Thursday, December 01, 2016

GET REPPED NOW - Last Chance!

What a Manager? Final Deadline Midnight Dec. 4

This is it. At 12:01AM Monday morning it's all over. Your last chance in 2016 to participate in Get Repped Now. Send us your script for in-depth script analysis. If it garners a "consider" rating, it will be read by our oanel of five top motion picture & TV literary managers:

>> GOOD FEAR -- Jake Wagner
>> INDUSTRY ENT. -- Micah Klatzker
>> ZERO GRAVITY - Jeff Belkin
>> MAGNET MGMT - Kevin Steele
>> MADHOUSE ENT. -- Manager X

Get Repped Now is a promotion, not a contest.  For a limited time, all scripts submitted to us for coverage (story analysis) which score a “consider” or higher for script (roughly the top 5%) are read by our manager panel. In the past, we’ve gotten writers meetings, we’ve gotten them signed, and we even had a big spec sale to Disney (“Nottingham & Hood” by Brandon Barker.)

You will receive a detailed 10-15 page analysis packed helpful suggestions, and you’ll receive a rating of “pass,” “consider with reservations,” “consider,” “strong consider” or “recommend.” Consider and above advances to our managers.

HOW MUCH? Standard analysis is $129 for feature scripts and $99 for 1-hour pilots.

Complete rules and FAQ:

HURRY - GET REPPED NOW ends midnight Dec. 4th! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Save $100 Now + Free Shipping + Free Gift! Sale Ends Dec. 4

Well, it was only a matter of time before someone did it -- crammed an entire screenwriting master's class into a DVD set. Hollywood script guru and consultant Jim Mercurio has stepped up with COMPLETE SCREENWRITING. And what a set it is.

Mercurio's 6-disk set is jam-packed with ten hours of content, wherein he shares all his tips, trick and advanced techniques to launch your writing into the stratosphere. No matter what level you're at, this new, slick and engaging series will put about 50,000 volts of awesome into your technique. It really is screenwriting school in a box.  

Check out the trailer.
The Complete Screenwriting disk set includes:

Expanding your Perspective Through Character and Structure
Breaking down story into its key Ingredients
Disc 3 - THEME
Using head and heart to find the soul of your story
Discovering Power at the Core of your Scene
Allowing your Reach to Exceed your Grasp
AND MORE... Everything You Need to Know 

Click HERE to read more about Complete Screenwriting.

This set is regularly $299, but until Dec. 4 you can grab it for 33% off -- only $199 - PLUS free shipping! Use code COVERAGE100 when you order.

FREE BONUS DVD! Order now and Jim will include his top-selling KILLER ENDINGS DVD. Produced as part of the Creative Screenwriting education series, this DVD will help you go out on a high note and have producers clamoring to meet you. A $39.95 value.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Get Repped Now EXTENDED - MUST END Dec. 4!

Howdy, fellow escribadors! Well, this is somewhat concerning. Normally by this point in our twice-yearly GET REPPED NOW event we have at least 6-8 "considers." by that, I mean scripts that have come in for coverage which we have rated a "consider" or better for script, which generally equates to about the top 5%. By the end of Get Repped Now we generally have around ten or so solid scripts to send to our manager panel. 

This time out we have two.

Joseph Balczo
This puts us in a bit of a spot. On the one hand, those two scripts are really good. That's exciting. Props to Joseph Balczo and Tony Dunoyer + Alex Chevasco (both of whom are previous Get Repped Now considers as well, so you know they've got the goods) for knocking it out of the park. We can't wait to drop their scripts on our managers, and I'm pretty confident we can make something happen for these guys. 

On the other hand, we've had so many near-misses this time out it kinda hurts. There's a lot of great material out there that just isn't quite there yet -- another draft or three may be needed to lick some plot logic issue or clear out the deadwood, etc.  This gives us less variety to present to the managers, and ultimately of course that means fewer talented people with the chance to get a meeting, gain a fan, start working with one of the managers or even get signed. 

Alex Chevasco

Tony Dunoyer
We generally do a 1-week extension as a matter of course with Get Repped Now, mainly because there are always johnny-come-latelies who only hear about our little promotion late in the game (it only runs for a month, way shorter than contests.)  And so it comes to this: our FINAL WEEK. Get Repped Now's final deadline is Dec. 4th. That's midnight Pacific Time, by the way.  So polish, polish, polish, get it as good as you can, because a lot is on the line here (no pressure.) Then send it to us for analysis and we'll tell you how close to the bull's-eye you are. And if it's awesome, we will give it to our managers with our recommendation, and they will read it -- guaranteed. Beyond that, it's up to you and the material.

