Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays, Everyone

Lotsa good news/bad news this year. The good: the spec market came back with a vengeance, thereby creating vitality in the industry and making people want to read and discover new writing voices again. The bad: we lost both screenwriting magazines--Script and Creative Screenwriting--not to mention the CS Weekly, The Screenwriting Expo, the AAA and Expo contests and the Cyberspace Open. All of which kind of blows.

As we head into 2012, I'm scratching my head because my Magic 8-Ball is coming up hazy. The brave new world we're entering (or "New World Order," to quote George H.W. Bush) has no room for print magazines and newspapers; and while more people can make movies now than ever thanks to cheap filmmaking tech, meaningful distribution is harder to land than ever. On the other hand, the internet means people around the world can view your short film instantly and if enough people see it, it can create a buzz which gets you meetings and could eventually result in you getting hired. In fact, there's more opportunity out there for writers and filmmakers than ever before.

So it should be an interesting year. Hopefully the ride will be a little less bumpy, assuming we don't start any more wars. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Awesome Eid, Quirky Kwanzaa, and of course, a festive Festivus to all.

Jim C.

PS: Best example yet of why you need to use direct address commas: BIG difference between these two sentences: "Don't blow this, dude" and "Don't blow this dude." What a difference punctuation makes! Direct address commas--USE 'EM.

Friday, December 09, 2011

"SCRIPT" Magazine to Cease Hard Copy Publication (UPDATED!)

Well, this came as no surprise--Script has been for sale for over a year now, according to my source. The word is that while Script was in the black, it was not quite profitable enough for Final Draft, who wanted bigger margins. While that may seem a bit odd (since the magazine helps drive sales of their software, a modest return seems like a fair trade-off), what's done is done, and thus they sent this mail:
Dear Writers,

Final Draft, Inc. has decided to sell the publishing rights of Script Magazine to F+W Media, Inc. This has been a very difficult decision, but our focus at Final Draft, Inc. has always been and is more than ever today on developing technology and software for scriptwriters. We are focusing all of our talent on creating the best tools possible to serve our customers.

Starting today, please direct any inquiries you may have about your Script Magazine subscription to Writers Digest.

For 6 years we have enjoyed sharing Script Magazine with you. We thank you for your continued support and wish you success with your writing.

Final Draft, Inc.
So what does this all mean, exactly? Is Script going to continue publishing, only now put out by the Writers Digest people (who also this year purchased the Writers Store)? As soon as I find out, I will post an update. Needless to say, after the fall of Creative Screenwriting magazine earlier this year, it would be quite a blow to the screenwriting community if we were to lose BOTH our print publications within two months of each other. While a lot of info can be found of websites, of course, there is nothing quite like being able to hold a glossy print magazine in your hands. More news as it develops.

UPDATE 12/12: We just heard from Script editor Shelly Mellott, and she said the following:
They are taking the magazine online so far as I know. Andrew (J. Schneider), the managing editor, will be moving on with them. I am staying at FD.
The translation:

Script magazine will most likely no longer be published in print.

Obviously, this is a massive double whammy to screenwriters. Only a few months ago, Creative Screenwriting magazine announced they were ceasing publication due to financial difficulties. And now, Script appears to be going online-only. In one fell swoop, we've lost the two big screenplay magazines.

Now I know many of you are probably thinking, so what? Who reads paper magazines anymore anyway? Well, I do. And while the economics have obviously made it a tough go in print, the fact is I like reading magazines. Sure, is great, but online, it's just another screenwriting website, of which there are MANY (including this one right here.) Magazines are different. We save them in stacks. We look through them months or years later to find articles or ads we recall. We can read them on the john or on the subway. You cannot read a website on the subway. And while Kindles and Nooks and iPads are all wonderful gadgets, they ain't paper.

So once again, the earth has shifted under us. Certainly many of you have already stopped reading and subscribing to Creative Screenwriting and Script. The numbers clearly show it. But for the rest of us, it represents an unpleasant sea change. I'm reminded of a handwritten sign posted in the window of a Borders bookstore shortly after they went out of business. The sign read, "No public bathrooms. Try"

--Jim C.

UPDATE #2 12/12: Just head from my pal Dana Hahn, Sales and Marketing Coordinator from Writers Store/F+W Media, and this is what she had to say:
Yes, we are discontinuing the print version, but it's in an effort to increase the amount of content we're able to put out through the website, and to offer new content in the form of live events and webinars. 

The unfortunate truth is that with the loss of Borders, and Barnes and Noble cutting back on their magazine offerings, there's not many vendors to sell magazines through any more. I'm personally bummed as well, but I'm glad that we were the ones who were able to take Script on, as I worry another company may have just bought the mag for the mailing list and let it just wither and die. 

We're going to stay true to the content offerings that Script has always provided, just sadly in another format.
Welcome to the future, my friends. And it appears that future holds a new twice-yearly event to replace the now departed Screenwriting Expo: F+W Media's Screenwriting World Conference. Read the official press release from F+W Media right here:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm Newsletter 12-11

  1. JC's Opening Spiel
  2. Writers on the Storm 2011 WINNERS
  3. Welcome to Talentville -- Interview with Ben Cahan
  4. The People's Mic -- A Screenwriter's Experience with Occupy Wall Street
  5. The Screenwriter Stirkes Back -- DEAD IN THE ROOM

SOMEONE NAMED DEBBIE who alleges I know who she is (it's possible, I know a half-dozen Debbies) posted a very interesting comment on our blog recently:
Wondering how does the winning script stand compared to killer scripts on Producers' desks. I read some winning scripts, mostly trash.
She brings up a real point, and I believe deserves a real answer. For contests in general, that answer is: usually not very well. This is one of those things we call "truth" that can be somewhat uncomfortable, but it is what it is. What I mean is, contests are generally designed to seek out and discover new talent. All well and good, of course. And so the average contest (and there are freaking hundreds of them out there now) probably gets anywhere from 200 to 1,000 submissions (Writers on the Storm had just over 1,000 this year. Only a handful of the big guns do much better.) So what are the odds that out of, say, 500 scripts from unknown writers, you're going to find one that's just radiant? Alas, not as good as one might hope, and certainly not consistently. The reason is, many folks who are on the come are quickly weeded out of contest contention because they get signed, or they get internships/staffed on a TV show, or they develop relationships and start writing stuff on assignment, on spec or even (gasp) for money. The cream is frequently skimmed off the top. This may be hard to believe for many of us who slave away in the trenches for years, hoping to get somewhere with our writing yet hearing only crickets chirping instead of cash registers dinging. But it's the truth -- more often than not, if you're not breaking in, it's because your craft is not quite as good as you think/hope it is (yet.)

And so to quote one of my least favorite people, unindicted war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, "You go to war with the army you got." A few years back, I asked a buddy of mine -- a key judge for a very prestigious contest -- if I could read that year's winner. Afterwards, I commented to my pal something to the effect of, "Dude, what the eff?" He sighed, knowing full well the script was not exactly the bee's knees, and said, "Believe it or not, that was the best from what we had to work with."

