How do you get a gig as a script reader?

Poor Bookhouse. Dude just moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting. Looking for advice on how to land a job doing script coverage, he asked the readers of AskMetafilter. Their advice? In a nutshell: “don’t do it.”

“Script reading is draining work which may make you turn against writing,” writes Sharkfu, adding that if Bookhouse still wants to pursue, he suggests starting off as an unpaid intern at a production company (which, by the way, is illegal unless you’re receiving college credit). Another commenter points out that script reading is not a path to a paid writing gig.

Disregarding the negative nellies at Metafilter, however correct, there are still benefits for a budding screenwriter to work as a reader:

  • You’ll make contacts in development, from executives to other readers, which will be a huge advantage if you ever have a script that you actually want read.
  • You’llĀ  learn what keeps script readers interested and gain good coverage. It’ll only take a handful of scripts to learn this, though.
  • Arguably, being paid to read scripts is a much better gig than waiting tables.

But as for the original question, I turn to our readers here: How would a fresh Los Angeles resident, without any contacts, pursue a position doing script coverage?

8 Replies to “How do you get a gig as a script reader?”

  1. I don’t have an answer to the main question (I got my job as a script reader by sleeping with the Director of Development) but I must say that while it is a terrible job with appalling pay, the more scripts you read, the better a script you can write. So I do think it’s a good job for an aspiring writer, but only if they internalize it–but not too much–rather than expecting it to open doors.

  2. Hmmm…This is how the people I know who did coverage or ended up in development.
    1.) Craigslist. Unfortunately, the not the film gig section you’re thinking.
    2.) Being the child of somebody successful/famous.
    3.) Dad runs the studio
    4.) Stalked the head of development and blew him in the back seat of his car. (Disclaimer: This person’s name is not Annika Barranti)
    5.) Gave a handjob to the VP of Production on a Southwest flight.

    That’s right kids, welcome to the glamorous film biz.

  3. I refuse to give out handjobs for a career in script reading. Lol. If you happen to be a writer and need some exposure, start a blog, offer decent content then literally go out and tell everyone about it. Also, open an imdb pro account and post to the message boards, you’ll be surprised how many producers and agents look for projects through that site.

  4. There are a couple of realistic ways to become a script reader that don’t involve sexual favors.

    First, you can take an internship at a production company. It is illegal to do this without getting school credit, but there are ways around it. You can just ask each company if they are willing to risk it, some still are. Also, if you are a California resident, it doesn’t cost much per credit at Santa Monica Comunity College, and they were willing to set up a program for me. To be honest, they gave me the school credit slip right off the bat, so I never bothered to pay for the credits. The signed slip from Santa Monica CC is enough to cover the production company from getting in trouble.

    The other way to get a job is to do a couple of great sample coverages, get a Hollywood Creative Directory and start calling every production company in there offering your services. CAA hires a ton of readers, but you will probably need someone to recommend you for that.

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