screenplay readers
Art,  Reviews

How to Become a Reader for Screenplays (A Class I Just Took Online)

This morning I was browsing around on Instagram and saw an ad for a Masterclass to learn how to become a reader for screenplays. I have previously researched how to become a reader for publishers but never followed through on it. I never thought about becoming a reader for screenplays. The idea is intriguing. So I decided to sign up and hop right into the class.

What is the Class?

This was a free online MasterClass offered by Hollywood Gatekeepers. It was hosted by Carolyn J. Carpenter who has a long history of working in theatre, screenplay writing, and becoming a story reader. As a reader, she often saw the same problems again and again, and she wanted to encourage those writers, so she become a consultant / coach. She founded this program to help others learn about what it means to become a story reader.

What is a Screenplay Reader?

Screenplay readers, also called story analysts, essentially write book reports about screenplays. Producers, writers, directors, and even actors hire screenplay readers. It allows them to sift through the massive number of contributions that they receive. The reader reads through the whole piece, writes a summary, and then shares what does and doesn’t work with the script.

Before We Began: Start Fresh

The class was a Demio event which included a screen share from the instructor and a chat screen among the participants. As we began, Carolyn suggested that we close out all of the tabs because it would help the chat go more smoothly.

Then she added that we might want to close out all of the “tabs” in our brains … because so often, especially in the online class format, we attempt to multi-task and we end up missing so much. Close all of the tabs in your brain before beginning something new. I love it.

The Importance of Movies


Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

“Movies reflect our culture and things that are happening and can also shape a culture.” – Carolyn 

We started off with a chat conversation answering what our favorite films are, the first films we saw, and then the films we first liked and didn’t like. This sounds obvious but to be honest I’ve never thought a whole lot about WHY I love or dislike the movies that I have reactions to. I often passively consume, which isn’t what I really want for my tv and movie-watching life.

Conscious Consumption

More than anything, this was my big personal takeaway: I want to think about what I’m watching in more depth. Whether or not I ever become a story analyst, I want to be more conscious and interactive with the video media that I consume. I so often numb out to repetitive television instead of engaging mindfully with my media.

The best outcome for me would be to explore becoming a story analyst, getting paid to do that work, and using that experience to enhance my own awareness about everything I’m watching and reading.

Myth: The Concept of “They”

I loved this takeaway: you are “they.” In other words, it’s so overwhelming sometimes to think about how to break into an industry like this. In particular, if you want to work on Hollywood screenplays, it can seem like you’ll never get a chance. The myth is “they” do that, “they” have people who do that … not “hey, I can do this.” It’s a great takeaway for almost anything that you want to pursue, particularly if you’re reinventing part of your life. Love this.

The Class: More About Being a Reader for Screenplays

Essentially, this class was all about what it means to be a reader for screenplays. It describes the nature of the job, the types of people you might work for, the benefits of doing this kind of work and what it really looks like, the gist of reading and reporting on a screenplay, etc.

I’m not going to share a lot more about the content of this class. After all, it’s not my class. I showed up to it on a whim, enjoyed it, and wanted to share it with other people. There will be other opportunities for classes. Plus they have a YouTube channel with a lot of information. They also help screenplay writers and others in the industry.

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