Of course, "killer scripts on producers' desks" is tricky metric to judge by. You all know as well as I that there are plenty of crap scripts sent out by agents and managers. The reason is, if a client insists that his or her new spec go out, then in many cases, even if though the rep may signal his concern that the script ain't ready yet, it will usually go out. It's a dice roll; they might get lucky. When I was repped at WMA back in the day, my agent at the time explained to me the concept of "good enough," which is exactly what you think it is. In other words, not every script problem needs to be licked before it hits the town (of course, this was the '90s, and standards have gotten much higher since.) It just needs to be... good enough. And even recently, I have read scripts from major agencies that sold, which honestly did not impress me all that much. On the other hand, I have read a few that just blew me the hell away and renewed my faith and love for the screenwriting craft.

Which brings us to this year's winner. I am ecstatic to report that I LOVE this year's winning script. It truly is that needle in the haystack. The winning writers exhibit smarts and voice and craft. The read is a joy. Big things are ahead for these dudes. So I would definitely put this script right up there at major agency quality. And I cannot tell you how happy I am to be able to say that. Now that's zero guarantee that the town will respond; heck, it's a damn period piece. But I'm going to do what I can to make something happen for these writers. And THAT is why we enter contests -- in the hope of finding that passionate advocate, someone to finally help us. And to everyone else, keep writing and keep learning. I'm still seeing lots of basic, basic mistakes being made out there. It is up to all of you to up your game.


Speaking of upping your game, the Coverage Ink Spec Format & Style Guide 2012 is now available! Updated and expanded, this is the best Guide yet -- 89 pages of screenwriting expertise and snarky asides you can ingest in an hour. It's a 50,000-volt blast right to the ol' batteries. Even if you think you know all about format, this e-book may just shock you with how much you didn't know -- as well as drastically improve your craft. And if you think $3.95 is an absurdly low price to pay for such an infusion of goodness, well, you would be correct. But there it is. Order yours by emailing us at and say, "I want my Spec Format Guide 2012!" Makes a great (CHEAP) holiday gift!

And for those of you who want the ultimate holiday gift for the screenwriter in your life, get yourself a Coverage Ink gift certificate! Available in any amount from $10 up. Just imagine the look on your significant other's face when they open up a 1-hr CI telephone consultation ($45) or a fully-blown CI standard analysis ($129,) now featuring our newly expanded feedback grid. Hit us up at and get your merry on!

But enough of this jolly banter. It's newsletter time! In addition to the Writers on the Storm winners, we've got an interview with Ben Cahan from, an awesome new screenwriting community you should all check out (free!) Director Adam Pertofsky and writer Marjory Kaptanoglu give us the scoop on their amazing, must-see short film Dead in the Room, and firebrand screenwriter Jen Senko tells us about her experiences in the thick of it at Occupy Wall Street.

Wishing success and health to you all in this next year. Let's dial it up a notch, everyone!

Jim Cirile
founder, Coverage Ink
Writers on the Storm Screenplay Competition

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Over 1,000 submissions, and it all comes down to this. The best of the best! The Writers on the Storm top ten. And boy, what an interesting batch it is... a creepy-cool zombie script, a hard-boiled '40s detective story with an African-American protagonist, a WWII sea battle epic, a cave collapse horror movie, a Western, a movie about a young wheelman, and even a comedy about the Wright Bros. first flight (seriously.) Talk about apples and oranges.

And yet through it all, one script clearly shone through. Our winning script is what all of us aspire to in a spec script -- a cool concept, tight execution, screenwriting "voice" clearly on display. But most of all, it's a page-turner. You're enjoying the read so much, you're compelled to keep reading. That's the sign of a winner -- a script that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Doesn't matter what the genre is.

And thus it is with enormous pleasure that we annouce the WINNER of Writers on the Storm 2011:

Elms + Sanders are in the "Wright"
WINNER: WRIGHT OR WRONG by Glenn Sanders + Brooks Elms.  What a fun script! These writers have pulled off something insanely difficult -- they've written a period-piece comedy that will turn heads. This nutty, goofball script stars none other than Orville and Wilbur Wright, reimagining them as stubborn, contentious, charming dopes. The writers brilliantly set the tone on the very first page with this intro: "THE FOLLOWING FILM, WHILE BASED ON REAL EVENTS, IS A RABID PACK OF LIES." What follows is 109 pages of character-driven hilarity. When the feuding brothers finally set aside their differences and make that famous flight, your heart soars right along with them. We're very excited to be working with Glenn and Brooks. Big things are ahead for these guys. As the brothers themselves oft say in the script, Excelsior!

SECOND PLACE: A SHIP THROUGH FIRE by John Winn Miller. A crackerjack, old-school swashbuckling adventure epic about a smuggler trying to deliver his precious cargo safely while chased by a vengeful Nazi U-Boat captain. The cargo: Jews. A thrilling read and again, a page-turner, peppered with terrific, layered characterizations and literary references. The sea-going action is dynamic and the twists -- such as the beleaguered crew mutinying -- keep every page tense. The writing, too, is crisp and lean. Mr. Miller put a lot of work into this one through many drafts (we know because he's been developing this one using CI for coverage for some time!) and it has paid off big-time.

THIRD PLACE: THE BENEATH by T.J. Cimfel. What could be worse than a mine accident and realizing your husband is trapped inside? How about realizing that there may be something else down there with him? Cimfel's script is a marvel -- that rare horror/thriller where the characters are fully developed, the dialogue crackerjack. Protagonist Abby has high personal stakes and we love her go-getter attitude as she relentlessly drives the rescue mission, unaware of the horrors that await.

And while not everyone can make it to the top three, let's hear it once more for the rest of our top ten: Alison McMahan, Louise Ransil, Andy Maycock, Charles Mitri, Josh Flanagan, Alexis Lane and Travis Heerman + Jim Pinto. 

We'll be contacting all of our top ten about setting up the consultations and delivering the prizes. Now begins the development phase! What, you thought you were getting off easy? All of these scripts have coverage and consultations as part of the prize. Whether or not anyone in the industry responds to these scripts is up to how much you bring it over the next couple months. Are you going to coast on the current draft, or are you going to dig in and freaking bulletproof your material so that it hits like an atom bomb?

Thanks again to everyone who participated in Writers on the Storm this year. Needless to say, we will be back...

Jim C.

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Ben Cahan has been part of the entertainment industry for years, but not in any of the typical roles we've come to associate with show business. Ben is the pioneering computer programmer who created and co-founded Final Draft screenwriting software. After leaving Final Draft, Ben decided to put on his pioneer hat yet again. His latest venture is the new online screenwriting community called Talentville, which is sort of like Trigger Street, InkTip, Zoetrope and Project: Greenlight all mashed together and topped with a shimmering bow of screenwritery goodness. We got a chance to talk to him about his ambitious plans.

