HURRY! WRITERS ON THE STORM DEADLINE MIDNIGHT 7/11/11!
enter online now at http://writerstorm.com
1. SUP? by Jim C.
3. Jim's Screenwriting Tip o' the Month
4. (More) Test Your Screenwriting IQ by Steve Kaire
5. Rating the Pitch Fests by Jim Cirile
We're rolling out a new, easier to read format here at the Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm/Cyberspace Open blog. We came to the conclusion that we were packing our monthly newsletter with so much content that a lot of folks never made it all the way through. So we're now going for shorter stories more frequently -- like an actual blog! Can you believe it?
And speaking of blogs, the sharp-eyed among you may notice that we have yet again changed our name. Why? Because to our horror, it was recently pointed out that our previous nom de blog, "Stormfront," is the name of the largest white supremecist group's site. Gulp. Obviously, this is not anything we want to be associated with. So the new name, and I think this one's gonna stick, is STORMBLOG. We Googled that name and found it mainly associated with only a few smaller, insane death and hate cults, so we're good to go.
In keeping with the better, stronger, faster approach of the new format, I'm going to throw out just a couple of fast, random snippets for you all to do what you will with.
- The kids on Glee Project are insanely talented. How the hell?
- The summer movies this year, from what I've seen so far, are pretty freaking underwhelming. (The word is the Hogwarts gang brings the goods, thankfully.) Cars 2, seriously? Didn't you already do the spy thing with The Incredibles, Pixar? (PS: Still love you guys.)
- I am more convinced than ever that DIY is the way to go. Screw waiting around for Hollywood to buy our scripts. That paradigm is moribund. Long live Kickstarter and alternative financing!
- I finally decided I liked the new Hollywood Reporter format just as my subscription ran out.
- I still do not get Twitter. It just seems like dumbed-down facebook to me (which itself was just homogenized MySpace.)
- Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek) uses a 5-year-old flip phone. Seriously. Nicest dude in the world, by the way.
- Screenplay formula is a necessary evil. Eschew it at your own peril.
- There's nothing quite like performing Monty Python's "Travel Agent" sketch with your 11-year-old daughter reciting the Eric Idle rant word for word. Just like I did when I was 11. Watney's Red Barrel, anyone?
- I am really sick of shrinking sizes. A "pint" of Haagen Dazs is now down to 14 oz, and the 7-Eleven Big Gulp is now a Moderately Freakin' Puny Gulp at 30 oz, down from a full quart. Not cool!
- Oh wait -- Twitter is exactly the place for dumb random thoughts like these! Hmm...
Oh yeah, and we have a DEADLINE - Writers on the Storm Regular deadline is midnight Monday 7/11/11. Enter now right here.
Keep the faith, keep writing, and remmember -- it's always darkest when you first get the notes. Fight your way through. Get your mojo back. Use those !!^#%$@*! notes to empower you, not to defeat you.
Writers on the Storm
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DEADLINE! Now is the time for all great writers to step on up. Writers on the Storm Screenplay Contest deadline is midnight, Monday 7/11/11. With over $25,000 cash and prizes, a heavy development prize package, and 150 companies, WOTS could be the defibrillator your career needs. Now featuring brand-new prizes from Virtual Pitch Fest and Million Dollar Screenwriting's Chris Soth. Did we mention we got two of our winners signed last year? Hurry, enter now! http://writerstorm.com.
So, a shout out to our current Writers on the Storm 2011 quarterfinalists to date:
- Getaway, Inc by Andy Maycock
- Sliding Into Home by Rich Sheehy
- Khamseen by AJ Ashby
- Flipping the Bird by Robert Hestand
- Just Being Jack by Judith Dunn
- O Golden Boy by John Bain
- Requited by Bill Johnston
AGENT'S HOT SHEET - LIVE! COMING TO SCREENWRITING EXPO. If you read Jim's column in Creative Screenwriting, you know that every issue he interviews some of the top agents and managers around and delivers the skinny on what's going on in the biz as it pertains to writers. Join us as we assemble an all-star panel of motion picture lit representatives and grills them on how the hell any of can ever get their attention. register online at screenwritingexpo.com.