Time to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and oh crap. looks like you're all out of bubble gum.

Submit now at

--Jim C.
Coverage Ink

Friday, November 04, 2016

First Get Repped Now Consider!

Big news, guys! Get Repped Now! has its first “consider.” We’d like to congratulate Joseph Balczo for bringing it with his TV pilot BLOODLANDS. The script concerns an Indiana conservation officer who uncovers a web of crime and conspiracy when he goes looking for two missing fellow officers. Joseph definitely has the goods -- this is his second time around as one of our GRN considers. 

"I felt this had some pixie dust on it," he said after we sent back his coverage. "I'll dig into the notes immediately and get to work on the adjustments. I'm very excited about this."

Joseph Balczo
This is the perfect time to wish everyone who has already submitted, or is about to, “good luck,” as well as put things into perspective for those of you who have gotten a “pass” or “consider with reservations.” We know how disappointing that can be. Here at CI everyone is a writer as well with plenty of firsthand knowledge of handing in a draft you think is pretty close to the mark and getting a “pass.” It stings! The important part is to carefully sift through the notes (or, alternately, rage-quit your email and give it a few days and then carefully sift through the coverage...) and think about how to improve your script. There is still time to resubmit and even if you don’t nail the rewrite before the end of GRN, there will be another one in the spring and plenty of other opportunities as well.

What are we looking for? The same thing as a manager or an agent will be looking for. Writing that’s so alive it jumps off the page, as well as a fresh and marketable concept. We are looking for someone who knows his or her craft, has a great attitude and is at least a little bit savvy about the business. Most of these things should be self-explanatory, but let’s examine why it’s important to be at least a little bit in the know when it comes to the ins and outs of this business. 

If you know something about what sells and what doesn’t sell, then one would hope that you won’t spend a year on perfecting something that doesn’t stand the proverbial chance of a snowball in Hell. A couple of years ago, a script came across our desks that was as close to the mark as anything we had ever seen. In fact, we handed it to several readers, because we couldn’t believe that there is such a thing as only praise and no notes. But such was the case with this script. This was that rarest of rare things: a "RECOMMEND." 

The downside? On a marketability scale of 1 – 10, the script came in at about minus 123. We floated it to all of our contacts. Every single one had the exact same reaction: “Really good writing. But there’s nothing I can do with this material. If the guy has something else, I’d be more than happy to read it.” We got some of our industry people to meet with him and... same result. 

Look, that’s not a terrible outcome. The writer managed to crack open a few doors, which he can utilize should he have something a bit more commercial. But it’s a far cry from Brandon Barker, whose spec NOTTINGHAM AND HOOD we discovered through Get Repped Now, and we got him signed by a manager, an agent, and, shortly thereafter, sold to Disney in a six-figure deal.
Now you might scratch your head and wonder why being an excellent writer isn’t good enough to get you through the door. Agents and managers ultimately are salespeople, and the main thing they want to know is if you can produce material they can sell. Everything else is secondary. And until you have proven that you can make them money, they won’t be interested no matter how good you are. We've seen it time and again -- great writers who get passed over because there's no (easy) place to shop their material. No one wants to take on the Sisyphean task of selling a brilliant period drama, for example. It takes years of work for a very small payday. Whereas if you write the next FAST & FURIOUS or THE HANGOVER, there are producers out there hungry for that material.   
None of this means that you should try to imitate someone else, or force yourself to write scripts that are "more marketable." Or that you should use the same concept as that summer blockbuster hit from last year. Don’t laugh. We see these scripts all the time. This is where fresh and original comes in. Look, nobody will sign an imitation of somebody else. They will sign you because of your unique voice. As they say, be yourself, it’s a tough act to follow. 

Or, as we like to say, be yourself, but marketable. 

Next, let’s talk about attitude. I was recently on the phone with a client who was very distressed because the fifth draft of his script still hadn’t gotten a “consider.” What was running through my head during this conversation? 

