Friday, December 28, 2012

"Delhi In A Day" Rated 10-Best Indie Movie of 2012

Anjali Patil in "Delhi in a Day"
Filmmaker Prashant Nair has been on a roll. His movie Delhi In A Day has been burning up the international festival circuit and winning awards -- not the least of which is scoring Nair a slot in the prestigious Sundance Lab. Today, Times of India (India's largest newspaper) released their 10 Best Indie Films of 2012 list. We're delighted to note that Delhi in a Day has been included.

Delhi in a Day was developed with Coverage Ink. Nair and CI senior story analyst Billy Fox (who received story credit) worked on the story of a idealistic, well-to-do British traveler (Lee Williams, The Tudors) whose visit throws a monkey wrench into in a nouveau-riche South Delhi home. The film is a breezy, dark comedy of manners set against the background of class struggle in contemporary India. "I'm thrilled that DELHI IN A DAY was recognized by the Times of India as a top-10 independent film," says Fox. "I'm proud to have contributed to the development of the story. But I must add it was great to begin with. But I am psyched we helped Prashant helped knock it out of the park!"

We're very excited to have had a small part in the development of the screenplay and the launching of a major filmmaking talent. Bravo, Prashant! -- Jim C.

Interesting sidebar: Delhi in a Day won the Award of Excellence from IndieFest in 2011. Guess what won it in 2012? Liberator.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We won!

LIBERATOR Director Aaron Pope at Cal Shorts Film Festival 2012
OK, I know this isn't winning an Oscar or anything. But more than anything else, LIBERATOR is a passion project. It's what Aaron Pope and I wanted to bring to the superhero genre -- grit, realism, edge, politics, sly humor -- and we did it for the price of a Prius (a nicely tricked out one, admittedly.) So the fact that we won Best Dramatic Short from Cal Shorts (our second award) means a hell of a lot to me. After 2 decades in Hollywood, this is probably the thing I'm most proud of. 

Stay tuned because we'll be hearing more from Liberator soon...  -- Jim C.

Like Liberator on Facebook!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm Newsletter 12/12

December 2012


1. I Hate Contests.
2. Shorties - News, Tidbits and Disinformation for Writers
3. Kick It With Kickstarter
4. Agent's Hot Sheet: How to Really Break In To TV


How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:
  • Losing. It makes you feel worthless as a writer. The fact that you were probably eliminated by some college student hired off Craigslist making $7 a script, who only read the first five pages, is little consolation.
  • The quality of the readers. See above.
  • The amazing disappearing entry fee. You pay your 50 bucks or whatever, and often that's the last you ever hear.
  • And when you do get feedback, it's often pretty worthless.
  • There are too many of them, and only a very few have any juice at all. The vast majority, it's, hey, you won! Congrats! Nobody cares.
  • Multiple deadlines and extensions. Just when you think you've gotten your script in under the wire, they announce an additional month.
Ho freakin' ho ho.
I'll stop there, but I think you get my drift. So now you're expecting me to say that none of these things exist in OUR contest, right? Well, sort of but not quite.

My original concept for Writers on the Storm was that it would be a nontest -- in other words, all the irritating things I just mentioned about contests, we wouldn't do. But as we quickly discovered, being truly unique was easier said than done. Readers: that was easy. We use the same tested and proven team of industry readers for the contest we use to evaluate and develop scripts for Coverage Ink. We made the mistake a few years back of augmenting with a few non-CI readers. Never again... Our readers make a fair wage and have to read the entire script. I know of some contest readers who rip through 5, 6, even 7 scripts in an hour, making serious $$$ by doing so. Yeah, not here. (Sorry, readers!)

Losing still sucks, no question, but we try to mollify the blow with education and TLC. If we can explain in the feedback why the script didn't advance, then maybe the writer won't feel so much wounded as empowered to get in there and do a little surgery. It's just a short feedback form so there's only so much we can do, but I've heard from lots of folks they really appreciated the commentary -- often it's the first time they've received constructive, professional criticism. Cool. Of course, we've screwed the pooch a few times too. A few years back I discovered we had a reader who was cutting and pasting almost exactly the same vague, meaningless three sentences onto every feedback form. That person was sacked, but not before the damage was done. She's now working for another coverage company...

As for the proliferation of contests, oy. When I started WOTS there were too damn many... now there's three times that amount. And there are still only a small handful worth your money --Tracking B, Scriptapalooza, Script Pipeline, Nicholl Fellowship, and of course Writers on the Storm. These contests have all shown consistent results and industry juice.

Now here's where we are guilty, no question: deadlines. See, for our first year I tried my noble experiment: we had ONE deadline and only one, and that was it. No extensions, no late entry period, no sliding scale entry fees -- every entry was the same low price. We let everyone know in advance that the deadline was the deadline. And we got killed. Maybe it's that writers expect there will be an extension regardless of what the company says. Maybe it's the perceived urgency of an extension propels more people to submit. Whatever the reason, we quickly realized we had to implement staggered deadlines as a matter of survival. Like everyone else. I rationalized that it's no so bad so long as you make everyone aware of it -- not "Surprise! The real deadline is 6 weeks from now. Thanks for spending the last 72 hours straight cramming to finish your script and get it in under the wire to save $5."

So now we tell everyone in advance what the early, regular, and late deadlines are. In addition, Without A Box demands a WAB-only extension period, so we tack that on at the end.

Finally, communication. I remember a contest once where I only found out I had made the top ten because I web-searched my name and found the listing on the contest website many months later. Anyway, this is an area we're trying to do better in. We try to make sure every entry gets an acknowledgement, and at the end everyone does get their feedback. Beyond that we have constant updates on our websites, our facebook page ( and right here on our blog. And if you email us at, either lovely Julie or myself will get back to you.

I still think contests suck. But we're trying to reduce the pain and swelling. Write us and let us know how we're doing!