Interview by Jim Cirile

Jim Cirile (JC): Thanks for chatting with us, Ben. What was the genesis of Final Draft? Did you look at what was out there and say, eh, we can do better?

Ben Cahan (BC): Before Final Draft, I wrote production software -- budgeting and scheduling software. People came to me and said, “We’re not happy with the screenwriting software out there.” Everybody wanted something better, and the tools [were] just becoming available to really integrate a word processor, and then add the intelligence to do screenwriting, all in one package. The genesis was customers.

JC: And it did become the predominant screenwriting software.

BC: It did. There was Scriptware, there was Script Thing, which I think turned into Movie Magic Screenwriter. There were a number of other products, and we squished them all. And I’m happy about that.  There’s no reason, as a businessman, to not want to be number one. 

JC:  You are no longer part of the company, correct? You and [co-founder] Marc [Madnick]  parted ways amiably?
Talentville founder Ben Cahan

BC: Absolutely, we’re still very good friends. Friends and business partners are a strange combination – the mix is not as easy as one might think.  We started as friends.  I sold out to him in 2003/2004, so it’s been a while now. After that, I did some traveling, some outdoor adventuring, and ultimately, when I decided I wanted to actually do something again, I started reading screenplays.  Many will laugh at that – the idea that I thought I could be a production executive and producer, being a software creator. Creating software for writing screenplays is not the same as producing movies. Over a six-month period, four to five years ago, maybe a little bit longer, I read about 2,000 scripts. But even though I found a few good scripts, it was too much time – it was six months to read 2,000 scripts, to find ten I liked. I realized that needed work.

JC: Sure, you need a filter.

BC: I said, there has to be a better way. I did some investigation of what resources are out there – how can this process be done better.  Having interns, sitting downstairs reading, that’s still one opinion. But you can automate the process to create a system that really can find, through crowd-sourcing -- a word I’ve come to love -- stuff that at least makes it to a certain point. The goal is not necessarily for the open community to pick the next movie that’s going to be made. Even [at] Project Greenlight, which was a great idea but a failed experiment, the real producer got involved and read the top scripts to decide. But if you have a thousand scripts, six hundred of those, from totally amateur writers, are going to have grammatical problems, they’re going to have no structure, no story, no plot, poor characterizations, bad dialogue – and that’s just because writing does take some skill. So, start with a thousand.  Six hundred can go away right away by anybody reading them -- anybody that even understands anything about screenwriting. (Then) you have to have a multi-level review system where people that are more experienced get involved, and that’s the kind of thing that I wanted to create.

Talentville's Main Street
 And that was sort of the whole idea -- how do you get the thousand down to a hundred?  I’m willing to read a hundred.  If I have a producer, for example, such as Marty Katz, one of our site advisors -- he’s got four interns downstairs reading scripts all weekend.  People sign the release, they send their script, and the interns read them.  The problem is you’ve got four people downstairs reading scripts all week. Now how about if every month I gave him a stack of ten scripts and said, these are the best.  Already been vetted.  It doesn’t mean he’s going to want to get involved with any of them, but the odds of all of them being pretty good are probably pretty high if we have an active site.

JC: Yeah, it would be great if there were a site that does what the Hollywood system does, without being the Hollywood system.

BC:  There are enough scripts out there that no company could hire enough readers to read all of them.  So the idea is - get the public involved. That’s the secret. And I will tell you why it works, by the way. It works for the same reason that’s book reviews work.  If a book has a hundred reviews on Amazon and three stars, I will almost guarantee you it’s a three-star book. If a book has  a hundred reviews and it’s five stars, I guarantee you, they’ll love it. It just works, because people aren’t stupid, because people know what a good story is.

Being altruistic is not a business, so my goal was to get people in the industry involved -- getting managers, agents, producers, to be looking at these top scripts. The only site, or the only company that actually does send out active things to producers is InkTip.  My issue with InkTip is that they don’t have any quality control.  I don’t want to cut down Jerrol LeBaron and InkTip, but the point is that if you can have that access, and you can also tell people that it’s good, how much more valuable would that be to an agent or manager or producer whose time is valuable?

JC: Sounds good to me. So Talentville is trying to offer the best elements of other sites and then some.

BC: I want to do everything.  Yeah, there [are] elements of InkTip, there [are] elements of Trigger Street, there [are] elements of Zoetrope, there [are] even elements of Amazon Studios. But Zoetrope and Trigger Street and Amazon, they don’t invite the industry.  They don’t say, listen, you’re a producer, we’ll give you a protected membership. InkTip does, but InkTip doesn’t have the quality control, which is key. Trigger Street has the quality control, but no industry people looking. Maybe some people do, but they have to use an alias, because otherwise – can you imagine if (a big-shot producer) logs on (under his own name), guess how many queries he’s going to get? My industry people, I want them invited, I want them there, I want them looking, but they are completely protected. You have a way for writers to get some rewards, get noticed, see where they stand, and you give the industry people the quality control so they don’t waste their time.

JC: How does the cream rise? What is the process?

BC: You have to get in the (on-site script) Library and then you have to do some work. You’ve got to do some reviews of other people’s work. You earn "Talent Dollars," and then you spend those to buy reviews for your script. And when you get a certain number of reviews coming in, then you get a site score based upon a number of categories -- character, dialogue, overall concept, that kind of thing.  So you get to see what areas you’re strong in.  And if your script is strong enough, you can make one of our weekly Top Ten charts, or be a finalist in our script of the month competition.  The current prize for that is simple – free coverage from Scriptapalooza. But ultimately, as time goes along and we sign up more agents and managers and producers, the idea is that these charts [will] be the Billboard Top 100 or the Black List of the common script. Then, even if industry people only log on just to check the chart this week, people are getting looked at. And if people get looked at, then people get contacted.

JC: And it's free to sign up?

BC: For the moment the site is completely free, both for industry people and for writers. There are going to be limitations to the memberships when we get everything finished, that we want to get.

JC: Wow, sounds like a great opportunity.

BC:  Especially now – when there ten thousand scripts it will be much harder to win, just like when Amazon first launched their studios it was relatively easy to qualify for one of their prizes. But as sites mature and as more product is there – yes, now is the time, we are just starting our competitions and we have about five hundred scripts in the library total. When there are five thousand, the competition will be stiffer than it is now.

JC: So are you still planning on producing?

BC: I don’t want to compete with the people in the industry that I’m trying to attract.  However, I would like to find management companies or agencies who are willing to give a contract or representation for a certain period of time to our top people. And that would be a great prize because one of the toughest things is getting in the door of these companies.  Everyone loves cash, but people want to see their story on the screen or on TV. That’s the goal. The cash will come. We’re hoping to get Coverage Ink involved in this process.

JC: You bet, Ben. We've already posted a few articles in Talentville University.

BC: I’d like to thank you, Jim, for taking the time out to have a chat about Talentville.

