Bad Screenplays? - Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Q. You've said that reading bad screenplays can be even more instructive than reading good ones. Where do I find bad screenplays?
Good attitude!

It shouldn't be hard at all. Simply volunteer to read and do coverage for free for any company in showbiz. Most production companies and agencies are swamped with submissions. They have to pay $40 or so for coverage, or dump the scripts in the lap of some hapless assistant who's already working 12 hour days. I'm sure many companies would be delighted to have someone attack the slush pile. I'm not sure how many companies are getting electronic submissions, but it is a matter of a few moments to forward a script to someone.

And, now you're a development intern for a production company or agency.

If you can get a gig like this, you can ask to read the company's other coverages; and if they're doing coverage on the scripts you're reading, read those carefully -- bearing in mind that the reader doing coverage is often not much more experienced than you. (There are professional readers, but most companies, especially small production houses, can't afford them.)

If for some reason you can't get a production company to let you help them out for free, there's a website whose name escapes me (um, hive mind?) where people read each other's scripts and rate them. These will tend to be more amateurish than what's coming in to production companies and agencies, so I'd try to go with plan A. Prodcos have to wade through a lot of bad scripts, but these are usually professional even if uninspired.

If you have a writing group -- even one on the internet -- consider reading a flawed script every month and discussing it with your group. You'll hear critiques you may not have thought of, and you may come up with inspired fixes that will put another tool in your toolkit.

UPDATE: Author Unknown was kind enough to remind me that the website where you read other people's scripts is Zoetrope:
They have a peer review section for screenplays. I believe you have to review 4 that are assigned to you before you can have access to all the screenplays that are on the site at any given time. Fun fact: Michael Arndt posted Little Miss Sunshine up for review way back when.
UPDATE: Barkalounger says Trigger Street "also has a peer review section. Plenty of bad screenplays there, including mine."

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6 Comments:

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Author Unknown, at 9:34 AM  

http://www.zoetrope.com/

They have a peer review section for screenplays. I believe you have to review 4 that are assigned to you before you can have access to all the screenplays that are on the site at any given time. Fun fact: Michael Arndt posted Little Miss Sunshine up for review way back when.

By Blogger Author Unknown, at 9:35 AM  

I have just been offered a contract from Sherry Fine of the Screenplay Agency in New York. They want me to have it critiqued and mail that back with the contract. Have you ever heard of them? is this common practice? and I am trying to find David Sherman so he can do the critique for me, can you email me and let me know if you know how to reach him? karen.a.rooney@gmail.com

By Blogger Karen, at 9:45 AM  

www.triggerstreet.com also has a peer review section. Plenty of bad screenplays there, including mine.

By Blogger Barkalounger, at 10:21 AM  

Karen, the Screenplay Agency is a ripoff. Warren at the Screenwriting Life investigated this company last year using a fake name/script. Check out his posts before doing anything.

http://www.screenwritinglife.com/i-spy-for-the-scribosphere-part-1-of-3-danny-broderick-strikes

By Blogger Shawn, at 10:30 AM  

Crap, the link didn't post right. Just go to his main page and do a search for the Screenplay Agency.

http://www.screenwritinglife.com

By Blogger Shawn, at 10:33 AM  

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