Jim Cirile
founder, Coverage Ink
Writers on the Storm

Continue to Shorties

Shorties 12-12

WINGING IT. Man, we love sharing awesome news. In November, Writers on the Storm IV runner-up Jeremy Shipp -- whom we had previously gotten signed at UTA, and who is now working on the ABC comedy Family Tools -- set up his original animation project Nightglider. Wind Dancer Films and Brown Bag Films are teaming to produce the flying squirrel comedy, with a projected release in 2015. It will be the first animated project for both companies. To say this talented young man is on a roll is the understatement of the year! Jeremy's WWII magic-themed action/adventure script Sleight of Hand caught UTA agent Emerson Davis' eye and got him into the bigs. Since then he's worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and ABC's mid-season replacement Family Tools. We can't wait to see what his new contemporary action/thriller spec does when it hits the market next year. Go, Jeremy!

Yeah, they have reason to smile.
SIGNED. Yahoooo! Last year's winners of Writers on the Storm, Glenn Sanders and Brooks Elms, have also signed with UTA. The insanely gifted writing duo kicked our butts with their hilarious period comedy Wright or Wrong, a deliciously daft revisionist take on the Wright Bros. making things even more absurdly cool, they've signed with none other than red-hot agent Charlie Ferraro, who has sold six, count 'em, six specs so far this year (only WME's Mike Esola has sold more with seven.) Now they're readying a new comedy spec and getting meetings with movers and shakers. Nice! You know, it's easy to get frustrated with Hollywood. But when guys like Elms and Sanders and Shipp can break in -- cool guys with real chops -- it buoys our spirits. Occasionally, the town really can reward hard work and merit. Bravo, gentlemen! We expect nothing short of serious badassery from you.

FIRST PUT THE MASK ON YOURSELF, THEN THE CAT. Our pals at Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! have a new event coming up this January. We're going to be there and so should you! It's called SAVE THE CAT!® MAKES A SALE -- PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM WORKING SCREENWRITERS, and it's going to be Saturday, January 26, 2013 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at the Burbank Marriott. In addition to covering a massive amount of material to quickly whip your scripts into shape (we're all STC! evangelists here at Coverage Ink,) they're bringing in four working screenwriters to discuss how they  use the STC! principles: Dean De Bois (How To Train Your Dragon 2), Jeremy Garelick (The Break-Up), Caleb Wilson (Four Christmases) and Jon Davis (The Dukes of Hazzard.) These things always sell out, so reserve your slot today. And if you're wondering what the big deal is with Save the Cat!, pick up a copy at any bookseller and behold the wonders of Blake Snyder's simple, foolproof, studio-mandated method. If you do not think this is important, you are sadly mistaken. I have had more than one producer meeting where they insisted on a Save the Cat!-style beat sheet.

DON'T SHOOT THE MESSINGER. More good news: our pal (and CI client) Bob Messinger's script The C.O., about the early days of the war in Iraq, has taken Best Script honors in the ENDAS International Screenplay Competition. The annual competition, headquartered in Genova, Italy, draws thousands of entries from around the globe. According to Messinger, The C.O. is different than most war dramas not only because it realistically depicts the horrors of modern urban warfare, but also because it dares to challenge the world community's political, religious and moral motivations for waging war. “I’m more proud of this script than any other I’ve done,” says Messinger, who has written multiple drafts of the story, one of which was a semi-finalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope screenplay competition in 2006. Messinger plans to use his €1000 prize either to prepare a trailer for The C.O. or to prepare a trailer for a new project he hopes to film himself by raising money through Kickstarter. Way to go, Bob!

WRITERS ON THE STORM QUARTERFINALISTS SO FAR. As many of you know, folks who submit scripts to for analysis during the contest period are automatically entered into Writers on the Storm at no extra charge. These folks (but not those who enter via find out in advance whether or not their screenplays have made it to the quarterfinals -- scripts that score "consider with reservations" or better for script -- historically about the top 10% -- automatically advance to the quarterfinal round. But this year, just days before our regular deadline, we have only six quarterfinalists to date -- way less than 10% of the scripts submitted for coverage. What's going on? Are our readers being supreme hard-asses? (Yes.) Or have a lot of folks been holding out on submitting until their scripts are polished and shiny? (Yes.)  Hopefully those numbers will correct as we get closer to the final deadline.

In any event, here are our spectacular, odds-defying Writers on the Storm quarterfinalists so far!
  • The Theory of Everything by Tim McSmythurs
  •  My Asshole Neighbor by Andrew Currie + Robert Comiak
  • The Galaxy's Littlest Prince by Joe Borriello
  • On the Edge by Patrick Hunt
  • Wormweed by John and Jessica Walker
  • Russian Roulette by Karl Schiffman
Can you join this small but mighty group? We'll see... get your script in now at or

INDIE FEST: LIBERATED. We are pleased as punch to tell you that Coverage Ink's new short film/pilot Liberator won the Award of Excellence from Indie Fest. We're just beginning our festival run, so Liberator will be coming to a film festival or Comic-Con near you. Next up: join us Thursday 12/6 at 4:30 PM at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Or perhaps you would prefer Medellin, Colombia? Because we're screening there Dec. 8th at the Dark Mountain Film Festival. Sadly, we will not be in attendance for that one. Many more screenings to come, including a few big ones featuring key cast members such as Lou Ferrigno, Michael Dorn (Worf, son of Mogh) and Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita) so please "like" us on Facebook and stay in the loop. If all goes well, we'll be bringing you a major Liberator announcement next month...

SPEC-TACULARITY. Usually this is the time of year when the spec market ramps down as we cruise into the holiday season and execs begin their long vacations to the Seychelles and Betty Ford. But there's life in the spec market yet, and three specs have been set up just last week. So far this year, 62 companies have been attached to specs that have sold (some with more than one project.) It's been a great year, and the market is still hungry. When the market sucks, it affects everything. People are less willing to read, writers' quotes take the hit which means agents and managers get grumpy... it's a vicious cycle of suckitude. So here's to a terrific 2012 -- and an even better 2013.

HOLY BAT-TASTROPHE! Warner Bros. has announced that an American legend, a true visionary, has signed on to direct the Batman reboot. Who could it be? Well, if you believe the snarky industry humor site The Studio Exec, none other than Mr. Soon-Yi himself.  Allen is reported to be considering "going back to what made the franchise great in the first place" and plans to announce casting of Adam West in the role of the caped crusader. In all semi-seriousness, this would be a pretty cool choice if it were real, which it is not. But the faux news stories on are well worth your time. Check it out!


