Monday, September 15, 2008


Congratulations to our Quarterfinalists! With over thirteen hundred scripts to go through, our readers had a lot of tough choices to make in narrowing down to the top 10%, and I'm pleased to say competition was fierce. Our next round is so full of drama, romance, adventure, and tragedy that we could keep a troupe of actors busy for a decade!

We hope to announce the Semifinalists (Top 50) on October 3rd and also start sending out the feedback forms on that same date.

If your script did not advance this time around, don't despair - keep in mind that we had to pass on 90% of our entries. In a couple of weeks, you'll receive your scores and feedback, which will give you a better idea of what our readers liked about your work, and where they thought you could use some help with your next rewrite. As always, remember that writing is a craft, and you'll only improve with time. Best of luck!

Portia Jefferson,
Writers on the Storm Contest Coordinator



A Poem for Silvertown by James Schannep
Adjourned by Joe Romeo
Adversity by Andrew Sessions
Amaze Your Friends! by Paul Taegel
Apparition by Scott Fickas
Avalon Bound by Brandon Rosin
Back from the Dead by Art Blum
Belfast Boys by Heather Upton
Between by Cynthia Troyer
Beyond the Horizon by George Ferris
Black Damp by Carla Robinson
Blacklights by Chris Jopling
Blood and Bulls by Kelly Murry
Blood Money by Michael Eging
Blowback by Jeff Travers
Blue Ballers by Andrew Zeoli & Christian Wagner
Blue Bloods by Lucy Cruell
Bothered Minds by Simon Nagel
Breaking Through by Ken White, Stephen Larsen, & Robin Larsen
Brisker by Michael Brody & Jeff Kingery
BRO (Bull Riders Only) by Melinda May
Brush With Fame, Suzanne Darling
Bull Comb Blues by David Warnock
Bury Me in Fire by Odin Shafer
Cage by Philip Landa
Canaries by Craig Cambria
Catch 21 by Gary Eichelberger
Center of Fortitude by Mark Eaton & Stacy Dymalski
Character Sheet by Harry Bauer
Chicken Mountain by Maurice Poplar
Chosen One by William Sikorski, Jr. & William Sikorski III
Clay Dorfman: Playground Attorney by Andy Silverman
Clone by Michael Coleman Jr.
Colossus by Jason Kent
Controlled by Craig Cambria
Cross of the Savage by Joe Crouch
Darkness Knows the Night by Michelle Muldoon
Datsun Saves by Robert Arnett
David's Ashes by Jake Barsha
DEAD Line by Jim Corona
Dead Whisper by Jennifer Butell-Kersey
Death Valley Dig by CA Bennett
Eden Lost by Alan Sproles & Lizanne Southgate
Edgewater by Patrick Nicholas
Enlighten Up by Attila Nagy, Garen Inboden & Gilbert Inboden
Eurabia by Joe Flood
Every Dog Has His Day by Dov Engelberg
Evicting the Wyatts by Josh Lane
Expunged by Jocelyn Osier
False ID by Stephen Aisenberg & Russ LaValle
Family and Fish by Stuart Rogers
Fatal Ambition by Sam Neil Kesler
Fausta by Dalisia Mendoza
Firebrand by Simon Nagel
First Dog by Bryan Stoller
Five Dreams by Robert Rivenbark & Kathleen Rivenbark
Folk City by Gordon Rayfield
Fool Moon by Gail L. Jenner
Forest Fire! by Dan Williams
Forever in Blue Jeans by Alex Drummond
Franco: The Movie by Edward Windus
Free Skate by Caitlin McCarthy
Frozen Fire by Paul Pawlowski
Global Swarming by Diana Ohlbaum
Good Intentions by Alexis Coyle & Rudy Coyle
Grief from Madame Butterfly by Barry Leach
Hair Today ... by Dennis Douda
Hart Crane by David Kaneen
Hell, Incorporated by Chris Copeland
Honor Among Rats by Adam Perin
Imitating Art by Rogelio Lobato
In the Middle of Greatness by C.J. Liao
Invisible Ladies by Hope Vinitsky
Ironman by George Gier
Jetpack by Adam Nur
Joltin' Joe by Michael Notarile
Katrina by Vane Verdant
La Bandera by Tina Juarez
La Matadora by Kelly Murry
Laced Up by David R. Larson
Lawnmower Mafia by Dennis Douda
Lifer by Inon Shampanier
Link by Jerry White
Louis by Alexander Valhouli
Lullaby by Gabrielle Galanter & Luis Camara
Man At War by I-fan Quirk & Jim Zachar
Martyr by Brian J. Martin
Mechanicsville by Jason Thornton & Chris Thornton
Mistress of the Sea by Rebecca Howland
My Alien Boss by Tim McSmythurs
My Hero by David Norwood
Newton’s Cradle by Jarran Davis
No Trespassing by Kevin Sheridan
Occurence at Latigo by Jack R. Stanley
Orcadia by Steven Zawacki
Organic Svengali by Russ Meyer
Out of Time by Genevieve Pearson
Perfect Form by Randy Moore
Pitch Out by Michelle Muldoon
Pound for Pound by Dennis Bailey
Poser by Susan & Wayne Boyer
Rainy Dayz by Mark Swiecicki
Rasta Pasta by AC Yacobian
Release Me by Doug Pitman
Remote Stryker by Lisa Cordova
Rodeo Rose by Lisa Henry
Savage by Barry Levy
Sea Fever by Richard Guimond
Shanghai Blood by Mark Niu
Sick Love by Gavin Carlton
Silver River by Marnie Collins
Sisters in Arms by Barry Leach
Sliding Into Home by RIch Sheehy
Small Town Stars by Niall Madden
Still by Clea Frost
Target 26 by Christopher Littler
The Baby Whisperer by Scott Clevenger
The Bardo Realm by CV Herst
The Big Blue Room by Samuel Dulmage
The Blues Detective by Alasdair McMullin
The Center of Fortitude by Stacy Dymalski
The Copper Scroll by Eyal Lavi
The Count by Craig Schwartz
The Expired Man by Kevin McAllister
The Fisherman's Wife by Nathan G. Brown & Lisa Super
The Fraternity by Jeff Wiegand
The Friendliest Evil Clown Around by Michael Pauly
The Knuckleballer by Michael Murphy
The Last Adventure of Martin Finch by Aaron Marshall
The Last American Guido by Vito LaBruno
The Line by Ben Krapf
The Lost Kids and the Unwritten Language by Felipe Cagno
The Man Who Stops Time by Paul Sargia
The Missing Pilots by Stephen Kelly
The Moonbeam Fisherman by John Dummer
The OM Factor by Jean Buschmann
The Pirate Queen of Connemara by Suzanne C. Doherty
The Ra Complex by Ryan Kent
The River of Sin by Richard Guimond & Linda Cordero
The School by Jason Sawrey
The Shanghailanders by Craig Rosenthal
The Source by Nisso Cohen
The Terminals by Matt Umbarger
Trauma Junkie by Tom Hobbs
Upon This Rock by Tim Mangan
Variance by Stevie Bloom
Virgin Marie by Krista Zumbrink
Women In Pants by Stan Himes

