Friday, November 28, 2008 Contest Deadline Approaching 12/1

Why are we plugging someone else's contest? Because it's This is not a big money & prizes contest like Writers on the Storm. Trackin B's contest offers NO prizes--beyond access. is a real, live industry tracking board that many in the development community subscribe to. Their contest winners get serious industry exposure. Full stop. And seriously, what more does anyone really want out of a contest?

Quick anecdote to prove a point. A few weeks ago I asked a manager friend if he knew of any projects out there similar to the spec idea I was outlining. He promptly e-mailed me back with a list of projects with similar concepts. I was stunned. I told him I didn't see any of these on filmtracker. And he replied no, he pulled them off And I was like, duh! Why the hell didn't I check there? So I did, and sure enough, I found a post about a very similar project that was out as a spec that very week! Two points here: number one, a very powerful industry manager friend uses as a resource; and two, my project was effectively DOA, and without I would have wasted 6 months on it.

Check out and enter their contest right HERE. Hurry--deadline is Monday 12/1!

--Jim Cirile

Monday, November 24, 2008


After plowing through an amazing amount of good scripts, ten rose to the top. The past 3 weeks several trusted confidants and I read these scripts and then I tallied the input. For the winner--it was a rout. All of us agreed that one script far and away was The One--an enthralling story, well-told. For the #2 and 3 slot, things were not quite as clear-cut. Both were fantastic, although completely different animals. Ultimately it came down to which one grabbed us, shook us senseless and made us beg for more the most.

A round of applause, please, for the WINNERS OF WRITERS ON THE STORM 2008:


***The Moonbeam Fisherman*** by John Dummer

Family movie about a boy who discovers an interplanetary secret being kept by an old hermit. Engrossing, uplifting, wonderful.


***Deathless*** (AKA “Link”) by Jerry White

A truly chilling new take on the haunted house movie that creates a brilliant new franchiseable bad guy. The town will flock. Spectacular.


***Belfast Boys*** by Heather Upton

A young man gets sucked into violent world of the I.R.A. in 1980s Ireland. Crackles with action and verisimilitude.

Once again, let’s hear it for the rest of our top ten:

Black Damp by Carla Robinson
Cage by Philip Landa
Canaries by Craig Cambria
Colossus by Jason Kent
Fausta by Dalisia Mendoza
In the Middle of Greatness by C.J. Liao
Upon This Rock by Tim Mangan

Congratulations to you all. And now it’s prizes time. We’ll be contacting all of you directly about getting your hands on the shwag!

On behalf of Portia Jefferson and the Coverage, Ink and Writers on the Storm teams, thanks to everyone who participated. Writers on the Storm 4 starts up again in April! Keep honing, whittling, editing and polishing, and we’ll see you guys in 2009!

Jim Cirile

P.S. News flash: WOTS 2006 Runners up John and Patricia Zussman have been hired to write the political drama "The Trial of Osama bin Laden" by producer Erik Bauer as a direct result of WOTS! Way to go, guys!

Write Like You Mean It: The CS Open 2008

By Pete Thermopulous

60 writers under the gun. Precious seconds ticking away. Would they concoct a knockout scene before the clock ran out? Before they knew it, time was up… and the next group of hapless writers filed in to test their mettle.

The CS Open live writing tournament was, as always, a Screenwriting Expo highlight. For the seventh year straight, Coverage, Ink’s Jim Cirile and his cutthroat team of industry readers coordinated. “Most of us can compose a good scene in a week or three,” says Cirile. “But can you do it under the gun? In pencil?”

Writers were given scene parameters and 90 minutes to write it. A sample prompt: Your PROTAGONIST has just discovered that his or her LOVE INTEREST has double-crossed him (or her.) All signs indicate that the love interest has been leading on the protagonist from the start merely to accomplish a goal. Feeling betrayed and angry, your protagonist confronts the love interest. ”You have to write your own interpretation of the parameters while still nailing it,” says Cirile. “Originality counts for 25% of your total score. Our top thirteen this year got very creative.”

Those who scored in the top 10% progressed to round two… to write yet another brand-new scene. Participants also were able to pick up their graded scenes. “Even though it’s just a short scene, we try to give everybody constructive feedback,” says Cirile. “You can definitely improve your craft quickly in the Open.” The top 13 from round two then advanced to the finals Sunday morning.

