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jscoggins 12-10-2012 09:29 PM

Re: Spec Scout
Margie asked: "Just to be 100% clear, is this the exact same system you use to rate all the scripts you have on your site (whether it's a black list script or it's coverage purchased by an unknown, unrepped writer)?"

Yes, exactly. That was the essential concept when we first got started: What if there was a standard scoring system for ALL screenplays, and you could compare aspiring writers' material with the stuff that goes into the spec market every year?

Once we figured out the scoring system, we started working on getting coverage for the spec market scripts and putting them into our system so people could decide for themselves whether the system worked by comparing our scores with their own estimations of a given script's quality. Not for nothing, but it definitely passes the sniff test for every script I've read.

jscoggins 12-10-2012 09:41 PM

Re: Spec Scout
8bit asked: Is there a way for writers whose scripts have gone out to see if/what they were scored?...I checked out the site a few days ago and my script was on there with a grade, but now it looks like you only show the top ten. Since I never paid to submit, does that mean my script went through the whole three reader process to be graded, or is that just for paid coverages? Is there a way for one of these writers to see their notes, in this case?

Thanks for the pat on the back about the Scoggins Report, 8bit. It's a pleasure to do, and it's really gratifiying to know it remains a useful tool for you.

To your questions: Sorry about the hide-and-seek thing with your script -- we've been trying to get the right balance of free, useful information on the home page for non-subscribers vs keeping most of the high-value information for subscribers behind the pay wall, and at the moment it's only the top 10 from 2012. We may expand that back out a bit, but we'll see.

If you just want to know the Spec Scout Score of your script, email me -- we'll be happy to tell you. We don't provide access to coverage of the scripts we've done for free, but if your agent or manager has access to the Coverage Library they can sign up (if they're not already subscribed) and download it for you. And yes, it went through the entire three reader process.

Margie Kaptanoglu 12-11-2012 06:27 AM

Re: Spec Scout
Thanks again for the quick replies, Jason. And thanks for the Scoggins Report.

But you've created a quandary: Black List or Spec Scout? Aargh!

Black List costs almost the same to get set up: $25 for 1st month's hosting and $100 for two ratings (I believe two are essential to get you into the top lists).

Spec Scout is $150 for 3 ratings (lower than 3 ratings on the BL, since the hosting fee is forced). Listing is free IF you rate high enough.

Main differences:
1. You can pay to be hosted on the BL regardless of your ratings. Hosting on Spec Scout is rating-dependent.
2. It sounds like the Spec Scout coverage is more comprehensive and will be more useful in facilitating a rewrite. The BL coverage is not a guideline for rewrites.
3. Potentially the 3-reader system on Spec Scout will provide more even and consistent coverage than the 1-reader system on the BL. But it remains to be seen.

The Unknowns:
1. Would be great to see a sample coverage report from Spec Scout so we can judge how useful it is.
2. Need a sampling of writers who've tried Spec Scout to give their opinions on reader quality. Need to have read the rated scripts on the site so we can judge whether we think the ratings are fair/accurate.

- I do think when I'm ready for coverage on my next script, I may give this a whirl.

jscoggins 12-11-2012 09:18 AM

Re: Spec Scout
You're very welcome, Margie, and I think you've encapsulated the tradeoffs very concisely. I agree, it sort of comes down to the coverage -- if that would be valuable in and of itself, Spec Scout is probably the way to go, but if not, then Black List definitely is, if only because they've been around longer and have more traction than we do so far.

And you're absolutely right, we need to assemble a sample coverage and make it available for review so you know what you're getting. We've been sort of flooded over the past couple of days, but we'll prioritize this as soon as we can.

Happy Camper 12-11-2012 01:20 PM

Re: Spec Scout

Originally Posted by LIMAMA (Post 843584)
For $147 you get your script judgd by 3 if you need to be told your script sucks 3x.

I wrote about my 1 ratingon BlackList in another thread, but, gee, do you think there might be a math component here: 3 reads X 1 = 3? I'd love to climb as high as 3. (Yeah, yeah, in my dreams.)

SpecScout here I come!

Steven L. 12-12-2012 12:26 AM

Re: Spec Scout
It makes no sense that Duffield's MONSTER PROBLEMS is a 83.3, and his JANE GOT A GUN is a 40.

Why not post WHO the readers are and THEIR credentials. Everyone gets away with "Industry readers" as an anonymous blanket to fool aspiring writers. For all we know, it's a USC dropout who was a PA on a short film.

jscoggins 12-12-2012 12:28 AM

Re: Spec Scout
Whoa, Steven, thanks for pointing that out. You're totally right -- the Jane coverage was from quite a while ago and we've changed both the coverage rubric and the formula since then. On it now...

jscoggins 12-12-2012 01:00 AM

Re: Spec Scout
I've looked into the MONSTER PROBLEMS vs JANE GOT A GUN issue and it turns out the scores are actually good examples of the system working as designed. While I don't want to get super granular about how our formula works, one aspect is worth discussing here in some detail.

