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Take Coverage!

Writing about dogs in unusual professions took me back to the good old days of reading scripts and writing coverage.

“Coverage” is basically a synopsis of a script, followed by comments on its quality. This usually involves reading the script twice: once to get a sense of the script, and again so I can get the details right in the synopsis. This is extremely painful when the script is bad, as you might imagine.

The one benefit of this task is that, when the script is really bad, I get to make fun of it. A lot. Here are some of my more amusing comments:

“This movie is so aggravatingly bad that I think it’s best not to waste any more of your time by enumerating its shortcomings. Let’s just cut to the chase: it’s a crappy, nonsensical script, written by a near-illiterate, who probably has bad breath as well.”

“It’s like Seven meets Final Destination, without any of the good qualities either of those might imply.”

“Frankie and June are also unsuccessfully trying to have a baby, though this is so irrelevant to the story that I can’t even think of an amusingly hyperbolic comparison.  In fact, I’m quite certain that, years from now, people will compare other irrelevant things to this plot point: ‘Wow, that’s almost as irrelevant as Frankie and June trying to get pregnant in Jimmy’s Day Out!'”

“Aaron’s boss Sam offers Aaron the keys to his yacht to take out to sea whenever he feels like it. Then Chekhov walks in and hangs a gun on the wall.”

Later, in coverage for the same script: “He heads for the harbor, where Sam’s yacht awaits. Chekhov yells, ‘Bang!'”

“This script is so aggravatingly bad that it’s hard not to suspect it’s some elaborate practical joke, and I’m being filmed even as I write this coverage.”

“Alas, I think someone, somewhere, poured their heart and soul into this script, printed it out, and said, ‘This is the one, baby! My ship will come in this time!’ I actually feel a little bad about all the mean comments I wrote. Not so bad that I’d recommend this crappy script, though.”

“Did you give this script to me as some sort of punishment? Whatever I did, I’m sorry.”

“Why doesn’t she spend time with her brother? Hell, why does her brother exist? This character’s almost as irrelevant as Frankie and June trying to get pregnant in Jimmy’s Day Out.”

“After reading this script (twice!), I’ve decided the only reasonable thing to do is to shred it, take the clippings, shred them again, burn those clippings, bury the ashes, and then salt the earth, so that nothing may ever grow from this script.”

That last one is my favorite.

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10 Responses

  1. Be very careful what you write down as it has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass . . . having said that, I once opened coverage on a script with, “The script starts with a bang, unfortunately what explodes is a bag of crap.”

  2. My quote of the day is along the same lines.

    Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
    – Flannery O’Connor

  3. Deaf Brown– Only when they suck. 🙂

    DJ & Final Girl– My boss had a sense of humor about the whole thing. I wouldn’t advise everyone to do this.

  4. I have to take the Buzz Killington stance with DJ. I did coverage at a development company with a very very prominent guy running the show. Because we got in so many scripts from important sources, big agents who were close to the company and dutiful to their clients, our coverage had to be obnoxiously kind. We had to tell the truth, we could be a bit snarky, but we couldn’t be mean, and we couldn’t make personal attacks no matter how entertaining. The agent was sent the coverage as well as our producer, so it would eventually bounce back to the writer. And so the company didn’t want to be boycotted by hurt feelings.

    It took a lot of the fun out of it I admit.

  5. What scripty said. That’s a classic.

    If you want to read some excellent snark, John Scalzi ran a contest on his blog,Whatever, to see who could write the most scathing review of a book he might write sometime in the future. There’s a lot there and much of it is ‘tears rolling down your face’ funny.

  6. What scripty said. That’s a classic.

    If you want to read some excellent snark, John Scalzi ran a contest on his blog,Whatever, to see who could write the most scathing review of a book he might write sometime in the future. There’s a lot there and much of it is ‘tears rolling down your face’ funny.

  7. “A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.”
    -Aldous Huxley

    I’ve had plenty of painful ones, too, but I’m always worried that snarky-ness will come off as unprofessional. But sometimes it’s impossible to not be smug.

  8. My favorite is “Did you give this script to me as some sort of punishment? Whatever I did, I’m sorry.” I feel that way about many of the script’s sent to me.

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