If you’re a screenwriter trying to break into the entertainment industry, having your script coverage professionally evaluated is crucial. But what exactly is script coverage, and what can you expect from this essential screenwriting tool?
Let’s explore everything you need to know about coverage feedback for screenplays.
What is Script Coverage?
Script coverage refers to an in-depth critical analysis and written report on a screenplay’s strengths and weaknesses, provided by a professional script analyst, also known as a script reader or coverage writer.
Coverage usually ranges from 4-15 pages in length and covers key aspects like concept originality and market potential, characterization, structure and pacing, visual writing quality, tone, and overall recommendations.
The purpose of seeking professional script coverage services is to get objective, constructive feedback on how to improve your screenplay to maximize its chances of getting optioned, sold, or produced by major companies. High-quality coverage reveals issues or opportunities you may be too close to the work to see yourself.
Most reputable agencies, film and TV production companies, as well as top contests and labs, employ executive script readers to evaluate submissions and provide coverage. Many screenplay consultants offer script analysis and coverage services. We’ll explore some of the major providers later in this guide.
What Does a Script Coverage Report Include?
While coverage format and writing style can vary somewhat between analysts, most professional reports will include a consistent set of key elements:
Logline & Synopsis
The logline is a single sentence that pitches the essence of the story or premise in an exciting way that captures attention.
The synopsis then summarizes the entire plot from start to finish including key characters and major story turns, without giving any spoilers away. It’s typically written in the present tense and gives the reader a clear understanding of the overall narrative arc.
This section rates how unique, fresh, and compelling the core concept is based on other movies in the same genre. It identifies potential cliches or derivative elements, assesses commercial prospects, and determines if there’s a clear target audience.
Structure & Execution
A structural analysis evaluates the plotting and pacing of the overall storyline as well as at the scene level. It examines whether acts and story beats follow conventional screenplay rules for the genre. Good coverage will pinpoint where sagging momentum or confusing plot holes exist.
Character assessments determine whether the protagonists, antagonists, and supporting players seem authentic, have logical motivations for their actions, and experience satisfying character arcs from start to finish. Strong coverage will identify where certain roles seem thinly sketched or cliched versus multi-dimensional.
The dialogue analysis determines if conversations flow naturally between characters from different backgrounds and if the word choice fits their unique personalities. Believability within speech patterns for the period or genre is also examined.
A review of a script’s tonal quality assesses whether humor, dramedy, suspense, or other intended moods are successfully conveyed on the page. Seamless shifts between tones at appropriate plot points should be executed clearly.
Market Potential Estimate
This key section gauges the analyst’s perspective on whether the screenplay concept aligns with current buyer trends in terms of production scope, budget range, and target demographics. Screenplays fall into categories like indie film, mid-budget, big-budget tentpole/franchise potential, or made-for-TV/streaming.
A coverage report conclusion highlights the most significant strengths and weaknesses uncovered from concept origination to structuring, plot, pacing, characters, dialogue, tone, visual writing, and market potential.
It provides clear direction on which elements need refinement during rewrites or polishing before broader submission to managers, agents, and producers is advisable. Comparisons to recent movies in a similar vein may be made.
Types of Script Coverage Services
Not all script coverage services are equal. As you navigate options for evaluating your screenplay manuscript, consider these main types of analysts and providers available:
Independent Script Consultants
Screenwriting career coaches often include tailored script coverage and notes as part of their coaching packages. Some operate solo while others have a team of professional readers on staff. Rates vary based on the experience level of the script consultant providing notes. Packages generally include a call to discuss feedback.
Larger film, TV, or streaming production have in-house story departments with execs that provide coverage services on spec scripts for potential development projects.
Studio notes carry more weight since they represent real buyers. Landing a producer, showrunner, or story editor to read and cover your work usually requires industry referrals and relationships.
Contests & Fellowships
Many top screenwriting comps like Nicholl, Austin Film Festival, or PAGE Awards use judges and recognized pros to evaluate elimination round submissions.
Advancing to late rounds generally means your script scored highly on key coverage criteria. High placement can attract elite managers or producer interest.
Online Script Coverage Platforms
In recent years, tech startups have created online coverage services that connect screenwriters directly with professional script analysts and developmental editors.
Writers upload their scripts and then choose custom feedback options. 24-48 hour rush turnarounds to 15+ page studio-style reports are provided, often at lower prices than individual consultants. Startups leverage analyst pools instead of single readers.
Top platforms praised for thoughtful, actionable coverage include CoverflyX, WeScreenplay, ScriptReaderPro, Script Pipeline, and Stage32 Coverage Services. Each has strengths and nuances to its approach. Read service provider reviews carefully before you decide which treatment best matches your screenplay needs.
What to Expect from a Coverage Report
So what should you anticipate when you order script coverage analysis? Here are details on typical coverage length, delivery formats, speed, and pricing:
An average script report runs 4-8 pages though 10-15 pages for features is common from professional analysts. Studio-style coverage is the deepest dive while contest evaluations may be just 2-3 pages judging early round submissions. Television pilots warrant 8-10 pages. The best script coverage is long enough to offer meaningful feedback without getting redundant.
PDF attachments are standard for sharing written coverage digitally though major online marketplaces allow you to view assessments right on their proprietary dashboard. Some providers offer tracked changes to versions of your actual script manuscript annotated with feedback.
