For the last few years I have been using a coverage guy (along with my trusted readers) to give me perspective on my screenplays before I send them to my manager. I found this particular reader’s notes to be lucid and constructive, close to what an average reader would say about the project. Worth the price.
Recently I became Facebook friends with him. I looked on his Facebook page and found it filled with snarky comments about scripts he has read or is in the process of reading for coverage. Some of the more mild comments were about ironic spelling mistakes. But some of his comments were on very thematic elements and specific in nature. He described entire scenes and visuals from scripts, along with the titles.
I emailed him and told him I had a real problem with him commenting on scripts that he does coverage for. He replied that he has never commented on my projects and that I sent him, that only comments on things that are “totally ridiculous.”
I said it’s not about me personally, I just don’t think you should be making these comments when someone pays you for a confidential opinion on a script. He then posted on his Facebook page something to the effect of SORRY I HAVE TO TONE DOWN THE COMMENTS AS A WRITER IS GETTING PISSY ABOUT THEM. Never one to back down away from a debate, I fired back my point of view: he shouldn’t post specific things from the scripts he is paid to cover.
He deleted all of my comments then deleted me as a friend, thus eliminating the entire debate from public view. He has since, in a private email, told me he never comments on a script that is sent by a writer directly to him. I told him that that didn’t matter if it was Joe from Idaho’s first script or Steven Spielberg looking for perspective on a project, that you were entering into a contract with that writer/submitter to keep things confidential.
Do you think this coverage guy was out of line? What level of privacy do you expect from people who cover your scripts?
He’s unprofessional. It will bite him in the ass eventually. No further action is required on your part.
But I am a little sympathetic. I wrote a lot of coverage during my first few years in Los Angeles. Sometimes, the only way I could get through 120 terrible pages was imagining what I’d get to write about it.
This was all basically pre-internet, so my snark was limited to the comments section of coverage. Had Facebook existed, I hope I would have been smart enough to keep it off there. But I’m keenly aware that I’m not a 20-something, and my expectations of privacy and professionalism don’t line up with the current generation’s. I’m not even sure who I should be on Facebook.
A famous friend of mine now keeps a stack of non-disclosure agreements on the table in his foyer. When a plumber comes to fix a leak, he has to sign the NDA.
Yes, it seems ridiculous. But I think it’s indicative of how a culture of oversharing has undervalued trust and discretion.