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Old 12-09-2012, 10:47 PM   #1
LIMAMA
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Default Spec Scout

For $147 you get your script judgd by 3 readers...as if you need to be told your script sucks 3x.
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Last edited by LIMAMA : 12-09-2012 at 10:48 PM. Reason: me
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Haha. We're much more diplomatic than that. And in my experience, getting a sense of what more than one reader thinks about each of 10 attributes of a script can be pretty helpful.
- scoggins

P.S. Happy to answer any questions about the service, here or offline.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:47 PM   #3
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Post Re: Spec Scout

Jason, nice to see you here ready for questions (or barbs). I'm a little confused by your website, though. Who determined all these top repped and unrepped scripts? Your readers? Is there an example of their coverage somewhere on the site for prospective writers to see?

With the $147 do you also get access to this Coverage Library?

What makes your site different--or better--than Franklin Leonard's Black List, as it seems to be duplication in a sense.

Is there a FAQ which gives more details?

Once you get this coverage and if you score a 60, is the coverage contained on a dedicated script page online that prospective industry players can see or is it just lumped in a database? Or is that what the Coverage Library is?

How many scripts do you have on this library/database? How many industry people have signed up? Do they pay a fee too?

I'm sure others will probably chime in with questions.

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Old 12-10-2012, 04:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Spec Scout

My pleasure! Happy to take questions, and my skin is plenty thick enough to handle barbs as well. We've answered a bunch of questions on the "For Industry," "For Writers" and "About Us" pages on the site, but I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to respond here, too. I'll try to answer all of the above in one reply here, and I hope you'll forgive the lengthy post in advance.

"Who determined all these top repped and unrepped scripts? Your readers? Is there an example of their coverage somewhere on the site for prospective writers to see? With the $147 do you also get access to this Coverage Library?"

We're tracking the spec market daily, just like I've done for the Scoggins Report for going on four years now, and similar to what we did at ItsontheGrid.com (you may or may not know I left there in April 2012). We just launched SpecScout.com a few days ago, so at this point, the "repped stuff" is almost exclusively scripts that have hit the market. The unrepped stuff is material that's been submitted for our paid coverage service and has a high enough Spec Scout Score to be favorably compared with material that's gone to market from agents and managers. Over time, we hope repped writers will use our coverage service as well to vet their own material before it goes to market.

We don't have an example of coverage available on the site, but that's a great idea and we'll definitely implement it so prospective clients can see what they're getting.

The Coverage Library is only for industry pros who are in the business of discovering and acquiring screenplays, which for the most part means agents and managers, producers and directors, and executives and their assistants.

"What makes your site different--or better--than Franklin Leonard's Black List, as it seems to be duplication in a sense. Is there a FAQ which gives more details?"

The two key differentiators of SpecScout.com are the coverage library and our scoring system. The combination of the two makes it possible for industry pros to spend more time asking "Does this project fit my mandate, and is it something I can get excited to develop and produce?" and less time asking "What is this script about and is it any good?"

For industry pros, one of the cool things about the coverage library is that it provides access to the "long tail" of the spec market. Historically, a spec would hit the market and if it didn't sell within a week or two it wasn't going to. Now, though, buyers can pop into the coverage database and easily search around for good stuff that didn't sell.

Speaking of "good stuff," that's where the Spec Scout Score comes in. We've come up with an algorithm that takes our readers' ratings across 11 different attributes of a script (Overall, Premise, Characters, Dialogue, Tone, Structure, Craft, etc.) and crunches them down into a single number on a scale of 1 to 100. (That's why it's important that we have three readers read every script, too -- it minimizes the grumpy/distracted/jaded reader factor, and we found through our testing that the Spec Scout Score doesn't change much once you have three sets of reader ratings.) The higher the score, the better the script.

For writers, one cool result of having a standardized scoring system is that we can apply it to all scripts, whether by an established writer or someone who's just now trying to break in. And as I'll discuss a bit below, we invite writers whose scripts have scored well to let us include the script in our Coverage Library, separate from but alongside material that went to market. We don't allow writers to pay to have their scripts in the Library -- you can only earn your way to getting listed through superior writing.

So, there's a bit of overlap with Franklin's site (which I love, by the way -- I know Franklin and have been a fan of him and his lists and site for years), but there are quite a few significant differences, too. Net net, I think it's going to be good for everyone to have more than one site dedicated to uncovering and promoting great material and talented writers. And yes, as I mentioned above, there are three pages on SpecScout.com that discuss what we're doing and how and why.