Depending on urgency and reader availability, coverage takes between 1 week to 1 full month. Budget extra time for notes from entertainment execs or specific high-profile judges. Rush 24-48 hour options are available but quality suffers.
Individual script consultants may charge $100+ per feature length evaluation. Pro sites cost between $50 to $250 per movie script. TV pilot rates are similar. Discounts come with multiple scripts or packaged deals. Contests provide judges feedback for single entry free up to $100 for deeper coverage. Winning top prizes can yield free meetings and coverage from elite companies.
Using Coverage Feedback to Improve Your Script
Receiving constructive criticism about something you poured endless time, energy, and passion into creating can be an ego blow, provoking reflexive rationalizations.
Avoid this self-defeating trap! Evaluators make story suggestions based on years of experience analyzing what concepts sell in this very competitive industry.
The best mindset when reviewing script coverage is to stay emotionally detached and filter each note objectively against your creative vision.
Legitimate structural weaknesses, implausible character choices, and overlooked cliches are nearly impossible for a writer to discern in their work no matter how skilled. Fresh eyes expose unseen gaps.
On the other hand, some notes miss the mark due to analyst tastes or bias. Don’t suddenly start second guessing your amazing concept that lit a fire driving the entire screenplay forward based on one person’s lukewarm response unless you receive similar feedback from multiple sources.
Use thoughtful coverage as a tool to tighten plotting, elevate your character dialogue, punch up slow scenes, and trim redundant descriptions that slow pacing. Refine without radically changing the essence of what excited you conceptually during the first draft of writing passion.
Every professional screenwriter leverages script coverage at some point to surface problem areas needing improvement before submitting their latest draft to agents, managers, producers, or contest judges. Prioritize notes aligning with your creative vision for the characters and story.
Quality coverage reveals weaknesses impossible to see when intimately mired in the process of writing over months. Let experienced analysts provide the constructive criticism needed to finesse your screenplay into a tight, polishedCalling all screenwriters! Our premium script coverage services will elev-. That grips readers on page one and sustains suspense to Lights Up!
Focus on the value received in growing your craft through evaluating feedback instead of the sting of critical notes. Refinement separates the pros selling scripts and getting hired for rewrites from aspiring screenwriters stuck in first gear.
So now that you know exactly what script coverage entails and how to make the most of professional analysis to improve your screenplays, the last step is finding the best match for your needs.
With an array of specialists and script coverage services to choose from, do some research before committing. Not all readers are created equal.
Find coverage readers experienced with your specific script genre and tone. Check out samples of actual past evaluations before purchasing so the writing quality, depth, and insight of notes meet your expectations. There’s no benefit in paying for coverage if the feedback misses key areas for improvement or is too vague to act upon.
Once you secure script coverage from the right provider, take their constructive criticism to heart in your next draft. Rework weak spots in structure, characters, dialogue, or pacing that may be holding your writing back from attracting an agent or manager. This feedback makes your script shine!
Polish until the coverage has minimal revision suggestions. You now have a tightly crafted, visually powerful screenplay ready to submit to contests, talent reps, and producers with confidence. Professional script analysis enables new writers to unlock their potential and stand out from the fierce competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to do coverage on a script?
Doing coverage on a script refers to writing up an evaluation report that analyzes and provides feedback on all critical aspects like concept, plot structure, characterization, tone, pacing, originality, and commercial prospects. It identifies strengths and weaknesses with improvement suggestions.
How do you write a good script coverage?
Good script coverage summarizes the story without spoilers, assesses technical format and execution, evaluates the strength of premise and characters, critiques the authenticity of the dialogue, determines whether pace and structure are sound, and offers overall recommendations on needed improvements before circulating more widely.
How do I become a script coverage?
To become a professional script analyst providing coverage services, pursue entry-level reader jobs for film/TV studios and production companies to gain experience. Many also start reading for contests or independent consultants before launching an individual coverage business. Strong writing skills are essential.
What is the job description of a script coverage?
A script coverage writer or reader’s job duties include reading and evaluating screenplays’ commercial and critical merits against industry standards, identifying script problems that might inhibit production, summarizing plots without revealing key turns, assessing characters, structure, dialogue, and themes, and determining market potential.
What does coverage mean in filming?
In filming, coverage refers to capturing a scene from a variety of camera angles. But in screenwriting, it means an analysis report on a script’s strengths, flaws, and improvements needed before seeking representation from agents or pitching producers to buy the project.
What is the purpose of coverage in film?
The purpose of getting expert script coverage during film development is receiving objective feedback on a screenplay’s merits from an experienced Hollywood professional, often leading to revelations on how to improve the concept, characters, pacing, and structure for execs and agencies to better evaluate its sales potential and decide if they want to sign on to the project.
How much does script coverage cost?
Professional script coverage costs range between $100 to $400+ depending on depth but most fall in the $150 to $250 range. Bargain services under $100 often lead to poor quality feedback while over $400 buys intensive analysis and rewrite suggestions from top-tier consultants.
What are the 3 C’s of writing a good script?
The 3 C’s essential for writing a commercially viable good script are creating compelling Complex characters who drive the concept forward through escalating conflict while eliciting an emotional connection with the audience.
What is the difference between script coverage and script notes?
Script coverage refers to a full in-depth 4-15 page analysis report on all aspects of a screenplay with a logline, synopsis and story structure, character, dialogue, tone, and pacing critique as well as revision suggestions. Script notes offer general feedback observations on certain elements but lack comprehensive evaluation.