How to be a great script reader…

Script For some time now I have wanted to run a screenplay workshop.

When I run seminars or teach film makers, so many people I meet have great ideas which they have often turned into scripts. And I often get asked to read those scripts. It’s usually clear from the first few pages whether they have ever had any professional or rigorous feedback. I would say, seven times out of ten the script needs massive work. Sure the heart of the story is usually there, but you have to work hard to find it – and when you read a great script (and watch a great film), it all looks so effortless. I mean really effortless. It scares me just how good some people are at writing scripts!

And it also terrifies me that these guys, who are clearly passionate and dedicated to their vision, are going to rush to set without doing several more passes over the script. That’s why I asked Lucy, a good friend and professional script reader, to put this workshop together.

I get that feeling as much as the next writer. I want this draft to be the one. When I made ‘Gone Fishing’, I got lots of good feedback on Draft 1, but editor Eddie Hamilton (who has read more scripts than anyone I know, aside from Lucy), gave me the roughest of rides. And rightly so. That rough ride, no holds barred feedback continued through draft after draft, and all that work (which is documented in the online workshop) helped craft the script which landed us in the Oscars top ten shorts of the year! It really does make THAT much difference.

So Lucy put her thinking cap on and came up with this interactive workshop to help you make the most of your opportunities. Here’s what it says on the webpage…



DETAILS – £117 (inc VAT) and held at Ealing Studios on Saturday April 24th 2010. (discount ot £97 inc VAT for readers of my blog – yes that’s you – and Shooting People).

 Q – Why do many writers fail over and over?

A – Because they are not GREAT READERS! Sure they can write, but their work would be so much better if they could get inside the mind of the professional reader.

I know you are talented, well at least I hope you are 😉 I also know that you work damn hard too. Some people around you would even say that you work too hard. So if you are you not making the headway that you feel you should be making, why is that?

Of course there are many reasons, but one huge factor is that you just have not read and analysed enough scripts. I know from my own experience that after learning ‘how to better read and analyse a screenplay’, my own writing improved hugely. It also allowed me to give great feedback to my fellow writers too. There is so much to learn form other peoples work, and if you can do it well, and give structured and constructive feedback, that’s a valuable tool. You can also get paid to do it and turn it into an income stream to help you survive.

And so I invite you to learn the inside tips, tricks, techniques and lessons from Lucy V. Hay, script reader extraordinaire and veteran of 10,000 scripts… (and yes, she is still standing!)

This interactive and hands on workshop will help those who want to be readers, but also empower writers who want to understand and give incisive, constructive and powerful feedback on scripts. Here’s what it Covers:

  • What screen agencies and funding initiatives might expect of writers’ scripts
  • How personal prejudices CAN affect a script’s reception – without us knowing it
  • Knowing your boundaries – how to offer feedback to friends  and colleagues without falling out
  • How to use The Three Acts to ensure our structure doesn’t go awry
  • How Characters can jump off the page – and why so often they don’t
  • “The same… But different”: what does this mean to script readers?
  • Why a Writer’s Voice is so important
  • Dealing with bad feedback and knowing when to let go
  • First page workshop – participants are asked to bring a hard copy of a one page pitch document and FIRST PAGE ONLY of their screenplay (short, feature, TV pilot) for the workshop in the afternoon. We will be putting our new insights to the test!

“I really enjoyed the day… It has certainly inspired me. I didn’t come along with the intention of becoming a script-reader but rather – and maybe selfishly! – to get a much clearer idea as to what script readers look for and so to help me improve my writing and get that breakthrough!”
Penny Noble, Writer

“illuminating. I’ll definitely recommend it”
David Fisher, Writer

“I learnt loads… a valuable addition to the professional service you offer to the writing community.”
Paul Sharville, Writer

Here’s what Lucy says… ‘Script readers sometimes get a bad rap, especially on the net. But there’s no denying that there is a certain appeal for some: one of my most searched-for terms on my blog is “How To Be A Script Reader”.  As a freelancer, you can set your own hours, create time for your own writing and spend all your working life enmeshed within what you love the most: stories, all day, every day! And when you are reading, you are being PAID to learn!

What if you don’t want to be a Script Reader? This course is still for you. As writers, we’ve all had a report or feedback from a peer where we think that person who’s read our script *just doesn’t get it*. Sometimes we will be justified; others times it us who is wrong. But how can we know, with confidence, which is which? Understanding how Script Readers view scripts, what they are asked to comment on and how they do it is a great insight and a tool for taking our writing to the next level.’

Networking is encouraged at the class – please feel free to bring your business cards. It is our intention to foster an environment where a new writers group will emerge from the workshop.

As a writer, Lucy has worked in development w
ith a variety of independent production companies and has experience in writing for the viral, corporate market, including games and toys, text message alerts and virals.

THE SMALL PRINT: Bloggers and Tweeters are extremely welcome. And remember, course participants are asked to bring a hard copy of a one page pitch document and FIRST PAGE ONLY of their screenplay (short, feature, TV pilot) for the workshop in the afternoon. We will be putting our new insights to the test!

Follow Lucy on Twitter: or visit her blog @ www.lucyvee.blogspot.comfor lots of free articles on script reading and scriptwriting.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author


One Response to How to be a great script reader…

  1. ShortCinema March 14, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    This EXACTLY the kind of course I have been looking for. No. Seriously. I just recently bought two books on this very topic.

    My issue is that I am a director looking for a script and struggle to find the right vocabulary that will help develop a screenplay. I may get very excited by the story idea but don’t know how to tell a writer how to improve plot, structure, etc beacuse I am not a writer.

    I’m am bummed that the class is in London and not also online though I can see how a class like this would be better serve the particpant in person.

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