"Once you get this coverage and if you score a 60, is the coverage contained on a dedicated script page online that prospective industry players can see or is it just lumped in a database? Or is that what the Coverage Library is?"

It's not just lumped into the database. Which is to say, they're in the database, and there's an "All Scripts" widget on the page, but that's fairly unwieldy since there are many, many scripts in the system already, and that'll only grow over time. But we also have several widgets on the site designed to highlight material that's unrepped, available and/or new to the database. Helping new writers break into the business is one of the main reasons we started the site, after all. As we get further into this, we'll be sending out a weekly email to our subscribers highlighting this material as well.

"How many scripts do you have on this library/database? How many industry people have signed up? Do they pay a fee too?"

I think we're getting close to 1000 projects in the database now, but I don't know the exact number off hand. We've got about 80% of the material that's hit the market in each of 2012 and 2011, plus the Black List scripts from 2010 and a big chunk of 2010's scripts as well.

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).


If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.
- scoggins
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Last edited by jscoggins : 12-13-2012 at 02:15 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Thanks so much, Jason. So to recap, the $147 is to have three industry readers rate the script, and if it rates 60 or above by all three, you are "invited" to have your script in this database/library for industry people to peruse. So it's not like you take the scores of the three readers and average it out--each reader has to score the script individually 60 or above?
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:03 PM   #6
Margie Kaptanoglu
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Hi Jason, thanks for coming to the site to answer our questions. I'm trying to understand exactly how the coverage report works, given that three people are involved. Does the writer receive three separate reports and sets of scores? Or does someone internally look at your readers' reports and then somehow put together a single report that reflects an average of the three reports? Or do your three readers get together and agree on a single set of scores and written report? Or something else?

I'm sort of wondering how you get past the disgruntled reader syndrome, unless it's by forming some sort of consensus. Otherwise, the disgruntled reader's feedback will still be reflected in the results, by lowering the overall score.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Yes and no, LIMAMA. For $147, three paid readers prepare coverage, not our industry pro subscribers. The coverage you get is close in format to the usual 2-3 page review, but with an extra set of comments per reader. It basically breaks down like this: We provide one synopsis (the readers collaborate on it), plus three individual "pass/consider/recommend"-style scores/ratings; three sets of ratings across 10 attributes of the scripts; three sets of comments (which support and illuminate the invidual ratings); and of course the single Spec Scout Score, calculated from all three readers' various scores.

To qualify to be listed in our database, we only consider the Spec Scout Score, which is based on all of the script's coverages. A score of 60 is the threshold for an invitation, but we reserve the right not to extend an invitation to a specific script. For example, a script that gets a couple of "considers" and one "recommend" and has high scores in several key areas may clear the threshold, but it may nonetheless clearly require a revision based on the readers' comments. It's in our interest as well as the writer's to wait for the revision of the script -- the resulting draft will almost certainly score very highly and make a splash.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Good questions, Margie. I think I answered some of that in my last reply, but let me expand a bit.

Our coverage is one document showing all three readers' responses and scores. The only things that are averaged, for lack of a better word, are a) the synopsis (the first reader writes it, and then the three collaborate to refine it, if necessary), and b) the Spec Scout Score. Strictly speaking, that Score is not exactly an average, but the formula is a trade secret and that's as much as I'm allowed to discuss it.

One of the nice things about our system is that each reader's scores have to be justified by their comments, and vice versa. So while we can't eliminate the grumpy reader factor (the GRF) entirely, the GR at least has to get granular and prove their points based on the script.

One other way we work to minimize the GRF is for one of the founders to review each set of coverage and compare it to the others of that script. This whole thing is very subjective, obviously, and we don't want groupthink since reasonable people can and often do disagree as to the merits of a given piece of material.

We don't see as many major discrepancies between the coverages as you might think. When we do, it's usually because one reader hasn't followed our internal rubric. In those cases, we work with the reader to adjust their comments and scores appropriately (still their own opinions, just applied through the lens of our system).
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Is there a way for writers whose scripts have gone out to see if/what they were scored? I'm just curious. 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? (I can understand why that wouldn't be possible, but, again, I'm just curious.)

Side note, thanks for the Scoggins Report. It's a fantastic tool to help follow the market month after month.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:53 PM   #10
Margie Kaptanoglu
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Default Re: Spec Scout

Thanks very much for the detailed explanation.

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)?
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