Asking experts in the field of screenwriting to give feedback for a completed script can require some amount of money. For amateurs writers this is a very tough call to make. Because they might have to apply to screenwriting contests or take up further paid courses in writing screenplays from many websites like Udemy, Coursera or even a MasterClass course. Plus add to it the cost of a paid writing software and registering the script. This alone can take up $500 at least. That’s a LOT of money when writers don’t know whether what they have written is good for the market.
So that is why script coverage is important even though it may be a little costly. Now, these following questions may arise in a writer’s mind who is just starting out in the field.
- What is coverage?
- Why do you need coverage for a script?
- How much does it cost?
- Is my script safe?
- What are the Best Script Coverage services?
- Are they really worth the money?
These are natural thoughts. No one wants to get ripped off or get a script stolen to find out later and say, “Hey, that was my idea of a movie. That’s my story right there! You Scammers!”. To avoid such incidents writers should know what they are getting into when asking professional help online. So all of the above questions related to script coverage are covered in detail in this article. Let’s go over them one by one.
What is Script Coverage?
I’ll explain it like this. You send a screenplay to a professional screenwriter. You get detailed feedback on the story and formatting. The feedback can be in depth analysis of 4-5 pages or a small paragraph. Depends on what you are asking for. The price also depends on the type of feedback required.
A coverage is done by professional screenwriters who work in the industry or are retired or who have never sold a screenplay. But these people know what the industry wants in a story. The cost might change according to the genre of the screenplay. Robert McKee never sold a script but he discovered and nurtured hundreds of writers.
A good coverage is the critical feedback required to write a great screenplay. Taking it positively will enhance the writer’s ability to craft a wonderful story ready to be distributed to producers.
Why do you need coverage for a script?
If you are writing or the first time, you definitely need criticism which can help you write according to the format. Spending money on asking an expert where you can improve would be a better option.
The reason is every writer thinks that the story they have is the best one right and it will sell. Probably right. But what you also need to think about there are thousands of people like you knocking on the studio doors. Some of them have already sold theirs before and made movies. Competition is crazy out there. One silly mistake in formatting, story arc, character outline and all your hard work is wasted.
Also Read : 15 Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Writers
How much does coverage cost?
A good script coverage can cost anywhere between $70 to $150 for one screenplay. Some writing contests give this option for free when you apply.
If you are really low on budget, a good option is to apply to 2 contests with feedback. It’s just $20-30 more than the application fees.
If you are ready to spend a little, apply without feedback and ask for coverage service from a professional. This might cost more but you’ll get critical feedback from experts who have spent a good amount of time (may be 3 hours) analyzing your script.
At least $150 dollars are needed for this kind of service. Anyone who’s serious in making a career in writing feature films and TV series, can’t afford to go to a screenwriting academic program in LA or the UK, should get coverage for every script he or she writes in the future.
Is my script safe?
Professional coverage services will not copy your idea. However they too encourage you to get it registered with the WGAW before sending it. A lot of websites offer their services and then copy ideas. You have a better chance of fighting for your story if you are registered.
What are the best script coverage services?
There are not many which are good. But I have listed some services starting from the best here below. Remember, some of these are really costly but they really give quality feedback.
It is the number one on this list of coverage services in Hollywood, for all types of screenplays. And the reason is the low cost, value for money and professional advice from seasoned script readers. It has 3 service packages: $69, $99, $199.
- In any package the script coverage is submitted in 72 hours.
- Details noted analyzing the Character, Plot, Structure, Dialogue, Concept.
- A rating by the reader
- $199 package includes inline notes throughout the script, and a follow up question.
For an additional fee they even deliver coverage in less than 24 hours. While submitting the script applicants can request a specific reader. It is a coverage service which runs like an efficient multimillion dollar IT company.
Bulletproof Script Coverage service was started by Indie Film Hustle founder Alex Ferrari. The main difference between this service and other coverage services is that they provide coverage based on the type of screenplay. The readers are experts in particular genres or short screenplays based on the prospective budget of the script if it goes for production. They have experienced readers who have worked with major Hollywood studios like Marvel, Disney, NBC, HBO, WB and a lot more. They deliver the coverage in 5 days.
