Where are you currently employed?
Because of the inherent nature of my job, I cannot specify or discuss any material with which I am currently working.
Describe Your Job.
The day-to-day substance of my work is reading scripts, books, short-story collections and graphic novels, as well as occasionally watching movies. And recommending whether or not and why the studio should get involved with the project.
I write a thorough synopsis of what I’ve read or watched, then assess the material and the writer(s), taking into account Paramount’s development slate, similar projects at other studios, larger market trends and, of course, script quality. I also read writing samples for specific projects.
In addition to providing executives with information, the coverage serves as legal documentation that Paramount received the script and any accompanying material.
Another aspect of the job is writing notes on different drafts of Paramount projects: Assessing the script, tracking progress and suggesting changes.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
My late mother was a writer and from the time I was young, she would ask me to read her work and give her feedback. When I started working at AVCO Embassy Pictures, I realized that doing this was a real job!
Who gave you your first break?
When I was working in the legal department at AVCO Embassy, I introduced myself to Blossom Kahn, who was the company’s Creative Vice President. She hired me as her assistant and I started reading scripts as part of the job.
What was your first union job?
My friend Keith Davis was Director of Development at Columbia when it was still in Burbank, and Keith recommended me to Story Editor John Carl. Later on, Paramount had a short-lived experiment of pairing story analysts one-on-one with executives; Bob McMinn — then a story editor and now an executive at Lakeshore Entertainment as well as a good friend — hired me to work with new executive Connie Kaplan. I’ve been at Paramount ever since.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
The most gratifying project I’ve worked on was the Rug Rats movies, which came out when my kids were young. I was a rock star with the elementary school set!
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Explaining to people outside the movie industry what I do! After many years and many attempts to describe my job, the extremely oversimplified description is that I write book reports with many thousands of dollars at stake. Of course, it is far more complicated — as my job description indicates.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Paramount’s parent company, Viacom, has a yearly “Viacommunity Day,” during which employees do volunteer service in the community. One year, I conducted mock interviews with high school students at Helen Bernstein High School who were interested in the film business. The students were bright, inquisitive and, often, intentionally hilarious.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I love being a story analyst. One of the most gratifying aspects about the job is reading and recommending writers. I’m interested to see how storytelling will evolve with new media platforms, virtual and augmented reality, and projects with innovative interactive formats — like Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic for HBO.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I write a curated events column called “The Go Go: offbeat fun, quirky culture, cocktails whenever possible…” (http://uwant2gogo.com/, @gogohanneson ) for Eat: Los Angeles & Drink: Los Angeles (@eat_la ). I’ll be adding food and drink write-ups in the coming months.
I’ve traveled extensively to Southeast Asia and Europe… South America and Antarctica are on my bucket list! My travel motto: Always chat up cab drivers!
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Sweet Smell of Success — acid dialogue, acidic people; Beasts of the Southern Wild — so much is said with so little dialogue… But that dialogue is perfect.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Good Wife — smart, smart, smart writing and fantastic characters; You’re the Worst — a black comedy with deeply flawed, compelling characters.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Steep yourself in movie and TV culture. Learn about trends. Read trade papers. Take a class like Nikki Levy’s Coverage Madness: A Script Coverage Workshop at Writing Pad (writingpad.com).
Analyzing scripts for agencies and independent producers is a good way to break in and get samples to build your resume.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
See you at the movies!
Compiled by Edward Landler
Editor’s Note: To recommend a member (including yourself) to be featured on the home page of the Editors Guild website, contact firstname.lastname@example.org