Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reader question - doing coverage for an internship

I got an interesting question via Twitter from @codyisdead. He says:

applied for intrnshps in LA. Most req coverage of scripts. Do you have a sample cov. On ur site? And, can I intern for you?

140 characters is often quite limiting so I might need clarification on one point. Are you saying that you're being asked to do sample coverage as a prerequisite for getting an internship? That seems... odd. I never heard of anything like that back when I was an intern.

Granted, when I was an intern, the hottest song on the radio was Evanesence, Katie Holmes was at the top of my celebrity list, and everyone anticipating that the second Matrix movie was going to be awesome. In other words, things change.

To just get off on a tangent, I hate "audition coverage." There are times I've seriously wondered if a company pulls this just to get free coverage of their script backlog by calling in people for a job that doesn't really exist. It's ridiculous that an applicant has to do for FREE what they are paid to do as their vocation. If it's so important to get someone with experience and they want to see how the person writes coverage, prior samples from other jobs should be sufficient. You don't ask an applicant for a Development job to bring in a script and package it for free, do you?

No one should expect an intern to be brilliant with coverage, so perhaps you mean that coverage is required if you get hired. If that's the case, don't sweat it. These people will teach you how to do coverage and you'll get to see plenty of samples of what's acceptable to them. You're there to learn and they'll help you do that.

The basics of coverage are usually 1-2 pages of synopsis and one page of comments. The format for comments is most commonly: Introduction paragraph, character notes paragraph, plot/structure/concept notes paragraph, conclusion. (The middle two paragraphs may be transposed.

I'm sure if you poke around the internet you can find some professional examples. I don't have any on my site because legally, I don't own my coverage. It's all the property of the companies I've generated it for. I would just advise you to be aware of the difference between a review and coverage. The stuff you find on Scriptshadow isn't coverage, and I single him out only because he's probably the best-known script review site. I've also seen some confusion about this fact in a few private emails to me and elsewhere on the internet.

Oh and I wish I had need of an intern - or that I had enough pull in this business that it would mean something for someone to have interned for me.


  1. My guess is that companies require "audition coverage" to see if the applicant's taste is in line with the higher-ups. If you give them coverage for a script they haven't read, it's harder for them to tell. I was asked to do "audition coverage" the one time I applied for a reader job (didn't get it.)

  2. I always thought the audition coverage thing was more a test of speed than anything else. A lot of people can read and cover a script pretty well if they have enough time.

  3. DeafEars - I know that's the excuse but it's a pretty poor one in my mind. I've gotten... let's see... at least three reader jobs off of pre-existing sample coverage and absolutely ZERO off of a comparable number of instances where I had to do audition coverage.

    Joverkill - I don't think it's a test of speed. In most cases, I've had at least a week to cover a single script in interview situations like that.