Their Script Coverage Categories are:
- Micro Budget (under $2 Million, intended for self-production)
- Indie Film Market ($3 – $20 Million, financed independently by foreign sales agents and investors)
- Studio Film ($20 Million+ budget to be done by studio)
They have 2 packages in each category: $99 or $199. All packages include A Pass, Consider, or Recommend Rating, Character and Casting Potential, Structure, Dialogue, Character, & Story.
And that’s the reason why it is at number two on this list.
This service also lets writers get feedback according to the genre on the script. They have a range of services from $69 to mentorship programs costing $1449. Their readers have worked on films like War of the Worlds (Tom Cruise), HellBoy (David Harbor), Burnt (Bradley Cooper), The Bourne Identity (Matt Damon) and with major Hollywood studios.. They have 3 packages:
- Intensive Script Coverage: Writers can choose the script reader. Free email follow up after the service. Turn around time is upto 14 days. Cost is $169 as a start.
- Rewrite & Polish: After submitting a script, a writer can get the screenplay rewritten by a pro reader and still have all the rights to it. The cost is not mentioned as it can vary, however it’s definitely not 300-500 as the reader has to write the script again. If you have the money, wish to be a screenwriter in Hollywood and nothing else, you can try this.
- One on one Script Mentorship: The program is designed for writers who have a script, synopsis or an idea. The Screenwriting Mentorship is either a 6 or a 12 week program. The goal of it is that an aspiring writer will walk away feeling 100 times more confident in his/her writing ability.
4. Spec Scout
In this coverage service, there are 3 readers who review the submitted screenplay; each of whom provide ratings and in depth analysis of the script. The coverage is of 8-10 pages with comments and specific examples from within the script. The coverage includes a script score to indicate the quality of the script based on the 3 readers’ ratings. The cost is $297 for regular service and turn around time is 30 days.
There are 10 categories: Character, Conflict, Craft, Dialogue, Logic, Originality, Pacing, Premise, Structure & Tone. The script score is based out of 100. The writer earns a listing as a Scouted writer for free and forever if the score is at least 70. They actively promote subscribers who are agents and producers from the industry.
They have a total of 12 script services. That’s a lot! Their services include reviewing for Tv shorts, feature films, Bibles, Treatments, Script Doctor’s report, proofing and polishing, Logline. The cost varies from $ 95 to $ 395 for these services. The film coverage report cost is $180. All the services have the following:
- Choose Your Own Reader
- 30-Point Grids & Numerical Scoring
- “Next Steps” Precise Final Recommendations
- Specific Feedback Request Option
- Fast Turnaround Times (options available)
- Multi-Reader / Multi-Perspective Options
- Guaranteed Report Word Counts
Their readers have worked with WB, Lionsgate, Universal, Paramount, Disney and many more studios.
The Austin Film Festival is one of the best screenplay competitions in the world. Due to the type of industry connections they have, their readers are experienced script readers working for big studios in Hollywood. The cost for feature screenplays is $105. The Teleplay cost is $85. The coverage includes:
- A logline
- A thorough, extensive, honest and constructive evaluation of the story
- A plot synopsis similar
- A professional assessment of the script’s market potential
- A market-relevant rating
- An industry-style recommendation
The turnaround time is 60 days. For an additional $50 per script, the delivery is within 30 days.
The readers at Screencraft have a minimum two years of experience at major studios or agencies. They provide two pages of notes on the script from a professional script reader, hand-picked for the feature screenplay or TV pilot script. The cost is $125. The script coverage delivery is approximately 5 days. Screencraft has a well known screenwriting competition in the US, due to which they have very good industry connections.
Scriptapalooza’s Screenplay competition is quite well known. But if a writer just wants script coverage they have this too. They have a screenplay coverage and shorts coverage.
The screenplay coverage cost is $120 and includes a logline, a synopsis and feedback totaling 4-5 pages. The feedback has detailed notes covering these categories: Premise, Structure, Character, Dialogue, Setting, Pacing, Tone, Transitions.
The Shorts feedback includes the categories and the cost of it is $85. They haven’t mentioned the turnaround time.
Are they really worth the money?
Having done an analysis of the best available services, I think they are worth it only if writers send the best possible script that they can write. It’s not feasible to send a script just because a writer is in need of some constructive criticism. Getting the best work out in the hands of experts has to be the priority.
However, relying on their feedback is not the only option to write better screenplays. Learning for reading screenplays which are good and bad both help writers to improve. Making mistakes is part of the writing process.
Script coverage should be taken positively and without any ego.