How To Get Work As A Script Reader
So, you want to get work as a script reader. 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. 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 get work as 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 (but not limited to):
- reading lots of screenwriting books
- watching all the popular TV shows and movies to understand why others like them (even if you don’t)
- watching the more obscure stuff too
- learning to analyse and critique on the basis of craft (NOT opinion)
- learning about target audiences and film/tv budgets
- going to seminars and short courses
- but most of all, obviously reading all the screenplays you can!
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 work as a script reader. Interning is a great choice for those trying to break into the industry … IF you can get a position. 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 like B2W’s
- meeting people who may refer you (especially industry pros)
- 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 of the above!
Short Films Are The Way In
I have been a script reader and script editor for twenty years now. In all that time, there has been LOTS of change. However the one thing that has not changed is the FACT short films are a great way in … Not just for writers and filmmakers, but wannabe script readers too.
Ensuring you have a selection of PRODUCED projects behind you is a huge asset. It validates you and helps writers trust you. Whether you want to work in TV or film, as an agent or producer, 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???
How To Find Shorts Filmmakers
If you want to find shorts filmmakers, there’s a number of ways to do this. The simplest is to go to short films nights and networking nights in pubs or your local film festival. Find the filmmakers there and tell them you will help them develop their screenplays for free if they give you a testimonial for your Linkedin or website. Most will bite your hand off.
If you’re unable to get out there and network in the real world, that’s okay. The internet is AWASH with short filmmakers! Get on social media and Google and find directors and producers. Send them a short, polite query email. Tell them who you are and provide links back to your social media and/or website so they can check you out. Again, there’s a strong chance they will say yes.
Script Reading Training
By the way, I’m pleased to announce B2W now offers a comprehensive script reading course, that I run in conjunction with LondonSWF. I will go into even more detail on how to get work as a script reader on the course.
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 distinguish 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
The course has been running for 7 years now, so you can read what previous course delegates said about it and see photos, HERE.
There’s lots more information in my post, How To Become A Script Reader. You will also find out what the difference between the script reading and script editing is.