Saturday, May 4, 2013

Do script readers use the "fan" test?

Erica asked via Twitter:

The physical act of "fanning" is falling by the wayside, since many of us now read scripts on screens instead of on paper. (My ability to perfectly "spine" a script - write the title on the side with a sharpie - is also obsolete.) But do script readers make immediate first impressions when we open a script? Sure.

Professional readers can't "toss" a script that gives a bad first impression; we're required to read the entire thing and write a synopsis and comments. However, a script with an unorthodox title page, a super long page count and/or obvious formatting mistakes does make me think that I'm probably in for an arduous day. Try to make your script appear as professional as possible; please don't give us a bad impression before we even start reading! Another thing to think about: why should we take a script seriously if it's clear the writer doesn't? So much information about screenwriting is available on the internet - Google is your friend!

One mistake is certainly not a reason to pass on a script - but in my experience, scripts with multiple superficial mistakes often have bigger deficiencies, too.

The book Erica's talking about is The Hollywood Standard, which I own and have found to be a helpful guide, especially for unusual situations (intercut flashback montages, anyone?). The best way to learn script format, though, is to read as many professional scripts as you can (see "download scripts" on the right side of this page).

1 comment:

Bonnie Sheeren said...

Hi Amanda!

I sent you an email, but I also wanted to post a comment to get feedback from you and others.

The Austin film festival allows both paper and electronic submissions.

Do you think (or any readers who have an opinion about this) that the reader's experience is different seeing it on paper v. seeing it on a screen?

Thanks for your help with this!