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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›   How do script readers score your script?... Moderators: George Willson
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Angry Bear
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 11:23am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw

These are the people who read your scripts and give them a score. That score ends up as a pass, consider or recommend and everyone uses script readers, be that in a competition or if you submit to a production studio. They are the first line of gatekeepers, the people who read your script first.


Interesting. I just read an article at BlueCat and part of it said this. I tend to agree with this. Us writers often think our scripts are gold, but...  

The most common question I get asked is how do I get my work to the industry. Listen, this is the greatest power a writer has. A writer can make anyone in the industry do anything with what they write. Itís that simple. If you write something amazing, everyone will line up to produce it and work with you. I have personally had this happen more than once and all professional writers had the same experience: they wrote something and what they wrote forced people around them to do what they want. Get signed by an agent, get paid for a script, get hired on a writing staff, get producedóĖall of it comes from what you write. You have all the power in Hollywood. If you write something special, you can make anyone in town say yes. Itís that simple.
Why donít we remember this? Why do we think there are mysterious forces keeping us from unlocking the gates? You are the gate keeper. You own the gates with what you write. Yes, you do have the power to not write, to resent feedback, to blame Hollywood for being unfair. But the greatest power you have is what you love to doó-write an incredible story. Writing fantastic, original, dramatic, hilarious stories is our dream and if we follow this dream, we create the freedom to do what weíve always wanted to do, and our audiences wait for us to do our jobs.
So letís remember our charge and get to work.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 12:07pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw


I don't think you quite grasp this. These are the people who read your scripts and give them a score. That score ends up as a pass, consider or recommend and everyone uses script readers, be that in a competition or if you submit to a production studio. They are the first line of gatekeepers, the people who read your script first and this dataset suggests a trend for how they all currently score.


But all of the info is on un-produced scripts that have been entered into festivals.

IE the entire analysis is based upon their opinion of amateur stuff.

Perhaps the scores would be the same based entirely on the best scripts in Hollywood, but that's impossible to say.

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ReneC
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 12:08pm Report to Moderator
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What is the point of this analysis? It's a fun exercise at best. It's dangerously misleading at worst.

The nine summarized conclusions aren't anything earth-shattering, they're the same advice you'd get here on the forums or from any of a thousand articles.

The report draws conclusions and pretends it has the answers to getting a good rating, and that's a dead-end road, especially when so many of the conclusions are questionable. Even worse, the report actually suggests elements of a screenplay are not important, or don't factor into the ultimate decision of the reader. That's beyond misleading.

Even if you gloss over the fact that every point of data in this analysis comes from a single source (Screencraft) and assume that all readers are equal to a Screencraft reader, the absolute most this information can do for a writer is to give them the confidence to hit that submit button, and I'm being generous. What happens after that is anybody's guess and can't be gamed.

Reading is subjective, but it goes beyond that. If you submit to a screenwriting competition, some of them don't use professional readers. They won't necessarily fall within these "bespoke algorithms." They also have a job to do, which is to narrow down the field of scripts. The problem is, they're not simply rating each script against a rubric, they're rating it against every other script they've rated so far. It's a competition, the bar keeps getting raised.

If it's a studio you're submitting to, you could nail every point, get everything right, and still end up with a pass because your script doesn't fit into that studio's production slate. All the writer will see is the rejection letter, and where are these precious data then?

Seriously, what is the point of analyzing the screenwriting software used? Who cares?

Where the cracks of this report would show is in the outliers. I bet some of those outliers would directly contradict the conclusions.

The sort of "advice" presented in this report makes me angry. The only positive thing I have to say about the report is that it's free, so it falls short of actually preying on screenwriters. That doesn't make it right, but if you're interested in the data, knock yourself out. Just go into it with your eyes wide open knowing it isn't going to help you in any way and could do more harm than good.

If you want to go through the trouble of the analysis, do the work, present the data without bias, and let the reader draw their own conclusions. And if you're a writer, just write and don't worry about all this smoke and mirrors.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 1:56pm Report to Moderator
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I agree, Rene

There are a lot of strange things in there:

1. Structure being relatively unimportant, for instance: Take the best script ever written and cut and paste sections at random...see how unimportant it is then.

It also contradicts what they said about fantasy:

rise=fall-rise structure=success.

rags to riches= fail.