“The whole team read each of the finalists’ scenes, and we averaged the scores,” says Cirile. “It was pretty clear-cut. There were only three scenes in the 90s.” And then the fun part—the top three scenes were performed live at the Expo’s closing ceremonies by Pasha McKenley’s team of actors. When the audience finished laughing (all the scenes were comedies,) they voted, and Jan Pfeiffer’s scene “Sucker Punch” nabbed the $3,000 grand prize. “What Knot to Do” by Matthew Scott took second place, and Robert Dixon’s “Houston, We Have a Problem” grabbed third. And for those who strived but were eliminated, Cirile offers this advice: “Self-editing is crucial. We had too many scenes of 12 pages or more. Practice up and come back next year ready to kick ass.”

“It was a great experience,” concludes winner Jan Pfeiffer. “There's nothing like a deadline to kick your butt in gear. I think I wrote more in the three rounds than I have in the past three months. It's hard to keep writing when you wonder if your work will ever find the light of day, and it was an amazing boost to see and hear my ideas performed in front of a live audience.”

*** Coverage, Ink congratulates the 2008 CS Open top thirteen: Vivian Lee Moore, Elizabeth Bigelow, Bob Garland, Michael Azzopardi, CJ Conklin, David Gatlin, Eric Rodriguez, Magaly Colimon, Stephen Smith, Scott Noack and Robert Dixon (third place), Matthew Scott (second place), and Jan Pfeiffer (winner.)***

Friday, November 21, 2008

Writers on the Storm 2008 Winners Chosen...

To be announced MONDAY!

We know who the winners are, and we are very very happy with them this year. Our top 3 are damn, damn good scripts. The winner has an uncanny voice and lyrical writing that explodes off the page. More soon!

Also coming soon, we'll be blogging about the CS Open and the Screenwriting Expo. We've been slammed dealing with the contest and looming deadlines on several projects all at the same time, but next week we'll bring you some pix from the Expo and tell you all about the CS Open, which this year yielded the finest new crop of talent I've seen in some time. The winning scene was written by Jan Pfeiffer, and it was a gas! For the first time in seven years of doing this, it was a landslide victory for his scene. In short, Pfeiffer dominated!

Jim with CS Open Writing Tournament 2008 Finalists--13 damn good writers--Vivien Lee Moore, Elizabeth Bigelow, Bob Garland, Michael Azzopardi, CJ Conklin, David Gatlin, Eric Rodriguez, Magaly Colimon, Stephen Smith, Scott Noack and Robert Dixon (third place), Matthew Scott (second place), and Jan Pfeiffer (winner.)

This plus the latest Coverage, Ink newsletter coming next week which includes our best-ever SALE exclusive to newsletter subscribers (if you're not getting our free newsletter, just e-mail us at and we'll get you on the list. No, we will never sell your name to any lists or spam you or send you crapmail. The only thing we will ever send you is our monthly newsletter.)

As we roll into 2009 with a crashing economy but at long last a hope for sane government, I encourage everyone to hang in there and keep honing your craft. Remember, overnight success in Hollywood takes ten years! (Seriously.) And as always, my door is always open. Hit me with any questions at


Jim Cirile
Coverage, Ink
Writers on the Storm

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CS OPEN 2008!

Egads! It's that time again! Time for the CI team (well, a handful of us anyway) to roll on over to the LA Convention Center and once again see what you guys can do with 90 minutes and a pencil. For the 7th year straight Coverage Ink will be presenting and judging the CS Open live writing tournament. If you're attending the Expo, do consider trying your hand at this one-of-a-kind competition. You'll be amazed at how our little tournament gets the create juices going. With thousands of dollars in cash and prizes and feedback on every scene, the CS Open is an absurdly fun little exercise.

In a nutshell: We give you 90 minutes and a scene prompt. You then write your best interpretation of that scene. We then score it, and you can pick up your scene later to see how you did. Top 10% advance to round two and top 10 to round 3. Winners are voted on by the audience at the closing ceremonies, after the top 3 scenes are acted out for the audience by actors! This is always a hoot, especially when you consider those scenes were written and performed the same day!

So pick up a ticket to the Open and stop by and see us at room 409 AB! And feel free to introduce yourself, ask questions or advice, etc. As always, CI is here to help.

Jim C.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Screenwriting Expo boosts CS Open Prizes

Hi guys, this just in from Creative Screenwriting--they've kicked up the prizes on the CS Open! Now all top ten finalists finish in the money. Nice! as always, CI will be there coordinating and judging the tournament. So sharpen those pencils, bring that creativity and lay it on us!

