Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Germain Lussier
Writers will tell you one of the best ways to improve yourself is to read other people’s writing. So, for an aspiring screenwriter, reading a ton of scripts is an excellent exercise. It’s one that John August, writer of Go, Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish and The Nines (which he also directed) knows well. As a freshman at the University of Southern California, August was reading almost a script every other day and writing coverage of each, both for class and an internship. “Coverage” is basically a book report written for a superior so they don’t have to read a full script themselves.
A reader of August’s blog was going through a box of papers when they came across something very interesting: August’s coverage of then seemingly unknown filmmaker Quentin Tarantino‘s script for Natural Born Killers. See and read the full document below.
Here’s what August had to say upon receiving the email containing the coverage he wrote almost twenty years ago.
I read it (and wrote this coverage) during my first semester of film school at USC. I probably read 200 scripts that year, but I remember this one distinctly, because upon reaching the last word I promptly flipped back to page one and read it again.
(This was Fall 1992. Little did I know that the following year I’d be working for the movie’s producers during post-production, and would co-write the novelization.)
Next to James Cameron’s ALIENS scriptment, NBK was probably the single screenplay that most made me want to become a screenwriter.
You can download the PDF right by clicking the image below.
What’s most interesting about this is how August gave the script “Good” instead of “Excellent” down the board which, to be fair, is probably the correct interpretation of the material. Here’s what he had to say on that point.
So why the hell did I give it “good” across the board rather than “excellent?”
An acute case of chickenshititis, I suspect. We were strongly discouraged from ever using the “excellent” boxes. Just writing “consider” was a bold move. I’ll cut my younger self a break just this once.
Pretty cool stuff, don’t you think?
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