How to Become a Screenplay Consultant
Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Some of your favorite movies were improved thanks to the work of a screenplay consultant. Script consultant jobs can be both fun and rewarding, but they also require gaining the experience and film credits necessary to prove yourself as an expert. To become a screenplay consultant, you’ll need to learn and perfect your craft, then market yourself to get paying gigs.
Script consultant jobs can be lucrative and fun, but they also require credentials. Screenplay consultants use their expertise to review a script and determine whether the various elements – including plot, characters, theme and dialogue – work. You’ll then “consult” with the screenwriter and offer your advice on how the writing can be tweaked to make the script more marketable.
The occupation of a screenplay consultant is often confused with two very similar roles: script doctors and story analysts. Where a screenplay consultant reviews scripts and offers helpful feedback, a script doctor takes a more hands-on approach, rewriting sections or entire screenplays as needed. A story analyst, on the other hand, evaluates a script and provides coverage, which sums up the strengths and weaknesses and issues ratings on various aspects.
In the entertainment industry, professionals typically find that a degree from a film school is more relevant than a bachelor’s degree in another area. However, you do not need any education to become a successful screenwriter. If taking courses or even getting a degree helps you hone your craft, it might be worth it.
Education may not be important, but connections and film credits are. Script consultant jobs will come much easier if you’ve written a hit film or even have an impressive IMDb profile. You’ll also find that working on projects with others in the industry will lead to recommendations that will help keep you busy.
However, there is a growing demand for screenplay consultants outside of Hollywood. If you set up a website and market your services, you may find that you’re able to get work from aspiring screenwriters looking for someone to review their work. Businesses and individuals trying to gain a following on sites like YouTube may also need screenplay consultants.
Screenplay consultants are typically associated with Hollywood, and that is where you’ll find the majority of jobs. However, you can find screenwriters in every area of the United States who are willing to pay an expert to review their script. If you want to earn a script doctor salary, though, you may find you need specific connections with production studios and paid screenwriters.
Years of Experience and Salary
Since they typically work as independent contractors, screenplay consultant and script doctor salary ranges can vary widely. Pay depends on the rate the consultant has set, as well as whether the consultant is being hired by a producer or a writer. Wages per script tend to range between $300 and $7,500, which includes reading the script and offering recommendations for improvements.
To better understand the screenplay consultant and script doctor salary, though, it can help to look at what screenwriters typically make. Screenwriter salaries range from $31,000 to $205,000, with the national average hovering around $78,000. After gaining years of experience, a screenwriter may eventually utilize it to transition into the role of screenplay consultant or script doctor and command a higher rate.
Job Growth Trend
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track occupation information for screenplay consultants, it does predict 8 percent growth in jobs for writers and authors through 2026. Predicted growth in jobs for producers and directors is even better, though, at 12 percent. Landing work in a competitive industry like the entertainment business is the tricky part, and you’ll likely have to pay your dues before you can make a steady career out of it.
- Screenplays should range in length from 95 to 120 pages. If it's longer than that, it's a pretty good bet the writer is rambling and spending too much time on superfluous details.
- When downloading scripts for study, pay attention to whether the version is a draft, a partial, a numbered shooting script, a final draft script or a transcription. Final draft will be the closest to accurate formatting.
- While it's not necessary to have a higher education degree to become a script consultant, you'll be looked upon more favorably by agents and producers if you at least have a BA or some prior experience in the film industry.
- Read dialogue out loud to see if it sounds natural. Oftentimes what looks just fine on a printed page will sound stilted, long-winded or just plain goofy when it's coming from the mouths of actors. Example: "Running Bear will keep you safe."
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.