Friday, September 30, 2011
On Creative Screenwriting
It is with a heavy heart that I write this. Today I heard unconfirmed reports that Creative Screenwriting magazine has filed for bankruptcy.
To my understanding, that could mean one of three things -- either CS plans to continue operations, and will use the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to restructure; or they could sell the magazine and its assets; or they might simply pull the plug. As of now, it appears their website (creativescreenwriting.com) has been abandoned, and only a template remains, which is never the best sign. Calls to CS have not been returned.
As many of you know, I have been a columnist with CS for a decade. It was my honor and pleasure to write the Agent's Hot Sheet column every issue, and moreover, it was a master's class for me in how the business really works; priceless information which I delighted in passing along to you all. I took journalism and copy editing classes specifically to help with my magazine writing, which also directly helped my screenwriting by teaching me how to hone in on a theme right away (the "lede") and how to self-edit like nobody's business. It's these very journalistic techniques which I teach to screenwriters, elements of which are in all my videos and our CI Spec Format and Style Guide. None of that would have happened without Creative Screenwriting. And writing for CS also opened the door for me with Script magazine, which I still regularly contribute to.
We've also coordinated the CS Open and later the Cyberspace Open for Creative Screenwriting for nine years, as well as the Great Logline contest. In short, it was a pretty great relationship. If it is indeed really gone, then I am sad not only for me but for everyone, because through it all, Creative Screenwriting was one damn great magazine.
Here's what I do know: it's been a struggle over there of late. The crappy economy hit CS hard, and some poor customer service on some of their contests did some rather unfortunate damage to their reputation. As well, one of their contest coordinators bailed midstream a few years back, leaving everything higgledy-piggledy; it took a Herculean effort and many months to get that train back on the rails. As evidenced by some feedback on the screenwriting boards, the damage was severe and unforgiving. There were also some significant problems with the first go-round of the Cyberspace Open last year, a combination of a glitchy back end and scattershot customer service. But the next time out, those problems were solved and the ship sailed straight and true. Creative Screenwriting publisher Bill Donovan, to his credit, put his heart and soul into making it all work and responded personally to queries and complaints (as did I.) Lest anyone say otherwise, Bill really cared, and he worked tirelessly to innovate new products and to keep the magazine awesome (along with the amazing editor Danny Munso).
So what happens now? There may or may not be any new issues of Creative Screenwriting for a while, of course. Too, the future of the Screenwriting Expo is also up in the air. Now for contest winners or finalists, I have no idea what this means and honestly it's not really my place to speculate. I do know that Creative Screenwriting knows who the winner of the Cyberspace Open 2011 is, but I do not. I haven't seen the voting numbers and can't access them (and unlike national politics, that little consideration does in fact prevent me from calling a winner.) And whoever that winner is or would be, I have no idea if the contest prizes will be paid, and if they are, whether they'll be paid in full or only in part. (Coverage Ink did the judging for the Cyberspace Open, but the tournament is owned by Creative Screenwriting.) Yeah, I know that kinda blows. So I feel terrible about that, and for you Cyberspace Open top 3 -- Michael, Elisa, and William -- I can only offer my apologies and commiseration.
As for Agent's Hot Sheet, it will continue--either right here on this blog, or perhaps as a podcast or even in another magazine...
Rest assured, however, that Coverage Ink is not going anywhere. We're right here, ready to help, responding to calls and e-mails the same day, as we always have been. Customer service is always tops with us, because we're writers too.
We may have lost a great and beloved asset to writers everywhere this week. I hope that is not the case. But if it is, I am confident that all of us who were Creative Screenwriting will continue to help nurture and educate and give back.
Writers on the Storm
Update 10/6: Word is that CS is planning some sort of announcement soon.
Update 10/7: The announcement from Creative Screenwriting can be found right here. The bad news is they have confirmed that the magazine will cease publication, at least in the short term. The good news is they deny that that have filed for bankruptcy, and they seem to be pursuing avenues to keep the enterprise going. This is great to hear.
The other bit of good news (of sorts) is that CI is having a fire sale, with many of their products now available at deep discounts. The CS video series were great buys even at list price, but now they're a steal. Visit the page to check out some of their offerings and grab at them up at rock-bottom prices.
The other thing to keep in mind is that customer service and contests etc. are all on hold, it seems, so unfortunately this is going to leave some people in the lurch until everything is sorted. Again, we wish nothing but the best for CS and we are pulling for them. There are some really amazing and talented people who have poured their heart into this endeavor, given it their all. Let's all send good thoughts into the universe that they're able to find a way forward.
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Posted by Admin at 3:08 AM