What does a story editor do?

I climb inside a story, figure out where it's working and where it isn't and why, and untangle it.  I work with a writer so that they tell their story in the best possible way.  I'm below the line, a specialist.  I have technical and craft skills, detailed knowledge of story and film, and years of experience.

Are you a writer?

No.  I don't write, or direct, or produce. I don't do anything else. I only know how to do this, but I know how to do it really well.

What are the different ways you can work on my project?

There are lots: no two developments are the same.  I can read a script or a book or an outline and meet you just once to work through it and discuss it in detail, in order to set you on a path towards revising or moving it fowards.  You can sign me up as your script editor and hire me to work on the project through one or more draft stages, including sets of revisions.  Or we can do something between the two: we might agree that over a development period we'll have a fixed number of meetings, or I'll read the project at a fixed number of stages.

When is the best time to get development advice or input?

Whenever you want to know whether your story is working or not. Whenever you would like to speed the development process up. Whenever you can't figure out why something isn't working and it starts to drive you nuts. People who work with me on projects several drafts down the line often come back to me with their next project at outline stage: the earlier you get me involved the more time I can save you. The earliest i've ever come in to a project is at idea stage before a single word was written down; the latest is during pre-production.

I've written a script.  Can you work on it with me? 

This depends on a bunch of things.  A script editor is an expensive way to get early stage feedback on the first draft of your first feature script.  It's always worth going through some revisions and drafts yourself before you seek anyone's input and even then, it's miles better to start with other writers, if you can, or other people involved in filmmaking, or anyone else you can persuade to read and comment on your script, before you pay anyone to do this. 

A script editor should really be a producer's or a financier's cost.  Although I am sometimes available to sit down for a one off session and work through a script with you in detail, I'm not usually able to sign on to a project formally on a continuing basis unless you have a producer (and probably some finance) in place.

If you've had some feedback, done some revising, and you'd like to ask me about a session to discuss your script in detail, email me and tell me that. 

Is it expensive?

It isn't nearly expensive enough. Especially when you think that a solid story is the only reason any of us go to the cinema, and when you bear in mind the years that get wasted in development because nobody really knows what's going wrong. Good development will save you a ton of money and time.

Why don't you have more IMDb credits?

Actually nobody ever asks this!  Good development is invisible.  I'm often attached to a project early in its life, long before it has production finance; I might be a crucial part of what gets something there, but a script editor will often be left off the credit list a year later when everyone is just happy to be making their film (and by then I'm not always around to make a fuss).  When I worked at Film 4 commissioning executives didn't take credits.




What are your rates?  Do you have a fixed process? 

No.  All scripts, writers and developments are different and I've never been able to figure out a rate list or a fixed way of working that fits everytihng.

How do I work out what to pay you?

It is possible to hire me in lots of different ways, usually for fixed fees that we agree. My fees vary according to what it is that people want me to do: you work out what it is that you need and we figure something out from there.

Why should I pay you to talk to me about my script when I can see perfectly well what's wrong with it?

Well, you don't have to.  But there is a difference between knowing what's wrong with a script and seeing precisely why or where it's going wrong - often somewhere else entirely - and knowing how to go about getting it right.  That's what I do.

Can you just read my script as a one-off and tell me what you think about it?


Will you read my script for free, as a favour?

No. I do sometimes wish I could, but I have a family to feed on a freelance income.

Can I add your name to my treatment or funding application?

Not without asking me or without my reading it.

Do you work mainly in specific genres? At any budget level?

I work across all genres and at all budget levels. I am interested in story, and in working with a writer to get a story to work on its own terms.

Do you work on short films? Or on television material?

I do sometimes work on short films, yes. I work on some television material. When I work on a television project it tends to be drama or comedy.

Do you need to read my script before you decide whether or not to work on it?

Not always.

How do I get in touch with you?

Email me at kate@kateleys.co.uk


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