RAFFLE WINNERS + NEW RAFFLE - LAST CHANCE. We've been giving away two free contest entries into Writers on the Storm every month since launch. So congrats to our two winners for June: Benjamin Peary and Rachel Lavin. We've already contacted them both with instructions on how to submit their scripts. Now it's your turn. Our last two giveaways are upon us. Send an email before July 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "STORM RAFFLE" in the subject line and your contact info in the mail. We'll randomly select the last two winners at the end of the month. Feel free to resubmit if you entered last month and didn't win!
THE LIBERATION HAS BEGUN. Coverage Ink proudly announces the completion of principal photography of its new short film LIBERATOR. "Liberator" stars Lou Ferrigno as a disgraced, washed-up ex-superhero whose secret black ops past comes back to haunt him as he tries to put his crumbling life back together.
"Liberator" also features a killer genre cast:
PETA WILSON (“La Femme Nikita”) as Marla Criswell
MICHAEL DORN (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) as General Pollard
DON “THE DRAGON” WILSON as Sidewinder
and EDWARD ASNER as President Whitlock
“Every one of our lead cast have starred in a hit TV show or movies,” says Executive Producer/Co-writer Jim Cirile. “Launching a brand-new superhero property without source material is death. That’s why it was crucial that we cast an actual superhero – Lou Ferrigno – in the title role, and also why we surrounded him with the best actors we could find. We want to see the continuing adventures of this character.”
|You won't like him when he's angry.|
Further grounding “Liberator” in comics mythology, former Marvel Comics bullpen artist Darren Auck is creating the film’s comic art prologue, and SyFy Channel’s “Hollywood Treasure” co-host Jesse D’Angelo designed the Liberator suit and poster art.
The film also features an original orchestral score by Tim Wynn, perhaps best known for scoring “Red Faction: Guerrilla.”
Become a part of Team Liberator! Visit our Kickstarter page to watch clips from the movie and find out how you can help us finish the film and blow everyone away.
"SOLD--How I Set Up Three Pitches in Hollywood" DVD, you need to check it out. This guy is a pitch master, and watching him confidently deliver his pitches and explain his prep and story breakdown is a marvel to behold. Register now at ChrisSoth.com.
LARGE... BUT NOT IN CHARGE. “LARGE” is the world’s laziest and most meaningless adjective. We all overuse it without even thinking about it. Well, think about it. “Large” usually tells us nothing that we couldn’t have figured out on our own simply by mentioning the item described as “large.” More importantly, using “large” all the time tells people you are not scrutinizing your prose for the punchiest way to say things. Search and replace them out. If you do need to describe the size of something, compare it to something else. For example, instead of “a large cockroach,” which could mean anything from a 2-inch water bug to one 150-feet tall, say, “a cockroach the size of a VW bus.”
(More) TEST YOUR SCREENWRITING IQ
by Steve Kaire
Here we go again with more q's to tickle your brain stem. A couple of these are gimmes, but a few of them may stump you. Good luck!
Projects that go into turnaround are often purchased by other studios and have a better chance of being produced.
That’s false. Turnaround projects have heavy costs that have accrued and which the new buyers have to pay before acquiring them. They have no better chance of getting produced.
Public domain properties never require the acquisition of rights from the original owner of the material.
That is true.
Residuals are checks sent to the writer for TV runs and DVD sales and are tracked by the Writers Guild.
That is true.
Dramas are well known for their “set pieces.”
That’s false. Action movies are famous for their “set pieces” which are big action scenes or sequences.
An attachment is either a star or director who’s interested in doing a particular project that makes it easier to set up and produce.
The first five pages of a screenplay should be devoted to giving exposition and the character’s back story.
That’s false. The back story should be layered in gradually throughout your screenplay.
Your logline should tell what’s happening in your story almost like an unfolding of your scenes in order.
That is false. Tell what your story is about, not what happens in your story.
The bible of the entertainment industry is the Hollywood Creative Directory.
That is true. Although imdb pro is gaining ground.
Dialogue should be overwritten in order to give the actors more than they need and be able to discard what they decide not to use.
That’s false. Dialogue should be minimalistic.
You should always memorize your pitch.
That is false. If you memorize it and forget a few words, the pitch may not sound right and you’ll have to start again. Your pitch should sound like“practiced spontaneity.”
