Pretty much every film out there started with a script. But in a hugely competitive industry how does a producer know which of the thousands of scripts sent to them has that ‘wow factor’ that will make it to the big screen? Enter the script reader – the person who will help determine whether it should go forward for further development. Lucy Scher seeks to explain the skills needed to take on this vital role in the film industry.

Script reading, coverage, whatever you wish to call it, is an important aspect of the filmmaking process – after all, the screenplay is a fundamental part of the film and a poor script often leads to a poor movie. While the purpose of this book is to understand how to analyse scripts, Scher broadens the scope to place the technique of reading screenplays into a wider context, extending the book to encompass script development and production.

Approaching her subject from the point of view of the industry in which she has a strong presence, Scher also peppers the text with useful snippets from other film industry professionals, at all financial levels, who give their perspective on this important aspect of film development. The book may appear to be a little biased towards those seeking script reading as a career in the industry (indeed those that are will find this to be an indispensable purchase) but it also offers a broad understanding of the film production process and also discusses the elements of film narrative. Scher approaches genre awareness in a way that is helpfully broad (a notable example being the strong analysis of road movies) but also looks at other elements of the narrative such as character development, dialogue delivery and use of action description. All these aspects are covered in a way that enhances your general understanding of screenplay construction and interpretation but also emphasises their relevance with respect to the script report that is used to determine its consideration for production.

Overall a useful addition to less familiar aspect of the film industry. Essential reading for those seeking to be screenplay readers, it is also invaluable for writers seeking to develop screenplays, or those who wish to understand industry standard practices or become involved in production. For the general reader it gives a good insight into the background of the industry but also helps provide an understanding and appreciation of the screenplay. Even if courier font becomes your new favourite typeface…