A script reader reads scripts. As self-explanatory as that is, it does seem to require further investigation, doesn’t it? After all, who are the people reading our scripts? Where do they come from, and what are they looking for?
Script readers range from interns to full-time paid readers. They read for contests, production companies, agencies, etc… The job generally entails reading a script from fade in to fade out and then doing coverage. That coverage goes to higher-ups so they can pretend that they’ve read your script during a notes call, find a new writer, or buy it.
Full coverage includes writing a summary, synopsis, comments, and sometimes a breakdown. Not every reading job requires full coverage, but it does require an understanding of story elements. A reader has to be able to dissect your writing in terms of what is working and what isn’t in order to give a proper evaluation and opinion.
That evaluation is going to be different depending on who is reading it and who they are hired to read for. Take for instance a production company. A reader for that company is going to be looking for a very specific type of script that falls in line with what that company produces. But, if you look at fellowship, they won’t necessarily be reading for the most “sellable” script but for the best writing or writing potential.
GETTING A JOB AS A SCRIPT READER
Reading jobs often travel via word of mouth. They aren’t necessarily easy to get (like anything in the entertainment industry is), but if you’ve read as an intern or an assistant before, it heightens the odds of you finding and attaining a readership position. Many of these jobs are freelance, a few are full-time employee positions, and some are union full-time.
The job isn’t easy. It requires intense focus and consideration. It also takes a lot of time. Imagine being submerged in someone’s world, pulled out, and then having to evaluate that world both subjectively and objectively. Do this two to four times a day.
The balancing act between script reading and writing can be tricky. Reading greatly informs your own writing. It also can be incredibly draining on your creative resources and analytical eye. You read so many different types of stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. On the plus side, after doing it for an extended period of time, you’ll start to notice what consistently works, recognize mistakes people make that you make as well, and understand the flow of storytelling in screenplay format.
So whether you want to be a reader or not, read. Read as many scripts as you can get your hands on and not just the good ones. Work that muscle, and it will make you a better writer.