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Big Money (part 1)


reprinted courtesy of "Creative Screenwriting"

By Jim Cirile

“Writing about big money--it’s kind of like writing about diets in a health magazine. There is no easy way. Sure, I would love to take a pill and be thin. I would love to write one spec and be a millionaire. (But) the writers who are making the most money in the business have the goods. The people who are losing the weight are exercising and eating right.”
—Nicole Clemens, ICM

Let’s face it—for every one of us who pursues screenwriting out of passion, there are 42 who are in it for the cashola. In this special 2-part column, our panelists give you the 411 on putting some cha-ching in ya--when to bluff, when to just shut up and take a lowball offer, and when to go for the BIG MONEY.


Richard Arlook
The Gersh Agency

Marty Bowen
United Talent Agency

Nicole Clemens
International Creative Management

Emile Gladstone

Graham Kaye
Creative Management Group

DOUGH. You want it. I want it. Enticed by countless spec sales of the ‘90s, every dope with a dot matrix printer cranked out a “It’s Die Hard—only in a building!” action spec and attempted to get a piece of the action. But suddenly, it’s 2004. Lots of crap is still being hurled against the wall, but less and less of it is sticking. Joe First-Time is finding himself increasingly S.O.L. The first and most important thing you need to know: Hollywood is no longer the ATM machine it used to be.

UTA’s Marty Bowen, recently profiled in Premiere magazine, has sold plenty of big-money scripts, yet even he acknowledges that things ain’t what they used to be: “There is definitely a contraction in the marketplace for spec scripts and for writing assignments. Back in ’96, everything would sell, and everybody was working. That’s just not the way business is done these days.” Gersh’s Abram Nalibotsky seconds that. “I feel like the studios are definitely buying less. They will buy. From known writers, they will throw out big numbers, but it feels like they want to buy ready-to-go films that have a major element.” CMG manager Graham Kaye won’t even go out with a spec anymore unless he’s attached a big-name actor or director. “The spec market is dry,” he notes dryly. “Studios are either making big tent-pole movies, or they’re doing remakes. There’s not a lot of originality out there. Studios naturally want to make their corporations happy, so they’ll go with much more steady writers, proven writers. I go back to when Rob Carlson and Alan Gasmer sold, I think, 56 specs in a year when I was at William Morris—the glory days. That’s something you will never see happen again, I don’t believe.”

I should probably end the column right here! But no, the news is only mostly bad. In fact, for the lucky few, the rewards can be bigger than ever. Even though the odds of your spec actually selling on the marketplace have dropped dramatically, those busted specs become writing samples off which a writer will get meetings and, if you’re very “good in a room,” you may be hired for a lucrative writing assignment. “The bread and butter of Hollywood is the assignment business,” says ICM’s Emile Gladstone. So let’s see how we can get our hands on one of those rare ATM cards.