They call it an arc, but it's still structure.

Choosing the wrong structure leads to instant fail in their eyes, in that genre at least.


2. The correlation between negative films being reviewed highly. Negative films tend to bomb at the box office. The only exception to this rule is negative films with a high vein of comedy, eg Trainspotting, or outright Horror. So what they like and what Producers/Investors like are at odds with each other.

It doesn't take into account Market. Who are you trying to sell it to? A negative drama is no use for the Syfy channel, and your naff, positive Christmas story is a damn sight more use to you if you're trying to get a distribution deal on a Christmas tv channel.


3. It's assuming that all the 12000 scripts were equally well written and that the difference in score was solely down to screenreader preference.

That can't possibly be ascertained from the info. These are amateur writers. The positive stories might have been poor, the negative ones good. It is, in truth, a LOT easier to write a negative story. Pick a brutal topic and it's hard to go wrong.

All we can say that out of 12000 amateur scripts, one group of scriptreaders thought that, out of the stories they were presented with,  the negative stories with good characterisation were the best of the bunch.
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eldave1
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 2:05pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw
So the report is out - https://stephenfollows.com/analysis-of-12309-feature-film-script-reports/

It is a hefty report but worth checking out. The highlights are that overall, format is the least important aspect of the script and characterisation the most important. Those stats do alter slightly if you go into specific genres. For example in Horror, Plot is less important than in sci-fi, which makes sense.

Another aspect of interest is Voice. Voice is very important but looking at the data, scripts tend to get a higher Voice score if profanity is used. It's as if they go, "Yeah, Tarintino swears a lot and he's got a distinctive voice! and score higher. So fuck yeah!


Some interesting stuff there. Will certainly delve into deeper later. Off the top:

The profanity preference thing surprised me.

Animation being near the top in terms of genre preference surprised me more

(Got to start working on that profanity laced animation script).

Not surprising that format issues were almost irrelevant.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: January 29th, 2019, 8:45pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Quoted from eldave1


Some interesting stuff there. Will certainly delve into deeper later. Off the top:

The profanity preference thing surprised me.

Animation being near the top in terms of genre preference surprised me more

(Got to start working on that profanity laced animation script).

Not surprising that format issues were almost irrelevant.



I'm not surprised either. Format issues are the dregs of a script.

Story is what counts and readers can spot it.

Like Pia said, writers tend to look for that "mysterious thing" that will give their work a lift, but really it comes down to the writers themselves.

Are they bringing it to the table? If the reader cries, the writer has made magic. If the reader laughs, the writer has made magic.

When writers connect with that "aether", they evolve into something different. What? I don't know, but any writer who luckily finds themselves in that Zone is both relieved and excited.

Sandra




A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 4:44am Report to Moderator
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Getting angry about how script readers are scoring scripts isnít productive.  By all means, ignore it and carry on writing the way you want to write. Iím certainly not altering anything in my scripts based on this report. This is shared for information only. What I take from this is if my script gets a pass from one contest, itís not the end of the world. Itís not that my script is necessarily bad, just that the script reader didnít score it high enough in that particular attempt, so Iíll shake it off and try again. I now know how they score though, and that brings me a degree of understanding that I didnít possess before.

If I dismiss so much data as ridiculous I would be denying the reality based just on my own personal opinion. Iíd really have to carry out as much research as this guy had before I could challenge the results.

Sure, top professional writers who send scripts direct to top Hollywood producers and directors theyíve worked with before Ė this doesnít apply as they bypass script readers. I think most of us are not in this position though. It is worth noting in the report itself it does mention this:

"The vast majority of these scripts will not have been produced into movies yet and a large number of the screenwriters will still be at entry level, rather than professional writers. That said, within the dataset are scripts which have won awards, been optioned by established producers and been written by writing professionals and Hollywood stars."

Sure, if you write the most amazing script ever, you may change the hearts and minds of everyone who reads it. In reality, though, most scripts will land on the desk of a bored, tired script reader (with a headache) first.

And yes, you may get rejected from a production company due to their slate being full. But if a script reader has given you a recommend or consider, it then goes up the chain. Your script gets read by a junior exec in that company, you may get placed on the consider pile for when gaps appear in the slate, your name becomes wider known. Itís the beginning of a relationship that may lead to other things.

