Screenplay coverage is like a Nicholas Cage movie. When it’s good, it’s “Raising Arizona” or “Moonstruck.”.

When it’s bad, it’s “Ghost Rider” on a 24-hour loop.

Because while screenplay coverage can give you insight into your story – and possibly get your script read by film-industry decision makers – it can also cost you a ton of money in the process. (Not to mention make you question your creative instincts.)

So, here’s a quick breakdown on the pros (and cons) of script coverage to help educate you on the process – and, more importantly, help you avoid getting ripped off.

What is Screenplay Coverage?

Screenplay Coverage is a written analysis of your screenplay, which usually contains a brief synopsis, overall comments and a grade.

Screenplay Coverage PRO: The Price is Right

If you’ve completed a screenplay and need to know how it fares against others in the market, obtaining Script Coverage is significantly cheaper than paying a Script Consultant or Script Doctor which usually costs thousands. (Script coverage will usually cost $50-$200.)

Screenplay Coverage CON: Everyone Does Coverage a Little “Different” 

There are different coverage styles out there. Different companies follow different formats, feedback tone, and level of feedback. This range can be confusing to a writer if they’re expecting to get feedback of one variety, and get something very different. (Or if they feel their money wasn’t worth the service provided.)

Screenplay Coverage PRO: Coverage Can Point You in the Right Direction

If you have a general sense of what’s working or not working in your screenplay, screenplay coverage will help confirm that. It’s a good way to make sure your script is doing what you intended it to do and that there aren’t major flaws with it.

Screenplay Coverage CON: Coverage can Kill Your Confidence

If you pay for one of the cheaper services, and the reader is making nothing off their work, they may be more likely to write rude, opinionated responses rather than offer constructive criticism. This is why it pays to do your research before submitting.

Screenplay Coverage PRO: Coverage Provides an “Honest” Industry View of Your Script

If you’re paying a script consultant thousands of dollars, they’ll be more likely to sugar-coat your analysis. Whereas, generally, script coverage gives you an honest opinion of where your screenplay ranks. (Especially if you’re able to find somebody who STILL works in the industry.)

Screenplay Coverage CON: Coverage Doesn’t Always Go Into Much Detail

If your screenplay needs a lot of work, and you need someone to line-by-line provide you with instruction, screenplay coverage isn’t for you. You should look into a Script Consultant who will be able to provide a deeper analysis. (Or maybe even start your own writer group.)

Screenplay Coverage PRO: You’ll Actually See Coverage, If You Pay

Studios may write up coverage on your screenplay if they get a hold of your script, but you’ll likely never see the feedback or know if it passed. Paying for the service will allow you to actually see the comments, so you can make the necessary tweaks before submission.

Screenplay Coverage CON: Some Coverage Companies are Shady

Know the warning signs! If you see a screenplay coverage site with a price too good to be true, unprofessional website, no work experience from the readers that you recognize as reputable companies, no name of a person in-charge, no positive praise posted to their site– run away! There are good ones out there, don’t use one that will definitely get you nothing.

Screenplay Coverage PRO: There are a lot of Good Coverage Providers Out There

Know what to look for when you’re shopping around. Look for positive reviews, professional looking websites, reasonable fees, and a company that emails/calls you back. If the reader is someone who has worked in the industry at studios before, they’ll have a better sense of what they’re looking for.


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About The Author

Michael Rogan
Editor, ScriptBully Magazine

Michael Rogan is a former screenplay reader and optioned screenwriter. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of ScriptBully magazine, and has written a few non-sucky books including "How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)". He has made it his mission to help screenwriters kick ass - and rid the world of films based on action-figure lines.

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