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Continue to Kick It With Kickstarter

Kick It With Kickstarter

Seems like almost everyone I know has jumped on the crowdfunding bandwagon. There's Robert from Brooklyn who raised $3,000 to fund his spectacular annual free Halloween show; Brian the makeup effects artist who's soliciting funds for his post-apocalyptic horror free-for-all; and Jessica, who played Lou Ferrigno's daughter in LIBERATOR, looking for funds to launch her new 13-episode web series. And they're just the tip of the iceberg. I have one word for it: awesome!!!!

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGogo have indeed returned the power to the creators' hands. No longer is our messed-up corporate media the be-all and end-all for whether a movie gets made, a book gets published or a band gets their music out there. Hell yeah!

But word to the wise: these sites are not instant, free, easy money. They are amazing tools to be sure, and they can sometimes yield dramatic results. Hell, we raised almost $25K in finishing funds on Kickstarter for LIBERATOR. But the process is, frankly, a monumental pain in the ass. So if you're planning on crowdfunding to raise money for your project, go for it, but keep a few things in mind...

Our Kickstarter Liberator campaign main page.
The PBS model for rewards doesn't work. Sure, Public Broadcasting can give away a free light-up key chain with your $250 contribution. But on the crowdfunding sites that is not going to fly. Contributors expect something cool, unique and valuable in exchange for chipping in. A free DVD is fine with a $25 contribution, but for $100 you'd better give out a T-shirt, a cameo appearance, an original screen-used prop and a 45-minutes of Shiatsu from your second AD. Okay, maybe that's a bit over the top, but know this well: the better your rewards, the more likely it is that people will invest.

30 days doesn't cut it. Kickstarter recommends a 30-day campaign. They feel that people make snap decisions and thus a ticking clock works in your favor. I say: bull. It takes time to build momentum and followers.  As well, people are either going to contribute right now if they like your project; or they're going to watch and wait, and jump in at the end if they have to. Either way you've got 'em. Elect a 60-day campaign and use that time to spread the word and pimp the hell out of your project.

Plan on 30% of your intake going out the window. Yeah, this one really bites, but it's true: it costs money to print T-shirts, DVDs, stickers, and mail all that crap out. Kickstarter's take is about 10%. (Note that if you do not hit your goal, with Kickstarter you don't get a dime. With IndieGogo, you can collect whatever has been contributed, but for a higher fee than if you hit your goal -- around 14%.) In other words, if you need 10 grand, you'd best ask for 13.

Oh, did I mention that these funds are also considered taxable income?

There is no "Kickstarter community." Kickstarter says you need to create the most appealing sizzle reel you can in order to appeal to the Kickstarter community. While the first part is very true, this statement makes you think that there is a large group of individuals, perhaps bored at their 9 to 5s, who browse crowdfunding sites much like they do and eBay, looking for cool new projects to invest in. Yeah, not so much. I mean, there are a few, and they did indeed come in at the end and help us with LIBERATOR. But probably best not to expect this massive groundswell of support from people you don't know.

"Gray State" won big with their killer, FX-laden trailer and by appealing to activist groups.
YOU have to do all the work. This is the messed-up secret no one wants to divulge, but here it is. None of these sites do jack to help you, other than simply giving you space on their server. It's up to you to create the campaign and broadcast it. That means relentlessly hounding your friends (they love that) for contributions, tweeting, Facebooking, trying to get publicity however you can, and providing constant updates for contributors and potential investors. This, by the way, is inordinately time-consuming.

Social media is key. We hired a social media consultant because we had zero Twitter presence, and everyone says Twitter is the key to a successful campaign. So in the space of less than 3 weeks, Erika built us up from zero to over 500 Twitter followers. And some of them really became invested in the project, spreading the word for us. It really did start to snowball. But Erika spent a LOT of hours getting to know each of those people so that they became part of the family. If you have thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers to start, you've got a leg up. If not, you'd best hire someone to help you, because otherwise you will not hit your goal. Which, by the way, means another chunk of dough off the top of your take.

Most of the money you raise will likely come from your friends and family, by the way. So why do we need these sites then? You don't, really. You can build your own fund-raising website if you are so inclined. Or just have a big potluck and make a nice speech and pass the hat.

Stack the deck in your favor. Browse through any crowd-funding site and you will see great campaigns, shitty ones and everything in between. Study the great ones, obviously. Check out their sizzle reels, how they present the material. Your stuff had better look slick and pro. Check out Gray State, above, for a great example.

Did I mention, by the way, how much time it takes to put together a slick, professional presentation for crowdfunding purposes? If you're starting to get the impression that crowdfunding is anything but easy, you're beginning to get my point.

One other thing: a LOT of projects out there have no name actors attached. This is because most of us assume we can't afford "real" actors. This is nonsense. You may not be able to afford Brad Pitt, but you may well be able to get a few folks who mean something to genre fans, like we did with LIBERATOR. Hell, you're raising money online anyway. Add in an extra 10 grand for talent. There is a big difference between how a project with no names is perceived versus one that has some. And getting them is easy. Make your list, then contact their agents and make an offer. Some may laugh in your face, but others may be interested. At that point it's up to your script to seal the deal. Make sure it rocks.

Now go kick(start) some ass!

Jim C.

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Continue to Agent's Hot Sheet: How to Really Break In to TV

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm October Newsletter

October, 2012 Edition

1) The Impatient Screenwriter by Jim Cirile
2) Shorties - Screenwriting News, Tidbits and Disinformation
3) Should You Choose an Agent, Manager or Attorney? by Steve Kaire
4) Relationships, Relationships, Relationships -- Guest blog by Barri Evins

***NEWS FLASH: Writers on the Storm 2011 Winners Brooks Elms & Glenn Sanders have just signed with UTA!*** 


Hello, friends! I think it's high time we discuss... wait for it... patience, specifically as it applies to writers. No one talks about this, and yet it may be the single most important issue for us to comes to grip with. Specifically I mean: we writers don't freaking have any. And this lack of patience can often lead to us making bone-headed mistakes, over and over again.

