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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Someone on another site was asking how seriously to take reader criticism in a coverage.

My answer: as seriously as you take any other 22-year-old newbie's criticism. 'Cause that's who readers are. "Reader" is an entry level job. My first job in showbiz was as a reader.

A reader may nail a script's problems or he may not. I would spend about 2 1/2 hours per script reading, synopsizing and delivering my august opinion. I doubt other readers spent more. You're not getting paid much, and you're getting paid by the piece. Agency readers are often not getting paid anything at all to take scripts home and cover them.

About 15 years ago, the company I was with submitted a script to CAA. The CAA reader destroyed it. Just hated it. And said so.

Fortunately, we had a relationship with the agent, Marty Baum, where we could say, "Hey, Marty, do us a favor, just read the thing, wilya?"

He did. And loved it. And sent it to Richard Attenborough, who signed on to develop the project with us.

So... whose opinion would you trust? The 22-year-old CAA reader, or the Oscar-nominated director of Gandhi?

So if you get lousy coverage, take it seriously, as you take all criticism. Obviously the reader didn't love it, and that's not good. Figure out what went wrong in the read. But don't take it too hard. You can't expect a recent college graduate to have a subtle opinion. There's no "Hollywood," there are just people in the industry, most of whom want to be somewhere other than where they are.



You knew I'd be commenting on this, didn't you Alex? ;-)

I'll agree that you shouldn't take negative coverage TOO seriously, and that at agencies you are often correct about who the readers are. But I must disagree about the other characterization. I'm 34, have been reading scripts for 5+ years on a freelance basis, have 11 years industry experience, and an MA in Media Studies.

The two companies for whom I read the most are New Line and Walden Media, thugh there are plenty of others as well. I know many of the other readers at these companies too, and can honestly say that my background is pretty similar to theirs. Most have been readers for many years, and the reason we stay doing this rather than moving on to other jobs is that we're not looking to become producers (the Development track). Rather, we are writers ourselves, and this allows us the ability to do that, keep somewhat abreast of what's out there, and in fact helps our own writing by forcing us to think critically and pick scripts apart.

So while it is true that many readers at agencies, or with indie producers, may be 23 year olds, looking to move up the ladder, MANY are people who have been reading for a long time and know what they're doing. Clearly, with as many readers in this town as there are, you're going to encounter plenty of crappy ones. But there are also plenty who know what they're talking about!

By Blogger Fun Joel, at 10:34 PM  

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