THE STUDIO READER
November 28th, 2023
by Harry Caul
Readers are motherless, scum sucking, bucktooth backward Ff#$%S… and they are the most important person you’re ever going to get your script in front of so you better be freaking nice to them. So in case one is reading this now, here’s the real beginning of this op-ed piece:
I love Readers! Yes they are the gatekeepers to the Promised Land and like it or not they do have power. But just how much? Well, I’m here to show you.
I got my hands on a classified document folks, the holy grail… An actual copy of a real STUDIO MEMO covering GUIDELINES for their READERS.*
What was the studio’s directive for the reader and how is this important to you? It is going to let you in on the secret that there are no secrets! Everything you've been told in the past is true. But still I know that some of you don't believe it. Seeing this Memo will be eye-opening for some of you.
First off, if you doubt that the reader is the true gate keeper, read the following from the Top Secret Memo:
Additionally, if you think a logline isn’t important read this:
Okay, yes, it’s the Memo telling the reader to write a good logline for the script they are evaluating but this is informative for you. It tells you how studio executives want their loglines and how readers must produce them. That means, this is how you better write or pitch yours. You use InkTip or another script handling service, how you list your script is vital! It starts with your logline. (For more on what makes a good logline listen to Hollywood Executive Christopher Lockhart at THE INSIDE PITCH.)
Also I have heard it said before to read TV Guide type loglines to get a sense for how to succinctly describe your script in 1-2 sentences. Grinding down your script into a couple lines (3 at the most in my opinion) is truly challenging.
What are studios looking for?
“Commercial material” and if they can occasionally find a good “kernel” of a story idea that is marketable. However, the last line is also important, your script can get a “PASS” but if the writing was good, the studio executives want to know that so they can keep the writer “in mind” for future assignments. This is important, you can write a good yarn and even if it isn't marketable, if the writing is good you can get noticed.
Spelling and grammar are also emphasized and hammered into these guys with regard to their coverage, so if your script is blatantly bad they will hammer you back. Shit rolls downhill…
And just so you know, there is a rate card in this Memo and it says that readers don’t get paid shit. They have to read a ton of scripts and write coverage for them to make a livable wage. So that’s why they are always grumpy and so willing to throw your script in the recycling… sorry showing my age, um, deleted the PDF... unless they were assigned to read it of course.
*Okay I lied this Memo isn’t Top Secret it’s on the Internet you can find it here.
About the Author
I am a professional screenwriter with some years of experience, but I'm gonna say some shit on here that might piss some people off so I am the Mystery Screenwriter.