How did you all do? If you got every one right, then pat yourseklf on the back and go get 'em, tiger. If you knew several, then way to go -- you are a savvy student of the business. Keep up the good work, and I'll see you all back here in 30.
Steve Kaire (HighConceptScreenwriting.com) is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. His top-rated CD, “High Concept--How to Create, Pitch and Sell to Hollywood” is available on his website along with original articles and national screenwriting contests.
by Jim Cirile
Let’s face it, pitch fests are nerve-wracking. You have five short minutes to try to impress someone who might be jaded, bored or hypercritical. And yet every year, thousands of screenwriters shell out big bucks to do just that, because there’s no better way to get in an executive’s face than to, well, get in an executive’s face.
But which to choose? As of this writing, there are four major players. Each has plusses and minuses, but they all have two things in common: they each offer direct access to industry you can’t get any other way, and they ain’t cheap. So come with us now as we investigate which, if any, of these pitch fests deserve your hard-earned shekels.
Description: 2-day event
July 30th + 31st, 2011
Now in their 15th year, Fade In magazine’s Hollywood Pitch Festival boasts an impressive list of connections made and projects set up. “(It) was just an idea I had in 1995 to give aspiring writers direct access to Hollywood buyers,” says Fade In’s Audrey Kelly. “We weren’t sure if it was going to work at the time, but we were happily surprised by the enthusiasm on both sides of the table -- attendees and industry pros alike. And then when we saw that it actually worked (we had two sales in the first year right off the bat) we were thrilled.”
Hollywood Pitch attendees select their meetings on day one on a first come, first served basis. “If you really want a choice of companies and time slots, you've got to show up early -- and we're talking REAL early,” says attendee Lee Tidball. “For (writing partner) Ron and I, it was always between 5 and 5:30 AM, and that usually put us in the first 30 or so. Good enough to get most of what we wanted. First in line people would get there an hour earlier (ugh). That, by the way, is for an 8 AM check-in.”
There’s also a standby line, which folks can wait in between scheduled meetings, but like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. “You wait… and wait… and wait… then you’re hustled into a meeting with some company that you never heard of, or you wind up pitching your horror/thriller to someone from Hallmark Channel,” laughs Tidball.
2010 attendee Bill Lange from San Diego calls Hollywood Pitch Fest a valuable experience and something that serious writers ought to do at least once. “As first-time attendees, my writing partner and I were lobbing screwballs at batters who were looking for fastballs in the strike zone. Even so, we did get a couple of requests from respectable production companies and we're still working the leads we got with our most recent script.”
GREAT AMERICAN PITCHFEST
Description: 2-day event (pitching on day 2 only.) Day one is free seminars.
Cost: Packages from $250 to $650
June 4th and 5th, 2011
By the numbers, Great American Pitchfest is our highest rated pitch event (see sidebar.) GAPF offers access to a large amount of companies in a single day -- meeting with 15 to 20 (or more) producers is possible. But where GAPF really distinguish themselves is on day one of their two-day event -- a full slate of free seminars from top screenwriting educators. GAPF says they get over 1,500 screenwriters piling into the Burbank Marriott’s ballrooms on day one (and approximately 500 attendees and 100-plus companies on day two.)
How’s the pitch event itself? Well-run and organized. Whatever company you want to meet with, you simply get on that line and wait your turn. If there are four people on line in front of you, that’s a 20-minute wait. “You spend a lot more time waiting in line than you do actually at the tables,” says writer/director Aaron Pope, who pitched at GAP in 2010. “You pitch, you come out and you have to queue back up. You’re able to hit a lot less tables than you think.” He says it’s important to target specifically the lines worth staying in. “I was there for four hours and met with a total of 10 or 12 companies. If I had been pitching a smaller project, I could have found lines that were shorter and hit a lot more.”
GAPF cofounder Bob Schultz says, “Some people are focused like a laser beam on exactly who they want. Other people’s strategy is to pitch to as many people as possible. So the different approaches (people take) help our lines stay more even-keeled.” Fellow cofounder Signe Olynyk adds, “For every five participants who attend, we invite another company. The lines rarely get longer than five people on average. And for those companies that we expect to be more popular, we try to get more than one representative from the company. That right away cuts the lines in half.”
