Or, How Joey Ernand Dominated the Spring 2015 Get Repped Now!By Jim Cirile
We knew screenwriter Joey Ernand had the goods when his TV pilot RIFT JUMPERS scored a 'consider/consider' (consider for both writer and for script) in Coverage Ink's spring 2015 Get Repped Now. That meant his script would automatically be elevated to our manager panel for consideration. What we didn't expect was that RIFT JUMPERS was just the first salvo of a one-two-three punch. In fact, Ernand submitted three scripts -- covered by three separate readers -- and all three came back 'considers.' Boom.
Needless to say, our panel took immediate interest. And as with the previous Get Repped Now, where he signed screenwriter Brandon Barker (and then sold his spec to Disney,) Benderspink head of lit Jake Wagner stepped up. He and Ernand are now working together, developing a brand-new project. Mission freaking accomplished!
We caught up with Ernand to find out how he did it and what the whole experience was like.
Jim Cirile (JC): Tell us a little about you, Joey. Where are you from? How did you get into writing? Had you made much headway previously?
Joey Ernand (JE): I fell in love with stories from the moment I first opened my eyes. Growing up in Miami, I was constantly digesting every kind of story across every medium – movies, TV, books, comic books, Saturday morning cartoons. I would act out story scenarios with my action figures. My mother would take my sister and me to the library often, and we would check out tons of books (my family has always been my amazing support system – I owe them the world.) I would write (and draw) my own little stories and comic books. When my parents got a VHS video camera – this was the '80s, so the cameras were giant awkward bricks you would strap to your shoulder – I started making home movies with my cousins and friends. Then I started trying to “formally” write features and shorts in the late '90s/early '00s. I completed my first officially-formatted screenplay in 2003. So all told, I’ve pretty much been writing all my life, and I’ve been specifically writing features and TV for about 15 years on and off. This was all mostly genre fare (fantasy, action, sci-fi, horror) and comedy, which still carries over till today (Star Wars and Spielberg are my bedrocks).
As far as making headway goes - and anyone who comes out to LA will tell you this - you have to be prepared for the long haul. When I first got here in 2007, I was focused on two tracks: trying to survive by working any industry job I could get, and trying to strengthen my writing as I pursued my creative ambitions. Along the way, I found a lot of work as a script reader, and that really helped me in crafting my own scripts. I had little nibbles of screenwriting success – a contest win here, a writing-workshop placement there, getting hired to do some small independent stuff – but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. So two years ago, I went back to grad school to try and open more doors for myself, both creatively and professionally. I had never taken classes that were solely focused on the craft of screenwriting before, nor had I ever had a solid uninterrupted time in my life where I could just focus on writing and not have to worry about acquiring food and shelter like a desperate caveman. So it was definitely a seminal experience for me. Wow, this is long-winded! In short, my story is similar to many other LA stories out there – I just followed my passion out to Hollywood and kept chipping away till someone finally said, “Ugh, fine, we’ll give you a shot, just stop appearing outside my home holding a boom box over your head.”
JC: What was it like meeting Jake Wagner? Were you nervous?
|Coverage Ink's Get Repped Now is back! Submit your script at www.coverageink.com.|
JW: I actually wasn’t that nervous. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because I was feeling cocky or anything. I was just so grateful to be meeting with an actual bonafide Hollywood manager who was willing to sit down with me, after years of trying to get into that exact position. And right off the bat it was clear that Jake was very down-to-earth. Plus, he seemed very honest and very knowledgeable about the industry. No reason to feel nervous. It felt good to be there.
JC: Is there anything you can tell us about the project you're working on or is it top-secret?
JW: It is in the very early stages, so I’ll keep it vague. I will say that it’s a feature. During our meeting, Jake asked me to tell him about other things I was working on, and I told him about this true story I came across. As soon as I heard that story, I thought: “There’s a movie there.” When Jake heard the idea, he had the same thought. After some brainstorming, we decided to pursue it. It will be an action-thriller spawned from real-life events. Hopefully that sounds intriguing in a vague way!
JC: Anything interesting, surprising, or unexpected about working with Jake?
JW: This technically isn’t surprising or unexpected, but I will say that what I’ve always heard is true: this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Things don’t change overnight just because you finally find someone who is willing to work with you. It really is up to you at every stage in your career, whether you are just beginning, or just breaking in like I am, or near the end. Sure, we need someone to take a chance on us, but you have to do everything in your power to prove that you deserve that chance. You have to do your best, always, and you have to bring the passion. What’s the saying? You need to put in the hard work so you can always be ready, because luck and opportunity can converge at any moment. Wait, is that even a saying? Wasn’t there something about a penguin?
Anyway, in all seriousness, I’m very grateful that Jake is taking a chance on me, and I’m super excited to be working on this script with him. Who knows where it will end up? All I can do is work hard and try to write the best screenplay I can. Nothing has changed in that regard. You still gotta swing for the fences every time.
JC: Awesome. So glad to hear! Alright, so was the Get Repped Now experience a positive one overall?
JE: It was definitely positive. The best thing about Get Repped Now is that it cuts right to the chase. There’s no deliberation, no dragging things out by first announcing Quarterfinalists, then Semifinalists, etc. The work speaks for itself – you either get a Consider, or you don’t, and then you get read by reps. Nothing against the contests that do the finalist-tree thing; there is definitely merit to that process (and some of these contests get so many entries that it only makes sense to do it that way). But there’s something so immediately gratifying about knowing that there are so few steps between submitting your script and getting read by reps, which is very, very, very hard to come by in this industry. It’s all so daunting out here in Hollywoodland, so anything that alleviates the pressure certainly helps.
Not that it’s in any way easy to get a Consider, either! Most scripts get a Pass out there. With Get Repped Now, you still have to do the best work you can, and then hope your work connects with a reader on some level…enough for them to push it on through that infernal Hell Gate they are guarding. And even then, it still has to connect with yet another person, and this person just may be able to make a difference in your career. And that’s STILL just the tip of the iceberg.
At any rate, the Get Repped Now model certainly inspires a very unique kind of motivational excitement. I just feel so very humbled that I made it through the gauntlet. Jim, you can attest to the many times I’ve thanked you in our various email exchanges, but it bears repeating. I cannot thank you guys enough. It means a lot. Truly.
Coverage Ink's Get Repped Now! is back for Fall 2015 and runs until 11/15. All feature and pilot scripts submitted to CI for analysis during that time period, which receive a score of 'consider' or better for script, are guaranteed to be read by our manager panel and considered for representation. Click here for more info or visit www.coverageink.com.