1.  And? Dude, I’m on draft 15 of my new script right now. If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. Writing IS rewriting, folks. 
2. How could I possibly refer this person to our industry people, if he freaks out when he has to do another draft? They’ll be asking him to implement their notes on draft after draft after draft. Remember ANIMAL HOUSE -- "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" Yeah, that's screenwriting. Get used to it.
3.  If he has a hard time getting or implementing notes, he is not ready to work professionally in this business.  

And here is a personal favorite of mine: “But such and such writer (insert name of any famous Hollywood darling) doesn’t know what s/he is doing” or “doesn’t seem to know structure” or “writes terrible dialogue” or “never has a setup.” People, there are two sets of rules here. One set is for people who are already “in” (even if their entry wasn’t merit-based,) and the other set is for people who are trying to break in. If you’re already in… you can pretty much do what you want. If you’re not… well, you can’t. Seriously, if you need to find a blackboard and write this longhand 150 times until is sinks in, do so. Eventually, you’ll be glad you did. 

What do we really want? We want you to succeed. Really and seriously. I know that it’s difficult to get a “pass,” but the hope here is that with our help you’ll be able to improve your script to the point where it will become a “consider.” Why do we want you to succeed? Because it makes us look good. 

So let’s bring it! 

--Tanya Klein
Coverage Ink

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Can Get You Signed... (But I Probably Won't)

Hi all, my latest article is now up at American Screenwriting Association. Check it out!

Okay, that snarky title is going to require some ‘splainin’, to quote the great Ricky Ricardo. Truth is, pretty much anyone who knows a few people in the biz can probably help get you signed -- a working writer, an assistant, an intern, whatever. Because anyone can be a passionate advocate. And if you absolutely love a piece of material, are gonzo excited about it, well, that’s contagious. And if your connection commands any level of respect at a company, at the very least the script they’re advocating for will be sent for coverage. But if they really trust that person’s judgment, the agent, producer or manager may well read that script personally. That’s the grease in Hollywood ‘s wheels-- referrals from people whose opinions they trust.

Problem is, most scripts don’t rise to the level of inspiring that sort of advocacy.
I founded in 2002, and we’ve seen a lot of scripts in that time -- tens of thousands. And while we’ve found a fistful of gems over the years, the vast majority of what we see are scripts that have potential but need a bit of work. Yeah, pretty much every single script, even the awesome ones, has some sort of problem. Of course, not all issues have the same weight. A great storyteller with voice and verve and panache, who constantly surprises the reader on every page? Heck, suddenly typos are much less important. On the other hand, a script with wonderfully dimensional characters but a weak structure is going nowhere fast, because jaded, ADD-afflicted Hollywood types are looking for any excuse to stop reading. Page 20 and your inciting incident hasn’t hit yet? You’re toast.

However, there are some scripts which we see -- not many, but a few -- which just radiate awesome. They might need a few more drafts, some rethinking, maybe a dialogue polish -- but still, they demand attention. Perhaps because of a unique, bracing writer voice. It may be a killer concept. It may be just a whole lot of brilliance on the page. But above all, it has to be entertaining. When I find a script like that, I have to champion it. I mean, that’s what we’re all looking for. (Except the assholes who will never ever do anyone a solid because they somehow think doing so will jeopardize their little fiefdom. We all know a few people like that, right?) I want to be able to call up my manager friends and say, “Drop everything and read this now.” And that’s exactly what I did with Brandon Barker’s “Nottingham & Hood,” which manager Jake Wagner (then at Benderspink) sold to Disney. More on that in a moment.

Click HERE to continue!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Screenwriter Heather Upton Makes Her Own Opportunities and Scores Writers’ Assistant Gig on Netflix’s IRON FIST


By Jim Cirile

Heather Upton knows how to work it. After going to a liberal arts college in Philly, she kicked around various jobs in various cities until The Grub Street screenwriting class in Boston changed her life. Moving out to LA with a freelance, work-from-home editing job paying the bills, she cranked out specs, some of which placed highly in contests (such as our own Writers on the Storm, in which she placed third) and hit up everyone she knew, always scrambling to make connections and land jobs. She scored unpaid intern gigs at places like Paul Haggis’ Hwy 61, where she made more connections and landed a manager (Circle of Confusion.) Now she’s joined the Marvel superhero family -- where she fits right in, landing the gig of writers’ assistant on the upcoming 13-episode Netflix show Marvel’s Iron Fist. I talked with Heather about breaking in, working for Marvel, and how one must never stop marketing oneself -- because you are your own best advocate.


