Big Break Screenwriting Contest: The Importance Of A Blind Read
April 3, 2020
When Lori Crawford sits down to read a script, she is always ready to immerse herself in the unknown world the writer has created. It's a favorite pastime for her, and a part-time job; she has been a reader for the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest® since its inception.
But as unknown as the fictional world is to Crawford before she begins reading, so is the script’s writer. That's because Crawford is reading each script blindly; without knowledge of the author, that is.
Crawford conducts a blind read along with roughly 40 other readers who the Big Break Contest relies on each year to identify the most compelling narrative that is deserving of an award and traction in Hollywood.
It's a job that carries weight for Crawford; she gives her utmost attention when she is reading her portion of the thousands of scripts entered each year.
“Blind reads remove unnecessary bias from the process,” Crawford said.
“Evaluating story is, by definition, a subjective process. Ensuring a blind read is just a simple way to level the playing field.”
According to Kala Guess, Big Break’s director, before Final Draft sends scripts to the readers, all identifying information about the script’s writer is removed. A blind read protects the writers, the readers and the competition; it all but eliminates any possible prejudice, assumption or bias. It also allows the reader to learn the writer’s voice on their own.
“If I’m reading a script from someone I know, it's going to be easier for me to see elements of their lives on the page instead of experiencing an unknown writer’s expertise jump off the page,” Crawford said.
According to Guess, Final Draft’s competition has always insisted on blind reads.
“Blind reads allow for an unbiased evaluation,” she said.
“You can't do that if you see the writer’s name or WGA copyright number or who their representation is.”
Blind reads are so crucial to the competition that Guess has instructed her readers to report when and if they receive a script where they know or even think they know the writer.
“It’s supposed to be a blind read because you don't want any outside influences on your opinion of that script,” Guess said.
“I don't want someone giving a script preferential treatment because they know the writer.”
Several times after reading a few pages of a script, Crawford realized she knew the writer. When this happens, as Guess has requested, she asks for a reassignment.
Crawford and the few dozen other Big Break readers are currently reading their first rounds of scripts. The Final Draft Big Break Contest is open to submissions now through July 29.
Written by: Allison NorlianAllison Norlian is a three-time, Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!