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The Occupy Movement has been both ignored by and largely vilified by the corporate US media, who wish to paint this group of law-abiding, concerned citizens as a bunch of freaks and loons -- while they ignore the crimes committed by the banksters, who ripped off the world and walked away scot-free. But the truth is simple: the banks got bailed out; the people got sold out. Until there is accountability, this movement is only going to grow. We say, kick ass, Occupy. New York screenwriter Jen Senko has been on the ground since day one. Here's her perspective from the field. 

Jen Senko showing us How it's Done.
By Jen Senko

My background is documentary filmmaking, and I’ve been following the rising income inequality in America for years. Recently I co-produced a film (with Fiore DeRosa and Erika Hampson), THE VANISHING CITY, illustrating the devastation the war of the Haves against the Have-Lesses has wrought upon New York.

In early September, I saw something on an alternative online rag about a protest being organized by the group Anonymous. They planned for 20,000 people to occupy Wall Street with tents and soup kitchens and media centers. The group said they wanted to bring attention to the crimes committed against America and the world by Wall Street with its irresponsible, reckless and malicious actions and criminal behavior, aided and abetted by its servants in Washington.

I’d been furious for years at a system rigged in favor of the corporations and the already-privileged.  Our democracy was well down the road of becoming a corporate kleptocracy. Then when the activist so-called "Justices" on the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, I believed our democracy had more than just one foot in the grave.  Many friends felt the same, as we saw our jobs shipped overseas, our quality of life disappear, unnecessary wars being waged, our voices marginalized by a corporate media, shady new computer voting and campaigns funded by big money.

After this outrageous ruling came down, a pervasive feeling of helplessness was inescapable.

A small portion of the crowd at Occupy Los Angeles Sunday 11/27.
When I enthusiastically informed my friends about Occupy Wall Street, I was surprised and disappointed when they dismissed the endeavor.

“It won’t take off,” they said.

Thus, on September 27 (the day Occupy Wall Street began), I was by myself when I went to the park at the corner of Liberty and Greenwich Streets. The park was originally named Liberty Park, but when Brookfield Properties purchased it (assisted by massive taxpayer rebates), they renamed it Zucotti Park. Nowadays, we always refer to the park by its original name.  It was an extremely cold day, and I guessed there were approximately 100 people who had been pushed out of the Wall Street area. Most seemed to be in their 20s, a few in their 30s, a few in their 40s and a several people with gray hair. Many had sleeping bags. Two rickety card tables had been set up with bagels, cream cheese, butter and in a tin pan, a mostly vegetarian potato dish (which was quite tasty!).

A General Assembly meeting was held to decide whether or not to take down the signs on the park trees, which the owners of the park had requested. People sat on the cold cement and used a unique sign language, wriggling their fingers upward if they approved of the motion. They did this to minimize the noise, as they felt they were also more likely to be arrested if they used the bullhorn.  The GA was time-consuming because anyone and everyone’s opinion was welcome.  There was no hierarchy; no single person was in charge.  Several people took turns hosting the meeting.  Even after a vote by what appeared to be 80% in favor of taking down the signs, the option remained for anyone to block the motion.  After several hours, people decided that the trees and the park owners should be respected. The signs were taken down.

I shot some video, and after a few more hours, feeling thoroughly chilled, I went back to my overheated New York City apartment.

Where I felt terribly guilty.

I called my friends to try to get bodies down there, but no one was interested. No one... until they saw YouTube video of the white-shirted policeman pepper-spraying two women they had trapped like cattle in their net fence.

Suddenly, my friends (and the world) took notice.

The next major event was in Washington Square Park, with hundreds of people.  The police were standing peacefully outside, so everything went smoothly. The new people were introduced to the General Assembly idea, the People’s Mic, Mic Check and the sign language.  The crowd was so huge that the mic checked about three layers of voices deep. (Mic Check is where one person's speech is repeated and amplified by a group in order to spread the word.)

Now, the tents at Liberty Park have been torn down, but the movement has grown and keeps growing. As we all know, Occupy is now a global shorthand for the 99%’s resistance to the extortionate rule of the 1%.

A few weeks ago, on the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, approximately 33,000 of us marched from Foley Square over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Brooklyn. It was totally peaceful, in contrast to that morning on Wall Street of November 17, which had been charged with tension and often violence.  Every age, every race, every class of people participated -- rich old white people, poor young students, unions, suit-and-tied professionals, baby boomers, grandmas. The grandmas elected to sit on the bridge and get arrested. Still, the protest was peaceful and orderly, even though we were funneled in and out longer detours to and from the bridge.

At the top of the bridge we were met with a beautiful sight.  The Verizon skyscraper, with no other buildings around it, had the image “99%” projected on its side.  I felt like I had run a marathon or won the lottery.  Cars on the bridge were beeping and waving to us, cheering us on.  The march felt charged with the excitement and optimism of New Year's Eve.

It was one of the best nights of my entire life, and when I sat down to begin the revisions to my screenplay, I was recharged with a newfound exuberance and hope for the future of us all. The Occupation has only just begun.


Get involved! Watch the Academy Award-winning best Documentary Inside Job. That will give you a clear understanding of who screwed us and how. Then find a local Occupy group and make your feelings known. Don't count on the Obama administration to fix anything--despite Obama's populist rhetoric, they're as mobbed up with banksters and Wall Street elites as the Bushies before them. Real change will only come from pressure from the people. It's up to US.

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by Jim Cirile

Quick: name five things you dread. Paying taxes? Impacted wisdom tooth removal? Accidentally stumbling into a month-long Uwe Boll film festival and realizing you’re locked in? Sure, those are all pretty mortifying, but if you’re a screenwriter, you may well have included pitch fests on that list.

You pay a heap of money to meet with industry reps -- five measly minutes to convince someone you’ve never met that your story, and by extension you, has merit. That’s pretty daunting in and of itself. But when the execs seem bored, aloof or jaded, the experience can become downright humiliating. 

Andrew Borba and Patrick J. Adams are "Dead in the Room."
Like many of us, screenwriter Marjory Kaptanoglu has experienced this particular type of hell. And she decided to do something about it. Welcome to Dead in the Room, the Slamdance-winning short film script, which was later made into a film by director Adam Pertofsky. It is a sharp piece of storytelling and a tense, taut little thriller with a twist. But mostly, it’s one hell of a piece of writer empowerment. In it, a fed-up writer turns the tables on a contentious executive by demanding he pitch him a compelling story in five minutes – at gunpoint.

“I’ve been to several pitch events. For the most part, it’s a civil undertaking,” says Kaptanoglu, a former Apple software engineer who has been writing screenplays for about eight years. “Most studio execs are professional. But every now and then you get that bad seed, and he’s (texting) under the table or is maybe disrespectful.” Kaptanoglu used that within that "bad seed" exec was story potential. "And same thing with writers," she continues. "Most of them are professional and normal and all that. But now and then, you see some who just look like looney tunes. I just thought it was a situation that was right for some kind of drama. I also like to do the ticking clock, and it seems like (the 5-minute time limit) was perfect for the tension in a short film. My first thought was to turn it around -- instead of the writer pitching, he makes the other guy do it."