Just saying.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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FrankM
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 10:36am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
3. It's assuming that all the 12000 scripts were equally well written and that the difference in score was solely down to screenreader preference.


Actually a naive analysis only requires that writers' structure/content decisions are made independently of their ability to actually execute those things (actually not a terrible assumption if all the entrants are rank amateurs) and that within a category scripts were randomly assigned to readers (also not a terrible assumption).

But it's eliciting the preferences of a specific set of readers working off the rubric for a specific contest program. (A rubric that applies terminology a bit differently than most would expect.) Getting comparable data across a representative sample of contests and production houses would be ridiculously difficult.

An organization that wanted to do this properly would need to get the original submissions from a bunch of places along with metadata (genre, length, etc.) and the least-common-denominator of scoring (normalized measure of how far one got in the competition), and do their own independent assessment of how each script scored on a set of consistent criteria.

Could this be done? Sure, apparently readers can be contracted for $20-$50 per script, and entrants typically sign away the rights for contest organizations to evaluate the scripts. Add in some extra for the researcher/statistician staff as well.

Would this be done? To whom is this effort worth seven figures? WGA might be able to raise that kind of money, but would it really be in the best interest of their members?

It's better to take a flawed analysis that actually happened, keeping its limitations in mind, rather than yelling at the sky about how an ideal analysis would have been so much better.


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eldave1
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 11:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Sandra Elstree.


I'm not surprised either. Format issues are the dregs of a script.

Story is what counts and readers can spot it.

Like Pia said, writers tend to look for that "mysterious thing" that will give their work a lift, but really it comes down to the writers themselves.

Are they bringing it to the table? If the reader cries, the writer has made magic. If the reader laughs, the writer has made magic.

When writers connect with that "aether", they evolve into something different. What? I don't know, but any writer who luckily finds themselves in that Zone is both relieved and excited.

Sandra



Well said.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 11:38am Report to Moderator
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If you think this has some value, knock yourself out.
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eldave1
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 1:35pm Report to Moderator
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Got through most of it. There were some silly things and some interesting things, IMO.  

Example of silly thing - concluding that rushed submittals result in lower scores since those submitted nearest the deadline scored worse.  Obviously - submitting close to the deadline could be the polar opposite - one waited as long as possible in order to fine tune.

Some Interesting things.

- Curse words were popular - the filthier the better. I would have never had considered this.

- In almost every genre, originality was not deemed important. I would have thought the inverse would be true.  Could be old ideas well executed are just fine.

- Readers don't care about parenthetical s (always suspected that).

etc.

Not sure what it all means in it's entirety but there was some food for thought as well as some stuff to discard.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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It's as simple as the fact there's no correlation between originality and quality of a script.

It's the same as with the concept.


You can have an original idea, but if you write it poorly, then it's not a good script.


For instance REC: Zero originality (standard zombie film) but one of the best horrors ever made.

Whilst you have this list of original ideas that were poorly executed (not my pick of films, but it's just an example)

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls079741680/
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eldave1
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 2:13pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
It's as simple as the fact there's no correlation between originality and quality of a script.

It's the same as with the concept.


You can have an original idea, but if you write it poorly, then it's not a good script.


For instance REC: Zero originality (standard zombie film) but one of the best horrors ever made.

Whilst you have this list of original ideas that were poorly executed (not my pick of films, but it's just an example)

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls079741680/


Yeah - I get the obvious inverse - poor writing is poor writing regardless of originality. What kind of surprised me was that originality had no relevance to highly scored scripts. I would have expected both - original and well written.

That is a sad list of films


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 30th, 2019, 4:10pm Report to Moderator
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I don't know really.

They are probably harder to write, generally speaking.

I suppose it's bound to be less than other categories because you can have a good story that's unoriginal and a good story that's original...but you almost definitely need a good plot and characters in both scripts...so there's bound to be a bias in favour of other measures.

I think...Although that's related to the same point I made earlier.

Let's try it from another angle:

You can have a relatively good story with only plot (Harry Potter).
You can have a relatively good story with only characterisation (Richard Linklater films)
You can never have a good story with only originality, or theme, or concept....they are added extras.


It's also heavily dependant on how you define originality, I suppose.
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FrankM
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Quoted from eldave1
(Got to start working on that profanity laced animation script).


Profanity-laced family scripts for the win.


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