Got brains?
There are two key ways in which lack of patience really screws us. The first and probably most important is in expectations. I was talking to a friend a few weeks back who complained that he had been in Los Angeles almost four years and still hadn't made any headway with his scripts. Four years. That seem like a long time to you? Really?

Let me put it to you like this: how many years should a professional athlete have to practice before making the bigs? Or how about an architect who designs state-of-the-art high-rises -- how about it, four years from beginning his studies to designing that building is plenty of time, right? (Hell, I ain't renting a suite in there.) Or how about the surgeon who's going to remove your appendix -- if she started studying medicine four years ago, then, brother, you'd best have a good probate attorney. And all those professionals are likely studying their field intensely, doing nothing else, for four, six, eight or more years. Screenwriting? Most of us allocate an hour or two a day maybe, read a couple articles, watch a movie. Please.

Why should writing be any easier to master than any other well-paid profession?

When you break in, you may be entrusted with a project with significant investment behind it as well as, potentially, the careers of a whole bucketload of individuals. You have to be able to prove you have a steady hand on the till. If you've written five scripts and have one time made the quarterfinals of the Karbunkle, Indiana, Writing Kompetition, I'm sorry to say but you probably are not there yet. Like any other field where you're being paid a decent wage, you'd best be insanely great at what you do. That means a solid educational pedigree, real dedication to your craft and being a student of the business.

Now I know what you're thinking -- Hollywood is not a meritocracy. If you're the roommate of a high-powered agent, that's good enough. Sadly, this is 100% correct. For those dudes, the rules don't really apply. I hate them. But nothing we can do about that. But for the REST of us, you have got to be the absolute most bad-ass shizzbombdigitty at what you do in order to stand out from everyone else. And that means lots of practice, lots of passes, lots of rewrites and frustration. In short it means: patience. It may take a decade. It may take TWO. But if you keep at it, eventually you should become great.

The other part of the equation is, since we are all impatient, we all make this same mistake time and again: sending out your damn script too freakin' early. Here's how it goes: You finish your first draft; you're psyched to get eyes on it. Of course you really only want to hear how awesome it is. So you fire it off to your friends and connex; but instead of "I love it! Don't change a word!," you get back... notes. Groan.

So here's what we do: we hit the notes -- well, the easy ones anyway -- and discard the ones that would require real work, such as the disappearance of your protagonist from pages 46 to 93. And then, satisfied the script is awesome, we contact our connex, send out queries, go to pitchfests, the usual routine. And then comes the deafening silence of never hearing back from anyone (the silent pass.) Maybe six months later you get some coverage or notes from a friend pointing out all the remaining problems in the script you never fixed, plus new ones created when you tried to fix the previous ones. Oh, crap.

And then on the next script, we repeat the whole damn ugly cycle. And the next. Because writing is HARD. It's a pain in the ass to do a million drafts. There are always more things to fix, and oftentimes our craft level is just not strong enough yet to really be able to nail those problems efficiently. And so eventually we pull the plug and say "it's ready!" and, you guessed it, we do the whole process all over again.

Next thing you know, it's four years later.

Solutions? Education is key, and if you're not taking writing classes somewhere, you should. They keep the creative juices flowing and will slowly up your game. Getting into a writing group, same thing. And of course, reading anything and everything you can about writing, getting smart feedback or coverage from people who know what they're doing, and dedicating real time to this craft -- all good. But ultimately the best thing I can tell you is... chill, my brothers and sisters. It may not happen on this script, or the next, or even the next. You have to find a way to be okay with that. As writers, we should have plenty of ideas, and when one project flames out, make sure you have another one already on the burner. Eventually it's gonna all really begin to click. All we need is just a little... wait for it... patience.


Much awesomeness for you all in this month's newsletter, including Steve Kaire as usual and a terrific guest blog from our pal the amazing Barri Evins. All coming at you right about now.

Onward and downward!

Jim Cirile
Coverage Ink
Writers on the Storm

Continue on to SHORTIES - Screenwriting News, Tidbits & Disinformation below.

SHORTIES - Screenwriting News, Tidbits and Disinformation


THE LIBERATION IS UNDERWAY. Coverage Ink's new short film LIBERATOR is Hulk-raging to a festival or comic-con near you (this weekend: Wizard World Comic-Con Austin.) LIBERATOR stars Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) as a washed-up ex-superhero trying to get his life back on the rails, and features an all-star geek cast: Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita), Michael Dorn (better known as Worf, son of Mogh), Don "The Dragon" Wilson (Bloodfist) and the legendary Ed Asner (Up) as President Whitlock. Directed and co-written by Aaron Pope and exec produced and co-written by Jim Cirile, the film recently screened at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo to enthusiastic crowds. It blew us away when producer Tom DeSanto implored the audience to take to the social media and do everything they could to help promote LIBERATOR. Almost as cool as Stan Lee interviewing Lou about LIBERATOR on Cocktails With Stan. Please like Liberator on Facebook to find out when and where the next screening will be.

WRITERS ON THE STORM EARLY DEADLINE COMING FAST 10/29.  Whoa, is it really the WOTS early deadline? Heck yeah, and this is your last chance to get in cheap. As of 10/30 the early entry period ends and the price goes up. Writers on the Storm is our own big-money, big opportunity contest ($25K cash and prizes, including a $10K first prize for features and $2.5K first prize for TV pilots.) Plus we've got some really killer, unique prizes this year -- fancy a meeting with the producer of the upcoming sci-fi tent pole Ender's Game (starring Harrison Ford)? Or with staff writers from Sons of Anarchy and Burn Notice, or with the Co-Executive Producer from How I Met Your Mother? We got all that and way more. And entry into Writers on the Storm is FREE with any screenplay submission to during the contest. Jump on this now!

