Friday, May 04, 2012

SHORTIES -- News Blips for Writers

WRITERS ON THE STORM 2012 POSTPONED. Say it ain't so! Oh, but it is, Virginia. Why did we do this? Well, to be honest, because putting on a contest the scale of WOTS is a huge amount of work, and we need to be concentrating on other things in the short term. But fear not: Writers on the Storm will return 9/24 and run through the end of the year. And we are putting together some pretty damn good prizes this year as well, such as: coffee with Lynn Hendee, producer of Ender's Game, which stars Harrison Ford and is shooting now, and a consultation/meeting with 2011 Nicholl Fellows (that means they won, guys) Tianna Langham and Chris Bessounian (and we'll have an interview with them next month as well.) So use this time to polish, polish, polish and polish again. Remember: winning a contest is not like entering the lottery. It's not random. It's about the quality of the script. If your script is a pass when you send it in for coverage, it ain't gonna win a contest. It's that simple. So invest in yourself and do the heavy lifting required to really deliver on those screenplays.  

WOTS 2011 UPDATE. The new start date for Writers on the Storm 2012 is 9/24, and it ends 12/31. That gives all of y'all time to go back and rewrite act 2! Come on, you know you need to :)  Now if you are wondering what's up with last year's winners, we only finally started sending them out a few weeks ago and are still waiting to hear back from many companies. Most excitingly, top management company The Arlook Group responded positively to our runner-up script A SHIP THROUGH FIRE by John Winn Miller. They're reading a follow-up script from Mr. Miller now. We also have some very exciting possibilities on our winning script WRIGHT OR WRONG, by Glenn Sanders and Brooks Elms, that we can't talk about yet, but if it happens will be pretty amazing. More news as it develops! -- Portia Jefferson, Writers on the Storm Contest Coordinator

REJECTED PITCHES = BRILLIANCE. Take five and treat yourself to some of the funniest shorts on YouTube, courtesy of the razor-sharp comic wits at Teen Wheels TV. To date they have posted four episodes of their "Rejected Pitches" series, which feature top directors being shot down by a trio of moronic executives. So far they've taken on E.T., Back to the Future, Look Who's Talking, and best of all, The Shining. So the next time you have a meeting with a producer who is a pure dope, you'll think back on these videos and smile! Check out their YouTube page right here.

BELOW ZERO ICES THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT. Kudos to writer/producers Bob Schultz and Signe Olynyk. Their indie horror film Below Zero (directed by Justin Thomas Ostenson) has been owning the festival circuit. Just pay a quick visit to the film's website and check out all those laurels, including Best Horror Movie from American International Film Festival. Edward Furlong (T2) stars as a screenwriter who locks himself in a slaughterhouse freezer to overcome his writer's block! When horror vet Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) enters the picture, you can pretty much figure out what happens next... Next up, they're shooting Bob's zombie movie I-15, which was one of the best scripts Coverage Ink read last year. Exciting times for this young, hot team! And by the way, if their names sound familiar, you've probably met Bob and Signe at their annual Great American Pitchfest. Speaking of which, the Pitchfest will be back June 1-3 at the Burbank Marriott, so get your tickets now! Stop by and visit us at the Coverage Ink booth while you're there.

SPEC MARKET FURY! It is smokin' hot out there right now for pitches. An astonishing 13 were set up last month, almost double last year's number. That's indicative of the overall health and confidence of the biz -- when people get worried, the first thing they stop buying are pitches. So this is great news indeed (note: don't think you can hop on that bandwagon. Selling pitches is reserved only for name screenwriters with juice.) On the spec side, a nice little $3 million sale always injects a jolt of life into the marketplace. James Vanderbilt's White House Down shook down Sony for the big bucks, no doubt because he wrote this summer's Spidey reboot which is getting positive buzz, despite the fact that the Spidey suit looks like it was cut from a Spalding basketball. Overall, the spec market is slightly more voracious than last year (17 specs were sold in March,) but WAY better than the horrifically awful 2009 and 2010. In short: the market is hotter than it has been in a long time. It's a freakin' great time to be a writer! Now go get your piece.