A key component of our scoring system converts the standard "Pass/Consider/Recommend" rating used by almost all coverages into a numerical value. As you might expect, scripts that get three Recommends score quite high, and scripts that get three Passes score quite low.

That's fairly logical and obvious, but here are the implications: To get a good score, at least one reader needs to consider it a Recommend (no pun intended). Scripts that have even one Pass from a reader end up with lesser scores.

That's as much as I am comfortable saying about the formula, but I'm happy to discuss it further in general terms.

Meanwhile, I've looked at the coverages for both scripts (I haven't read either script myself). While I may personally disagree with some of them (I'm not saying I do, I'm saying this stuff is inherently subjective), all but one completely justified their scores with their comments, and their comments are thoughtful and thorough and professional. That one outlier was written several months ago while we were fine tuning our system. I've deleted it and put the script back into the coverage queue.

Thanks again for bringing this to my attention, Steven, and for the opportunity to clarify.

LFGabel 12-12-2012 01:57 PM

Re: Spec Scout

Originally Posted by jscoggins (Post 843724)
We won't be disclosing our subscriber numbers for the foreseeable future, but they're all industry pros (agents, managers, directors, producers, executives, assistants to all of the former, and a few outliers). And yes, our subscribers all pay a small monthly fee for access (currently, $19/month).

Greetings Jason,

So industry professionals pay monthly to have access to the database, while a writer would only pay $147 once. Then the writer's data is held in your database, and highlighted if it's good enough? Correct?

I like this compared to the Black List. A writer shouldn't have to pay an ongoing monthly fee. Paying for reads, yes, but a monthly fee, no. It should be the industry professionals that pay for access. And If they pay for access, they see value in the information they're getting and may be more inclined to visit the site.

Some questions:

- If an industry professional is interested in an unrepped script, how do they get their hands on it? Is is hosted on your site for them?

- What if there are more than ten top scripts that have a score above 60? Number 11 and others are not highlighted. Will they ever be found or are the top ten lists I see on your website expanded for industry professionals to include all scripts within acceptable range?

- After submitting a script for coverage, does the writer have access to anything else?

Thanks Jason.

jscoggins 12-12-2012 08:08 PM

Re: Spec Scout
Hi, Lee. Thanks for the opportunity to keep clarifying what we're up to at Spec Scout.

Regarding your opening question, that's correct -- writers aren't allowed access to the coverage library in the first place, and they only pay the $147 coverage fee once. (That is, once per submission -- if a writer wants us to review a new draft of previously submitted script, we treat it like a brand new submission: Three new coverages, a new Spec Scout Score, the whole nine).

We actually keep all our script submissions in a separate database altogether from the main Spec Scout database. The ones we invite to be included in our coverage library get moved over into it, where they're highlighted in a couple of ways and promoted both separately from and together with the spec market material.

Here are answers to your follow-up questions:

If an industry professional is interested in an unrepped script, how do they get their hands on it? Is is hosted on your site for them?

For now, we're not allowing anyone to download any PDFs (unrepped or repped). We've made it easy for our subscribers to contact the agents/managers behind the projects or, if it's unrepped, to contact the writer directly. We have a form that allows them to be emailed and also to make phone numbers available.

That said, we're planning to make changes to this approach in our next round of development of the site. We'd love input from you and the rest of the DDP community: What do you think the best approach is, from the writers perspective?

Regardless, we'll be as transparent about what we're doing and why as I've been on this thread so far over the past couple of days. And of course, if we make changes to our policy that affects the writers whose material we've invited to be on Spec Scout, we'll let them know directly.

What if there are more than ten top scripts that have a score above 60? Number 11 and others are not highlighted. Will they ever be found or are the top ten lists I see on your website expanded for industry professionals to include all scripts within acceptable range?

The Top 10 lists are just teasers on the public-facing website (in front of the paywall). Once our subscribers log in, they can see ALL of the unrepped scripts we've added to the database. (That's true for the rest of the coverage library as well -- everything we have is available behind the paywall, not just top 10 lists. That's probably obvious...) All unrepped scripts show up alongside the rest of the projects in the database when subscribers do keyword, genre, title and author searches, too.

After submitting a script for coverage, does the writer have access to anything else?

No. Access to the coverage library is limited to industry pros who are actively involved in discovering and acquiring material (on either side of the table): Agents, managers, directors, producers, executives, financiers and their assistants.

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