Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Should I learn to write coverage by doing it for free?

Andrew asks via Twitter: Doing coverages for a producer offering critiques of my coverage in exchange; helping me to build a coverage portfolio. Good idea or sketchy?

I think it's a good idea - as long as you're not doing it for free forever. Anyone who writes coverage starts off doing it for free; I did it at two of my internships, and I also read plenty scripts and gave my agency boss quick verbal assessments without getting paid extra. (Official agency coverage is paid for.) As you're learning to write coverage and building your portfolio, this is necessary. The producer's critiques will help you improve your coverage and learn about what people look for in scripts.

However, keep in mind that the producer is getting a free service that s/he could be paying someone for. I don't think you should continue this arrangement for more than a few months; most interns work for a semester (Jan-May or August-Jan) - so that's about the amount of time I think is appropriate. After that, you should transition to being a paid reader, or move on to being a paid assistant (either at this company or somewhere else).

If you're a writer, you might also eventually want to ask the producer to read your script and give you feedback. After you've been working for free for this person for a couple months, I don't think this is asking too much. The producer might say no (or say yes and then never read it), but you don't really have anything to lose by asking.


Amos said...

Is there even a way to get paid reading gigs without doing it for free first? I learned to read at internships, and aside from the experience and education, most of the paid reading/development gigs I ever got came through the grapevine by people I interned for (usually assistants of producers for whom I was reading--assistants run the world).

Amanda said...

I don't think anyone would pay you to be a reader without seeing solid samples (why would your opinion be worth money if you have no experience?). Like you said - most people intern first.

DBNYC said...

Good article!