Monday, July 13, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 80 - New Title, For Coverage's Sake

Coverage. You know the term. The feedback that your script gets when it lands atop a VP of Acquisition's desk (or, much more likely, their college intern's). Chances are, you might have even written coverage if, like most Leaguers, you were that college intern at some point.

Coverage can be a new writer's best friend. It can also be that thorn in your paw. Heaven forbid, it can also be devastating. A lot of emerging writers actually pay script consultants or competitions to provide coverage, which they then incorporate into their query letters. (I wouldn't necessarily advocate going that route, at least not until you really have a solid draft that's ready to go out. But that's another post for another time.) Personally, I don't really see the benefit in paying for coverage for a script. I'd much more strongly recommend starting a writers group with people whose opinions you trust, writing and sharing a ton of feedback, and reading as many produced scripts as you can.

Anyway, coverage has recently done an odd thing for me. It required me to change the title of my script. With the thousands of scripts (95% hardly worth reading) that float around Hollywood each year, people don't want to waste time re-reading something that they've already passed on - unless, of course, a rival studio just put a bid on it. To make sure that the latest reading assignment is a new project, production companies and studios will check incoming titles against archived coverage. If something sounds familiar and the logline that the intern on duty comes up with is similar to a logline for a script with the same title in the coverage records, that script will almost assuredly not be read again. Especially if it was passed on the first go around.

You've probably heard the rule: only send your script out once. If you are lucky enough to have your script shopped around, and it gets passed on, you can't tweak a scene or two and give it another shot. It's been covered, read, and passed on. That, my friends, is that. It is also, however, what I'm trying to do with my post-Apocalyptic spec. My old manager sent it to nine companies, none of which wanted it. My new manager and producer who have optioned the script want to take it out in the next few months. Unfortunately, some of the people with the buying power we'd need have already received the script in round one.

The solution? New title. Rewrites. Different page count. And, perhaps, a slight shift in focus. The goal is to change the script enough to warrant a second read, and the title change is a major part of that. I wonder how long it will take to begin thinking of the script under the new title. It's been in my mind as one thing for a year and a half now.