How can I get my screenplay reviewed fast?
Pro Tip: Start with a logline
Networking: that one golden word that will apparently give you your big break in Hollywood. It’s quite normal for blooming screenwriters to struggle with making it in the big leagues- especially those that don’t have their own internal contacts. Whether you’ve attended film festivals or have been a part of writer’s groups, or have found any and all opportunities to connect with someone related to film and TV, it’s still a long drawn out process- an investment of sorts. Finding a script reader is a challenge of it’s own.
Once you’ve infiltrated the network of filmmakers, you could get an opportunity to send them your script.
You send them the email. You keep refreshing every few hours just to make sure that you’re not missing a reply. But all you get is silence. “Did they ghost me??” you think, as you millennials would.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a fast screenplay review when it comes to the big leagues.
1. It’s actually an investment of their time.
You hear back every once in a while that they haven’t had time to get back to you- don’t take that personally! If someone is serious about giving you feedback, they won’t be skimming it over lunch, they’ll want to really invest their time in experiencing your story.
And it’s not just about them reading it to enjoy it, they’re also analyzing what’s working and what’s not working for them as an expert.
For you, someone familiar with the story (duh, you wrote it), it might take 30-45 minutes to read it over. For someone who is introduced to your world and has to familiarize themselves with your characters and really understand what’s happening, it might take 2 hours!
They will be reading it over (maybe multiple times!) make notes and organize them to give you feedback. We’re looking at 5 hours, from someone who really cares about giving you productive advice. It’s better to find someone who you have a good enough relationship with to do this for you, but even if it’s an industry expert you really look up to, don’t be worried if they’re taking their time.
2. Busy busy busy!
We just talked about 5 hours of someone’s day dedicated to helping you on your script, that’s a bit of work! You have to accept that Hollywood experts need to prioritize their work and potential collaborations before they move on to script they read for friends and peers.
5 hours or even 2 hours is a lot to take from someone who is otherwise swamped with work, round the clock- you know the drill with Hollywood and the film industry.
You may think to yourself “How long can it possibly take someone to table read my screenplay?”
Whether it’s asking expert screenplay editors who are juggling their own projects, agents and managers who are dealing with clients who are already making the money or directors and actors who are super booked throughout the year and have crazy schedules, you’ll have to wait a long time to get their attention.
3. Priorities?? But I’m important!
There’s a whole pile of screenplays in front of your contact, he’s sitting there wondering how he got himself in this situation.
He’s exhausted after a long day being on set, and he’s finally come home to do a bit of reading for his friends. He flips through the different stories, thinking about which one stands out to him the most in his exhausted state. He is particularly engaged with a story (not yours), he decides to put it at the top of the stack. Yours is somewhere in the middle, now we’re unsure of when he will be in a peaceful state of mind to enjoy your project.
How did it get there? Why was it prioritized? Your logline needs to be engaging and have a compelling concept. Do you research about whether your screenplay is something that particular reader is looking to work on. Reach out to relevant people- you can’t send a chick-flick romantic love story to a director known for making horror films- it just might not be his area of expertise, his interest or something he’s planning on working on. This is especially important if you’ve send your screenplay to an agent or producer who could open up an opportunity for you.
4. Where did it go?!
You might think that agent/producer has disappeared or is taking his sweet sweet time to get back to you, but you never know what’s happening behind closed doors. Your script could have made it to the top of the pile- great. But even better, your script could have been recommended to a higher executive and be in consideration for an actual production!
Imagine the amount of time it takes one person to go through your script (critically), the next steps might be even more difficult because the higher up your script goes, the more important and busy the people are. If a hot shot producer just got a hold of your script, it might be a while before he gets a chance to read it, maybe he’s managing multiple productions before having the energy to go on to the next one, maybe he’s looking for a different genre, you never know!
I don’t mean to get your hopes high if you’ve been waiting for 6 months, no, your script is probably not being used for a movie in a production at the moment while you’re left in the dark, but part of the waiting process is knowing how the industry works.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is a protip: Make sure your project has gone through screenplay proofreading before submitting it- you want to make sure there are no obstacles in the way and no excuse the contact has for delaying the review!