Many thanks to Insaaf, who left this question in the comments on the B2W resources page:
I am attempting to get my first freelance gig as a script reader. I have a BA in English Literature, but no previous experience or formal qualifications for Screenwriting. I wanted to ask, what would a potential employer look for, in my pitch to be a script reader for them, that would be more likely to result in a positive response?
First: the good news
The good news is, you don’t necessarily need screenwriting qualifications to become a script reader. It is an entry level job, so there’s a lot of learning “on the job”, whoever you are.
There’s loads of things that will aid you in your script reading journey, such as reading lots of screenwriting books; going to seminars and short courses; but most of all, obviously reading all the screenplays you can (Scott Myers’ blog Go Into The Story has a GREAT round up of free, legal script downloads), plus of course watching movies and TV.
In addition, talk to and learn from as many industry people as you can – Twitter is great for this.
Now: the bad news
You will need experience to stand any chance of getting a paid position! Interning is a great choice for those trying to break into the industry in this way, but the snag is you may have trouble finding a position like this if you are not a student, as competition is really high.
… There are always ways of moving “sideways” to get what you want – for example, taking a script reading course and/or meeting people who may refer you; volunteering to read for screenwriting and filmmaking competitions; or combing social media for writers who need feedback on their work, in exchange for them reviewing you on Linkedin. Or all three!
Script Reading Training
I’m pleased to announce B2W now offers a comprehensive script reading course, that I run in conjunction with LondonSWF. In the course, delegates learn how to produce industry standard analysis for agents, producers, production companies and broadcasters – all of whom have mountainous ‘read’ piles.
The ability to distinguishing a ‘Pass’ from a ‘Consider’, or even a ‘Recommend’ will make you a valuable asset to the biggest and most prolific production companies. Key elements covered include:
WHO uses script readers
WHAT the key components of a script report are
WHERE to source those elusive script reading jobs
WHEN to walk away and avoid conflict with writers
WHY reading as a job can improve your writing AND most importantly, your understanding of the business.
What is included?
– Writing a fully professional report
– How to negotiate pay for your work and where to find it
– Techniques for constructive criticism and avoiding conflict
– What constitutes “marketability”
– Identifying strong concepts
– Why context matters: how sample scripts and sold scripts differ
– Tips for helping writers improve their craft
– Understanding how logistics affect filmmaking
– How to write positive script reports that get you re-hired for the next job
I ran this course for the first time last year in June 2015, so you can read what previous course delegates said about it and see photos, HERE. Early bird tickets are still on sale, so you can get a bargain by SIGNING UP NOW.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of online script reading courses (I haven’t done either of them, so can’t officially recommend, buyer beware etc BUT they do look pretty comprehensive):
(NB. Of course, being online courses it *technically* doesn’t matter which course you do BUT you may discover there are slightly different standards re: things like formatting in particular between here and over the pond.)
What I reckon
In my opinion, ensuring you have a selection of PRODUCED projects is always the best way to becoming a script reader or editor: it validates you and helps writers trust you.
So even if you’re not interested in working in indie film like me (and perhaps would rather work in television or as a literary agent), I still believe the quickest way to establishing yourself as a script reader is by helping short filmmakers. Short filmmakers never have any money and always need help!
But as the payoff for you, these short filmmakers tend to get their work out there, at festivals etc … Plus the good ones “grow up” to be feature filmmakers and hopefully take you with them!
What’s not to like???
There’s lots more information in my post, How To Become A Script Reader as well as what the difference between the two jobs is.
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