As the Great American Pitchfest rolls into year eight, they claim tons of relationships made and projects set up. “We’ve had lots of people sign with agents or managers,” says Olynyk. “We’re over 100 success stories now. Every year we get at least ten more.”
Description: 3-day event
Cost: $89 Expo sign-up fee plus $25/meeting or 5/$100
September 15-18, 2011
The Golden Pitch Festival takes place every year at the Screenwriting Expo, the largest annual screenwriting gathering. Golden Pitch uses an online shopping cart system for writers to select their appointments. This thankfully eliminates long lines (and getting up at 5 AM,) but it’s imperfect. While attempting to book my meetings this year, my choices wound up frequently disappearing from my shopping cart -- bought out from under me by others, since the tickets go quickly when registration opens. I finally managed to land meetings with the companies I wanted, all clumped together late Sunday afternoon within a few minutes of each other. But Golden Pitch should consider implementing a system like Ticketmaster uses if possible, where the choices stay in the shopping cart for five minutes, to prevent the frustration of having your selections disappearing and having to go back and do it all again.
Golden Pitch’s pricing policy is interesting. In theory you can pay $300 and select 15 companies to meet with, which is a pretty decent deal. But in my case, there were only three prodcos my partner and I wanted to meet with when the first wave of companies were announced. But later, after we’d spent our $75 and bought our three meetings, additional top-shelf companies were announced. Had we known this in advance, we certainly would have selected the five for $100 deal. But the discount only applies at the time of purchase, another policy Golden Pitch needs to rethink if they’re going to dribble out the attendees. Fortunately, there was a multitude of discount tickets (many half-price or less) available at the event for quite a few smaller companies.
But when the rubber hits the road, Golden Pitch shines. The organization, as well as selection of companies attending, were all excellent. Our 3:15 appointment took place right on time, as did our 4:30 and our 4:50. There was NO waiting in line. My partner and I were in and out of there in under two hours having met with the exact top-notch companies we’d wanted, leaving the rest of the day free to check out Expo events and NOT stand in line. Too, Golden Pitch staffers were knowledgeable, professional and helpful. Hat’s off to the management for the smooth as glass operation.
PITCH SUMMIT (InkTip)
Description: 2-day event (pitching on day two only.) Day one is seminars.
Cost: Packages from $300 to $625
July 23 and 24, 2011
When my partner and I got wind of this, we were pissed. We now had to contend with keeping three people interested instead of one. Fortunately, InkTip mated the companies well, so for example, there would be three horror producers at the same table, etc. But still, withholding this key bit of information from attendees before the event frankly kind of sucks. But here’s the thing -- they shouldn’t have, because it’s brilliant. As my partner and I worked the room, in every case it worked in our favor. Enthusiasm is contagious, and we and I walked out of there with an astonishing 100% success rate.
As far as organization goes, the picture could have been better. Like Great American Pitchfest, you queue in lines, in this case for each table. The event got started late, then broke a scant 50 minutes in for water breaks (?) even though there was plenty of water for the execs in the room. Less than an hour after that, they broke yet again for lunch -- for another hour. Ugh. And while there were a lot of great companies, there were plenty of no-shows. My partner and I said “Later for this” and split before lunch. But those who stuck it out said it was worth all the waiting in line; many folks got lots of script requests. “We’re working out a lot of kinks, to be honest,” said InkTip’s Eric Kim. “The biggest lesson is to be sure in confirming a good number of producers so that we can most effectively organize them in the sense of what they’re looking for. There were a lot of last-minute show-ups.”
Which should you choose? Hate to do this to you guys, but we say: all of them. Cop out? Look, every single one of these gives you access that’s pretty much priceless. Each has downsides, but upsides which far outweigh them: the chance to meet a heck of a lot of people and possibly get a foot in the door in Hollywood. So it’s going to come down to budget and schedule – whatever works for you.
And please make sure your stuff kicks tush before signing up. There’s little point in shelling out hundreds of dollars to pitch them a script that’s a “pass.” Take the time and do the work. Access ain’t worth jack if you don’t have the goods. Good luck, and I’ll see you all at the next pitch event!
Screenwriter Jim Cirile lives in Los Angeles and is the owner of screenplay analysis/development service www.coverageink.com.
Read the companion article "BEST OF THE REST" at scriptmag.com.
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