Good Bad Ugly
How many great scripts have you read, over the years? Just curious.
This is a variation on one of the questions I am most frequently asked about my work. "Does everything you read suck?" Or, "How bad is most of what you read?"
So let me begin with this. I would say that about 10% of what I read is total shite. Maybe 1% is really good to great. And everything else is somewhere in the middle.
Now mind you, first of all, that the bulk of the scripts that get to me have at least theoretically already passed through one filter: the agents. (I say "the bulk" because there are always scripts that come into a company "Submitted by Author" via a personal contact.) Were I reading scripts for an agent, I suspect that the percentage of garbage would be significantly higher. Still, I'm amazed how much crap gets through even after this vetting process.
Let me also discuss the other end -- the really good to great. This does not necessarily mean that the script is great art that will win an Academy Award. It just means it is great for this company. Typically it will be exactly the type of film that matches the company's brand, and is in a budget range they aim for.
I should also add that a number of the really good or great scripts that I've read came in to me as writing samples, rather than straight submissions, and may have already been picked up for production elsewhere. An example of this would be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I was very impressed with this script when I read it, and Kaufman's name was actually blacked out on the cover page, so I had no idea who it was written by. That was an Oscar caliber script (and it rightly won that year), but another excellent screenplay I read that was far from Oscar worthy was How High? Now, I will say that that script was one of the funniest scripts I've ever read. The movie itself was kind of funny, but I definitely feel it paled in comparison to the screenplay. Largely I blame Method and Red for hamming it up too much. Regardless, the script was great, for what it was.
So, yeah, maybe 1% is in that top category. Of the 89% in the middle, some of those projects might get optioned or made, if the execs feel they are worth the requisite development. But it is rare that I will get on the phone with my boss and say, "Don't wait for the coverage -- read this now."
Tags: script+reading, screenplay+coverage, great+screenplays, bad+screenplays