TRACKING B - LAST CHANCE TO ENTER. One of the few contests out there worth the money is the Tracking B feature film screenplay contest. This revolutionary contest offers no prize money or prizes. Seriously. They merely offer insane levels of access. See, Tracking B is an industry tracking board with a pretty bad-ass selection of industry heavyweights as judges. More often than not they get people signed and launch careers. The final deadline is Sunday 10/28, so get in before it's too late. And every writer who submits two scripts scores a complimentary 1-year subscription to Tracking ($89 value.) Enter now at

DID YOU WATCH THE DEBATE? No, not the one where the two military industrial complex-owned candidates bragged about how much they plan to drill, kill and further increase the bloated "defense" budget. No, I'm talking about the third party candidate debate, hosted by Larry King. These four excellent candidates -- Green Party's Jill Stein, Justice Party's Rocky Anderson, Constitution Party's Virgil Goode and Libertarian Gary Johnson, may not have a chance of winning in 2012, but here's hoping that changes sometime soon or we are in deep doo-doo. Over 90 million people say the country is heading in the wrong direction and identify themselves as independents. Check out what the third partiers have to say -- you won't regret it.

HORRIBLE SING-ALONG. Looking for a fun vaguely-related Halloween event in Hollywood 10/27? Why not check out the big-screen bouncing-ball sing-along version of Joss Whedon's 2008 camp musical epic Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? Includes episodes of Dr. Horrible star Felicia Day's The Guild and Husbands. It's all a benefit for Best Friends Animal Society (bring canned food for the food drive as well.) There are a whole passel of announced guests, and it's a pretty safe bet that Joss Whedon and some of the cast (Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day) will be there as well. More info and tix on 

MIDWAY THROUGH THE FALL SPEC SEASON... Every year, a glut of new material hits the market in September/October, one of the times when the industry is traditionally fully engaged and not in summer vacation/Sundance/Toronto/holiday mode. In other words, there's a 2-month window that occurs twice a year when specs flood the market--right after Sundance, and right after Labor Day. Last year's numbers were pretty fantastic, with 20 specs selling (out of 53 that went out) in October 2011. This year the numbers aren't quite as strong, with only two specs selling so far this month -- but the market remains hungry, the doom n' gloom from a few years ago (when no one was buying jack squat) at least temporarily abated. In short, all is well, but as usual the bull's-eye continues to shrink. High concept remains king, and industry staples action/thriller, comedy, and horror rule the day. Best part: Paramount seems to be trying to tell people they really are still in business. They're releasing 8 movies by year's end and have gobbled up 11 specs so far this year. Not a bad time to be a writer! 

TOTAL MOGUL HOLLYWOOD POWER WEEKEND POSTPONED. We were really psyched for this one, but we've had to bump it to spring 2013. Producer and event coordinator Steve Longi recently left Permut Presentations where he's worked on many of their hits over the past 15 years (like Face/Off) to launch his own shingle Longitude Entertainment. He's been acquiring material and making deals and, well, being a busy little mogul. Which means unfortunately we have not had the time to build this into the world-class event it needs to be -- so we're pulling it for now. We've notified the attendees and will announce a new date in the next few months. In the meantime if you're interested in finding out about this all-new, premium event, where you get to hang poolside and schmooze and booze with agents, managers and producers, please visit the site at and drop us a line if you're interested in participating.

COUNTING YOUR NICHOLLS. On Weds 10/24 the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the five winners of the the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship for 2012. These fellows become Nicholl Fellows and get s $35K prize, with the proviso they are to complete a screenplay in the next year with tutelage from their heavy-duty mentors. Congrats to New Yorkers Nikole Beckwith and James DiLapo, Louisiana's Allen Durand, Sean Robert Daniels from South Africa and Michael Werwie from Los Angeles. The Nicholl Fellowship is the most prestigious of all screenwriting contests, and winners often go on to prestigious careers in the industry. In 2012 they received a record 7,197 submissions, so if you didn't win, don't feel too bad. In the meantime, set your sites on honing your craft and try your hand at this short list of contests worth the money: Scriptapalooza, Tracking B, Script Pipeline and Writers on the Storm.

HANKS HOUSE GRAND SLAM. Okay, no question slam poetry is a pretty easy gimme and a go-to for comedy routines, but this one from Cloud Atlas star Tom Hanks, about the uber-cheesy '80s sitcom Full House, takes the proverbial cake. By way of retribution, I fully expect John Stamos to bust a gangsta rap about Bosom Buddies on Letterman within the week. You heard it here first!

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Continue on to Should I Get an Agent, Manager or Attorney? below

Should You Get an Agent, Manager or Attorney?

By Steve Kaire

Getting a good agent these days is almost an impossible dream for writers.  The reason is that they’re just not taking on new writers unless the writer somehow managed to make a big sale on his own.

There are distinct differences and some similarities between what literary agents, managers and entertainment attorneys do.  Agents are registered with the state and can only charge ten percent for their services.  They send out their client’s material, get them meetings and writing assignments as well as negotiating deals.  The top three agencies are William Morris/Endeavor, International Creative Management (ICM), and Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Managers also send out material and try to get their clients writing assignments.  What managers can not legally do is negotiate a deal so they work with entertainment attorneys for that.  Managers can charge whatever fees they want and they range from ten to fifty percent with the average being fifteen percent.  A manager can be anyone from a former agent to your cousin and will often act as one of the producers on the project as well.

The trend these days is for writers to hire an entertainment attorney to negotiate a deal for them.  They charge an average of three hundred dollars an hour for their services or five to ten percent of the entire deal. They don’t usually send out material or get their client assignments.  They can also acquire rights, litigate, and deal with all legal and contractual issues.

If you're thinking about which to go after, well, agents likely won't be interested unless you've managed to create some heat on your own, or you have a personal relationship with a manager or producer who recommends you. Most "real" entertainment attorneys will also not be interested unless you have a deal (with real money--five figures or higher) on the table (beware the shysters who will charge a fee to send our screenplay to, say, ten companies.) 

That leaves managers, and that's a great place to start. It's their job to read scripts and cultivate new talent. While finding a manager isn't easy by any means, it's possible. As with all things, it will take work and perseverance. But don't waste your time until you are 100% certain your material is worth their time. Take writing classes and workshop your script. Get coverage from reputable companies like Coverage Ink. Get into a writing group and really listen to the feedback. It will be clear when you're ready to go, because your friends will be volunteering to help you. Go get 'em!


