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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Ratings System

Screen Scribe asked a good question apropos of my last post: does one know when a script is right or wrong, good or bad, well written or poorly drafted? Is it simply a matter of reading said script and coming to the realization or do you have guidelines that must be met in order to fill all of the required qualifications?

Readers judge scripts for PASS or CONSIDER based on ratings in five areas:

Premise: Is it original, compelling, entertaining?

Structure: Is it technically correct but more importantly, is it effective?

Storyline: Is the way the story is being told working for this story? How's the pacing? Was it confusing or muddled?

Character: Were the characters memorable and three-dimensional?

Dialogue: Was it organic sounding and well written?

After we fill out the grid with "fair" "good" or "excellent" for each element, we write about 1 1/2 pages of notes (depending on the prodco, some like more) and a synopsis. In our notes we say something (anything) nice then list the elements that are or are not working that justify the fact that this is a PASS or CONSIDER.

Then we write about one paragraph about each element and further backup our opinion with examples and comments. We don't say anything about how it could improve or be better, we just lay out why it's not working as a whole and/or why it won't work for this particular production company.

Obviously, notes for consulting clients dig much deeper into the how and why the script is troubled and seeks solutions. Writing coverage for production companies isn't that difficult because you don't have to put too much thought into it, you just look for certain qualities and rate them. Rarely - RARELY - have I ever really been on the fence about a PASS versus a CONSIDER. It's usually pretty obvious. And if the exec who reads my coverage simply doesn't get inspired by the logline, that's not my problem, I've already done my job.

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