Monday, March 19, 2007


Hey, Stormies!

We've gone and done it. The deadline for Writers on the Storm is now 4/15/07. So you all have a small reprieve! We've been getting a lot of mail from many of you guys, concerned you would not make the deadline and asking for us to extend. Since we're all writers here and we know all too well that greatness takes time, as does procrastination, hey, we're happy to oblige.

You will also notice we DID NOT RAISE THE PRICE for 'late entry', like everyone else does. It's still 35 bucks for a shot at your share of almost 15 grand in prizes!

So you guys now have a couple extra weeks to get those babies polished. 4/15/07 is the FINAL deadline, chicas. No more extensions. So writy-writy, polishy-polishy, and sendy-sendy! And I'll shut uppy!

--Portia Jefferson

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Interview with Maia Peters from InkTip

by Jim Cirile

Time to go behind the scenes with InkTip, one of my favorite screenwriting websites. I’ve used InkTip for years, and I am always surprised when I talk to writers who don’t know about yet. For 50 bucks, allows you to post a logline, treatment, synopsis and script online, where their huge database of producers, managers, etc., can browse them at their leisure. I have found that it is a great way to keep my ‘back catalog’ out there for the industry to find.

And while InkTip has plenty of big name companies on board, for my money, InkTip is also the best place to find what I call ‘below the radar’ producers--guys who are real but don’t have a studio deal; thus they are not being serviced by agencies and have no real way to find material other than word of mouth. Those are the guys you really want to target, since they are generally hungry, they read, and break new talent constantly, unlike the big prodcos who could care less about you unless you’re repped by a 3-letter agency.

Maia Peters gives us the lowdown on all things InkTip.


Jim Cirile: What was the genesis of

Maia Peters: Jerrol (LeBaron, InkTip founder) wrote a script and noticed how hard it was to get it read by anybody.

JC: Oh, he’s a writer himself?

MP: Not anymore.

JC: He wised up.

MP: (laughs) His drive has been to help the screenwriter get exposure. It started as Writers Script Network. I started here almost as soon as Jerrol opened the business (in 2000) and was the only employee for a number of years. We’ve been growing ever since. I’d come from a commercial production company, and I started here as data entry just doing the very tedious tasks. At the time, our website was, shall we say, a bit lacking (laughs), so most of the questions that we got from writers were about tech support, so I spent a lot of the day answering those types of questions. Over the years, the site has become more and more user-friendly. Now the questions are more about how we can help (writers) use the site to the best of their ability.

JC: When I first heard about InkTip way back when, I thought it was a great idea, and I posted some stuff. The price was right, and I got a couple of bites from below the radar” producers, which was awesome. It struck me—just how do those guys find scripts? Inktip seems to be a great way to reach those types of companies. How did you guys go about making these folks aware of InkTip?

MP: All the credit for that goes to Jerrol. It started with a survey to agents and managers and producers, directors to find out what they would need in a service like inktip. And then as the service has grown, we’ve cold-called people from the Hollywood Creative Directory, and word has really spread by word of mouth. We talk to the producers and find out what they’re looking for and get them to go to the site.

JC: Obviously your database of producers and industry types has grown as years have gone by. Would you say InkTip is a well-known resource to the industry?

MP: Most definitely. We’ve had 48 films produced off scripts placed on InkTip since 2003. If you go to the site, you’ll see a comprehensive list of all the InkTip deals. We are averaging three scripts set up, sold or optioned a week! This week we have Eva Mendes’ company looking for a script for her. Next week it could be somebody you’ve never heard of, but we’ve checked up on them, and they have the ability to get a feature film produced. It really ranges all over the board.

JC: So you guys do due diligence for any producer who tries to get on the list?

MP: Every single producer or agent to whom we give access, we do a due diligence.

JC: So my dog couldn’t just call up and say, “Rerro, R’I’d rike roo roption a ript?”

MP: (laughs) Absolutely not. Jerrol coming from the writer’s perspective, he wanted to be sure that security was at the forefront. It’s about (the prodco’s) contacts, their credits, their history. They have to have done something.

JC: Or if they’re junior, maybe they’re coming from a known company but have just gone out on their own, but people know who they are?

MP: Exactly. This happens rarely, but we have sometimes we get somebody who is independently funded and just needs a script for this one time.

