Scott the Reader's blog is "Alligators in a Helicopter," which is a shout out to Josh Friedman's "Snakes on a Motherf***ing Plane." According to this post
about his job as a pro reader, they're still paying $50 a pop. Yikes. I think it was $40 back in 1987 when I was reading for Carolco. Might have been $45, even.
Reading scripts is not a bad job to have done because you read a lot of scripts. It's not a job you want to keep long, I feel. Since you don't work in the office, you don't make too many contacts. Since you don't work in an office, you don't see why some badly written scripts are worth making and other better written scripts are not. (I got fired for virulently punting a boring Horton Foote screenplay; Horton Foote won an Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird
and the script was intended as a Molly Ringwald project. It was still boring as digging post holes.) I'd say reading for more than 6 months is not helping your career; try to get at least an assistant job in an agency or development company or production company. On the other hand, better a job in showbiz than a job not in showbiz, so long as you have some time left over for your own work.
That seems to be the catch though.
Most assistant type jobs leave you no time for anything at all...I recently quit my personal assistant type gig, nothing quite as enjoyable as brushing your boss's dog's teeth twice a day,...I didn't even have time to watch TV with that gig..let alone write specs for TV.
8am to 9-10 pm every weekday with lots of shit to do over the weekend...no thanks
Now if it was a TV writer's assitant gig than I'd say thats different
Personally I decided to go for the reader route so I can focus on getting solid samples.
Plus you can take a nice one or two day a week internship if you want to score some extra contacts.
Doubt I'd want to be doing it for years and years but you can't beat $500 to $1000 bucks a week...and all the free time you want to write. It helps if you can read a script and write coverage in 2 hours, so if your a slow reader you might want to stick with brushing the dog's teeth.
Another good job in Hollywood for screenwriter wannabe's is working for an independent distributor. If you're good then you get to go to Cannes or AFM or Hong Kong and set up the booth. The good thing is that you see how films are sold or put together financing and marketing wise. Some films have come about because a buyer in the suite made an offhand suggestion. Six months later it's a completed feature ready to be sold.
I'd disagree, respectfully of course, with the contention that 6 mos is the max you should be a reader. I've been at it for a number of years (5 1/2? 6 1/2? I can't remember right now). I have not gone the assistant route because I don't want to be a producer or agent. I would say that were I to have been a reader full-time for those years I'd be way burnt out. But as a freelancer who also does other freelance jobs, I still think I learn from the job of reading, even after all this time. And I can still have time to write.
Any tips for wannabe TV writers to get an actual job in the industry that may lead to TV writing itself?
I've got a theory...write two amazing/mind blowing tv specs.
You can maintain any job while you write them.
And just a brief, shameless plug, to say I've finally added my own comments on this topic over at my blog! Better Nate than Lever!
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