Marjory Kaptanoglu
Kaptanoglu has optioned a few features over the years and was lucky enough to have had three shorts independently produced. But her script for Dead in the Room grabbed the attention of Slamdance cofounder Peter Baxter, who called Kaptanoglu to tell her she'd won.  The prize: they were going to produce her script.

Enter director/editor Pertofsky. "I've been working in the biz for about 20 years," he says. "I’m one of the partners at a company called Rock Paper Scissors. Last year my partner cut The Social Network. He won an Academy Award (for that.) Over the last ten years I’ve directed here and there, PSAs and commercials. In 2006 I wrote Black Crescent Moon with a buddy of mine (Dexton Deboree), and we raised about 300 grand and made it. I knew Peter Baxter from when he started Slamdance, because I edited a movie that he was producing. He was one of the producers on it. We got some distribution for it and it was a great learning experience." Pertofsky also made a documentary which screens several times a day at the National Civil Rights Museum called The Witness of the Balcony from Room 306, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

"(Baxter) called me and asked me if I’d be interested in making Dead in the Room," he continues. "I’m usually very hesitant to get involved in anything that’s about the industry.  But the script’s so well-written, and it’s got such a great twist at the end. So I was like, Alright, how much money do you have to make this for? And he goes, ‘You’ve got 99 bucks.’"

Adam Pertofsky
Undaunted, Pertofsky says he "raced down to (a pitch festival) in LA and scouted. It blew my mind, actually, to see that. It was crazy. It really got to me. I remember there was this heavy-set guy wearing a yellow shirt and a beret. So I guess that’s what he thinks a writer looks like, and he’s standing next to two bodybuilders. That really got me going. I was like, This is gonna be fun."

Pertofsky says making the film on a non-existent budget was a big challenge (why the extremely successful Slamdance couldn't pony up a budget to make the film, we'll leave up to speculation.) "You’re trying to get everything for favors," says Pertofsky. "Finding the location was one of the biggest challenges. We shot that in a temple. It was in an extra room they use off the Synagogue, and they let us use it for a day, on a Sunday when it’s never used."

A tight script and solid direction contribute to the film's punch, but what really ices the cake are the performances. "It definitely doesn’t hurt to have an Academy Award nomination to get actors involved,"  says Pertofsky. "(Our) casting director sent me a link of different people, and when I saw Patrick J. Adams, who played the exec, there was an edge to him that I thought would work really well for this. As far as (the Writer) Andrew Borba goes, he’s been on so many TV shows as a character actor, I just knew immediately he’d be great. Patrick’s on a USA Network show called Suits now."

Despite the non-budget, they were able to authentically create the look of a real pitch festival. "We got a bunch of extras to show up for free, which was incredible," says Pertofsky. "You could definitely see our numbers were dwindling as the day went on." Watch for Kaptanoglu herself in the film -- she's pitching at the table right behind the two leads throughout. 

Dead in the Room is a compelling piece of screenwriters' wish fulfillment, but will it appeal to anyone else? "I was a little concerned that it might be too insider," says Kaptanoglu. "But interestingly, I’ve been going around to some of the film festivals where it’s been showing, and sometimes it’s an industry crowd and they really get excited about it. But I’ve also been with some groups that are not industry crowds at all, and you’d be surprised how well they relate to it. Everyone gets the idea of rejection and being frustrated and people acting crazy. I was just up at the Port Townsend Film Festival near Seattle, and that was mostly not industry people, and the audience was just gripped. I’ve been amazed. It plays really well to all types of audiences."  And in fact, the film has gathered quite a film laurels, including winning Best Short at Big Bear Lake Film Festival and best Short Drama at Breckenridge.

"It’s been wonderful for me to see my script being made into such a fantastic film," says Kaptanoglu. "Adam and everybody involved did an amazing job. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Also Adam added some stuff in the beginning. I didn’t have so much of an introduction, and I thought the way Adam handled that was just perfect." She notes that while she loves writing short scripts, "there’s no money in it.  My goal is to get a feature produced. That’s what I hope comes next."

Pertofsky says that Dead in the Room was a great experience, and he's optimistic that everyone will be able to see it soon when the festival run is over. "It’s playing Red Rock Film Festival in Utah, and it just played in the San Diego Film Festival a couple of weeks ago," he says, noting that they got a standing "O" in San Diego. "We’re still waiting to hear from a couple, and then our run’s coming to an end. We started the run at Slamdance in 2011 at the end of January." After that, they're hoping that Baxter will release the film one way or another. "Making films is the most important thing for me, he says. "That’s the only way you get better at it. You have to practice a craft to get better. I’m a strong believer in there are no bad mistakes, because you can learn from everything you do. Anyone out there who wants to write or make a film, with today’s technology, you can just go out there and start doing it. That’s where you’ll start learning skills and find your way."

"Like" Dead in the Room on Facebook and get updates on upcoming screenings and more!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Writers on the Storm winners TBA: DEC 1, 2011

Just a quick update here. I have to push the announcement of the WOTS winners back a week, to Dec 1. The reason is because of a family health crisis that has affected me personally. So the amount of time that I have been able to devote to reading the top ten has been limited. I already have the recommendations from our team, but ultimately it's me who makes the call. So I apologize for the delay and hope everyone understands. However, that big $10K check will still arrive to the winner by year's end, meaning someone's definitely gonna get their merry on.

After that, the development phase begins--several months of rewrites and coaching as we try to bulletproof these scripts before sending them out. 

Regards to all,

Jim C.

Friday, November 04, 2011


Hi all,

We proudly present our 2011 top ten. In alphabetical order:


A Ship Through Fire by John Miller
An American smuggler must outrun a vengeful U-Boat captain in hot pursuit and outwit the mutinous crew of his own cargo ship to rescue a Jewish friend's family.

The Beneath by T.J. Cimfel
After her husband goes missing in a tragic mining accident, a distraught woman joins the rescue crew only to discover a demonic presence hellbent on reaching the surface.

Bring Me Back by Alexis Lane
After tragedy strikes on her graduation day, a sheltered young woman must find a way to escape her grief, even if it means escaping her life.

Dead Walker by Josh Flanagan
In an undead apocalypse, a half-zombie man, gifted with the ability to walk among the ghouls without threat fights to save his daughter and regauin his humanity.

Death Wind by Travis Heermann + Jim Pinto
When a pioneer doctor uncovers a series of bizarre murders near an Indian reservation and army post, he must confront a mysterious tribe of sub-human cannibals to save his small prairie town from the cannibals' dark god, a bloodthirsty sentient tornado.

Getaway, Inc. by Andy Maycock
After his driving skills get him recruited into a criminal organization, a teenager draws the approval of the company's mastermind until he questions the company's schemes and strays off course.

Imprinted by Alison McMahan
14-year-old Vivien has to spend eight years in space alone, except for the minds of three brilliant astronauts imprinted on her brain…and the imprint of a psychopath.Sci-Fi actioner by Alison McMahan, based on short story "Rub-a-Dub" by Daniel Galouye. McMahan has rights to the story.

