How Film Studio Script Readers Work

There are many types of screenplay readers in the movie studio system. They range from story analysts who evaluate the concept, to script analysts who evaluate the structural components of the story.  They work in the development team.

Studio film script readers must monitor the inventory of literary properties the studio already owns and also the slew of incoming new projects from agents, managers and producers they have deals with. They also alert development/ creative studio executives of promising screenwriters to keep an eye on.

Typically there are 4-6 pages of extended screenplay coverage addressing the various story components including character, concept, dialogue and plot. Oftentimes, there are also an additional 6-7 pages of development notes for the scriptwriter.

Studio screenplay coverage differs from standard coverage in that synopses and summaries are always included. Creative executives read summaries than entire movie scripts due to time constraints.

There is no rapid way to determine if a movie script is good or bad other than by reading it. Seasoned screenplay readers can sense a quality movie script in the first page. Over 90% of screenplays score a pass. Some are of really poor quality, but most are in the nebulous middle. That means, most submitted film scripts are average. Meh. Not good. Not bad. But average.

How do I become a film studio screenplay reader?

Studio film script readers are part of the Screen Editors’ Guild; a difficult club to get into, but cushy once you’re in. However, the pay is higher and they often read pre-vetted film scripts referred  by the lower echelons of the development team.

The common route to being a script reader/ story analyst is via internships. Everyone is on the lookout for the next film hit, so most prestigious production companies have internships for new readers. They help develop your story craft, provides valuable experience for those seeking a career in creative development and helps improve your own screenwriting because you read so many scripts.

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