I would love to say that at the first day of my internship I wrote an award winning script during my break, wrote excellent coverage, made friends with everyone, got a job with six figures a year … but that didn’t happen, not even close.
Let’s start with the drive there:
I got lost when the lane I was driving in turned into a turning lane, forcing me to turn down Melrose Avenue, but I did get a glance at the Kardashians’ store DASH. I got to the parking deck right at 9:00am and almost went up the wrong elevator to the office (thank you awesome valet man for saving me).
Once I got into the office, I was shown all the tasks I would have to do in the following two months. I was eager but a little skeptical as the other intern, who I ended up nicknaming “Super Intern, showed me where the dishwasher was and the decaf vs non-decaf coffee machines. Honestly, I’m pretty excited to make coffee because I have a Keurig and learning how to make coffee in a coffee pot feels like not only a specialized skill but and art form that I could put on my resume. I like the sound of “Jessica Page: Filmmaker, English speaker and barista fluent in multiple coffee-making techniques.”
I was then put at the reception desk with Super Intern and left to sit for a while until I was able to get my FIRST SCRIPT TO COVER!! Wooo, I’m in the business now!!
For those of you that don’t know what “script coverage” is, it’s almost like a 5 to 6 page summary of a script. Coverage is used for summing up a script for a Producer or Creative Executive so they don’t have to read the entire 100+ page script. All they have to do is read the coverage and they get the general feel of the script and can make decisions about it’s future. Sometimes Producers do their own script coverage but the bulk of it is done by interns, assistants, people with a little bit more time on their hands than the Producers (who have meetings pretty much all day). There are normally a couple of parts covered in coverage: Script element, a synopsis, comments and then a kind of “final say” at the end.
- The Script elements are like quick fill in the blank type questions, like what’s the genre? Where is the script set? What time period is it? Short things that introduce the world to whoever is reading the coverage.
- A Synopsis is simply a shortened rehashing of the plot … a synopsis.
- The comments section is where your thoughts on the script have a voice. This is where you can talk about elements of the script that worked really well and elements that didn’t work so well, BUT you don’t “fix” the script. You just list the strengths and weaknesses of the script. If you enjoyed a script you can list other films that are similar or selling points or if you hated it you can argue why this script would not be a good project for your company. Be honest and form an opinion that you can support!
- In the “final say” portion you have to give a one word decision on what you would do with the script and the writer. It’s very similar to a rating of: High, Medium and Low. For the script you are judging whether the story and character were good and with writer you are looking at their skill of writing and storytelling. There are three options:
- Recommend – The script is good and the company should pursue and produce it.
- Consider – The script has something good about it but needs some changes or tweeks before it gets put into pre-production.
- Pass – The story just isn’t there and the script shouldn’t be looked at again.
Coverage is a great way for you to show off your opinions and ability to argue or support them with examples from the text. It shows that you are paying attention to more than just the surface elements of a script but the full scope of the narrative: theme, characters, setting, emotion, casting, directors, budget, symbols, the list goes on and on.
It takes quite a while to do coverage. I worked on reading my script until lunchtime when Super Intern told me that there was no real restaurants nearby besides Starbucks and the hospital cafeteria. So I trekked through the 103 degree heat towards the hospital, walked a block too far and then stumbled into the information and admissions office hoping to ask if I could get food even though I was not a patient or relative. I was ready to beg or lie that I had a sick great aunt twice removed, named Clementine, who had fallen and fractured her pinky toe. But the good lord provides and I saw a huge “Food Court” sign upon entering the building. I nibbled on salad and sipped on water at a table for one, surrounded by nurses, sick patients and their loving families (it was actually pretty depressing since my family is like thousands of miles away).
After lunch I continued to read while Super Intern answered the phones in the middle of the first ring while also reading a script for coverage.
The highlight of my day was the script meeting, that happens twice a week. Everyone is given a packet with script names, loglines (one sentence summaries) and other information and goes into the conference room. One-by-one we go down the list and whoever has read the script gets to offer a quick opinion or thoughts on it, whether or not you liked it or not. It was nice to see people having a conversation and discussion about the scripts because there had been silence all day! I had been sitting in an office with everyone’s noses in their laptops. This is what I wanted … human interaction!! (or to at least be around it)
At the end of the day I got on the elevator and headed down to P1: Parking only to get trapped on the elevator for about 5 minutes going up and down and never to P1. Eventually one of the Producers of my company got on the elevator and made a joke about the button being broken, my inner southern girl came out and I was like “So that’s why that button wasn’t working!” and he then explained to me that after 7:00, when the office closes, the elevators no longer go to the parking level, there’s a separate elevator for the parking garage. I was finally free to leave and face L.A. traffic.
To summarize my day: I sat 10 hours at the reception desk eyes blaring into my laptop hoping that someone would say hi to me or ask my name. I left completely emotionally drained and wanting to be with people. I understand why people are so active in L.A. because they are locked inside at desks during most of the day.
Hopefully the second day will be better.