Male Order Bride by Charles Mitri
When a divorced father of two marries a mail-order bride he quickly discovers that his new "woman" is actually a man, but must pretend to be happily married in order to retain custody of his two kids from his ex-wife.

Marlowe by Louise Ransil
African-American P.I., Sam Marlowe juggles gangsters, movie stars and corrupt politicians while introducing naive author, Raymond Chandler to the realities of detective work in 1930's Los Angeles. Based on a true story.

Wright or Wrong by Glenn Sanders + Brooks Elms
A comedic spin on the Wright Brothers, who fall for the same girl, exploding their sibling rivalry and pitting them against each other in love and flight.


Lulu by Samuel Bernstein
Muffled Screams by David Kaneen
Murdered by Dennis Luu
The Nativity Knockoff by Jason Hellerman
Paige & Hadley's Prom From Hell by Devi Snively & Circus-Szalewski
Private Storage by Jared Kennedy
Shed by Dennis Widmeyer + Kevin Kolsch
Silence by John Edward Flynt

WINNERS will be announced 11/26! Thanks again, everyone!

Writers on the Storm Finalists to be announced 6PM today

And that's all we're going to say about that right now!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seriously, How Do I Get a Damn Agent? Or Manager?

Ah yes, the question we are asked several times a day. No, it's not impossible. You CAN get representation. You just have to go about it the right way. And you have to make sure that your material is absolutely fricking bulletproof before you waste anyone's time. That's the hardest lesson, because all of us, myself included, are impatient. We finish a draft and, excited from the rush, assume it's great. So fire off a blast of queries and we send out our new masterpiece to all our industry connex... and only THEN do we find out what's wrong with them (after the door hits us on the ass on the way out. Pass!)

That's one of the reasons I started CI, to try to prevent this from happening to you guys and me, too. Still, it is insanely hard to resist the urge to simply send something out right away. Getting feedback and doing notes is HARD, it's time-consuming and a general pain in the ass. far better to be blissfully ignorant and just assume the script is great!

Anyway, we've posted two of our most popular articles: SERIOUSLY, HOW DO I GET A DAMN AGENT? and SERIOUSLY, HOW DO I GET A DAMN MANAGER on Check 'em out! The top agents and managers in the biz tell you how to get their attention. Listen up, brothers and sisters! And if you haven't checked out Talentville yet, you should. It's a new screenwriting community from Final Draft creator Ben Cahan. We'll be interviewing Ben soon to find out all about Talentville, which looks to be sort of a combo of Trigger Street, Zoetrope and InkTip but with a few extra dollops of coolness. In the meantime, browse around and see for yourself. It hasn't officially launched yet (still in Beta,) but it looks pretty good, and the concept is interesting indeed.

--Jim C.

Friday, October 21, 2011


NWE manager Mike Goldberg

Well, damn if it ain't good times in Hollywood for writers once again. According to It's On The Grid, the crap spec marketplace of the last few years is, at long last, gone. It's downright vibrant out there once again! After what amounted to a 5-year break, the buyers are at long last gobbling up original material.

This is not only great news for writers but frankly for the state of movies, which could use an injection of freshness to be sure. WME leads the pack with 13 sales (so far) this year. But the others are not far behind, with CAA racking up 12, UTA with 11 and ICM 10. Just today, Fox gobbled up THE MOUNTAIN by Helen Childress, a sophisticated horror spec; Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld are producing.

On the management company side, New Wave Entertainment is throwing heat with a staggering 7 sales so far for 2011. This is especially gratifying to me, because I am a client. It's on the Grid's Jason Scoggins calls NWE lit managers  Mike Goldberg and Josh Adler "the manager equivalent of (WME power agent) Mike Esola." Hot damn, boys! My hat is doffed.

Best part: the year isn't over yet. So get those scripts shined up and spiffy, because now is the time! An up market means people are going to be more receptive to spec material and to launching new writers. Do the hard work and then go for it!

Jim C.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It is with enormous pride that we announce that our client Paul Moxham, hailing from lovely Monbulk, Victoria, Australia, has won the Gold Prize in the Action/Adventure category of the 2011 Page Awards!

Almost two years ago, Paul came to us with this concept, and we loved it. We gave him notes over a period of a year and many drafts, and he hung in there doing more drafts than anyone should ever have to do. But the last draft pushed it over the top, taking him from a semi-finalist in last year's Page Awards to a Gold Award in this year's.

"I just found out and I couldn't be happier," says Paul. "I want to thank you and AP for helping me with the script and thank you for the hard work. I couldn't have made the script as good as it is if it weren't for him." You're welcome, Paul, and it couldn't happen to a nice guy! We knew this one was a winner when we first set eyes on it (it was a Writers on the Storm honorable mention last year as well.) But a little elbow grease makes all the difference, huh? Paul could have rested on his laurels, but he knew that it could be better. So he knuckled down and did it.


Friday, October 14, 2011

New Column, New Magazine

Boy, when one door closes, another one (or three) really does open. As you all know by now, our beloved Creative Screenwriting magazine may not be with us any longer (at least in print format... we'll see what happens), but you can be damn sure I will continue to bring you the inside skinny from the top literary reps in the biz.

To that end, I am happy to announce that beginning next month, Jim Cirile's Rep Report will begin in the new online magazine Hollywood & Vine. H&V is a slick, fun and breezy new magazine all about breaking in and the Hollywood lifestyle. I'll be talking with agents and managers about what they're looking for (and what they're not.)

And there are more things coming soon, which I'll fill you all in on when they're a little closer to prime-time. So for all you guys who've written saying you're going to miss Agent's Hot Sheet... yeah, trust me, we're good :) Oh, and you guys have noticed to dozens of Agent's Hot Sheet columns right here on this blog, right? Dig a bit and you will find a treasure trove of intel.

Now stop procrastinating and get back to writing.

Jim C.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Without further ado, we proudly present our Top 50 (semifinalists.) You guys are the elites, the best of the best. At least until we name our top ten, that is! Which will be right around Halloween. Nice work, all!

If you're not on this list, we sympathize, but just keep in mind there were many scripts on the cusp. We had to draw the line somewhere. Please note that these numbers are not rankings; the list below is in alphabetical order. And if you're wondering where your feedback form is, they started going out last week and will continue all this week (it takes us a while to get them all out -- we have to send each one individually.)

Thanks again to everyone who participated, and remember, we are here to help.

