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What is Script Coverage? Template & Example

Script coverage is a synopsis written by someone who has read a screenplay.  Coverage is generally accompanied by the reader’s thoughts and impressions and is usually written for an executive, a producer, an agent, or a manager.  Because these people have many scripts to read and not enough time to read all of them, they will often either hire an outside person or ask their assistant to read and cover a script.  Coverage is, in some senses, a screening process.

A script lands in different offices for different reasons.  If it is going to a producer, they are likely evaluating whether or not your script is something they would like to spend time and money to turn into a film.  If it is going to the agent or manager of an actor, they are likely evaluating whether or not their client would be wise to star in your film.  If it is going to a literary agent or manager as an example of your writing for potential representation, they are evaluating whether or not you show promise as a writer.

When coverage is being written, the person covering the script is reading the script overall, but is primarily taking into account which point of evaluation they are operating under.  So, while the synopsis section of a script will generally be similar office by office, the notes section, which includes the reader’s thoughts and impressions, might change case by case.

The format of the notes section of script coverage varies depending on who has requested the coverage.  Some offices have a grading system for a script, while others prefer more open-ended rhetoric from a reader.  By and large, all coverage will include a synopsis. In the template we’ve included below we’ve included extra information that an independent production company might be sensitive to such as “number of locations” or “number of actors”.

It’s important for writers to understand script coverage for several reasons.  First, a writer must know that should his or her script land at the office of a producer, agent, or manager, their script is likely to be covered by someone other than the executive it is intended for – especially if the writer is a young writer.  This is not necessarily a bad thing!  Assistants are very intelligent people, many of whom have just come out of school with a film-related degree.  Assistants have less personal stake in the production company or in the careers of their bosses’ clients, and it’s possible they might be less partial than the actual executive.

Writers should also be familiar with script coverage because it can be a great side job or part of a larger job for a writer.  As a screenwriter, you are familiar with screenplay structure – what makes a great story, a great character, a great potential film.  Coverage can be a great way to employ those skills you have and earn some money for your expertise while you are working on your screenplay!

Below you’ll find a sample script coverage template. Feel free to use it or change it to fit your own needs.

SCRIPT COVERAGE TEMPLATE

Title of Film:

Author(s):

File Number:

Script Registration Number:

Date:

Page Length:

Genre:

Number of Locations:

Type of Locations:

Number of  Actors:

Number of Principle Actors:

Number of Extras Required:

Estimated Budget:

Submitted To:

Read By:

MPAA Rating:

 

 

Logline:

 

  Great Good Fair N/A
Concept        
The screenplay is original and unique        
         
Plot / Storyline        
The story has a clear “hook”        
Strong sense of pacing (frequency & spacing of events)        
         
Characters        
Protagonist has clearly defined internal / external goals        
Strong antagonistic force pushing against protagonist        
Protagonist is worth investing 90 minutes of your time in        
Protagonist has a clearly defined character arc (change)        
Supporting characters add value to the story        
Protagonist is 3 dimensional and flawed        
Characters have different ideologies / beliefs        
Characters have well developed back-stories        
Antagonist has clearly defined objectives / motivation        
         
Dialogue        
Each character has their own unique voice        
         
Structure        
Subplots are integrated into the main plot        
The setup clearly establishes the film’s tone and purpose        
Every scene is relevant  / supports the plot        
Scene transitions are suitable        
The climax of the film is worth waiting for        
The inciting incident is strong enough to drive the plot        
There is dramatic building & releasing of tension        
Characters “arrive late and leave early”        
         
Cinematography / Visuals        
Visually engaging opening / starts on high note        
There are opportunities for visual flourishes        
         

 

PASS CONSIDER RECOMMEND / ACCEPT
     

 

 

Synopsis:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment Summary:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written for Lights Film School by Lauren S. McGrail


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2 Responses to What is Script Coverage? Template & Example

  1. Brian July 18, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Hey Lauren – Excellent primer on script coverage. You’re right. It’s absolutely a screening process. The coverage grid you provide is super-detailed and gives me some ideas on how to improve my own. Thanks for the article. Brian

  2. Gautham July 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    Thanks a lot for this. This template sample will serve as an evaluation sheet for my screenplay even before I contact some agents. Having said that, I’ll correct a few mistakes and enhance the script! This will be very helpful for all writers.

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