Friday, May 31, 2013

Jen Grisanti TV Staffing and Development Class - FREE!

Jen Grisanti
There are plenty of terrific classes and panels at Great American Pitchfest this weekend (Saturday, June 1st are the panels and classes; Sunday June 2nd is the pitching). But one we wanted to highlight is Jen Grisanti's TV Staffing and Development class

We had the privilege of hanging with Jen at Big Island Film Festival last week, and she is the real deal. As a former TV exec with over a decade experience, she knows her stuff. This 90-minute class is a great way to get started in pursuing the last remaining space where the writer is king (or queen): television.

So after checking out our incredible Agent's Hot Sheet-Live! free panel from 11 AM to 12:30 PM, stick around for Jen Grisanti's class from 2:30 to 4 PM. Trust us -- you'll be very glad you did. Great American Pitchfest is THIS WEEKEND at the Burbank Marriott, so juggle your schedule and make room! See you there.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Agent's Hot Sheet - Live! Panel Announced

Hi folks! It is with great pleasure that I present to you the full panel of our upcoming Agent's Hot Sheet - Live! panel. This can't-miss 90-minute extravaganza will cover everything you ever wanted to know about agents and managers -- specifically, how the hell to get one (and much more.)

Mitch Solomon, Magnet Management
Peter Dodd, UTA
Mark Hartogsohn, Gersh
Zach Cox, Circle of Confusion
Adam Perry, APA
The panel will take place Saturday 6/1 at 11AM at Great American Pitchfest at the Burbank Marriott. If you're unaware of the coolest screenwriting event of the year, let me fill you in. Every year, day one of Pitchfest (Saturday) consists of a panoply of (mostly) free panels. It is truly the best damn deal in town. For the cost of parking at the hotel, you get a full day of priceless screenwriting info, including Jen Grisanti's panel and so much more (check out for the full schedule.)

Then Sunday is the pitching, and that is a paid event, but of course, well worth it if you have a script ready to rock and the idea of meeting 120-plus creative execs and representatives appeals to you. So get your questions ready for the agents and managers and come on out and take part in the fun. And while you're at it, stop by the Coverage Ink booth and say hi! See you there.

Jim C.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm Newsletter May/June 2013

1. I Don't Have Any Freaking Time to Write!
2. Shorties
3. The Fasano Factor
4. As If Hollywood Movies Aren't Homogenized Enough

I DON'T HAVE ANY FREAKING TIME TO WRITE. How many of you guys know this mantra? Well, I've really been feeling it lately. Life has a way of overwhelming us with its obnoxious demands, and the first thing we sacrifice  is our precious writing time. Work hassles. Car repairs. Relationships. Laundry. Medical issues. Children. Social events. Pets. Dental work. Workouts. Facebook posts that need responding to. And of course "The Bachelorette - The Guys Tell All" special episode is a must-not-miss. All of these things take precedence, and before you know it, it's "Eh, I'll get some writing done maybe this weekend."

Compounding the problem is that if you're like me, you need quality time to write. To really immerse into the world of the story and get anything done, I need a minimum of two hours, preferably a lot more. A 17-minute window in my schedule ain't gonna do it.  I have to get comfortable and go away into the story world, and then when I'm back up to speed on all the characters and conflicts, I can actually produce something. When I attended the UCLA Professional Program some years ago, they said that writing every day was not just advice, it was required. And I was like, "Yeah, right." Just too damn busy!

Now I know some of you are thinking this is all a bit of an excuse. Many of you can write anywhere, anytime. My 13-year-old daughter recently blew me away with a several page fantasy story she had written during lunch at school on her iPhone. (I might try this if my clumsy, fat fingers could actually manage a decent new phone. I got a touch screen phone last year and promptly returned it when I couldn't even successfully enter the activation code.) And I know there's a little bit of truth in the statement that while I may prefer to have four uninterrupted, distraction-free hours in my office with my door closed, the truth is, I don't NEED it.

I am fully aware that in theory, you can tell your kids, "Dad needs to work now, don't bother me until 3PM." You can grab your laptop and write while waiting on your mechanic or in the doctor's office or the jury pool room. I've even heard it may be theoretically possible to NOT check social media or e-mail for several hours straight, although I have yet to test this somewhat outrageous theory. So yeah, I know all this, okay? But does it make it any easier? NO. This is 2013 and our lives have become this crazy cavalcade of crapola. It seems like there's always a fire to put out, always an errand that needs doing, and before you know it, it's too late for any real creativity -- might as well just put on Jon Stewart and try again tomorrow.