JC: That’s a good point. What if it’s some guy out in Boise who has nothing to do with the movie business, but he’s got money? I wrote a script for a guy who was a fried chicken magnate from the east coast, who wanted in to the biz. It was a nice payday. But this guy had no ‘legitimacy.’ How would a guy like that get access?

MP: It totally depends on the individual. It’s a case-by-case basis. Often it’s a matter of if we were writers, would we want these people to have access to our script?

JC: Obviously you guys have had a lot of successes.

MP: We average three scripts optioned, or writers hired, every week. Since 2002 we have had over 400 scripts optioned, and over 200 writers gained representation.

JC: And you don’t take any commission or anything, right?

MP: Oh, no. Once the producer gets in touch with the writer, we are out of the loop.

JC: You also publish a preferred newsletter that contains companies looking for specific types of material. Is that getting a lot of play?

MP: We haven’t been doing that as long, but last year we have had 38 scripts optioned, I think. I think it has led to more produced films, because the producers are calling for a specific type of script. We’re just putting out a call to writers who have that type of script on their shelf that might qualify for the lead.

JC: What do you see in the future for InkTip?

MP: Our next big launch is, which is a site for industry professionals for networking, more than searching for scripts. It is only accessible to industry professionals. Mostly people who have qualified for Inktip will qualify for Inktip Pro. It’s a tool where they can put mandates out like, “We’re looking for a partially financed documentary that we can distribute,” for example. And if another producer on Inktip Pro sees that, and they have it, they can get in touch with them.

Otherwise, we just want to keep getting more and more features produced. We had 20 features produced last year. Granted some of them were for TV, or direct to DVD--

JC: Nothing wrong with that.

MP: Exactly. And we already have 20 slated for this year, so hopefully, knock on wood, those will all go through.

JC: Whenever I get your newsletter, I notice a specific type of script people tend to be looking for. Anybody who reads my column for Creative Screenwriting knows there are certain genres that are hotter than others at any given time.

MP: That is the main point—at any given time. It depends on what movie that last came out and was most popular.

JC: Of course, and what can be produced on a dime. I think it’s fair to say if you’re a young horror writer, and you’ve got a horror spec, and you get it uyp on Inktip, it will probably get some play, as opposed to your Elizabethan romantic drama.

MP: (laughs) Although there is a Civil War-era movie with a $60 million budget that is being produced from an Inktip script.

JC: That’s cool. I guess there’s a producer for every niche.

MP: But I think Jerrol would say that the genres that are most searched are thriller, horror and comedy.

JC: Any advice for folks who are maybe using Inktip now and are not getting the play that they want, or for potential future Inktip users?

MP: The logline is so important. It’s the first impression they’re gonna get, and if it’s too long, too convoluted, the producer is just going to skip past your listing without going further to read your synopsis or your script. We have lots of tips on loglines and synopses on the site (as do we: go here to read our article, Does Your Logline Rock?
The other advice would be to always be marketing your work. If you don’t get it out there, it won’t get made.

JC: Thanks, Maia! Check out InkTip at

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Popular Films sets up "Hurricane"

Our pal Sean Sorensen from Popular Films just sent us this story from Variety. For those not in the know, Popular Films is a working production company that also, in partnership with Coverage, Ink, provides world-class screenplay development & mentoring services. For more on them, click HERE to read an in-depth interview with Popular Films' Tim Albaugh and Sean Sorensen.

'Hurricane' hits HBO
Project explores post-Katrina triumph
HBO has bought "Hurricane Season," a project about a football team's unlikely triumph in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Pay net is developing a movie from the Neal Thompson book, which is due out this summer.

"Season" centers on the John Curtis Christian School football team, which in the fall of 2005 overcame poverty, homelessness and other hardships to win the state championship.

George Tillman and Robert Teitel will executive produce through their State Street Pictures shingle ("Barbershop"). Marty Adelstein and Scott Nemes will exec produce via their Adelstein Prods. banner ("Prison Break," "Black Christmas"). Sean Sorensen is attached as co-exec producer.

John Romano ("American Dreams," "American Pastoral") is attached to write.

Nemes described the project as "an inspirational story about a ravaged community."

