What Screenwriters Should Know About Screenplay Coverage

By Bernadette Mendoza

Screenplay coverage is the most important component in filtering out good scripts from the bad within the film industry. It is typical of an reading intern or assistant to be in charge of this task. In smaller production companies, there is a good change that the person in charge of development or their assistant is the first person to read a screenplay. Feedback is used a way as constructive criticism for a screenwriter and therefore should taken seriously, even if the response is positive. Any and all improvements made to a script ensure its progress and potential to be green lit for production.

Coverage is meant to be a way to inform producers and development executives of the potential of a script. It is informative for the screenwriters as they can take the feedback and see how they can improve it. Many times a screenplay's coverage is used as a tool for writers to apply to their future rewrites. In some cases, having positive feedback from a major studio will make a script of interested to other major studios as well.

Since producers and studio executives do not usually have the luxury of sitting and reading through every screenplay that comes in, they usually ask for the coverage on a project. Assistants, lower level employees such as readers and script interns are usually in charge of this task. They grade a project and usually this is given back to the writer to see how their work was received by that particular studio.

How writers use their feedback from a studio is very important. If a studio passed on a project or thought a script rated poorly, a writer should take the criticism into consideration when working on a new and future draft. Agents will often have the writers adapt the notes and then send these screenplay back for further consideration.

The rewrite is important component of the writing process. If feedback that was positive but needed work done, it is crucial for a writer to making the changes in a timely manner so while the script is still fresh in the minds of the studio and its executives. A writer with a literary agent usually has the advantage because an agent that is managing their career can keep the studio as well as the writer communication of the adjustments to the script.

A common problem with screenplays is that they are not well presented to their intended audiences. Production companies often take on scripts with very specific audiences or a market in mind, because they know how to market it and how to target a certain demographic. Sometimes a screenplay is written with no specific market in mind. A high concept script like a thriller or action genre usually attracts large audiences because it appeal to a large demographic.

Script feedback can be found be found professionally or by an audience of peers. Coverage done by a major studio is usually handled by an assistant or intern in a the development department looking for great screenplays to pass onto their superiors. Coverage is best used as a criticism tool for the writers and therefore should be reviewed with an open mind. Screenplay coverage has done and continues to be a major step in the development of film.

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