Screenwriting : Coverage by Don Zorbas

Don Zorbas


Hi folks, when receiving coverage from various sources, do you think you should get them all one at a time? I.E. notes, change script and resend script out again for new notes or send your script all at one time to various coverage sources? Thanks.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

It would be ideal to get them all at once, but if you don't i's no biggie. If you agree with their feedback, then apply it to your work. If you're questioning something they said, then wait until you receive the other feedback to see if they said the same thing

Don Zorbas

Thank you. Also your opinion Jean , how many different scripts consultants should you go through?

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

Well, I think you should get free feedback first. Three to four different opinions would be ideal, but most people can only get two and that's fine. I say that because you should know what work needs to be done before you send it to a professional consultant. Then just send it to one consultant, BUT if they like your script make sure they can actually get your script into someone's hands that has some sort of credibility. I've heard Stage 32's Happy Writers is pretty good. I would try them out. Hope that helps.

Pierre Langenegger

I agree with Jean-Pierre about getting as many free reviews as you can. only I'd be more inclined to go for a minimum of six reviews, even though it can be hard to do that. The more reviews you have, the easier it is to see a general trend of opinion.

Don Zorbas

Thanks guys I really appreciate your thoughts.

Alex Sarris

Why change the script to suit the coverage especially considering they may not be correct in what they tell you. If you got 2 or 3 done at the same time and they all mention the same, then I would go with the majority. Good luck.

F Wheeler

If you're paying for it, only send it to one at a time. That way you can write a new draft before you send it out again. Sure, you won't like what they say. Some people ignore everything and send it out again unchanged. but what's the point in that? In my experience, it's better to accept that you aren't perfect, and that the story you're trying to tell can be communicated more astutely. If you read any early draft of any film you love, you'll see that it was far from perfect early on. I wouldn't ask people who know you to give feedback... unless they've worked at one of the top studios for a decade. Feedback isn't about nursing your ego, it's about finding someone who has the knowledge and experience to point out your spec's holes and inconsistencies, and being professional enough to accept their take. Personally, I think it's better to pay for one good quality assessment than offer ten people a bit of money to give you feedback. But, each to their own.

David Levy

I have a script I am planning on submitting for coverage through the HW. I had 4 people read my script for free and they provided well thought out notes. I tried to get more people but no one else had time. Even though they all thought it was a well written script, each one had similiar notes. Those were the notes I focused on to tighten up my script. Once I had those notes, I viewed my script from the point of view of their notes. Even though my story is clear to me someone reading it may not see what I see. The notes helped me clear up plot confusion to tell a better story. Remeber, notes are subjective so the more you have, the betetr you can compare them to know what areas you really should focus on.

Leontien Parlevliet

I think that most production companies only read a part of the script. I´ve noticed that when a producer advised me to write a story line of each character to introduce their personal problem although their problems were beside the point . He had not read the part leading to the climax. In that way notes are not useful.

Patrick Freeman

Someone once said, if you get 10 editors in a room you'll get 12 opinions. That can also be applied to coverage. Just because a reader makes certain comments or suggestions about your script doesn't mean that taking his advice is the right thing to do. Imagine this scenario. Your first coverage comes back with notes. You follow this person's suggestions an rewrite your script. Send it out again and the second reader doesn't like the rewrite - not knowing that it's not your original idea. This reader suggests something more like what you had originally written. So you try to change it back but now it's not quite as good as it once was. Send it to a third reader and start the process all over again. Coverage readers are not screenwriters. If they were making a living writing they wouldn't have time to read your script. They do coverage because they can't (or haven't yet been able to) make it as a writer. So don't think you have to take everything as written in stone.

Alex Sarris

A much cheaper option is hook up with a few talented screenwriting friends and help each other out. I have a group of talented individuals that I trust.

Pierre Langenegger

Likewise, Alex.

CJ Walley

As Patrick says, beware the perils of subjectivity. Sourcing quantitative feedback is one thing, but ideally you want it to come from readers who are likely to engage with your material and see what you are trying to do. When it comes to peer feedback and some low rate notes services, the issue is further compounded by a lack of craft knowledge. While any form of feedback is generally useful, someone pointing out their views on formating rules and what they personally found to be implausible may be of little real use. So, when it comes to paid coverage or notes, try to find a consultant with a lot of actual craft knowledge who also aligns with your material. When it comes to peer reviews, consider everything you get back, but really focus on those people who have engaged with the script and are genuinely invested in seeing it improve. Beware anybody who approaches you with the attitude of wanting to tell you what's wrong with it or how to fix it. If you can get it all at once I'd go for that. It will give you the opportunity to take some time out and distance yourself from what you've written, this will help you see the feedback in a more objective light. Something I always recommend doing is taking all the feedback and combining it into bullet points with scores next to each showing which issues where the most commonly brought up. But again, always consider where it's come from.

Don Zorbas

Thank you folks, I really appreciate the feedback.

Adam McCulloch

I tend to stagger the feedback. That way I can work on the suggestions before sending it out again. Writer's group is good idea too.

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