"Fake" Coverage

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  • "Fake" Coverage

    I've had tons of writers like you guys, online friends and acquaintences, who I've never met, who have read for me. Some have liked my work, while others have pointed out problems they see in my scripts (often with stakes/conflict). One of my trusted reader/ writing friends--a guy I really respect and who I know is honest, but kind-- read a project for me. He didn't love it. He liked it but we kept going over and over what he perceived to be its flaws, and I pushed back a bit because I'd gotten some love for the piece elsewhere, including placement in a respected contest.

    He mentioned a guy who gives coverage, who is well known and well thought of that I too was familiar with, so after hearing about his service for years, I decided to send him my project. The coverage he gave me was fairly complimentary and didn't suggest the same flaws as my friend had pointed out, related to stakes and conflict, though the coverage guy did give frank advice on the marketability of such an indy-type story, and a few other bits of advice to improve the script.

    I shared the response in its entirety with my friend and was surprised when he suggested that people you pay to read for you are going to be nicer than people you don't pay, and that it's important to keep paying customers happy, which obviously made me that he felt the coverage was not necessarily to be trusted. (And here I repeat how highly I think of my friend, who I feel has my best interests at heart.)

    We all know you can't trust mom's opinions, and frankly, there comes a time when your trusted, vetted readers also become friends [of sorts], and you begin to wonder if you can even trust them to give you unvarnished truth, but I assumed that a professional coverage service of this caliber (and he is), was above giving this type of false hype. I really didn't recall hearing this before about paid coverage.

    Tell, me, am I deluding myself? Who can you trust? Do you feel paid coverage and notes services cannot be trusted simply due to the fact that you are a paying customer? Have you gotten back notes or coverage that were absolutely NOT flattering from a paid service? Did that make you feel they were more trust-worthy because of that? Are paid services known for giving "fake" coverage to keep writers coming back for more validation?

  • #2
    Re: "Fake" Coverage

    I've paid for notes, I've paid for coverage and I've been paid to write coverage.

    There are some people or services that give VERY honest notes and they don't care about your feelings or repeat business. That's not to say they're mean/nasty/throwing rocks at you. They're just telling the truth. They have charged maybe $100/script and get it back to me in a week or 10 days, and it has been a great experience because they're low level yet industry readers who know a good script when they see it.

    I have also paid some who offer further services, coaching, seminars, etc. Sometimes I had the impression that I was in a Ginsu knife commercial -- here's the knife, but for $199 more, you could have a whole set... They compliment your strengths to the point of maybe flattery, then tell you how much better you could be with their help. Which is great, if you have a couple thousand dollars to invest. But chances are you don't.

    When I wrote coverage, I gave my honest opinion. I tried to "sandwich" the good and the bad, but overall I was honest.

    I don't feel that you should have to rely solely on friends or a writing group if you don't have a lot of people with the skills or time to help you.

    Kind of for that reason I started using the Blacklist as a resource for feedback rather than what it was intended to be - a place to upload fully finished, ready-to-go scripts. This isn't a good plan for obvious reasons.

    I don't know what the answer is, but you probably would benefit more from reading scripts or taking a UCLA extension class than a giant set of Ginsu knife hand holding/screenwriting instruction.

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    • #3
      Re: "Fake" Coverage

      It goes to "buyer beware."
      I use Screenplay Mechanic to vet my stuff before sending it out. He shoots straight.

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      • #4
        Re: "Fake" Coverage

        SBdeb, I believe any one of the four coverage services found here with a “sticky” under “Sites, Services, Software, & Supplies” are worth your time and money. If you feel your script needs it, go for it.

        (belated congrats, btw, for The Drought featured on the BL)
        Last edited by TigerFang; 01-22-2018, 05:43 AM.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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        • #5
          Re: "Fake" Coverage

          i've paid for reader notes three times, each when i was just starting out. one read, of the first draft of my first script, was worth the $60 (Scott Mullen). to be fair, many of the flaws were as much "first script" flaws as inherent story or character problems. but i would trust his notes if i paid for them today because i know he knows story.

          the other two . . . not so much. but the value i received in getting their notes was that all readers are just that: one reader with one opinion. if i paid 100 other readers for their notes on the same scripts, i probably would have gotten 100 opinions.

          i've also paid for coverage from The Black List (fairly consistent from reader to reader) and contests like the Nicholl, AFF, etc. (wildly inconsistent)

          now i pretty much rely on the feedback i get from my writers group. sometimes we have wide differences of opinion on particular script issues but by and large there's a general consensus of what works and what doesn't.

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          • #6
            Re: "Fake" Coverage

            Originally posted by SBdeb View Post
            Tell, me, am I deluding myself? Who can you trust? Do you feel paid coverage and notes services cannot be trusted simply due to the fact that you are a paying customer? Have you gotten back notes or coverage that were absolutely NOT flattering from a paid service? Did that make you feel they were more trust-worthy because of that? Are paid services known for giving "fake" coverage to keep writers coming back for more validation?
            I think it depends not only the reader, but also on the script being submitted. Certain scripts demand a degree of encouragement, while others -- usually due to a weak premise -- should invite the reader to discourage continued work on the project. Though I've only just started with my notes service -- and thanks again for your support, SBdeb -- it's been easy to toe the line between honest criticism and general kindness. The scripts I've received offer ample opportunity to suggest changes, but there's also enough talent on display for me to encourage their efforts. Paid services who are "artificially sweet" are incentivized to do so for the reasons you point out, and friends and family are, too. I've given scripts to friends who said decent enough things, but the fact that they weren't effusive with their praise told me everything.

            Personally, I'm hoping that my talent as a screenwriter means that people will come back for repeat business even if I'm hard on their work. (There's a huge difference between "hard" and "harsh.") In general, I would get as many free reads and opinions as you can, adjust your script accordingly, then seek out people like Screenplay Mechanic, TitanCreed, and Scott the Reader. I've used two of the three, and was happy with the results. As a writer, it's all about the way in which the criticisms are addressed. If it's done professionally -- and not with disdain -- that's important.

            To your point, though, if the reader's being kind to me, I can easily tell if it's artificial. How? Well, when the kindness is genuine, the things they're pointing out are the specific lines, callbacks, and reversals that made the script special from my own perspective. Again, there are so many people offering notes, and most don't have qualifications and/or insight. They have to be overly flattering at times, because there's no reason to keep going back to them otherwise. I don't think Screenplay Mechanic has to pad his notes with praise, because people are going to go back to him regardless. He's a real writer with a real reputation.

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            • #7
              Re: "Fake" Coverage

              Good notes does not mean harsh criticism. It's just someone who can get the best out of you to improve your script. Harsh criticism, if imprecise, actually could be harmful. Some of the worst note givers are ones that gripe at everything without having a clue about how to fix it. Obviously, having not read your script, we wouldn't know how accurate any notes are, but some of the best teachers know that the writer is more receptive to their criticism if they are coming from an encouraging place. Michael Hauge has pointed this out....that he found that when he asks questions and tries to figure out what the writer's intentions are, what sparked their interest in their project, he is in a better position to help them. He couches his criticisms with a good bedside manner.

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              • #8
                Re: "Fake" Coverage

                Thanks to all of you who piped up!

                I feel MUCH better after your notes, and have renewed confidence in the coverage I received

                (Speaking of notes, I was just looking at some old e-mails from DDP exchanges, and really, without fail, you guys have proven to be a rich source of advice, general SW education -- and importantly, encouragement. I sure would like to thank you IRL one day.)

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