First off: make sure your script rocks before you waste anybody’s time. “Writing about big money--it’s kind of like writing about diets in a health magazine,” laughs ICM’s Nicole Clemens. “There is no easy way. Sure, I would love to take a pill and be thin. I would love to write one spec and be a millionaire. (But) the writers who are making the most money in the business have the goods. The people who are losing the weight are exercising and eating right.” The Hollywood system is clogged with thousands of scripts, 99% of which were simply not ready to be submitted to potential agents, managers, or producers. Just because you’ve spent time on something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ready to go. You need to get notes from friends, teachers, script analysts or coverage services, take classes at UCLA Extension, get yourself into a writing group. When you find yourself getting raves and “considers,” you’ll know you’re really ready to go. Yes, that means you have to do some work. Sorry.

When you reach that point, you’ll find that oddly enough, representatives will actually want to meet with you and—horrors—even try to sell your script for you. It now becomes critical to remember to keep that slavering, insatiable money lust under control! “It’s a tremendous liability,” observes Bowen. “A couple of times in my career I’ve made the mistake of looking at a (purely money-driven) client as just a potential piece of business. Every time I’ve done that, my ability to represent them has been diminished by the fact that I’m not passionate about their work.” Kaye agrees, “When they discuss money in the very first conversation, and vehemently, that makes me nervous. I know that usually there’s no stability or loyalty.” He recalls a former client who had an offer on his script from Disney for half a million dollars. “An agency came in and told this writer in the middle of negotiations that I was doing a horrible job. He believed them, and he passed on the offer. This big agency went out and tried to renegotiate with all the other studios—a couple days later went back begging to Disney for the same deal. This was a person who was living in a 1-room apartment with bullet holes in the walls. They’d hung paintings over the bullet holes. He was driving a bus, and his wife was teaching blind children. And I thought, ‘How could people with that much humility all of a sudden start behaving that way?’”

So keep that greed in check and “think long-term always,” says Gladstone. “You cultivate relationships with the producers and studio executives and directors. These will hopefully pay off for years. When you’re thinking about it just in the money terms, man, you’re not thinking clearly.” To illustrate, Gladstone tells us about client Matt Lopez. “In the same week, he sold a pitch and got invited into the Disney Writer’s Program. The pitch would have probably paid more and have been a shorter period of time. The Disney Writer’s Program was a full year. But he made a decision to go with the Writer’s Program because of the relationships that he would foster and the education that he would garner. You hope you make friends and gain respect. You learn the game a little bit, too, from the inside out. Now you’ve got to pay the bills, too, and oftentimes, writers that have options, it’s not about work, it’s about the right work. Sometimes the money jobs aren’t the ones that are the most creatively fulfilling. So you sort of balance out the year so that there’s cash flow so that the writer can send their kids to school and pay for their mortgage, and also not feel creatively bankrupt at the end of the year by just writing sequels and remakes.”

Which brings us to an incredible irony of the business: sometimes the best way to make big money is to turn it down. “Like a starving man in front of his first big meal, it can be incredibly hard to walk away from the table,” says Bowen. “When you finally get into the game, you’re scared to say no, because you don’t know when the next time you’re going to be offered.” But doing just that can be both a viable strategy to drive up the price on a spec sale and a wise long-term career move for a working writer considering whether to accept a dubious assignment. “(Walking away from the table) is a very, very well thought-out decision,” says Clemens. “I never encourage my clients to bluff unless they’re absolutely willing to not have (the deal) happen. But I don’t think I’ve ever bluffed and not gotten what we wanted. You read the heat, and if you have something pretty amazing, it’s going to find a home.”

Gladstone adds, “I certainly have gambled with clients based on my feelings about the marketplace and the spec situation. But I would say that I’ve had more times when we’ve taken less money to work with the right company than just take the extra 50 or 100 grand to work with a company that we don’t feel is the best place for the movie or environment for the writers. It’s not about the payday, man. It’s about the long term. Where you make money off these guys is in year two, year three. If the writer’s not in the right environment creatively to deliver a good rewrite of their script, they’re no different than they were before they sold a million-dollar script. In fact, it’s worse, because they become known as people that don’t deliver.”

In Part 2 to follow, our panel details negotiation strategies and tells you how they increase their clients’ quotes and maximize every opportunity. Be there. Aloha.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Huge congratulations to Mark Kratter, whose script WHERE THE DEAD GO has been announced as the Grand Prize winner of the 2007 Fade In awards! Kratter developed his script in 2007 with CI founder Jim Cirile. This is just the latest in a string of accolades for Kratter and this script, who recently finished a script-for-hire for Clark Peterson (who produced MONSTER with Charlize Theron).

A round of applause for Mr. Kratter!