Jim Cirile (JC): Are you done? Are you all wrapped?

Heather Upton (HU): Production wraps this week, and then we’ll be in post for months. And we just heard the show drops March 17th 2017! 

JC: Awesome. So tell us about working at Hwy 61. That must have been amazing industry experience.

HU: It was phenomenal. Seeing the scripts that come in from the agencies and A-list actors who wanted to work with them was eye-opening… I recommend to all new writers to LA to get a job doing coverage. Having to read a script and then write what is and isn’t working really makes you think about the fundamentals of screenwriting in your own scripts.

JC: Were you surprised by the quality, or lack thereof, of all the scripts you read during that time?

HU: Some were as terrific as you’d expect, and some were shockingly low quality. And these were scripts sent to an A-list director. There was definitely stuff where I was like, I could write something better than this. I know people who could write something better than this. It made me keenly aware that success is not just about talent, but also who you know.

JC: Let’s talk Marvel’s IRON FIST. How did you get the gig?

HU: I actually kind of took a couple years off -- had a kid, renovated a house. And then when I was ready to really go hard again at getting work, I talked to friends about how much I missed working with people. That, to me, is one of the downsides of screenwriting. I had all these friends in TV, and they encouraged me to try it -- there are so many jobs, and it’s so interactive. So two years ago I applied for the Disney/ABC TV Writing Program, and I was one of the finalists for it. That was enough for me to get meetings at Marvel and a few other places through my manager and through personal connections. I called people and was like, hey, I’d really like to try TV, and the Disney/ABC people thought I was decent.

JC: Marketing yourself. So many people think once you’re represented, you can just sit back and sell scripts.

HU: It’s totally about asking people to help you, and that is something I feel like I’m still learning. So many people are willing to, and so many people definitely aren’t, but you won’t know until you ask. So I asked people to make connections for me, and this one at Marvel panned out. They didn’t have anything available when I went in, but the exec I met with said, “We’ll have more and more stuff. Keep in touch.” And I did, because it’s your job to follow up, not theirs. Eventually they had something come up, and asked if I wanted to interview for it, and I did, and I got Iron Fist, which was so fun.

JC: Proving that perseverance is at least as important as talent.

Finn Jones as Danny Rand in Marvel's IRON FIST, coming 2017 on Netflix.
HU: Totally. It’s both heartening and disheartening to sit in the writers room and talk to them about how they get work, and they’re like, “The hustle never ends.” 

JC: Tell us what a writers’ assistant does.

HU: Every writers’ room generally has between six and ten writers, and the writers sit in there from six to ten hours a day and break the story. So they come up with a season-long arc and a sense of who the characters are, and then break down scripts episode by episode. Some rooms even break it down scene by scene. Every single day there are ideas flying and creativity pouring out, and the writers’ assistant has to write down every single important thing that is said in the room, and also to filter out the stuff that isn’t important. At the end of the day, you send them 40 pages, and there’s as much useless stuff as there is useful stuff, it’s too much for them to wade through. It has to make coherent sense. 

JC: So you’re taking steno, in a way. And then a couple days later someone will say, “Hey what was that thing I said the other day?,” and you have to go find it?

HU: And then everybody looks at you… (laughs) and you think, “Oh God, I hope I wrote it down.”

JC: Sounds like it could be pretty stressful -- what was the overall vibe?

HU: I definitely lucked out and got a roomful of people who were really nice and super supportive. It wasn’t so much stressful as it was just focused, hard work. Mostly it was really fun. I love the Marvel stuff. I love the story that we wrote, and I just loved being in the room and getting to experience how the story gets told and how it changes and gets shaped by different ideas. You know, you write one episode, and then you get down to episode four and you realize, oh, well, if we do this here, we’ll have to go back and revise everything that came before, because this new thing has a cascade effect on everything else that happens. It was really cool to see how things evolved over time, too. And then once we started shooting, it was interesting to see how the actors on screen actually changed the story.

JC: How did you guys interface with the other Marvel Netflix shows? Obviously, there’s this big, internal continuity. You have to be aware of everything everyone else is doing too, right?]