Now if you're reading this expecting some sort of great revelation at the end of this rant, sorry, pal. I don't have any. No, I'm basically just whining here. I have no solutions! I'm just saying this is how it is for me, and it kinda sucks.

But you know what keeps me going? Knowing that I WILL HAVE SOME DAMN WRITING TIME SOON. Maybe it'll be next Tuesday afternoon, or on that short hop flight next week, or even (I've done this) on that sick day you take for the express purpose of knocking out 15-20 pages. I must always know there's a window of time coming up. It may not be for days, but I know it's coming and it gives me solace. It's the only way to get through sometimes. Being able to go away into a script for several hours... it's like a mini vacay. Better than any day spa or movie marathon or sporting event as far as I'm concerned. It's just around the corner.

And it will be mine, bwah ha ha ha ha! Um... sorry.

So for all of you guys in the same boat, how do you cope? How do you find time to write in this day and age? E-mail me and if anyone has any good suggestions I'll post 'em. Because you guys have got to be better at time management than me.


Bunch of coolness going on. We have our contest wrapping up -- we're down to the top ten and will be announcing the winners soon. Somebody is gonna grab a big fat $10,000 check! And on the screenwriting education front, we have two sweet events coming up -- Great American Pitchfest and John Fasano's new workshop series. We'll talk about both below. If you're at the Pitchfest, make sure you stop by the CI booth and say hi. And I'll also be hosting the Agent's Hot Sheet-Live! panel at Pitchfest Saturday June 1 at 11AM featuring five top agents and managers. Not to be missed.

Keep on writing, brothers and sisters (ha!)

Jim Cirile
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Continue on to Shorties

Thursday, May 09, 2013


WRITERS ON THE STORM TOP TEN ANNOUNCED. The best of the best are here! It's our annual Writers on the Storm screenwriting contest top ten -- which for the first time this year also adds top ten TV scripts as well. To see the list of finalists (Top Ten features and Top Ten TV) just visit Also posted are our semi-finalists (top 50) and quarterfinalists (top 100.) We will be announcing the winners shortly. Who's going to walk away with the ten grand check? We'll know on June 3rd!

COVERAGE INK SALE. Time to get those screenplays ready to kick abundant quantities of buttock. Use discount code COVINKMAY20 and get $20 off any feature analysis or $10 off any TV analysis. Expires 5/31/13, and discounts cannot be combined. Submit online at look forward to seeing what you've got in store for us and the world!
PANEL EVENT OF THE YEAR. It's comin' at ya at this year's Great American Pitchfest. Saturday June 1st, 11 AM at the Burbank Marriott. CI will be presenting Agent's Hot Sheet-Live! This rollicking 90-minute free panel discussion features five top agents + managers talking about how to get their attention, what you should be working on right now, what not to do and much more. Panelists include: Mitch Solomon, Magnet Managament, Peter Dodd, UTA, Mark Hartogsohn, Gersh, Zach Cox, Circle of onfusion, and more TBA. Hosted by long-time Creative Screenwriting columnist Jim Cirile. This is your chance to talk to the very people we're all constantly trying to get the attention of. Did we mention it's FREE? For more info:  

Remember, Pitchfest is a weekend-long event, and most of the awesome stuff on Saturday is FREE (the pitching is Sunday, and you have to pay for that.) Best deal in town, no question. Stop on by the CI booth and say hi. See you there!

AGENT'S HOT SHEET - THE E-BOOK. Ten years. Over 80 columns. An invaluable trove of crucial intel for writers. Now Jim Cirile's long-running Creative Screenwriting series is coming back as an e-book. We've compiled the best of the columns along with a handful of important stand-alone articles into a single volume. There has never been anything like this before! For the first time in one place, the top literary representatives in Hollywood are telling you how to get their attention. Packed with a decade;'s worth of knowledge, tips and empowerment. Get your 235-page Agent's Hot Sheet e-book in PDF or Kindle format for only $5.95.

LIBERATION CONTINUES. Last year, we produced an ambitious little short film called LIBERATOR, starring Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) as a washed-up, disgraced ex-superhero trying to get his life back on the rails. Since then we've been screening at comic-cons and festivals and to date we've won two awards -- Best Dramatic Short from CalShorts and the Award of Excellence from IndieFest. We're now pleased to announce that Bluewater Comics will be publishing a Liberator comic book series this summer! Featuring art by Gerry Kissell (Code Name: Geronimo) and script by Jim Cirile + Aaron Pope, the Liberator comic picks up where short left off. Please "like" Liberator on Facebook for your chance to win original signed art and other cool merch. And check out Liberator at any of the upcoming screenings, including Big Island Film Festival, New Media Film Festival, San Diego Comic-Con and Wizard World Comic-Con Chicago.  

