Sensitivity Reading

OVERVIEW

In 2017, Alex (she/they) was approached by a Producer who asked her for a very specific service: to do a ‘consent pass’ on a female-driven R-rated, raunchy college comedy written, produced, and directed by men. She was able to identify and explain several problematic jokes/scenes, and suggest minor changes that removed problematic elements while keeping the scenes and story intact. Since then, through word of mouth, they have been working steadily as a Sensitivity Reader. 

 

 

In short, Alex will explain, sometimes with memes, what the Internet is going to get mad about and why.

She takes a story first development approach, working closely with writers to make sure their authorial intent is accurately and authentically reflected in all aspects of character and story.

 

Sensitivity Reading (sometimes also called "Expert Reading" or "Authenticity Reading") is an emerging practice of doing a notes pass on literary works--manuscripts and film/TV scripts included--for issues with representation,  unconscious bias, unintentionally insensitive language, cultural inaccuracies or inauthenticities, cultural diversity and authenticity, and recommending changes that alleviate those concerns without undermining the integrity of the story.

Similar to the concept fo hiring ER Doctors to consult on a medical show, or a former sex worker to consult on a movie like HUSTLERS, some Sensitivity Readers are hired specifically because of their lived experiences. As a part of a marginalized group or unfamiliar culture that a writer might want to represent but isn't a part, a Sensitivity Reader can offer insights in how to make sure characters are represented authentically, fairly, and without falling into stereotype.

 

Sensitivity Readers don't seek to make sure every single character is 'perfect' or even positively portrayed, nor are they censors--all suggested changes and recommendations are up to the creatives to implement at their own discretion. Rather, Sensitivity Readers seek to help writers ensure that all characters are treated with depth, empathy, awareness, and their stories avoid falling into cliché, stereotype, and tokenism--particularly characters who represent marginalized and underrepresented groupsThey are a beneficial and necessary component in the push for diversity and inclusion, and can be and invaluable tool in helping project creators avoid unwanted criticism and pitfalls. It's been proven time and again that film and television shows that embrace diversity and inclusion are more profitable--and increasingly so. A Sensitivity Reader can be hired at any point in the writing process, from pitch/treatment to script stage--it's never too early or too late to get a read.

Alex's worldview is one of progressive, intersectional feminism, and she uses her extensive personal, educational, and critical skills acquired from over a decade of development experience to detect unintentional bias and problematic content. If your script features a group or culture that needs a more authentic touch, Alex likely already knows someone who can give you the Expert Read you need and will help pair you with someone. Their areas of focus and expertise largely include (but are not limited to; please contact with specific requests):​​

  • gender representations

  • queer representations

  • LGBTQIA+

  • asexuality

  • “alternative” lifestyles and sexualities

  • Southern culture

  • politics and activism

  • trans/NB

  • reproductive rights & issues

    • endometriosis​

    • infertility

  • chronic illness & pain management

  • comparative religions

    • Christianity (Southern)

    • Atheism

  • pop/internet culture

  • tokenism

  • mental health

  • systemic oppression

  • world building 

  • petty art beefs

Here is some additional reading if you'd like more information about what Sensitivity Reading is:

 

*Please note: everyone has biases, including me. I do not represent the single voice of authority for any one group, on any subject. While my services do not guarantee a bias-free end product, it is incredibly helpful to get an objective, outside opinion on any work of art. My engagement with a project is not an endorsement of the themes in your script, nor does it exempt you/the project from criticism. I will be forthright with you if I don't think I can help you and why that is; at my own discretion, I may refer you to other Readers who would be more helpful.

READING

Sensitivity Read 

 

A sensitivity reading differs from coverage and notes in that it does not focus on structure, character, or story. Rather, it focuses specifically on potentially problematic content and unintentional biases. Sensitivity Readers challenge the default through education and communication, making sure there aren't unintentionally harmful scenes, and bringing a mindfulness to the treatment and existence of commonly overlooked minority groups. "Good sensitivity readers force authors to recognize their blind spots, not only in their work, but in the way they move through the world."

A Sensitivity Read is a close, intimate look that typically generates notes around 2-6 pages in length; however, this kind of reading can vary greatly and depends largely on the project itself.

 

Package includes one 30-minute phone conversation to answer any questions you might have and expound on any of the issues (can be split into 2 15-minute calls). Please feel free to ask about Alex's strengths in any specific areas that are of particular concern to you.
 

ANALYTICAL REPORT Add-On

The Analytical Report was conceived as a way to add in statistics and provide some empirical evidence of possible imbalances and issues of representation. Much of sensitivity reading, as with most things involving art, is subjective by necessity. But diversity and sensitivity are both systemic and individual issues, and the report aspect was designed with a higher-volume client in mind, as a way to help gather internal statistics and expose patterns. Statistics never tell the whole story, however, because they're rather blunt instruments and context greatly matters; even the 'tests' can take a measure of interpretation and subjectivity, and simply passing one isn't a guarantee of quality.

The Report is a dynamic, ever changing document that includes but is not limited to: character gender breakdowns; # and % of lines spoken by men vs women; racial breakdown; pass/fail of popular representative tests. None of these aspects alone necessarily mean anything, but can be very illuminating. Additionally, things like the Representation Checklist can demonstrate where diversity and representation on screen is lacking.

There is an additional nonnegotiable $80 fee for any script that features a sexual assault or rape in service of another character's story. 

CONSULTS

Alex is also available to consult about stories involving potentially sensitive or controversial subject matter. She takes a very progressive, intersectional feminist approach to the world, and is very good at deconstructing structured, institutionalized thought processes and stories. There's nothing she loves more than discussing the political implications of world building within stories.

She can be hired hourly or can negotiate an on going, longer-term agreement. Long term agreements usually come with the "bonus" feature of being link-spammed with readings and articles about specific topics day and night after Alex falls down an internet rabbit hole that inevitable ends up on AO3.

Hourly Rate: $80.00
Long Term:   as negotiated
Interested? Let's talk! >>