Analysis and Consultation
When is the right time to get analysis?
Writers often wonder when the right time is to purchase coverage or hire a script consultant. There is no magical "right" time, but there is a wrong time. If you are on your first draft of your script, don't waste your money on coverage or a consultation. You need to polish your script as much as possible on your own, or with the help of feedback from a writers group or a trusted writer.
Once you feel confident that your latest draft is strong, you can consider paying for feedback. There are a few options out there for writers.
Often, a writer can pay an extra fee upon entering a contest to get a script review. This can be a great way to get a fresh pair of experienced eyes on your script without a large cost. However, keep in mind that many readers for contests and festivals are college film students or unproduced writers. The feedback you receive may not be as high of quality as some alternative sources.
Another option is to hire a script consultant. A script consultant typically is a writer themselves or a producer who supplements their income by doing coverage for scripts. Like contest feedback, not all consultants are created equal. Some will give detailed feedback that may feel like a punch to the gut; others may only give broad notes. Do your research and read testimonials. Find out who would be the best match for your genre and for what you want in notes.
Finally, writers can purchase coverage from a coverage service. Coverage is an evaluation of your script where a reader writes a synopsis and grades your script with either a recommend, consider, or pass. This is the same type of process that a production company will use to greenlight projects. Just like hiring a consultant, you must do your research to find the right service for you.
NOTE: Although difficult, it is possible to receive coverage from a production company directly. However, they must be willing to a) read your script and b) give their notes on it.
Finally, you don't have to consider coverage or feedback. It is not mandatory to getting a script optioned. If you have studied screenwriting, worked on your craft, and followed the rules for formatting, you can have success.