HBO has been partial to Katrina stories, airing the Spike Lee docu "When the Levees Broke," which told the tale of ordinary Louisianans.

It also has put into development "Disaster," a nonfiction tale based on a book by Wall Street Journal reporters Christopher Cooper and Robert Block and attached "Frontline" exec producer David Fanning to produce.
Great work, Sean!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Update of the GODZ

Just got back from NYC, where we wrapped SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ, Coverage Ink's very first film (a 20-minute comedy CI coproduced with director/producer Julien Calderbank and producer John Reefer, written by Jim Cirile & Aaron Schnore.) And what an amazing trip it was.

Even as I arrived in NYC the day before we were to begin our 1-week shoot, the problems began. First, our leading man David Caseman, whom we flew in from France to assay the role of Jesse, world's biggest Godzilla fan, arrived on set with a miserable cold, and even worse, his glasses had no nonreflective coating, meaning that movie lights were bouncing off them like solar flares. The glasses had to go--bummer, because A, David couldn't see, and B, they were actually integral to the character. Well, they WERE integral to the character! And so it goes in low-budget filmmaking--they're not integral anymore!

Fortunately, David was able to 'use' his misery which only helped his portrayal of Jesse--the put-upon loser whose world is disintegrating around him.

But more unsettling was that we still did not have our cast completely locked down even as we began shooting. Negotiations were still underway right up to the eleventh hour to get the awesome actor/musician Steve Burns ("Blue's Clues") for a role in the film. Though he loved the script, unfortunately we simply couldn't make it work with Steve's busy schedule (FYI, he is now the voice of Subway. Eat fresh, baby!) As Steve fell out, we began running behind. Very long shooting days made for a cranky crew. We were desperately low on money and several times I had to jump in and write checks to keep things together and pay for dinner and locations. Morale was plummetting.

And then something amazing happened.

We had been in negotiations with George Takei for weeks for the pivotal role of Ono, the wisecracking sushi shop owner who challenges Jesse to the Godzilla trivia showdown that ultimately changes their lives. You know how they say you should never write a role for a specific actor? Well, screw that. I wrote Ono for George Takei, and for me there was no other actor who could play that role. Sure, we had another fellow--an excellent actor to be sure--cast in the event we could not make it work with Mr. Takei. But getting Mr. Takei for this role became my goddamn mission.

And it was not easy. Takei is a busy man (now on NBC's "Heroes.") Plus the logistics of bringing Mr. Takei to NYC to the shoot were formidable and not inexpensive. And so even as Steve Burns' manager gave me the bad news, I found out that Mr. Takei, too, had a commitment on the day we needed him. But Takei loved the role and was very interested, so his people wanted to know--could we simply push the entire shoot back a day to accommodate him?

Gasp. Huddle time. I met with producer John Reefer to discuss exactly how much it would cost us to do just that--and if in fact it would even be feasible. Extending the shoot by one more day meant incurring sizable additional crew, equipment rental and insurance fees. Did I mention we were low on money?

Reefer came back with a figure of $3,500. Gulp. As of Monday, day three out of six, things looked bleak. We were not going to be able to accommodate Mr. Takei.

But then I remembered something--hey, this is a ^$#@!*&^! low-budget movie. We're supposed to be getting people to do this for love! I instructed Reefer to beg, plead, cajole and offer sloppy oral sex to everyone necessary. If we could get the cost of the extra day down to $1,000... we were a go.

Next morning, Reefer called me bubbling with excitement. He had gotten the extra day down to $800. Takei was on! I shelled out the dough out of my own pocket, closed the deal with Takei's people, and that night on set I had the pleasure of announcing to the cast and crew that George effin' Takei had accepted the role of Ono! Talk about a morale boost! A cheer went up like you would not believe, and from that point on, our overworked and underpaid crew gave 117%.

Thursday morning, Mr. Takei flew to New York City to be in our movie. Unfortunately, I had to leave the day he arrived... (grumble.) But by all accounts he was amazing--gracious, funny, charming, signing autographed Captain Sulu 8x10s for everyone and wowing our director, who humbly called directing Takei "the most amazing experience of my life." Simply put, Takei killed in the role; and we wrapped the movie a day late and a few dollars short.

But damn, the footage looks amazing.

Now we have to put it all together. I hear this will take more money. Uh oh...

--Jim C.