Friday, December 6, 2013
Okay, so maybe the blog title is a little dramatic, but I couldn't resist the Spider-Man allusion. If I could actually draw, you might have gotten a sketch of the Bitter Puppet walking away from a trashcan full of scripts. Instead, you get the copyright infringement above.
[Update: a very kind reader, AP Quach, did a sketch much as I described. It was kind of a kick to see! Check out more of her work at http://www.sassquach.com.]
For some time now, I've talked about how the market for script reading is drying up. Sure, you can always hang out your own shingle and take payment directly from people interested in your feedback, but the days of supporting yourself on just a couple regular script-reading gigs with agencies, production companies and studios are fading fast, if not gone entirely. It's why when people have written in asking how to become a reader, I've told them, "You don't want this job."
Things have been going down this road since the writer's strike. For a while, I was able to compensate thanks to the sheer number of freelance jobs, but I've been aware of the ticking clock. Each year, it became more and more difficult to make a full living off of just my reading gigs. I've pursued other jobs within the industry, particularly with the goal of becoming a writer's assistant. I got maddeningly close several times, close enough that I convinced myself I just needed to stick with the freelance jobs a little bit longer because surely my objective was within my grasp.
But as the years wore on, I enjoyed reading less and less. The scripts seemed to get worse, and I found increasingly less satisfaction in what I was doing. The companies I read for were unfortunately very stable in their development departments, which meant there was little opportunity to convert my reading gigs into some sort of Creative Exec position. I'd love to work in Development if the opportunity presented itself, but I'm done being just "the reader."
So effective immediately, I'm ending all of my freelance reading jobs. I'm not going to say no to any permanent positions that come my way, and you can bet your ass I'll be looking for writer assistant gigs come pilot season. The difference is this time I'll be doing it without a net.
When I made this decision, I honestly felt like a great relief. In the past, my writing has definitely been better for the brief hiatuses I've taken from reading. But it's not even the reading that really wore me down. It's the futility of being that first filter. Most of what you read is crap, and even when you find the good stuff, there's little reward or opportunity to develop it.
Fear not, this blog isn't going anywhere. I've got a decade of experience in the industry and I'll continue to draw upon that here. I'll always be willing to give the benefit of my experience. But the days of enduring multiple scripts a week (most of them sub-par), being paid by the script and then having little stake in what happens to it afterwards are over.
You can't start a new chapter without ending the old one first. As such, I have decided that, at least for my career as a freelance reader, this is definitely the end.
See you on Monday for Post #1000!