How I Became a Professional Script Reader! By Justine Owens

How I Became a Professional Script Reader! By Justine Owens
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About three years ago, at age 45, I was sitting in my pajamas, eating breakfast, pondering how to change careers, when I asked myself – what do I really enjoy? The answer came back – you like reading and you like movies! What freelance career could I spin my hobbies into?

Here’s what I did:

Social networking is essential in the movie business and something that you have to pursue wholeheartedly. I joined on-line filmmaking communities and came across the role of Script Reader. It’s an entry-level position where you read scripts and write “coverage” reports that summarise the script’s potential for making a good movie project. It sounded perfect. I reached out to anyone I could find.

I was still working a fulltime job in IT, so this was all done on my free time. I got lots of responses, but not much good news. I was too old. I wasn’t in the right country. The market is so competitive they don’t need to pay you, etc. Nevertheless, about three months later, I was rewarded with an on-line internship linked to the UCLA film programme. I grabbed it with both hands. An internship that offers formal feedback, and one linked to the business is a must. I was connecting with an industry that I loved, and my on-line world had come alive.

To review a script you need to know what to look for, and the internship was an eye-opening education. Amongst other things, I learned about story-structure, the importance of conflict and tension, how to build characters, and the effective use of dialogue. These building blocks are not limited to script writing. They can enhance any form of fiction writing, and the concise analysis required by script reporting makes them easy to learn.

Working with clients who are mainly overseas, you need to flexible. To complete the internship I worked through a holiday in Italy. Sitting in the sun, submitting the final report via the campsite Wi-Fi, I thought, “I want to do this as a job”. Inspired by that vision, I got back to pounding the emails and connections.

By establishing a network of production companies and agents, I am now living my dream as a professional script reader! I have a steady stream of scripts and I have even had the courage to start writing fiction. So, my advice: The knock-backs are worth it, if only to spur you on to success. Never give up, and make the most of that wonderful world-wide-web.


What Do You Have to Do to Get a Break In This Town? (or How to Sell Your Screenplay)
How to Successfully Query Your Sitcom Spec Scripts Over the Phone
Screenplay vs. Novel?
Ten Sure-Fire Themes to Effectively Use in Your Sitcom Spec Script
Writing Slide Show Scripts – A Profitable Market For Freelancers!

Justine Owens moved to Italy in April 2015, and is now a professional script reader and freelance writer. In addition to movie script work, Justine has ghostwritten supernatural romance short stories, questions for U.S. exam boards, and web quizzes. You can contact Justine via LinkedIn at:

Copies of real query letters that resulted in writing assignments worth $2K and much more!

2 Responses to "How I Became a Professional Script Reader! By Justine Owens"

  1. Laura Harrison McBride  February 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Nice article; both informative and encouraging.

  2. pamelaallegretto  January 31, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Great article! My hat’s off to everyone who refuses to quite while pursuing their passion!

    -Pamela Allegretto, author
    Bridge of Sighs and Dreams
    Two women clash in World War 2 Nazi-occupied Rome.