Steve Kaire ( is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. His top-rated CD, “High Concept--How to Create, Pitch and Sell to Hollywood” is available on his website along with original articles and national screenwriting contests.

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Continue on to Relationships, Relationships, Relationships below

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Guest blog by Barri Evins

In real estate they say the most important thing is location, location, location.  In the film business it’s relationships, relationships, relationships.

Absolutely everyone in the industry who is doing well is succeeding in large part because of their relationships. 

We’re good at cultivating relationships because we have to be.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.  In fact, if you do it right, it’s fun.

Writers, for the most part, suck at building relationships.  I don’t know a nicer way to say it.  Writers have lots of other important skills, but I can’t tell you how many times a writer has said to me, “Yeah, I just had a great meeting.  Some guy named, Mike or maybe Mark, over at Paramount.”

Actually, I can usually figure out who they met with because my job is to know who the buyers are.  But clearly the part of the brain that is devoted to remembering these kinds of details in writers is crowded out by the ability to create authentic dialogue, understand structure or by writing in their heads all the time. 

There’s a lot more to it than just remembering who you met with – just keep a log – seriously, that’s what I do – it’s meeting people in the first place.  And then knowing how to build the relationship and keep in contact. 

I know that’s not easy.  In fact, when I started out as an assistant I was afraid I was no good at it.  But once I started looking at it differently, everything changed.  While I felt as if I had nothing to offer, I realized that actually it was a two way street.  I saw it as challenge to meet as many interesting people as I could.  It became fun for me. 

So here’s the big secret that should change everything for you – we need to know good writers as much as you need to build relationships with execs, agents and managers.  You may have been focused on how you can’t succeed without us, but look at it from our point of view.  We can’t succeed without you!
Networking is a terrifying word, so let’s not even use it. 

It’s a jungle out there right?  So think of yourself like Tarzan, swinging through the forest with vines.  Every time you see a vine grab it and see where it takes you.  Don’t let go until you can grab another vine.  Before you know it, you’ll be building momentum and moving fast.

Here’s how to swing, whether it’s on social media or in a social situation:

Focus on what you can give not just what you can get.  As Marvin Acuna, producer and networking maestro is fond of saying, “Give before you get.”  How?  Take an authentic interest in the other person as a person, not as a vehicle to get you where you want to go.  When online, don’t just hit a single button or send a form request.  Take some time to research the person you’d like to connect with.  Then lead with something authentic based on what you’ve learned.  Maybe you liked their website, an article they wrote, or a movie they worked on.  A genuine compliment goes a long way.  The same thing goes in person.  Starting with “Hi would you read my script?” would be like hitting on someone in a bar by asking them to sleep with you instead of saying “You look great in that outfit!” “Can I buy you a drink?” or even “Come here often?”  So try, “I enjoyed your panel.”  “Your book was really helpful to me.”  “How did you get involved with that film?”  Build some rapport first.  A writer who feels she is “not good at the schmooze” recently asked me for pointers about networking at the Austin Film Festival.  Here’s what I had to say:  Meet everyone you can and everyone they can introduce you to.  There are a lot of significant people from all areas of the industry just walking around the halls.  Hard to know who's who if you don't recognize them, but get out there and meet everyone you can.  Ask them who they’ve met and ask them to introduce you.  Hang out.  Be outgoing.  Be professional and polite.  Be honest and authentic and you will stand out from the rest.  Collect business cards and names.  Follow up as appropriate after a reasonable interval.

Recognize an opportunity when it’s staring you in the face.  I was recently chatting with a screenwriter who was interested in bringing my seminar to her hometown.  He had recently done well in a major contest and was getting some inquiries from execs about his spec.  I told him how terrific it was that he was building relationships only to find out that he was simply forwarding the emails straight to his manager.  A manager he had never met and had no formal paperwork with.  I flipped.  How could he pass up on all these opportunities to build relationships with film industry professionals by not taking the time to write each of them a gracious note thanking them for their interest in his material, at the very least?  Not to mention doing some homework on them and the company they worked to find something personal to add.  He had passed up on an awesome vine, one that most writers would kill for.  Nothing wrong with having the manager send the material, but what if he and the manager parted ways someday?  The writer wouldn’t have a relationship with the exec – the manager would.  He sat down that very day and wrote each person a letter.  And opened a door to building a working industry relationship.

Remember it’s not just about who you know, but about who you know knows.  You really don’t know who you know till you ask, so leave no stone unturned.  Here’s my all-time favorite story about this.  When I was running producer Debra Hill’s company, Debra’s assistant’s mother’s friend had a son who wanted to break into the movie business.  To make her mom happy, Debra’s assistant had lunch with the guy.  After lunch, because he seemed like a good kid and was earnest and willing to work hard, she dragged me over, reluctantly, to meet Jeff.  I gave him a few minutes that he used to ask practical questions, and I gave him good advice.  He indeed did seem like a good kid, so I offered him an internship.  He did a bang-up job that first day.  Then we got a call that the movie Debra was in pre-production on needed an office PA right away.  Jeff was the only one who volunteered, as all the other interns were learning a heck of a lot right where they were.  Jeff did well as an office PA.  He went on to become King of the PAs working on the movie, to being last PA to stay on the film, at which point Debra’s assistant moved on, he took her job, worked hard and ultimately became our Story Editor.  He helped supervise the interns including a beautiful and bright young woman I hired.  When Jeff used his relationships with us to get an informational interview at the company of his dreams, he had been working at this so long that he’d done coverage for me on a script that just happened to be one of the exec’s favorites as well as his.  He was ready to speak articulately and passionately about the material.  Through this Jeff wound up working at his dream company as an executive.  When he began writing, I played matchmaker with him and his agent.  Win-win for me.  And now Jeff is a screenwriter working at his dream company and writing a big project.  And he married the pretty intern.  I think he owes me a project!  That’s how the game is played, boys and girls.

