ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm Not So Drunk on Power

Q: How often does a reader really make or break a project? Has there been a script which you read where you made the difference, either yay or nay?

I think a reader does have a certain amount of power, though it depends on the submission.

A lot of scripts (often from name producers or with people attached) are going to be read by execs no matter what my opinion is going to be; I'm just covering them so there will be a synopsis of it available.

Other scripts, that maybe come in from lesser producers or agents, may need favorable coverage from me to even get read by execs.

The irony, of course, is that I rarely am told which of these categories a particular script falls into.

One instance I know of when I did affect something was when I was reading for HBO, and liked a war script I read called "When Trumpets Fade". HBO wound up making it. Had I passed on it? It's likely it wouldn't have gone much further.

On the other hand, even if I put a consider on something borderline, it still has to be good enough to make it past a lot of other people. So my consider only has limited power, though my pass may have a lot more.

At the same time, depending on the company (and whether or not they like to develop things), as many as 40% of the things I read will get a Considers from me, just because I'll slap it on anything that's good enough to make it to the next level. So the tough cuts really aren't coming from the readers, they are coming from the execs.

Plus, even if I do put a Pass on something, I like to think my synopsis or comments are good enough that if an exec reads it, he can still spark to something that he might ultimately like in the script.

Of course, I read for fairly big production companies. I'm sure a reader at an agency giving a Pass to something from the slushpile will likely kill that script immediately.

I'm sure there were things I passed on that might have gotten a serious look if I put a consider on it, though those are harder to isolate.

The bottom line is this: Just write a great script. And if your script is at least very good, it won't be the reader who shoots it down, it'll likely be the person the reader works for.

So, sadly, sleeping with the reader probably won't help all that much.

13 Comments:

At 5:21 AM, Blogger James Patrick Joyce said...

So, sadly, sleeping with the reader probably won't help all that much

Thank god!

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Brett said...

So, in other words, you're pretty irrelevant?

Got it.

8^p
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B

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

The irony is that a bad reader probably has more power than a good one.

I'm just culling, just helping make a pool of good-enough scripts worthy of my boss' attention. And I'm good enough at it so that the likelihood of something really good not making it into that pool is low.

But a bad reader? Who knows when he might slap a pass on something for a reason that has nothing to do with the script's quality or potential.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is it Recommend, Consider or Pass?

Wouldn't it be simpler if it were only Recommend or Pass?

Anna

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Recommend is pretty much never, ever used. I don't think I've given one in the last 10 years. It basically means "Oh, my God, if you don't make this movie now, you're an idiot". Which is rare.

So it's really just Pass and Consider. Except I work for one company, that also has Strong Consider and Weak Consider. I used to work for a company where they had Consider With Reservations, which is a good idea, because a lot of scripts fall into the zone that basically means "interesting, doesn't quite work yet, hate to give it a pass".

But mostly just Pass and Consider, which is pretty simple.

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger A. M. said...

Hang on just a sec here. We're not sleeping with writers b/c, among other reasons, no use. Now we're told not to bother with readers, either. Hrmpf.

Hey, don't tell me we're left with that bearded, stinking cigar-smoking flatfoot who gives oders to the camera-guy? You know, that guy who wears his baseball cap... oh, I can't even say it. So that's the guy with the "Recommend"-stamp on his forehead?

Hm. tyavrsu = Drunk elf trying to say Tiramisu. Or something.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

Sleeping with the reader won't help you a bit, but it might make the reader feel a hell of a lot better.

 
At 9:33 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

My script (Cricket Hill) was sent to ICM last month and got a consider, I was pretty darn happy about that.

Why doesn't anyone want to sleep with the writers?

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Have you SEEN the writers?

That's one scaaaaaary-lookin bunch of nimrods.
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B

 
At 7:18 AM, Blogger The Moviequill said...

just curious but have you come across any of us fellow blogger's scripts in your 'read' pile? And by that I mean it just randomly happened to be one you were paid to cover.

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

Anyone's welcome to try and sleep with me in my capacity as a reader OR a writer. I promise I will give you an answer in 48 hours. That answer will of course be...PASS or CONSIDER.

; )

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Moviequill --

Not yet, though I the past I have had scripts from people I know land on my desk. Generally I tend to grade a little gently (aka, I'll be more likely to give it a consider, unless it sucks), because again I'm just the first gatekeeper, and they still have a lot of hurdles to jump over.

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Reagan Williams said...

One instance I know of when I did affect something was when I was reading for HBO, and liked a war script I read called "When Trumpets Fade". HBO wound up making it. Had I passed on it? It's likely it wouldn't have gone much further.

That's weird. That script was loved by Steven Spielberg (though of course he didn't greenlight it).

http://www.wordplayer.com/pros/pr05.Jacobson.Nina.html

 

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