Continue on to The Fasano Factor
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by Jim Cirile

Writer/Director/Producer John Fasano has done something very, very few writers manage to do: forge a successful career in Hollywood and keep it going for decades. Fasano's ever-growing list of credits includes features like TOMBSTONE and ALIEN III as well as numerous high-profile TV movies like Tom Selleck's STONE COLD and The HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME starring Mandy Patinkin and Salma Hayek, for which Fasano was nominated for a WGA writing award. Perhaps even more impressive however are all the movies Fasano did not get credit on (see our article on the WGA arbitration process right here.) Throughout the 1990s, he did uncredited drafts and polishes on practically every studio action/adventure film.

All those years in the trenches have given Fasano an ultimate insider's perspective. So when we heard he was launching his very first workshop series for writers, we knew it was a must-not-miss. They say those who can't do teach, and one quick glance at the field of "experts" lecturing on screenwriting more or less bears that out. But Fasano's done it all, and he wears his battle scars with pride. Now he's ready to share his unique experiences, perspective and razor-sharp story chops in his Teaching the Craft workshops

They're your huckleberries.
Jim Cirile: How did you get into this crazy biz, John?

John Fasano: I come from New York where, inspired by Ray Harryhausen and John Cassevettes, I started making 8mm films in my neighborhood when I was seven years old. I studied art, writing, acting – anything that I thought could apply to making better films. When I graduated from SUNY Purchase college, I started doing ad campaigns for New York-based grindhouse producers. They gave me a chance to actually work in their films, and after re-writing one, I got the chance to write and co-direct ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE with Adam West and Tia Carrere. This led to a string of Canadian-made horror films like BLACK ROSES and THE JITTERS. I moved to Los Angeles in late 1988 to try and break into the film business. In January 1989 I sold my first spec script, TAILGUNNER, to Morgan Creek for $450K in a bidding war with Paramount. In 1990, my first studio gig was ANOTHER 48 HRS, which is still director Walter Hill’s most successful feature. 

JC: You've been a working Hollywood writer for over two decades. What sort of changes have you seen in the Hollywood landscape that affect writers?

JF: The biggest change is the explosion in the cost of films. In the 1990s, the studio was willing to take a chance on a fresh idea in a spec because maximum budgets were in the high 30 millions. Most films were being made for less than that. Now tent pole pictures regularly cost $200 million, and even animated and comedy films cost nearly $100 million because of actors' salaries. Because of this, writers who want to work for studios are working on a smaller number of big films, all based on other movies, TV series, books and comic books. The studio is therefore turning to the people who delivered last year’s hit, so a handful of writers basically have the lion’s share of ALL studio writing assignments.

The GOOD side of the last decade is that their has also been an explosion of independent production fueled by filmmakers being able to get their hands on cheap digital cameras and equipment. Now a writer can see his movie made outside the system. Sadly, many chose to do parodies and horror films, while the real opening is for quirky dramas that no one would normally take a chance on. 

JC: What's the secret to longevity as a working writer?

JF: Write. Have a good attitude when you work, show that you WANT to work with the producer and director to see the movie made, and people will remember that and hire you again. And don’t have down time between assignments. If you don’t have a paying gig lined up and the one you’re currently working is is going to end soon, MAKE a deal to get the next one going.

JC: There are a million ways writers can get screwed. What are some of your favorites?

JF: Giving their whole idea to an exec who doesn’t intend to hire them, then being surprised a year later when that company has made a similar film! .Overselling themselves in the room and then taking forever to deliver the script. Not being willing to take criticism – this is the biggest thing.  Film is a collaborative process, so unless your family is putting up the money and you are writer and director, you HAVE to be able to make your partners happy while not betraying your vision of the project. Not easy. There’s luck and psychology at work in there as well. I’ve made some major mistakes – all of them, in fact. But I never let them destroy me or my career. What mistakes? I’m always glad to share them with people who come to me for advice.

JC: What do you hope to offer in your workshops to writers that they may not be able to get elsewhere? What's your special sauce?

JF: My secret is that I have had nearly ONE HUNDRED paid studio and network writing assignments, and almost half of them have been made. Most of the people who are out there teaching writing are teaching it on a theoretical level. I’ve had an average of two projects filmed every year since I arrived in Los Angeles.

