What is a Script Editor?
In order to realise the full potential of a screenplay, the Screenwriter and the Producers have to reach compromises that fulfill both the creative and commercial needs of the two parties. Script Editors are the individuals who mediate this process.
What is the Job?
Once the Script Development process starts, Script Editors negotiate their contracts and set out all the fees and deadlines for the various steps of the process.
Successively, they schedule development meetings, one-to-one editorial meetings, and regular feedback sessions. They follow the whole development process, reminding Screenwriters of the production and market requirements, and keep in mind the map of the story, to ensure that the Screenwriters sticks to an agreed narrative.
So, what are the qualities that make as Script Editor great?
1. Theoretical knowledge and experience
Having to analyse scripts in depth and to give advice and feedback on how to improve them, Script Editors must have both experience of script reading and theoretical knowledge of the structure and dramatic tools of screenwriting. Essentially, Editors need to be good writers themselves as, even marginally, they contribute to the final result of the Script Development process.
For this reason, Script Editors must be able to generate ideas. Producers expect Script Editors to constantly have a list of sellable stories in the bank. But, where does one generate these ideas? We shall discuss this next in point 2.
2. Good commercial knowledge
Good knowledge of current film industry trends and how the audience responds to different genres and themes is also key for this role, as one of the main functions of the Script Editor is ensuring the commercial value of a script.
Writers and Script Editors will take pride in consuming every new TV show. Well, maybe they won’t watch the entire season, but even watching one episode across a range of genre helps them to broaden their ideas and get to the crux of what makes a good story.
3. Communication skills
Finally, having mediation responsibilities, Editors have to possess good communication and negotiation skills, so that they can always make sure that both Screenwriter and Producers are fully satisfied with the final result. When working with Screen Writers, Script Editors should take the utmost care. After all, the role of the Script Editor is to shred to Screen Writer’s work.
How to become a Script Editor
Usually, Script Editors progress from a Script Reading position, possibly within the same company or even freelance. If their opinion and recommendations about scripts they have read and assessed in the past have proven accurate and valuable, they might be hired in-house with a production company. Alternatively, Editors also work freelance, negotiating their own contracts and fees with Screenwriters and Producers.
Education and training
First and foremost, Script Editors need a BA or MA degree with a specialisation in Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Media and Communication, Journalism, English or similar. It is also useful to attend screenwriting or screen editing specific courses, in order to consolidate the theoretical bases that will be needed to assess works objectively, regarding their structure and the quality of writing. For instance, the MetFilm School offers a variety of undergraduate and short courses for those looking to get started in the film/tv industry.
Where can it take you?
Script Editing can offer good writing practice and industry insights that can be beneficial in the perspective of a Screenwriting career. Editors who are keen on the commercial side of their job might also consider progress towards Production roles. It could also propel you to working as a Hollywood screenwriter. Indeed, one route into the lucrative industry is to start out as a UK writer, find out more here.
Become a Script Editor today
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Script Editor vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.