Screenplay Consulting

Will I Read Your Screenplay?

Probably not.

I don't do much screenplay consulting or analysis anymore. There's just too many bad scripts and too much bad writing to slog through. For every good read I consult on, there are a hundred terrible scripts that should never see the light of day. Yet somehow I'm supposed to advise these writers on how to polish their turds. I take their money and give them a few pointers when I should really be telling them to find a new hobby.

It all feels very dishonest to me, and I don't care for that.

Also, I don't do script converages. Never have.

Coverages are useful inside the confines of a production studio that receives hundreds of spec scripts someone has to pore through. These scripts are given to readers who write coverages that give a synopsis of each script, a couple of pages that discuss the script's strengths and weaknesses, and finally give each script a Pass or Recommend grade. Fine.

But someone got the notion that this same system could work for writers outside of production houses as a means of helping writers become better writers. I don't get it. Writers are plopping down good money (around $120-$175) for someone to tell them what their screenplay is about (which the writer already knows), give them vague and impersonal advice on what is wrong with the script (such as, the dialogue is too "on-the-nose"), and then give the script a Pass or Recommend grade (which means nothing to anyone outside of a production house).

In the end, the writers have learned little to nothing of what actually needs to be done to improve their scripts. Worse, if the script and writing is absolutely terrible and needs to be abandoned, the writer isn't told that. They leave the transaction expecting to polish that turd I mentioned earlier and then have something producers will clamor to buy.

Again, it all feels very dishonest to me.

So I don't do coverages. I do detailed screenplay analyses. If the writer has a decent idea and shows he can write, then I spend some real, honest time with their script. I print it out. I go through it three times or more with a red pen. I take copious notes. I closely analyze what I call the "Three Pillars of Story": Character, Conflict, and Structure.

Sometimes the writing is so good that I recommend limited re-writing focusing on a few key areas. Other times, the idea is a good one and the writer shows promise, but the story is off-kilter enough to warrant a complete re-write from page one. In these situations, I've been known to spend time showing the writer exactly what such a re-write would look like by giving a detailed, beat-by-beat outline of the entire script. When that has happened, sometimes I'll get an angry email from the writer demanding his money back and and railing on me for destroying his vision. Other times, writers have been wowed, telling me that, although it means a complete re-write, my vision for their script is actually much better.

Most of my clients come back for a second consultation.

So my clients must be willing to accept criticism and a new way to look at their story concept, if necessary.

But they must also be patient. I don't do 24-72 hour turnarounds on my analyses. I've been known to take two weeks on a single script. I believe in reading a script over a few times, then thinking on it for days, allowing it to simmer and for my own creative juices to flow so I can envision it for myself. My reports are often long and exhaustive, many times breaking down key scenes with a great amount of depth.

What I also really like to do is help writers with story concepts. You send me your idea for a screenplay as well as any outline you have so far and any character concepts you've worked out, and I try to help nudge your story and the characters in the right direction before you even get started. Any report will not be as detailed because there will not be as much to work with, but I do my best to make your idea and the characters the best they can be.

Now, back to the original question: Will I read your screenplay?

Again, probably not.

Nowadays, I really try to screen the writers and the scripts I read because I really don't want to waste my time reading bad scripts and bad story ideas and bad writing in general. Most people who send me their scripts simply don't make the cut.

But if you want to see if you do make the cut, EMAIL ME:

--Your logline

--A brief synopsis of what you envision with your idea (where your story is going)

--A sample of your writing (such as the first ten pages of your script)

If it peaks my interest, I may asked to see more to screen you further. If I think I've seen enough and want to help you out, I'll let you know. If you don't hear back from me, then I have no interest in reading your script.

So if you send me what is required for screening and I want to read the script, that should mean something to you. It means I know you can write, I know you have a good idea, and I know you have a vision for how to go forward with it. Now I want to push this idea to the next level and see where we can take it together.

Oh, yeah. I also don't charge money anymore. If I want to read your script. I'll do it for free.