Let the Aspiring Screenwriter Beware

I’m waiting for my writing friends to finish reading and critiquing a script I’m working on. As their volunteering their time, I feel I can’t rush them. Yet I was getting antsy about moving forward on it. So I decided to get a professional service to do this.

Act One, whose workshop on screenwriting was quite good, offer script consultancy at various prices. I hesitated about spending $250 dollars because I wasn’t sure who’s currently doing the reading there now that Jack Gilbert their long time writing guru has passed away. Well, their $125 reading seemed very sketchy and I didn’t want to spend $450 on an unknown consultant. For $250 I was promised a 7 day turn around and a specific critique. It irked me that my report wasn’t done in 7 business days. I organized my schedule so that I’d have the report back in time to begin rewriting on a Thursday and then have all of the weekend to rewrite too.

I didn’t get the report by Thursday. I now know I should have complained immediately. I thought they’d get it to me by my Saturday. They didn’t. I complained and got four emails on Sunday apologizing and promising a report by Sunday. I would have liked a rebate of some sort too as I had explained how I’d organized my time.

The report was rather useless, sadly. The script reader had several grammatical errors and mistook my six act television show for a 3 act film. That was annoying and led me to think whoever did the work did it as fast as possible. Instead of suggestions, I got a slew of generic rhetorical questions. Who should I love? Who should we hate? The work was just so generic and expensive.

I’m not looking for someone to gush over every word I write, I want someone who’ll offer a critique that’s useful and can help me perfect the story.

My friends will provide specific insights and suggestions, for free in exchange for my critiquing their work. Act One is cheaper than a few other services, but it was a waste of money in this case. According to LinkedIn, the guy who read my script is their Webmaster cum Script Consultant. He’s never studied film or sold a script himself. If you’re saying that your consultants are “professionals,” you ought to have some standard of professionalism. You shouldn’t hire any average Joe with a B.A. in psychology, who’s never worked in Hollywood, and whose greatest film accomplishment was behind the scenes of his pal’s 5 minute film about a guy who digs holes and is losing his job.


2 thoughts on “Let the Aspiring Screenwriter Beware

  1. I don’t want other people to spend money and get poor results. It seemed like the reader rushed through and lacked the experience to do more than offer hackneyed comments.


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