Monday, May 08, 2006

The Weekend Read

For those of you who aren't familiar with this term, I thought I'd throw up a post.

Weekend Read is exactly that -- what executives, agents, producers and their support personnel plan to read over the weekend. In the case of a senior executive, the weekend read mostly consists of movies that are going into production, projects that you already have in development, sample screenplays of writers who are up for jobs on projects that are "open" and projects that are being greenlit by your competitors. The more junior an executive, the more likely that person is to have spec scripts to read. Folks also put director reels on weekend read.

The average executive has about 15-30 projects to get through per weekend. This is only accomplished by the liberal use of coverage and the help of juniors (the assistants, creative executives, development associates, VPs, and other forms of development executive). This is how it works -- you send your spec out on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, aiming for an "overnight" read by a very low level assistant or executive. By Thursday afternoon, Friday morning you will find out whose weekend read you are on. Every studio has some type of meeting or round up late in the week to discuss who is reading what over the weekend. Some executives are more secretive than others, but for the most part, it only helps an exec's cause to look busy and like they might have something hot. Also, a smart exec wants to keep their boss abreast of what's happening in case something really is good, or it fits in with a packaging opportunity.

Obviously, the more senior an exec you can get to read your material (especially before that critical 24-72 hour coverage window closes) the better your chances are of creating momentum or "heat" around the script and getting it purchased. A good agent can insure that the script gets into the hands of the most appropriate (and excitable) person at the studio/production company, and will formulate a plan to generate good buzz and get you in the running for one of those outrageous paydays that leads to rewrite work (a.k.a. "open assignments") and selling more ideas.

The moral of the story is: write your fingers to the bone/direct your ass off, and make sure you've got a good agent. It's easy to get lost in the slush pile of weekend read at a studio, less so at production companies and agencies. A well-crafted script (even one that doesn't have the most commercial hook) will get you a phone call back, especially after a weekend spent slogging through 50 lbs of worthless paper.


Burbanked said...

As a reformed D-Guy, I felt like I'd jumped back through time when I read your post. It really brought me back to those long, miserable weekends where my colleagues and I did not ask "What are you doing this weekend" but rather "How big is your weekend read?"

That was almost 10 years ago. Now I actually miss reading screenplays!

The Film Diva said...

That question sent chills down my SPINE!!! The advantage of being an independent writer/producer (or as a friend likes to point out... unemployed)is that I don't have to read anything unless I feel desperate for money. LOL.