Screenwriters are often bamboozled by terms such as Script Doctor, Script Analyst, Script Consultant, Story Consultant, Script Reader… The list goes on… and on.
Let’s take the mystery out of these terms.
1) SCRIPT DOCTOR
These are senior screenwriters are are often hired by studios to punch up a problematic movie script. Script doctors are often hired at the advanced drafts of screenplays, often after they have been through several writers and rewriters and the story isn’t working.
They are the go to Script 911 people, charged with very specific duties such as punching up the comedy punchlines, or enhancing a secondary character. They charge a premium for their services and understand what stories do best in the film business.
2) SCRIPT ANALYST
Script analysts fall somewhere between script doctors and script consultants in terms of their story expertise. Their role is generally to assess a screenplay in terms of prevailing story conventions such as Aristotelian screenplay 3 act structure or character archetypes. They provide in-depth insight areas of a script that need work such as character interactions and main plot points of a story.
3) SCRIPT CONSULTANT
These have variable skill levels and are hired by production companies, studios and individuals to look at the overall quality of a script. Each has their own specialty, despite main claims that they can identify all problems in a screenplay. When hiring a script consultant have an idea of what you need. Is it feedback on the overall story concept, structure, character, theme or dialogue?
4) STORY CONSULTANT
These, as their name suggests, are hired to add authenticity to the story rather than polish a script. For instance, a writer or film producer may hire a story consultant to help them write a courtroom or police proceedings, or experts to interpret key global events.
5) SCRIPT READER
These are the bottom of the script totem pole. They are often hired as interns for production companies, agents and managers to sort through mountains of screenplays in search of that elusive gem that will become their next project. Apart from being the first line of filtering screenplays for overall quality, script readers often look for particular types of scripts suitable for a company. They may also bring attention to potential screenwriters for other projects.
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