THE SAD, SAD STATE OF THE TV MOVIE. Have you ever wondered why there are, like, no MOWs and TV movies at all anymore, versus ten years ago? We sure as hell did, so we put that question to TV movie producer Steve Kennedy (Saving Jessica Lynch) from Daniel Paulson Prods. According to Steve, several factors have conspired to more or less crush the venerable Movie of the Week. The first is, the networks decided that it's more profitable to have a smaller audience that returns week after week for a show, than it is to have a big audience that only turns out once. Never mind that original television movies can be resold as DVDs and so forth; they're just not that interested. Secondly, TV movies cost way more money to produce than, say, a 3-hour The Bachelorette pile of vapidity. Even cable, once a bastion of original movies, has greatly reduced their output. Showtime used to make 30 movies a year. But then they realized they could create successful original series like Dexter instead. Nowadays your chances of getting HBO or Showtime to greenlight your original movie are pretty much nil. That leaves Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Lifetime and Hallmark, who are doing quite well, thank you very much, making flicks for their niche audiences. But the days of the MOW as we know it... gone.

SCRIPT PIPELINE EXTENDED DEADLINE 5/4! Our pals at Script Pipeline put on one hell of a contest. In fact, it's one of only five that we at Coverage Ink recommend as well worth the entry fee. Their winners have had some amazing success in the past. And now, the 10th Annual Script Pipeline Screenwriting and TV Writing Competition 2012 is ending imminently (like, Friday May 4th!) If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for? These guys are the only contest to our knowledge, other than the Nicholl Fellowship, who have had a previous winner (2008's Evan Dougherty) go A-list. Dougherty's 2008 script Snow White and the Huntsman was huge major studio spec sale ($3 million!) and is now a major motion picture starring Chris Hemsworth, Kristin Stewart and Charlize Theron. Will you be next? Cruise on down the Pipeline and enter that script now. Hurry, time is almost up!

THE SAD, SAD SAGA OF MEL GIBSON. This one is almost painful to write. If you're a subscriber to, you no doubt have heard/read the transcription of actor/director Mel Gibson's latest rant. (If you do not subscribe to TheWrap, you may have no idea, since Variety ignored it, not wanting to acknowledge they'd been scooped -- even after the story had been picked up by the US corporate media.) The short version is, Gibson went on a tear at his Costa Rica home, railing out guest Joe Eszterhas (Showgirls) and  screaming like a freakin' maniac about anything and everything, including losing his looks, in front of all his guests and their families (including Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace.) Gibson made some particularly vitriolic comments about his ex and generally just frickin' lost it. Now we've all been watching Gibson self-destruct publicly for years, of course, so this is no surprise. What is amazing however is that through it all, he continues to do great work. He was sublime in The Beaver, about a dad with mental issues who can only communicate through a puppet; his new movie Get the Gringo was passed over for US release despite universal superlative reviews. Ezsterhas said that he released the recordings his son made of Gibson's rant so that hopefully Mel would get the professional help he needs. Amen to that.

NOT TO "B" OUTDONE: TRACKING B CONTEST BEGINS 6/1. You didn't think we'd mention the five contests Coverage Ink recommends as worth the entry fee without telling you the others, did ya? Here they are, in no particular order: The Nicholl Fellowship, Scriptapalooza, Script Pipeline, Writers on the Storm, and... Tracking B. Who, what? Amazingly, after years of unparalleled success stories, many screenwriters still have no idea who these guys are. The Tracking B contest is an "insider" contest run by, well, The Insider, the mysterious industry figure behind, the real-life industry tracking board subscribed to by every major producer, agent and manager. To tell you about all the writers who have been signed, sold and gotten work after winning or placing in Tracking B would take the entire length of this column (you can just buzz over to their site and check it out for yourself.) Their annual feature screenwriting contest opens 6/1, so calendar it now and enter early before the prices rise. Trust us on this, this is a must-enter contest! Not to mention every writer who enters two scripts gets a free subscription to, which is an invaluable source of critical intelligence for writers. Head on over to and discover for yourself just what you're missing!

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