Keep up the momentum. Once you’ve managed to grab a vine, keep moving through the jungle.  It can be as simple as saying, “I’d like to stay in touch.  What’s the best way to connect with you?”  This will likely get you a business card and email address.  When you use that email address, have a specific reason.  Don’t write just to say “hi.”  Start with a reminder; after all, we meet a lot of people.  “Great meeting you after your class at Screenwriters World.”  A smart young woman who met me at a talk to a group of summer interns from my alma mater wrote, “I was the one wearing red lipstick if that helps.”  It did.  Imparting information is always great.  “I just learned my script is a Nicholl Semi-Finalist.”  “I am now working with the terrific folks at WOTS.”  When you meet someone you think is terrific, tell them, “I really enjoyed meeting you.  Is there someone you think is terrific that I should get to know?”  Wash, rinse, repeat. 

Looking forward to meeting you!

A working film producer who’s sold pitches and specs to all the majors, Barri Evins created BIG IDEAS to give aspiring screenwriters what it takes to break into the business, teaching them techniques she uses with highly paid professionals on big league projects and giving them the tools to achieve their dreams.

Barri’s Big Ideas Screenwriting Seminar is offered across the country.  This intimate and interactive weekend, gives you an insider’s perspective on the business and shows you how to put that knowledge to work creating stories that ignite industry interest, powered by your strengths and passions.  The intensive revolutionizes the way you create, giving you powerful new tools to develop successful screenplays faster than ever before.  The seminar includes Barri’s mentorship for a year. 

Learn about upcoming seminars including Albuquerque and Los Angeles in November, and bringing Big Ideas to your hometown at  

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Monday, October 01, 2012

"Lone Wolf" McQuaide Nabs the Prize

We love it when our clients and readers write in to share some good news. Lord knows as struggling writers, we all need some! This weekend we heard from our pal Colleen McQuaide, who sent along a really well-done, all-official-like press release trumpeting her recent film festival screenwriting award win. So we'll let her tell ya all about it... 

Hey, that's a cool award!
Colleen J. McQuaide took a major comedy honor in an international screenwriting competition for her romantic comedy script Kat’s Mystique. The actress, screenwriter and producer won the Write Brothers Excellence in Comedy Award in the Action on Film (AOF) Festival Aug. 23 in Los Angeles.

In keeping with today’s trend toward strong female lead characters, Kat’s Mystique follows a woman as she takes a sabbatical from a prominent job in Philadelphia to return to her hometown after the death of her mother. Once back home, she has contentious run-ins with a man who had been a high school classmate of Kat’s, who now heads up the town council and seeks to develop land next to Kat’s homestead. As the two do battle over the land, they find they have more common ground than they had imagined.

McQuaide herself had to battle strong male-dominated odds in taking the prestigious screenwriting honor. Of 155 scripts accepted by the AOF Festival, only 35 were penned by females. Eight women were among the 34 writers who received honors at the annual screenwriting event. Kat’s Mystique was given top comedy honors after being chosen by representatives from Write Brothers, an Academy Award®-winning maker of screenwriting software who was a sponsor of the festival.

As an actress, McQuaide is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and appeared in films such as The Sixth Sense. Her production company, Hedge Jumper Pictures, recently wrapped production of a promotional trailer for another of her comedy scripts, Happy Acres. For the trailer, McQuaide drew on actors and crew from the shooting locale in rural Pennsylvania as well as Hollywood professionals such as costume designer Mimi Matsumoto (Code Name: Geronimo). McQuaide’s Happy Acres script is in keeping with her mission of providing family-friendly scripts to the film and television industry.

Related links:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Writers on the Storm begins NOW!

It's finally here! Writers on the Storm VI, Coverage Ink's very own big money/big opportunity contest, is back and it's on right now. And this year we are accepting not only feature screenplays but also pilots -- 1/2 hours as well as 1 hours. The early entry period has begun, so if you enter early you could save some money, and if you're like me saving every dime is pretty important. So what are you waiting for?

And remember, as always, there are two ways you can enter WOTS. You can either submit directly to the contest at, or if you send your script to for coverage, then contest entry is included at no extra charge! This is a great way to make sure your script is ship-shape before locking it down, since we contest judges will actually be telling you what we think of your script (and giving you detailed notes on how to fix it) in advance.

This is my first year coordinating this contest (Portia J. has moved back to Texas) so wish me luck, LOL! But with Jim and the great team behind me I am confident everything is going to go smooth as silk. We've got a really amazing crew of readers who really know their stuff -- no 22-year-old interns here, and in fact I trust them to help me develop my material too.  If you have any q's please feel free to e-mail me at writerstorm [@] Thanks everybody, and now let's get this party started!


Julie Connor
WOTS Contest Coordinator

PS We still have a few more companies and more prizes to add so please bear with us!

PPS Oh yes, we are working with Without a Box and will be adding them as another way to enter soon. We know it's nice to not have to fill out those forms over and over! That said, our entry forms on our site are pretty simple as well :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Save the Cat! Literally :)

Hi folks, here's an appeal from our pal, screenwriter teacher/coach Barri Evins. She's looking for someone to care for her little cutie kitty until December. In exchange she's willing to offer a $350 screenplay consultation. Not a bad deal, plus you get to save the cat! Blake Snyder would approve :) Here's Barri:

Help! My cat is desperately in need of foster care from now until December. Kiki is a very quiet, (doesn't meow unless to convey urgent info like "hey, there's no water in my bowl.") doesn't go where she doesn't belong (never on the bed) and loves having people around as she was abandoned. She's a people-a-holic. In fact, she adopted me!

She cannot be with other cats as they intimidate her, but is fine with a mellow dog. I'm willing to sweeten the deal for a screenwriter willing to help out. Thanks!

If you're interested please email us at info [@] Good luck, Barri!


Friday, September 07, 2012

Tip of the Year: Manager Jake Wagner

Just caught up with our buddy Jake Wagner, one of the hottest young managers in the biz, formerly from FilmEngine (Jake is about to land elsewhere but we cannot disclose where just yet.) As always, Jake fired off a flurry of great advice, and we just had to share this bit:

Jake's the one on the left.
If you’re in LA, most likely you know some people in the industry, even if they’re just assistants. Get some assistants who read a lot of scripts to read (your screenplay). That’s always the best way, because if an assistant likes it, they’ll start circulating it within the industry and to their boss, because they get kudos for finding a good script. 