Jim Cirile

  1. 33 Yarrows Way by Christopher Morrison
  2. A Ship Through Fire by John Miller
  3. Am by C.N. Bean
  4. Atom & Eve by Hank Isaac
  5. Blesse (Wounded) by Bob Canning
  6. Bring Me Back by Alexis Lane
  7. Bush League by Steven Shank
  8. Caprivi by Peter Dewhirst
  9. Captive by John Burch
  10. Crusade by Kristen M. Mozaffari
  11. Dead by Thursday by Anthony DellaFlora
  12. Dead Walker by Josh Flanagan
  13. Death Wind by Travis Heermann
  14. Erin’s Voice by Greg Sullivan
  15. Faithful by Dennis Luu
  16. False Sense by Craig Cambria
  17. Getaway, Inc. by Andy Maycock
  18. Happy Trails by Michael Rhodes
  19. Heart of the Family by Sharon Duncan
  20. Hill of Souls by Jennifer Hahn
  21. Hold the Reins by Tracee Beebe
  22. Imprinted by Alison McMahan
  23. Insatiable by Michael D. Morra
  24. Invasive Species by Patricia Semler & J. Russell Prine
  25. Lulu by Samuel Bernstein
  26. Male Order Bride by Charles Mitri
  27. Marlowe by Louise Ransil
  28. Messenger by Tim Tyler
  29. Muffled Screams by David Kaneen
  30. Murdered by Dennis Luu
  31. Night Watch by David Taylor
  32. O Golden Boy by John Bain
  33. Paige & Hadley’s Prom From Hell by Devi Snively & Circus-Szalewski
  34. Paladin by Jared Kennedy
  35. Private Storage by Jared Kennedy
  36. Rage by Mike Davidson
  37. Roachtown by Cillian Daly
  38. Second Glance by Sue Morris
  39. Shed by Dennis Widmeyer and Kevin Kolsch
  40. Silence by John Edward Flynt 
  41. Spoiled Rotten by Cynthia Sieber
  42. Student Council by Tony Cohen
  43. The Beneath by T.J. Cimfel
  44. The Book of Malachy by Colin Elves
  45. The Boy on the Cover by Elizabeth Savage Sullivan
  46. The Heckler by Jery B. Rowan
  47. The Nativity Knockoff  by Jason Hellerman
  48. The Spider’s Web by Valerie Nordstrom
  49. The Ticking Jury by Mike Donald
  50. The Touch by Naomi Lamont
  51. The Warriors of Westgate by Michael R. Harriel
  52. Third by Sean McKee
  53. Wright or Wrong by Glenn Sanders & Brook Elms

See our newsletter right below!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm Newsletter 10-11

1) Intro Letter and Shorties
2) Agent's Hot Sheet - Back in Black
3) Test Your Screenwriting IQ with Steve Kaire
4) On Creative Screenwriting

Hi folks,

My screenwriting brethren,

We've got a pretty jam-packed newsletter here full of good news -- and one big piece of kind of sucky news. By now many of you have heard about Creative Screenwriting. We broke the news earlier in the week that the magazine is ceasing publication and the enterprise may be on the ropes (read the full story right here.)

This is a blow to the screenwriting community, and it may be a while before we know the full ramifications. Regardless of anything, Creative Screenwriting has been a damn good magazine for over a decade, rich with content and assembled by people who actually gave a crap, and their Expos and contests, while perhaps flawed, challenged and engaged and launched careers. Let's hope they somehow pull this one out of the fire and continue on in some way, shape or form.

It was my privilege to write the Agent's Hot Sheet column for CS for the last decade; one way or another, I'll find a way to keep bringing all of you the inside skinny direct from the top lit representatives in town. And certainly new media will step up to fill the void. Former Script magazine West Coast editor Josh Stecker is launching a new online writing magazine/community which will also feature a free screening series. It's called The Script Reporter, and Coverage Ink is pleased to be a part of this new enterprise. We'll let you know as soon as it's ready for lift-off.

Oh, and I did mention good news. Our CI team and clients have had a crazy amount of success lately. You'll see we really do back up our "The Industry Experts" slogan. On top of that, the spec market is back with a vengeance, so we're launching a huge-ass sale so all of you can get out there and make it happen. All this plus the latest in Steve Kaire's excellent Test Your Screenwriting IQ series, Agent's Hot Sheet explains how the Black List works, and way more, all hurtling at you right about now-ish.

Jim Cirile
Coverage Ink
Writers on the Storm


P.S. See the Writers on the Storm quarterfinalists right here. Semifinalists dropping imminently! Feedback forms are being sent out now (this will take about a week or so to get them all out). If you do not receive your feedback by 10/15, please email us. (Coverage Ink clients who entered the contest through CI received long-form coverage and do not get the contest feedback unless they resubmitted a new draft directly to the contest.)



WRITERS ON THE STORM QUARTERFINALISTS. We announced the Writers on the Storm QF's last week (if you missed it, click here to see them.) The top 50, otherwise known as our semi-finalists, will be announced right here within the next few days.

THE SPEC MARKET KICKING ASS. Man, this is a great headline to write. According to the Scoggins Report, 2011 is the best year for spec sales since 2007-2008.  Warner Bros. has bought 11 specs so far this year, up from its industry-leading 9 last year. And while DreamWorks has said they're done with buying for the year, the recent executive shuffle over there could change that picture in a hurry. After years of discussing the decline of the spec market in our Agent's Hot Sheet column in Creative Screenwriting, it is exhilarating to report that things have turned around. In fact, savvy readers may have noticed that our panelists Mike Goldberg from New Wave Entertainment and Emile Gladstone from WME called it a year ago, both predicting a big 2011 sales uptick (based on the studios having nothing on their slates for 2014-2015.) So if you've been feeling dispirited about the chances of breaking in of late (and who hasn't?) here's a whole bunch of happy for ya! (And don't forget to take advantage of our sale below to get your specs polished up and ready to rock.)

TRACKING B FINAL DEADLINE. We run our own contest of course, Writers on the Storm. Yet we have to give a hat-tip to our buddy The Insider and his amazing Tracking B Screenwriting Contest. Their final deadline is charging in fast (October 30th,) and if you enter no other contests this year, you should enter this one. Why? Because Tracking B is the most expensive contest around ($85 for "really late entry") and it offers no prizes per se. Wait, huh, wha'? Okay, we'd better explain.  See, it's worth it, because Tracking B is the ONLY contest around that gets their winners signed, promoted and produced regularly. Last year's finalist John Swetnam got signed thanks to Tracking B; his movie EVIDENCE just wrapped production. The amazing thing is, he's the rule, not the exception. And lest you think it's too pricey, if you submit two scripts you get a free 1-year subscription to, the real-life industry tracking board (a $79 value.) Head on over to and investigate for yourself.

O'Hare celebrates.
LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE FOR CI ANALYST. The string of good luck continues for both CI and for our analyst Kevin O'Hare, who has for the second time sold a TV pilot to Universal. "Just got an offer yesterday for another one of my spec TV pilots," says O'Hare. "Still in shock because it literally happened in two weeks. Just signed with ICM last month, they asked for any work I had laying around, and it just so happened I had another pilot no one had seen (very 'Lost') - they loved it, got a producer to take it into Universal because they bought that other pilot of mine, and sure enough Universal put in an offer to take it off the table." The deal also earned O'Hare enough points to get into the WGA. You rock, man! By the way, TV (and feature) writers, O'Hare is still available for coverage. Submit online at and just put "I'd like reader KO, please!" in the comments box. (See "Sale!" below.)

