by Michael Chasin
Hollywood is swimming—in screenplays.
It’s reported that the Writer’s Guild of America registers 50,000 screenplays—a year.
Plus there are screenplays—filed with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Plus there are screenplays—not registered at all.
So when added all together—there is an ocean of screenplays.
And with each script at about one hundred pages long—it is impossible for any agent, actor, director, producer, or studio executive—to actually read screenplays.
To address this, coverage was created—wherein a professional reader actually reads screenplays—and provides evaluation and comment on each.
There is no official coverage form—varying from studio to agency to production company—but they do all evaluate story, structure, dialog, emotion, and writing style.
If for a director—the coverage may focus on the visuals in the script.
If for a specific actor—the coverage may focus on compatibility with that actor’s sensibilities and brand.
If for a studio or production company—the coverage may also include number of locations, number of characters, and even projected budget.
Ultimately, the reader will grade the script—as pass—or consider—or recommend.
Readers are often freshly minted film school grads—and being a reader is a great way to enter the industry.
Readers learn how to read a script—and quickly determine what will work.
Readers can be heroes—identifying that great script—the one that others passed on.
Coverage will be the first hurdle to getting your screenplay sold and produced.
So understand coverage—and write your script—for the eye of the reader.