It’s happening so often, I’m getting a little bit tired of it. As the UK’s busiest script writer for hire and script consultant I get lots of lots of daily emails enquiring about my services and my availability – as a scriptwriter for hire or as a script consultant – offering a wide range of services.
As a script consultant one of the services I offer is my hugely popular script reading and script coverage service (on the world wide web – at least in the UK – I rank highly on Google for this service – because it’s so popular…) on top of the normal enquiries that come in – I also, on an almost weekly basis now – get people contacting me – asking me to give them script report work! Most of these lovely people have no industry experience whatsoever and seem to have done a brief but expensive course on ‘script reading’.
Script reading courses
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to read scripts for a living, and there’s nothing wrong with doing a course on this – but I’d question, based on the sheer amount of people asking me for work – if there is ACTUALLY enough work for all these script readers out there? – I’d say there isn’t. You wanna know why? Read on…
Can you make money as a script reader?
In the UK industry (if you’re a rookie scriptwriter) – there is only one place to actually send scripts – and that is the BBC Writersroom – the BBC Writersroom readers, are the only people reading scripts full time in the UK. That’s it. The BBC Writersroom opens regular windows and can get 3,000 or so submissions each window. The rest of the UK film and TV industry, operate, an almost BLANKET – NO UNSOLICTED SUBMISSIONS POLICY – which means, no scripts are being read…
If you email a script to most UK production companies – and you’re not known to them as a pro writer / you don’t have an agent / or you haven’t worked with them previously as a pro scriptwriter – then the script and email will be bounced back for very sound legal reasons – if you post a script to a production company / film company or UK broadcaster (other than via the BBC Writersroom) the script will come back to you – unopened by return post – for the same very sound legal reasons.
Nobody is reading these submission (outside of the BBC Writersroom) so, there are very few full time script reading jobs in the industry (almost none at all).
There are websites like my website – that offer script coverage services. I’m a BAFTA shortlisted, Royal Television Society nominated scriptwriter with over 25 years’ professional experience – which is why people choose my service (I’m also a nice, honest person most of the time) – some script coverage websites offer anonymous script feedback – which is probably provided by someone who did a ‘script reading’ course with the same company – who farm the work out to them occasionally – these seem to be the folks who are emailing me.
Now, I won’t lie to you, there are occasions where I get 10-20 requests for script reports in per week (especially close to BBC Writersroom closing dates for submissions) and that means I cannot possibly do all those reports myself – espcially when I have a big script writing job in – so when this happens – the reports are sent out to other recognised professional scriptwriters with credits in TV and film and a long and often glittering career – these are scriptwriters I trust (and have often worked with on the same shows). I only pass on reports I can’t handle to people with a track record as scriptwriters – and the clients are introduced to these writers so, they can make up their own mind.
So, do I offer script reading work? Yes – but only to pro writers. Is there enough script reading work in the UK to make a full time living at it – maybe for one or two people – and they will be working for the BBC Writersroom.
Is a script reading course useful?
Should you take a course on script reading (these courses seem to be offered on an industrial scale)? I don’t know, potentially, it may be useful. Will you be able to make money as a script reader in the UK? As I said, the BBC Writersroom is the only place that gets a large amount of scripts on a regular basis (and actually reads them) so, unless you get one of the few positions as a reader there (less than a handful of jobs I would say) the answer has to be ‘no’.
You cannot make a living reading scripts in the UK
If you’re taking a script reading course to ‘make money’ or ‘earn a living as a script reader’ you might as well buy a few scratch cards instead… I hope this helps and dispels any myths.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer.
His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller ‘Markham’ was released in 2020, his second feature film as director ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’ hit the screen in 2021. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.