My script reading colleagues and I get asked “how do I become a script reader?” a lot. There’s no particular rules as to how to go about it, and answers will vary from reader to reader depending upon their personal experiences. However, there are still universal tips that can help get you on your way if you fancy becoming a script reader. First up, you need to consider the following question before embarking upon becoming a script reader:
ARE YOU DOING IT FOR THE MONEY?
If so, turn away now and find something else to do. You won’t be making big bucks as a script reader and it can be very time consuming and draining, so you have to be in it for the love of it. Do you love stories? Are you fascinated by how they work? Do you enjoy helping others? Do you want to be part of a film making team? Additionally, if you are a writer yourself, are you happy dedicating your time to helping others climb their career ladders? If your answer is yes, great! Go for it! Getting money for script reading can also be a great bonus when you are investing your time into it for the following reasons:
TO LEARN THE CRAFT – no better way to learn than by dissecting.
TO NETWORK – make friends and valuable contacts.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE – learn from others and show what you are capable of.
TO GET ON THE CAREER LADDER – starting as a script reader can lead to other opportunities.
So how can you actually become a script reader? It’s all about investing time in your skills and not being afraid to learn and try. Do some or all of the following and you’ll be well on your way!
TEACH YOURSELF – entirely possible (I do it!). Be savvy. Try the following:
READ A LOT – scripts (amateur and produced), books (gotta know rules and different ways of analysing and books are a fab way to broaden your knowledge), Internet (some amazing resources out there), novels (because yes, they are a part of the world of screenwriting through adaptations and knowing about the craft can be really useful).
WATCH A LOT – no good just reading about script writing and script reading, watch as much as you can of everything that has already been made! Don’t think of it as procrastinating – it’s research! Take notes: what works and what doesn’t? Read the script alongside it if you can and make comparison notes: how does it translate? Go further: read reviews online and interviews with writers. How did they do it, and what did the viewers think of it? Soak it all up.
TAKE A COURSE – free or paid, courses are great. And I’m not just talking script reader courses (but if you’re after a great one then check out London Screenwriters’ Festival’s course run by @Bang2write, info HERE) Think outside the box to broaden your knowledge: attend a lecture on how to write documentaries; go to a workshop on writing for TV; watch a TV show about film genres; watch a YouTube video about filmmaking; do a free course such as those found on Futurelearn.com. It’s all useful. Treat your personal learning plan like your own tailored education. Teach yourself!
FIND A MENTOR – Script readers and editors are busy people but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be happy to help you out. You can’t expect them to teach you for free or treat you like a student, but you can find ways to make it work for both of you. Offer something in return – a skill share perhaps – can you do something to help them, if they help you with some tips/feedback?
VOLUNTEER – Volunteering is a great way to network, learn and benefit from mentoring. As with learning methods, volunteering can have a wide range of applications from helping out on a competition/initiative, doing admin/reading for a production company or even volunteering at an event such as London Screenwriters’ Festival. Not only will you meet lots of people who may be able to help you in the future, but you can learn valuable things from others/the experience.
GET FEEDBACK – Once you’ve done the learning and the reading and the watching and the volunteering/skill shares (though I would recommend never stopping doing all of this – continued personal development FTW!) be sure to actually write some reports! You’ll need sample reports to show to prospective employers and clients, and you’ll also benefit from getting feedback on your reports by those already in the biz.
WRITE REPORTS – You can write a report on an already-produced script, just to show how you go about writing your synopsis and analysing the content, but super beneficial will be reports done on scripts that aren’t so polished. Offer to do some for writer contacts in exchange for feedback on your feedback, or try doing a shadow report (@Bang2write gives you a great opportunity as part of her script reading courses to write a report on a provided script and she gives feedback on it).
GET ENDORSED – Being a script reader does not necessarily require any formal education – you don’t have to have done a degree at University or even a script reading course (though naturally they can help with your knowledge!) What really stands you in good stead is proof that you are willing to learn the craft, work hard and do a good job. By doing all of the above: learning; reading; watching; volunteering; DOING, you will be gaining skills and writing reports and getting valuable feedback and maybe even endorsements from it. Keep all of your positive feedback and testimonials. Display them at home to keep you motivated, and display them online when you are ready to start advertising your work availability.
NETWORK – What better way to kick start your learning and doing than by networking? Take every opportunity you can. A great place to do this is at London Screenwriters’ Festival. Check out 10 great reasons to go to the London Screenwriters’ Festival and use my special discount code: SOFLUID-16X to get a £23 discount!