Kelsey F.

How many screenplays have you read for BlueCat?

Over 100 scripts at present. I’ve been employed since 2013, so I’m considered a “veteran” reader now. Where has the time gone?

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently involved with numerous projects at various stages of development. I’m working for three separate production companies/studios in addition to working with BlueCat, so there’s always something interesting happening. I try to do as much coverage as I possibly can when I’m at my various jobs, because a writer can never learn too much from the efforts put forth by other writers at all levels. I learn what not to do, what studios look for in potential projects, and how to fine tune my own strengths to produce the best quality writing that I can.

What is your main job when providing feedback to a writer?

I want to make sure that I point out what they did right, but also where they need to go back and look for ways they can improve the areas that I critiqued. And I want to be as candid as possible while I do this. As I’m doing something very similar in a professional capacity, I have the opportunity to point out things for the writers that will help them in the long run when they’re searching for representation or trying to get their future projects picked up by studios.

What is your attitude toward a screenplay before you start reading?

I try to pick up every script I receive with my mind as proverbial blank slate. I have no idea what the logline or genre is, so I don’t have any preconceived notions of what to expect from the script I’m about to read. I want to remain as open and receptive as possible, so I don’t start nitpicking aspects of a genre I don’t particularly like when that won’t benefit the writer at all with the feedback they’re looking for from me.

What are three common problems that keep coming up when reading a screenplay?

First, concise storytelling. The scripts that I read cover a vast spectrum from one end of this issue to the other. Some of them are too barren, lacking any descriptive language that allows their audience to inhabit the world of the characters. Others read like novels, with too much flowery language and lengthy description paragraphs setting up each consecutive scene. Screenplays need to be tight and to the point, but not so much that the story ends up being rushed from the opening scene to the credits. It’s a delicate balance and often difficult to achieve. Second, dialogue. It’s very hard to nail fluid and natural dialogue, but I find myself critiquing this almost more than a writer’s storytelling conventions. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of making several teenagers or similarly aged characters sound almost identical to each other, but all writers need to put forth the effort to make sure all of their characters have individual voices that can be distinguished on the page. Third, delivering a message or personal lesson. Most writers put pen to proverbial paper with the intention of telling a story that means something to them and that they hope will impart a certain lesson to their audience. A lot of scripts that I receive are lacking in this arena. The story can be solid, but there’s nothing beneath it. There’s no further substance beyond the cut-and-dry narrative. When you’re looking to write a screenplay, consider what you want your audience walking out of the theater thinking about and talking to their friends about.

As an experienced reader, do you have any advice for writing a screenplay?

Be open to criticism. I can’t stress that enough. You might think you have the next blockbuster in your hands, but you bring it to a table read and the thing gets torn apart. Don’t take the critiques personally as a slight against you. These people are just trying to show you where you went wrong and what you should be doing to fix it. Also, do your research. Keep up with industry trends, with script sales to the various major studios, with social issues, with the world at large, really. Start at the microcosm level, then keep moving to the macrocosm. A writer can never absorb too much information about their environment while looking for inspiration.

What do you think is the hardest part of being a screenwriter?

Being a writer in the industry has never been and will never be easy. You will have far more rejections than successful projects. And that’s just part of the hand you’re going to be dealt if this is the career path you’re intent on pursuing. But don’t give up. Keep trying, learn from your previous mistakes or failures, and try to put together a support network that you can rely on for creative help and confidence bolstering. The writing community in Hollywood is massive, and if you reach out, there will be a lot of opportunities to get a helping hand from more experienced individuals who are already working in the industry.

What is the heart of a successful screenplay? 

The heart of a successful screenplay is a writer’s sincere desire to share a piece of themselves with the rest of the world. Whether we’re talking a gigantic blockbuster or a low-key indie feature, the script is always a labor of love by the writer(s). You can tell when a writer cared about the project they were part of if you walk away from the film having been impacted on some emotional level that leaves you thinking about it for days afterward.

← Back to Reader Profiles