A Script Coverage Example
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Take a look at an actual script coverage example is the best way to get started on the fundamentals of script analysis and writing script coverage.
Below, we have an example of a script coverage, in PDF, Word, and HTML format. Take a peek to get a feel for what a script coverage looks like.
As you can see from the example, script coverage is basically just a 2-4 page book report, so to speak, on a screenplay, written by you, the script reader. You provide this script coverage to the screenwriter, or the agent, or whoever has commissioned it, or ordered it, or thrown a screenplay in your face and said “Get to work.”
The Example Script Coverage File
Breaking Down the Coverage…
So once you’ve downloaded and opened the example coverage, let’s take a closer look at each component:
The COMMENTS SECTION
The ANALYSIS GRID
and The RECOMMENDATION
So let’s break those down:
THE HEADER is the section usually at the top of the script coverage.
It usually includes:
The author’s name, the script title, the page count, the genre of the script (western, comedy, romance, etc.), the name of the person or company who submitted the script for coverage, and the name of the reader who is reading the script.
Then right below the header is THE LOGLINE.
A logline is basically the entire story of the movie, squashed down into one or two sentences.
So, for example, one possible logline of the movie JAWS could be something like:
A massive great white shark stalks a beach community. A city cop teams up with a professor and an old drunk fisherman to hunt it down.
Or something like that.
Loglines are very important, and they’re the part of the coverage that probably requires the second most amount of thinking, after the, Comments section, which I’ll describe in a moment.
The next section is usually THE SYNOPSIS.
This Synopsis is generally 1-2 pages long, and it describes, story point to story point (or, as we say in the film industry, beat-by-beat), what happens in the script.
Check out the sample coverage I’ve included below to get a feel for how a synopsis is written.
A synopsis shouldn’t get too detailed, or too long, pagewise, as that defeats the purpose of its short-form nature. A synopsis generally only includes the major action, major events, major turning points, major characters, major themes, and major conflict. That is, if you’re writing minutiae in your synopsis, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The next, and arguably most important section is THE COMMENTS.
This is where you, as a script reader, offer your subjective observations and analysis and critique of the script.
Some examples of critical questions you might answer in your comments section:
Did it have interesting characters?
Was the conflict strong?
Is the dialogue well-written? Or is it flat and hard to read?
Does the story have a great concept, also known as a strong hook? Or have we seen this concept a billion times before?
How was the pacing? Were there unnecessary scenes? Did they drag on forever?
Were there flashbacks? Were they, like many flashbacks, confusing as all hell?
Did the writer use too many words to describe action? Was the script difficult to get through as a result?
And so on.
A comments section is generally also between 1 and 2 pages, single-spaced.
A few quick additional notes: If you’re doing a script coverage for an agent, or a production company, or even a script reading company, they may have their own proprietary styles and standards for you to follow, with regards to how your coverage looks, and what you focus on in your comments section as well.
For example, some companies may ask you to give your opinion on whether or not the script is a good fit for Nicholas Cage, or, whether or not you think this script is a marketable film for teens or seniors. Or Hispanics, or African Americans, or families, or kids under 12.
The next section of a typical script coverage is the ANALYSIS GRID.
Now, not all script coverages have Analysis Grids, but some companies require you to use them.
An Analysis Grid is simply some sort of grid or scoring system, containing all the categories that the company wants you to rate the script in:
Such as, dialogue, conflict, originality, format, spelling, budget, etc.
They usually ask you to assign a RATING to each box, whether it’s FAIR, POOR, GOOD, EXCELLENT, or even on a scale from 1-10, or 5 stars, or 1-100.
Grids like these are used by many companies, so you want to be aware that they exist, and be ready to use them.
And finally, the last section you’ll find in a typical script coverage is THE RECOMMENDATION (or Rating)
The Recommendation of a script coverage is usually the first thing anybody reads, when they pick up your coverage.
And sometimes, it’s the only thing they read.
And the standard rating system for script coverage is this:
PASS (for scripts that aren’t so good, or which, need a lot of work)
CONSIDER (for scripts that need a little work, but generally have more redeeming qualities, such as a good hook, or great dialogue.)
RECOMMEND (for scripts which are ready to go, or extremely close, or just have a lot of good things about them, which warrant a read by the next person up the food chain.)
So as you might imagine, PASS is the most common rating, and RECOMMENDS are the least common rating because there are so few really decent spec scripts floating around out there (an axiom which is probably going to stay true for the indefinite future.)
So, PASS, CONSIDER, AND RECOMMEND are basically the “grades” that you as a script reader give to the script you read.
Now, of course, keep in mind, that that recommendation/rating you give a script has to generally “match up” with the critical things you point out about the script in your comments section
In other words, you probably shouldn’t rave about how great the script is in your comments section and then give the script a PASS, in your rating. That should just be good ole common sense.
Keep consistent what you’re transmitting to the intended reader of your script. Confusion in a coverage, as in a screenplay, must be avoided at all times.
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