How to Become a Hollywood Script Reader

When I worked at a studio, weekends were not much fun.

Sure I might have looked forward to sitting by a pool somewhere in LA - but I knew there'd be reams of paper beside me threatening to blow into the water.

Saturdays came to mean hours of drudgery - not A-list parties.

And Sundays were often tinged with a dread that "good students" may remember from grade school - when unfinished homework and the clock start talking to each other about what an asshole you are...

So instead of leaping into my convertible and tossing the valet a 5 spot as the sun set on Fridays - you would usually find me trudging through the parking structure with sweat staining my shirt from the exertion of carrying an impossibly heavy canvas bag (sometimes two) filled with scripts.

That's because my job (like many film execs in LA, even those who weren't  hired as a script readers) included reading scripts.

To do my job, I had to know what the agencies were "going out with"  - to see if there was a role for the big-name actor I worked for - and to talk knowledgeably to my betters about the hot writers and projects.

I knew I was paid way too much to sit in that office all week in Century City. But I also came to suspect that I was being paid not nearly enough to wade through a dozen mostly awful scripts each weekend.

Because I never found any scripts that impressed my bosses in the Monday morning meetings where the "weekend read" was discussed (and, yes, for lots of other reasons too) I didn't last in the studio system.

Still it might surprise (delight?) some readers of this blog (you must like reading, right?) that there are actually good jobs at the studios for people who just read scripts.  Well, actually, they read scripts and write coverage - which includes authoring a good summary of the plot, roles, genre, etc. and a recommendation about whether or not the script should be given further consideration.

Wanna know more? An anonymous March 18th, 2013 post to medape.com does a great job of describing the Hollywood script reader position (both union and non-union) and how to get one.

Having worked in that environment, I recognize that the anonymous author has really worked as a professional script reader. In fact, her (his?) impulse toward very specific and helpful info would make her (or him?) a valuable part of any studio or agency's team.  How valuable?  Here's what the medape post says about money:

"Salary Range: $40 to $60 per script (nonunion); $27.89 to $33.52 per hour (Editors Guild Members)"

Which begs the question: What's the Editors Guild doing taking on script readers as members?

"The Story Analysts Local 854 merged with Editors Guild Local 700 (http://www.editorsguild.com), part of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). It is now called the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700."

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