter. There are many tools available in your toolbox, and not all of them require a cash outlay.

3 Comments on “5 Myths Screenplay Consultants Love to Perpetuate”

  1. I begun reading scripts in 1986 at New World Pictures. All of them were sent by (and therefore previoulsy screened and considered) agents, managers, lawyers and other professionnals. On the average, 50% were nearly unreadable, 40% were sort of OK at best and boring at worst, 9% were not bad but still not worth spending the money which left 1% with real, genuine potential. Twenty five years later, and still reading, I can tell these percentages still stand. Moral of the story: real, original talent is a rare thing. Simple as that. That being said, film is an INDUSTRY, and before you try to sell a product (aka a screenplay) to the latter, you better make sure that your product is at least considerable. Hence, never submit anything without having professionals (that is, trained readers) check it out beforehand. Remember that decision makers never read a script twice, so you will only have one shot. It’s tough out there. Attitude, rejection, unconstructive criticism, ignorance, stick to your day job type of advice. Hey, you’re trying to make a movie, not invade Poland. So, dear brothers and sisters, nevergive up and best of luck to you all.

  2. 5 true. 4 true. 3 true. 2 true. 1 very very very true. here BEGINS the writer’s lesson; there’s DONE and there’s MARKET READY. Difference is as wide as the Grand Canyon. BABZ – Silver Bitela Agency

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