Thursday, 2 October 2008

Script Reading on the Blog **Update**

It's been a month since I launched my own script reading feedback service and it's been really interesting to see how its developed. I started it because I felt that most of the services on offer were extremely expensive for writers, who often work in isolation, to get consistent, quality feedback on scripts.

And by the response I've had it's clear that there is certainly a need for it. I had initially said that for the time being at least, I would only read scripts. But as well as features, I had enquiries to read thirty minute scripts, first ten pages and one pagers for Red Planet, as well as general outlines. And being that I can't say no, I didn't turn anyone away! It's not a purely altruistic gesture of course. I get paid a reasonable but not exorbitant fee, which still comes in handy when it's time to pay the rent. But let's be honest, it won't make my fortune - hopefully my own screenwriting will do that! But the point is there was a genuine desire for constructive feedback. And I have an equally genuine desire to help people improve their work. As I've stated many times, I sit on both sides of the desk and know how useful it is when I receive feedback about my own work. And it really is in everyones interest for the slush pile out there to be better and better. It will produce a more profitable British industry and garner more respect for our screenwriters.

But I wouldn't be a very good feedback service if I didn't take on board feedback about the service! I myself have realised that whilst the front page logline, table and brief comments are useful, the overall mark is pointless and stupid. So that has been removed! There was also a general feeling that the synopsis wasn't as helpful as I thought it would be, especially in projects that are still in early stages of development and finding their feet, as it might be deemed as too prescriptive. So this too has gone. Instead, the report will be more focused on development notes; what's working, what's not, and a look at characters, theme, genre, structure, dialogue etc. This was felt to be the most important aspects in developing the project and I am happy to oblige.

However there was one further element to my service, a bit of a gimmick some might argue, but an honest attempt to get attention for other writers. Each month the best script and writer was going to get coverage on the blog. But this hasn't worked so well and I hold my hands up to making a mistake. The problem was this. Most of the reading I have done previously is for production companies. And so by the time it reached me, the script was 'finished' to a certain extent. It was therefore easy to take a pile and judge them against each other. That after all was the whole point. I would recommend which ones were worth the executives reading themselves. But at Script Reading on the Blog, I am quite rightly seeing work at all different stages of development. It's impossible, futile, and counter productive to judge a first draft script against one that is in its fourth or fifth draft. What's more important is I help the work, at whatever stage, improve and develop further. So the competition element of this service has been scrapped and it's a lesson learned for me.

Nevertheless I hope the service goes from strength to strength. What's important is that the fees are still the lowest around and everything is turned around in under a week!

So here's a breakdown of what's now on offer from Script Reading on the Blog:

Film or TV scripts between 70-120 pages = £35 (over 120 pages will be £40)
Film or TV Scripts up to 70 mins = £30
Script extracts, for example first 10 pages (useful not just for RPP) = £15
Short Film scripts up to 15 mins = £15
Story outline/synopsis/treatment = £15

And if any of the above doesn't quite fit with what you'd like, email for a quote.

Please note: Follow up discussion, either on email or over the phone, will not only be allowed, but actively encouraged, and free of charge!

Look forward to reading you work.

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