The Script Report (Aka ‘Script Notes’ or Coverage)
In my experience as a script reader, there is NO definitive script report template. Instead, when working for script initiatives, screen agencies and some literary agents or production companies I have been supplied with *their* script report template.
Crucially, every single script report template I have seen has been quite different …
- Some are quite short (1-2 pages maximum) and an “overview”
- Others are very detailed, with many different sections (the longest being 8-10 pages!)
- Some look SOLELY at the story and craft of the screenplay (what’s on the page)
- Others look at things “beyond” as well: marketing, budget considerations or logistics of filmmaking
- Some are just score cards, no actual feedback whatsoever
What’s in a ‘typical’ script report?
But rounding up what I’ve seen, a *typical* script report may *generally* look at the following …
- STORY/PREMISE/ CONCEPT (this is where the reader will be required to come up with a logline)
- CHARACTERS (particularly protagonist and antagonist, but also important secondaries)
- DIALOGUE (as it says on the tin)
- ARENA (aka “storyworld”, not just location but the ‘feel of the piece’)
- MISCELLANEOUS (anything else that warrants attention … Most typically things like grammar, spelling, format, etc but also other things that don’t fit under the other headings I’ve already mentioned if appropriate, ie. writer’s voice.)
HOW an individual place actually reports on screenplays is another matter. (Don’t panic! If you get chance to do a script report or intern for a company, they will give you their own report template and/or tell you what they want).
A Useful Exercise
Sometimes writers want to practice on their own, so they might learn how to analyse stories better. This is a great idea, as it will help them plan and construct their OWN screenplays better. It will also help them understand what producers and agents may look for. Here’s how to do it …
- Download a screenplay for a movie or TV show. (Check out SIMPLY SCRIPTS for plenty in PDF format).
- Read the script in one sitting if you can. Create a synopsis for everything that happens in it (approx 500 words).
- Then write up to 500 words (maximum) on how you find the storytelling in the script. Use the headings from the previous section – concept, characters, dialogue, arena and miscellaneous – to help you.
Want some more help on story analysis? Then CLICK HERE >> 8 Steps To Analyse A Successful Story.
Want EVEN MORE Script Reading Secrets?
B2W’s course in conjunction with LondonSWF365, BREAKING INTO SCRIPT READING is running again in Feb 2023! It’s on Zoom again, so accessible from anywhere in the world.
The workshop is in its EIGHTH year now. B2W’s proud to have had a hand in training so many new script readers.
Here’s what course alumni Gemma Deerfield aka @screenwriterfemme has to say about the workshop:
‘I would never have felt confident enough to formally call myself a script reader without the B2W course. I had the skills just not the correct understanding of how to use them which Lucy so skillfully showed me and filled in the gaps in my knowledge. My expectations were met: I was prepared for the graft and the need to work on my own volition. I had all the extra guidance after the course to help me set up my online profiles and market myself. I’ve actually never taken a short course that was as useful as this in any industry.’
But the workshop is not just for wannabe script readers … It’s also perfect for writers who want a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how their writing is judged on the page. So if you want to ‘reader proof’ your screenplay, you’re welcome to join us too.
CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic on the right), including feedback from past delegates. We expect it to sell out again, so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!
This is also called ‘script coverage’ I visited this link wondering what a script report was and realized we call it coverage in the U.S.
Yep, thanks Miles; I’ve noticed various places use the term interchangeably in the UK, especially in the last 5 years.
Great article, Lucy! I was a script reader in LA for many years, and worked for some of the top companies (Walden Media, Seed Productions, Red Wagon, Bedford Falls). In the US this is a coverage report and the way they are written is quite specific. I know that being a reader improved my writing enormously, since I saw the same mistakes over and over again and learned by example what NOT to do. I now teach a script reader course, called The Art of War (it’s on my site) with the express purpose of showing writers what readers are really looking for and what their jobs are like. If you can walk a mile in the shoes of a reader, you will gain invaluable information and insights.
Thanks and agree 100%, Julie: script reading has so many benefits to writers, it’s worth doing one of the many courses available now, JUST to improve one’s own writing IMHO. That said, I think it’s also important for writers to note that heart and a great “voice” carries a script through any number of reader “pet peeves” too.
Great post, Lucy. I’ve recently gone back to studying rather than watching films, and I find this template useful for both scripts and films.