Screenplay Coverage Explained...

Hollywood executives and agents are often too busy with other aspects of their schedule to read and evaluate each and every script that's submitted to them. So they hand the job of filtering the good from the bad to a reader with orders that only the best scripts get passed up the ladder. A reader can range from an intern to a freelance reader or story editor on call. That person generates notes on the script, sometimes referred to as a coverage report.

Coverage involves one or more of the following elements: The story is categorized into aspects of genre, location, period, etc. A brief one or two sentence description of the work - a logline - is formulated. A grading chart is applied to the work's major elements of plot, dialogue, characterization, etc. The entire story is synopsized - a retelling of the story covering the broad strokes in about a page or two. Comments are written. Depending on the experience level of the reader, those comments can go from a paragraph to several pages. And finally, a recommendation is made, often just "pass", "consider" or "recommend". Different companies vary the form, but those are the basics. If the executive likes what they see in the report then the development process continues with more in-depth notes and evaluations to decide if the script is something the company wants to pursue.

The coverage report is designed to help a studio, company or producer find what they're looking for. On that count, they are very particular. Companies that produce dramas look for dramas, producers looking for action want action, and so on. A script will get very different coverage based on the particular lean of the company or producer you submit your work to. Your research into whom you're submitting to is critical; you want the best match possible.

One thing a coverage is not designed to do is help the writer write a better screenplay. In fact, there is little chance the writer will ever see it. If the work is bad, the report is frank. In the big leagues there is no time to sugar coat or give lessons. It's certainly possible that a concept may be so original that a company will acquire a bad script in the hopes of making it better, but that's a rare exception and one not likely afforded to new writers. Have the best executed script going in and you improve your chances of being noticed.

This is where coverage from my service differs from the standard coverage a production entity provides and why I attach the ampersand to create a Coverage & Evaluation. It's a "coverage" to utilize the form and some of its helpful elements. Coverage is a good buzz word for the report and will give you a sense of how one might look generated from your script. It's an "evaluation" to help you, the writer, write a better screenplay. My notes are not genre specific; I evaluate based on what the script is, on its intent and genre.