As a manager, I always ask the assistants, have you read anything good lately? A lot of times tomorrow’s next big writers are the friend of an assistant or the actual assistant themselves. Assistants read a lot of scripts and they know the actual flow, so they know if something is good or not nine times out of ten. 

So I would say get to know some assistants, ‘cause those are forgivable reads too. If they pass on your script, who cares? Those aren’t the hands you want to get into eventually anyway. It’s just a way to move it up the ladder. So if they don’t like it, it’s no harm, no foul. But if they do like it, then they’re slipping it to me, they’re slipping it to people to impress them and earn their stripes. That’s where a lot of new writers come from – roomies of assistants.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm Newsletter

COVERAGE INK'S BIGGEST SALE EVER. In celebration of the launch of Writers on the Storm VI, we are launching one monstrous sale. From now until 9/23/12, our standard analysis (for features) is 99 BUCKS. That's a $30 discount! TV writers, you'll receive a flat $20 off our already ridiculously low TV coverage prices. And to sweeten the deal, all orders will receive a FREE copy of our 80-page 2012 Coverage Ink Spec Format & Style Guide, the craft bible used in screenwriting classes throughout the US. So now you have no excuse not to get your material ship-shape before the storm hits. To claim your discount, submit your script at and use the code CIPRESTORMSALE! in the text box.

WRITERS ON THE STORM RETURNS 9/24. WOTS is back and bigger and badder than ever!
  • Over $25,000 cash and prizes. 
  • 150-plus companies. 
  • $10,000 cash money for the winner. 
  • New TV pilot category with a $2500 top prize. 
  • Consultations and mentoring from top producers in TV and film. 
Sounds good? Yeah, we thought so!

As always, there are two ways to enter -- directly into the contest (at,) in which case you will receive feedback at the end of the contest; or if you submit your script to Coverage Ink for analysis during the contest period (9/24/12-1/1/13), your entry into Writers on the Storm is FREE. ('Consider with Reservations' or better for script advance to the QF round.) Last year's winners Brooks Elms + Glenn Sanders have been hip-pocketed by a major agency and their new comedy is out on the spec market as we speak! And WOTS 4's runner-up Jeremy Shipp was signed by UTA and is now staffed on ABC's Family Tools. Get ready: Storm season is upon us!

LIBERATOR DOUBLE WHAMMY AT STAN LEE'S COMIKAZE EXPO. Coverage Ink Films' new 18-minute short film LIBERATOR is slated to screen not once but twice at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles (aka "Comic-Con LA.") On Saturday 9/15 LIBERATOR opens for WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY, at the Downtown Independent Theater, with panel featuring filmmakers of both movies and special guests Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno; and we are also screening at Comikaze Sunday 9/16 at 5PM, with a panel afterwards again featuring Lou.

LIBERATOR stars a bunch of genre icons -- Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk,) Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita), Michael Dorn (Mr. Worf from Star Trek) and the legendary Ed Asner (Up). Ferrigno portrays a disgraced, washed-up ex superhero whose secret black ops past comes back to haunt him as he tries to put his life back together. LIBERATOR premiered last month at Holly Shorts (out of competition) to tumultuous response. Get your tickets now at!

COVERAGE INK PRESENTS: THE TOTAL MOGUL HOLLYWOOD POWER WEEKEND. How do you end up hobnobbing poolside with Hollywood's power players? By hobnobbing poolside with Hollywood's power players. The Total Mogul Hollywood Power Weekend is a totally new kind of premium event brought to you by Coverage Ink and producer Steve Longi, whose credits include Face/Off and Struck By Lightning (Glee's Chris Colfer's new movie.). It is not a seminar. It is not a pitch fest. It is three days of education, schmoozing, empowerment and access, poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It's glitz and glamour, but most importantly it is opportunity. We'll bring the industry and take care of everything. You bring yourself, your projects and your desire to get your inner mogul on. The Total Mogul Hollywood Power Weekend begins October 19, 2012 and we are limiting it to ten participants. Read all about it at

MOXHAM GETS ENTREPRENEURIAL. We love this! Writer Paul Moxham, the honorary mention from Writers on the Storm 4 who got signed by manager Kathy Muraviov (who sold a spec this year! But not one of Paul's,) has decided that instead of sitting around waiting to hear back from various people on his projects, he'd create his own source material. Moxham has taken several of his screenplays and rewritten them as e-books and is now selling them on Now, when a producer expresses interest in one of his projects, he can say, see, it originiated from a book (which incredibly carries more cachet than simply the screenplay by itself.) Plus he might even make a couple bucks for his efforts. Moxham's efforts look slick and pro, so we wish him the best of luck! You can see all of Paul's books on Amazon right here.

TRACKING B: FINAL DEADLINE! We've been remiss on letting you guys know about the deadlines for our favorite non-Writers on the Storm contest this year -- but it's not too late. The Tracking B Feature Script Contest is one of the top contests out there -- WAY better than many of the big name contests you all know. Why? Because is a real-life, honest-to-Jehosaphat movie industry tracking board, subscribed to by agents, managers and producers. The industry panel who reads the winners is jaw-dropping. And pretty much every year, one or more of the winners gets signed, produced, etc. Plus every double contest entry receives a free 1-year subscription to, an absolutely indispensible resource for any writer serious about marketing themselves and understanding how the biz works. Hurry! You have until 10/28. Enter online at

CI CLIENT MAKES SUNDANCE LAB. Prashant Nair, the director of award-winning feature film Delhi in a Day (developed with CI analyst Billy Fox, credited) has been named one of five people accepted into the Mumbai Mantra-Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. The lab is a result of an agreement announced earlier this year between Robert Redford's Sundance Institute and leading Indian business group Mahindra + Mahindra, a $7 billion company. The participants will be mentored by a spectacular list of talent, including Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me), Anjum Rajabali (Rajneeti), Howard A. Rodman (Savage Grace), Malia Scotch-Marmo (Hook), and Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun.) Way to go, Prashant! And by the way, CI client Nilesh Patel is also short-listed for the group. Kick butt, guys!