BACK IN PRINT. Last year we bemoaned the loss of The Hollywood Reporter's daily print edition. We tried to like the new weekly magazine format. We really did. And truth be told, it's slick, well-done bathroom reading. But it's not like the old THR, chock full of reviews and obits and minutiae; it's now more glammed out and superficial, in our opinion. And their daily email? We never even bother to read those. Another e-mail--who cares? Well, one of our staffers had a radical notion a few weeks back, and she went and subscribed us to Variety. Glory, glory, hallelujah. In-depth, daily entertainment news, on paper, is once again arriving at the CI offices. And, brothers and sisters, that is a beautiful thing. If, like us, you've grown dispirited over THR, give Variety a chance. You'll be very glad you did. Yeah, sorry, THR. You kinda suck.

COLLEEN'S GOT THE EYE OF THE TIGER. Our client Colleen Houck, who consulted with us on her entire book series, has optioned the film rights to her New York Times bestselling teen novel “Tiger’s Curse." Ineffable Pictures grabbed up the rights, and they aim to start production on the film within two years. This is especially gratifying to us here at CI, because one of the main areas we consulted on was in making the material as cinema-ready as possible. "Tiger's Curse" is the first of five planned novels following 17-year-old Kelsey Hayes as she tries to break a 300-year-old Indian curse that has turned a prince into a white tiger. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ineffable Pictures founder, Emmy-nominated producer Raphael Kryszek, says he read the book at the urging of his 11-year-old cousin. Way to go, Colleen! Visit the book's website right here.

LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE FOR ANOTHER CI ANALYST. CI Senior Story Analyst (and "Liberator" director) Aaron Pope has been busy on the for-hire writing front, recently landing assignment work on horror flick CROPSY for director Tom Holland ("Fright Night") and the family comedy I MISSED THE BUS for Vendetta Filmworks. Both are slated for principal photography in early 2012. In addition, Pope has other projects percolating at big prodcos all over town. And yes, he is still available for coverage as well! Just ask for AP when you submit. And speaking of "Liberator"...
Lou Ferrigno returns to superheroics in "Liberator." Photo by Russell Griffin.
OPERATION: LIBERATION CONTINUES. Coverage Ink's latest production LIBERATOR finished reshoots and pickup days in September, and the stuff looks fabulous. We were fortunate enough to have a stunningly successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign, raising $24,650 (our goal was $18,000.) We funnelled that money right back into the production, and we were finally able to get the shots we always wanted (which we did not have the time or money to shoot during the main shoot in June.) Liberator stars Lou Ferrigno as a disgraced, former superhero whose secret black ops past comes back to haunt him. The film also stars Michael Dorn (Star Trek: the Next Generation,) Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita) and Ed Asner (Up). Watch some behind the scenes footage right here, then "like" us on facebook! And if you want to find out all about Liberator, listen to Director Aaron Pope and Executive Producer Jim Cirile talk about the film on the podcast SciFi Diner right here.

CI POST-CONTEST SALE! With the spec market on a tear, it's time for all of us to get a piece of the action. It's our first sale since launching Writers on the Storm in the spring, and we're making it up to you guys in a big way: 20% OFF ANY SCRIPT SUBMISSION. Just submit your script to CI for analysis and use this discount code in the text box: CINEWSLETTER20. Hurry, sale ends 10/31!

"Hannah's Law" writer John Fasano
THE WESTERN IS DEAD. LONG LIVE THE WESTERN. The old west has had a tough time of it lately at the US box office; while most of us love a good oater, they're unwanted as spec scripts. But the genre thrives on the small screen -- specifically on the Hallmark Channel, which has been blessing us with an avalanche of original, high-quality western telefilms and miniseries. Their latest flick is Hannah's Law, directed by Rachel Talalay (Freddy's Dead) and written by Coverage Ink's good pal John Fasano (Tombstone.) The film stars Sara Canning (Vampire Diaries,) as a strong-willed forntier gal who corrals Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp to help her town take a stand for justice. Hannah's Law also stars Billy Zane and and Danny Glover. The film is shooting in Canada and will air on the Hallmark Channel in 2012. Way to go, JF!

Anjali Patil in "Delhi in a Day"
FOXY. The hit parade for CI analysts continues. This time it's Billy Fox, who did story work for Director Prashant Nair on the new feature film DELHI IN A DAY. The film is now screening at festivals and has its Indian premiere in Mumbai on October 14th. The cross-cultural dramedy is getting fantastic reviews and won Best Feature Film award at the Houston Indian Film Festival. Its next US screening is at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 10/23. "CI was indeed instrumental," says Nair. "We are finally pitching to distributors in the coming weeks - goal is a small theatrical release in India, UAE and UK. So keep fingers crossed!" Nair has put together a mesmerizing little movie, and we are proud to have helped it to the big screen. Visit the film's website to see the trailer and sign up for the mailing list. 

Paul Moxham
CI CLIENT MAKES PAGE ACTION TOP 10. Hot young Australian writer Paul Moxham reports his script BLIZZARD, a Writers on the Storm honorable mention, has hit the top 10 of the Page Awards. Moxham's crackerjack writing landed him a manager earlier this year, and his scripts have placed highly in several contests. We have a soft spot for this little snowbound action/thriller about a man returning to his Montana hometown only to find his father--the Sheriff--has been kidnapped by the thugs he used to run with. We really hope this one cleans up. Show 'em how it's done, Paul.

Ever wanted to turn the tables on an exec at a pitch fest? We thought so.
WRITER WISH FULFILLMENT. Tell us if this sounds like a cool premise to you: at a screenwriters' pitch event, a vengeful writer turns the tables on an arrogant studio executive, ordering him at gunpoint to pitch a good story or die. As the clock ticks down, the exec gets a lesson in truthfulness and storytelling, but will he learn in time to save himself? Yeah, we thought you guys would dig that! That's the premise of Slamdance winner DEAD IN THE ROOM, a new short film burning up the festival circuit right now. "I got the idea for this after having attended a few pitch events myself," says writer Margie Kaptanoglu. "I just thought it might be interesting if an industry exec had to learn what it feels like to be 'under the gun' so to speak." DEAD IN THE ROOM screens next at the Red Rock Film Festival, Saturday, November 12th, at 2:30 pm in St. George, Utah. "Like" it on Facebook.

CI SCORES HOLY-CRAP!!!-HUGE NEW CLIENT. One last bit of amazing news for now. Coverage Ink recently landed our biggest client ever. This is a major production company with a a pipepline of huge studio movies. We really wish we could name names here. We would maybe make it our new slogan or something -- Coverage Ink, the script development service used by Holy Crap!!!-Huge Productions. Has a nice ring to it, huh? We've helped them with two projects so far -- an international best-seller we've all read, and an original period piece based on a true event.

Continue on to:

Agent's Hot Sheet - Back in Black
Test Your Screenwriting IQ with Steve Kaire
On Creative Screenwriting