The CS Open

A Unique Round-Robin Writing Competition
Managed and Judged By Coverage, Ink.


The 2008 Creative Screenwriting Open allows you to match your screenwriting skills over two days with other screenwriters from across the U.S. The CS Open is a two-day writing competition with big prizes.

The Biggest Prize: The Publicity And Exposure of Your Talents

If you are a finalist, your scene, written under deadline pressure, will be acted out in a live reading in front of hundreds of screenwriters, producers, agents, and others in the audience at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Screenwriting Expo. By making it to the finals, you will have proved, in the only competition of its kind, that you can write creatively under major deadline pressure -- a rare and valuable ability in Hollywood.

And this year, National Public Radio has expressed interest in covering the CS Open. We don't know what that coverage might be, but this is potentially national publicity for the winners.

So we have decided to increase the prizes for this event:

Total Grand Prize Value: $4,057.82
The Grand Prize was $3,000 and a free copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter. It is now:

* Still $3,000 cash, plus
* Movie Magic Screenwriter ($159.95 value), plus
* Free Expo Admission: we will refund winner's Expo registration fee up to the cost of a Basic Pass ($94.95 if winner paid for early Basic Registration, $144.95 if winner bought a Gold Pass or regular Basic Pass); plus
* Refund of the winner's CS Open entry fee ($10); plus
* A free subscription to Creative Screenwriting Magazine or one-year extension ($24.95 US); plus
* A free full set of our Screenwriting DVDs ($717.97 value at the sale price)

Second Prize More Than Doubled In Value: $1,004.95

Second Prize was formerly $500 cash. It is now:

* $750 cash, plus
* Free Expo Admission, same as for Grand Prize above, up to $144.95, plus
* Refund Of second prize winner's CS Open entry fee ($10); plus
* $100 coupon to buy any of our other products (DVDs, Creative Screenwriting subscription, next year's Expo, etc.)

Third Prize More Than Doubled In Value: $604.95
Third Prize was formerly $300. It is now:

* $500 cash
* Free Expo Admission (same as Grand Prize, up to $144.95); plus
* Refund of third prize winner's CS Open entry fee ($10); plus
* $50 coupon for any of our other products.

Prizes For Finalists 7 Through 10 Increased In Value: $60 Each

The previously listed prizes for semifinalists 7 through 10 were "goods and services." Now, each of the remaining Top Ten semifinalists will receive:

* $50 coupon for any of our other products; plus
* Refund of CS Open admission ($10)

How the CS Open Works

Registration — You register only for Round One of the CS Open (held in 8 different sections at different times on Friday, (Nov. 14) and Saturday, (Nov. 15). This will require you to purchase a ticket for that section, for a fee of $10.

You must first register for the Screenwriting Expo first to participate.
If you already have your Basic Pass or Gold Pass to the Expo.

Round One — At your section on Friday or Saturday, you will be given 90 minutes to write a two- to three-page scene based on specific guidelines.

Round One Judging — Scenes will be scored by a distinguished panel of industry readers based on: Structure, Dialogue, Style, and Originality. The top 10% of the writers in round one will advance to Round Two. If you do not advance, you can pick up your scene and see exactly how it was graded. Also, the winning scenes for each section will be posted.

Round Two — Saturday evening (Nov.15) at 7 PM, the top 10% of the writers who advance from Round One will meet in one section (Round Two) and write a second two- to three-page scene, based on specific parameters.

Round Two Judging — These second round scenes will also be judged by a distinguished panel of industry readers. The top ten writers will advance to the final round (Round Three).

Final Round — The ten writers in the final round (Round Three) will meet Sunday morning at 10 AM to pen a final four- to five-page scene which includes at least one lengthy monologue. The judges will select the best three scenes from those ten.

The Playoff — These three finalist scenes will be performed by actors at the closing ceremony (Sunday, 4 PM) for the Expo, and the third-place, second-place, and grand-prize winners will be selected right there by the audience.

The 2008 Screenwriting Expo CS Open is managed and judged by Coverage, Ink. Specializing in studio and agency-style coverage from real industry pros, Coverage, Ink. is now accessible to all writers at a reasonable price. Coverage, Ink. offers top quality script analysis at a fraction of the cost of an analyst. Is your script a Pass, Consider, or Recommend? Find out before you send it around. Visit for more details.