HU:  Everybody had watched Daredevil and (Jessica) Jones before we got there, and then they let us have the scripts for (Luke) Cage, and then they actually gave us the rough cuts of Cage, too. There are Marvel execs who, every time we pitch an episode, part of what they do is to give us continuity notes. There are a couple of Marvel execs who hold the entire TV world in their heads, and they’re constantly moving the pieces around to make sure that all the characters’ stories make sense and that something that happens on Iron Fist won’t affect a different show.

JC: Right, because there are other shows being planned in the future as well, which will all be affected by what you do.

HU: Exactly. Sometimes we would have meetings with the Marvel execs, and it was just extraordinary, to see how deeply and thoroughly some of them know the universe. It’s amazing.

JC: So how do you do it, what with being a mom and writing specs on the side? How do you pay the bills, raise a kid, work a demanding job and try to further your career all at the same time?

HU: You’ve got to be really organized (laughs.) It makes for some long days. I would be in the office for Marvel and then go home to my daughter, and it’s just me and her, and that’s a lot of work. I also have my freelance gig, because a writers’ assistant pay is crap. And then I’m writing my own specs on the side. Being in the room all day was exhausting, but it was also really inspiring. It was like being in a master class. I would come home with a head full of creative ideas. That really helped me sit down and say to myself, Okay, I need to do 30 minutes on my spec tonight. That was good motivation, constantly being around people who were coming up with stories. That, being organized… and wanting it, maybe? (laughs)

JC: Definitely wanting it, because it would be real easy to just come home and collapse. So where does this all lead? Any chance for advancement?

HU: One of the nice things about having worked at Marvel is that they have so many projects going, the ones we’ve heard of and the ones I imagine are in the pipeline. So now being in the Marvel machine, I think it makes it easier for me to pitch myself in the future Marvel jobs. It’s not only fun work, but my experience thus far is that Marvel is filled with really nice people, which is wonderful and sort of unusual in this industry. One of the challenges with working on a Marvel show, though, is that because they have so many, nobody really knows what’s going to happen with ours. Will there be a season two? When will it be? I have all this great experience now under my belt, but I still have to go back out on the job market.

JC: Hence you’ve been cranking out specs, and you have an additional level of legitimacy now.

HU: For sure. So what I’m doing now is what I did before -- getting in touch with people who work on shows, and telling them now I have experience under my belt and I loved it, so if you know anybody… And then my manager has me writing specs because he wants to put me up for staff writer jobs.

JC: That’s definitely the next step. Okay, last question -- and you may not be able to answer, so feel free to be as cagey as necessary. In the comic books, Iron Fist’s costume was really silly…

HU: (laughs) I can’t tell you anything!

JC: He wore a silly thing on his head with the Spider-Man white eye holes, a skin-tight green leotard with a plunging boob window and these little yellow footie-things… Luke is just walking around in street clothes. Is our guy going to have any sort of costume at all?

HU: I’m pretty sure that I can’t answer that at all. I can tell you that the traditional costume in the comics was the subject of much discussion for exactly those reasons.

JC: I mean, I grew up reading Power Man and Iron Fist in the ‘70s, and the idea of them not wearing their traditional costumes, that’s sacrilege. But then, could you actually see anyone wearing the Iron Fist costume in real life? It would be laughable.

HU: Right, especially when you consider Luke Cage, a black man in Harlem with a tiara.

JC: Heather, you’re a shining example of hustle and muscle. May others learn well from your example. I expect a big, shiny spec sale soon.

HU: Thank you!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Do You Like Money?, fellow scribes,

I'm pleased to announce that I've joined the American Screenwriters Association editorial board. This means I'll be writing new original content for the ASA blog every month (which we will link to here as well.)

As many of you know, I was the agents/managers expert for Script magazine as well as wrote the Agents Hot Sheet column for Creative Screenwriting for a decade. So it's exciting to have a new outlet, since there's a lot going on out there which I feel the need to grouse about -- and I still see screenwriters making the same damn mistakes over and over. Sigh.

My first article for ASA is called DO YOU LIKE MONEY?, and you can read it right here. It's about the changing shape of the marketplace, the emergence of TV as the new marketplace for emerging writers, and how YOU can get a piece of it. Bounce on over to American Screenwriters Association and check it out. You may also want to consider signing up while you're there!

To paraphrase a certain ballsy young meth cook: I'm back, bitch!


Jim C.