Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three options for script notes

If you live in LA you probably have friends in the entertainment industry who can read your material and know what to look for. You may have a writers group or just a random assortment of friends or a film school graduate friend who calls it like he sees it when he reads a script. I'm lucky in that I have a several such people who want to read my material and give me notes.

I imagine those outside this company town probably don't have such access. I know that when I lived in North Carolina I knew one person who'd ever written a screenplay, and it's pretty clear to me now that this person didn't know a damn thing about the business.

So who will read your screenplay and give you honest, informed notes? I've had a ton of people read my scripts over the years, and it's pretty clear that most people do not know how to give notes on a screenplay. So here are three who do:r

1) Scott the Reader. We all know Scott, right? Alligators in a Helicopter, long time scribospherian, $80 notes guy. Every now and then Scott will take a break from his cheap notes to make more money reading for studios, but he's still in the business and there are more than a few people who will vouch for his accuracy. Scott read a short film of mine once and gave me some pretty good suggestions, many of which I was too stubborn to take at the time but realized I needed to take later when it was more difficult to do because I was already in production. Anyway, he's on the up and up.

2) Introducing Script Doctor Eric, who offers notes and a 30 minute phone call for $99. He read Not Dead Yet and had several handy observations and suggestions. I wish I had been able to give Eric the script in its early stages because by the time he saw it the thing was pretty much finished, but he had some good ideas about choices I could have made and pointed out a few confusing scenes.


3) If you have some dollars burning a hole in your pocket, The Script Department is an expensive consultant company. A basic analysis of your script and suggestions for changes, plus a 30 minute phone call is $300. I've never used their services, and their reviews are mixed.

Eric and The Script Department both say they will pass your script onto industry contacts if they deem it worthy, but I wouldn't hire them for that purpose. I know a lot of people see that and think oooooh! I have an in! Don't think that way because chances are good that they will not pass your script on, and even if they do there is no guarantee it will come to anything. These people are here to help you make your script better, not to sell your script. But if you have nobody around who knows what they are doing, these are three options.

ADDED: I've never used his services, but I've heard good things about The Screenplay Mechanic. He posts regularly over at Done Deal.

The best thing you can do, though, is form a group of writers you trust who will give you notes for free.


  1. I've gotten very good notes from Jim Cirile's Coverage Ink. Around $200, but I got a synopsis to prove the reader had actually read the whole thing, notes on good and bad and possible fixes.

  2. Anonymous4:01 PM

    Thank you for that.
    Really helpful. Using two of the coverage/note providers you listed.

  3. I got notes from The Script Dept when I registered for PitchFest. I was given high marks, loads of encouragment and what amounted to 5 suggestions.

    Three suggestions were very minor but well-thought out and I agreed with 2 of them.

    Of the 2 bigger suggestions, one was bad advice (about a scene that women totally get but men often do not - this reader, a man, did not).

    The other piece of big advice was incredible - to add a vital scene that really rounded out my script. I was shocked I hadn't seen it myself actually. Had I paid for this coverage I think they said it was a $150 value (4 pages). Priceless to me.


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