From working with film companies and other writers for over twenty years, I understand the process, and my greatest desire is to let my writing students understand how to navigate the system without going crazy or losing themselves in it.

Everyone has a story to tell. I WANT you to tell the story you’ve got inside you. I don’t want to turn your story into my idea, I want to help you get your vision on page. It all starts there. It’s that beginning of the process, when your idea becomes story and story becomes script, that’s most vital. One you have that, the first draft screenplay will follow, and your producer and director can change it all they want, but if you got your original vision into your screenplay, they can never take that away from you. And that’s where my experience comes in – in guiding my students through the process of taking that script to market.


Fasano's Beginning Screenwriting workshop is June 1 + 2; Intermediate is June 8 + 9. To sign up, please visit his website right here. Don't forget to ask for your 10% discount for Coverage Ink clients.

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Continue To As If Hollywood Movies Aren't Homogenized Enough

Monday, May 06, 2013

As if Hollywood Movies Aren't Homogenized Enough Already

Worldwide Motion Picture group's Vinny Bruzzese and Miriam Brin
Interesting and perhaps chilling article in The New York Times online about Worldwide Motion Picture Group. This company does script analysis, which is something we know a little something about of course, but from a unique perspective. For $20,000, they'll analyze your script according to box office performance data of similar movies and generate a list of recommendations based on what audiences respond best to, according to the numbers. For example:
“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”
Accordingly, the company has a growing list of big Hollywood studios and producers, looking to remove as much risk (and some would say writer creativity) from the equation. And there's the rub. Certainly it's understandable that the people investing millions in movies want to try to get their money back. The majority of pictures released do not make back their production costs. So is this really any different than say, using a Joseph Campbell/mythological template, or following a strict Save the Cat! formula? Or is this trend going to further emasculate studio writers and limit creativity? Read the article and form your own opinion.
“It takes a lot of the risk out of what I do,” said Scott Steindorff, a producer who used Mr. Bruzzese to evaluate the script for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” a hit 2011 crime drama. “Everyone is going to be doing this soon.” Mr. Steindorff added, “The only people who are resistant are the writers: ‘I’m making art, I can’t possibly do this.’ ”
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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Writers on the Storm TOP TEN

We proudly present our Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm TOP TEN screenplays and teleplays for 2013.

It will come as little consolation to the 80 of you who just got eliminated that it was an insanely tough series of decisions, right down to the wire (in fact, past it -- it's now 1 AM May 2nd, and we were supposed to post May 1.) There were at least 4 feature scripts that were nipping at the heels of ones we ultimately chose, as well as several TV scripts that had people from our team passionate about them, only to ultimately be outvoted. We know it's an imperfect process by nature, but it's all we got.

Suffice it to say, if you made it to the top 50, you're a pretty damn good writer. You may well be "there" or close to it. To quote "Galaxy Quest" -- "Never give up; never surrender." There's nothing we like better than those e-mails we get a month or five after the contest telling us a script that was eliminated went on to win another contest or get optioned. That's awesome and we are ecstatic every time that happens. Regardless of whether you advanced in our little contest or not, don't let it get you down for even a second. Power forward and go kick freakin' ass.

As for the folks below, well, you lucky 20, you. Nice going, guys. But to quote another movie, "There can be only one." ;)  We'll know who that one is on JUNE 3rd. (Yes, we're pushing back announcing the winners from May 15th to give us more time to thoroughly scrutinize the 20 scripts.)

I'm proud of every single one of you for having the stones to put yourself out there and face rejection every single day in pursuit of your craft. Hell of a crazy path we've chosen. Could you imagine a dentist or attorney or a pilot facing as much rejection in their careers as we do? They'd be quivering, useless wrecks. Be proud.

We're freaking WRITERS.

Writers on the Storm Top Ten (FINALISTS) for 2013:


Ditch Plains by Bernard Urban
Freebird by Simon Kay
Freetown by Jeremy Dickens
Path by Michael Wright
The RetroCog by Steve Morris
Shaman by Eric Ian Steele
Stealing Home by Sebastian Arboleda
Strategic Services by Jonathan Jones + Francisco Magdaraog
Triple Agent by Steve Morris
The World by Kathleen Cromie


The Basement by Dawn Marie Guernsey
Cake by Patrick Tobin
Carn Evil by Jason Siner
Clouds of Sorrow by Jack Davidson
Damascus Cover by Daniel Berk + Samantha Newton
The Heckler by Mike Hanson
The Idea of Fireflies by Don Balch + Zack Smith
Lulu by Samuel Bernstein
On the Edge (aka Speedville) by Patrick Hunt
Resilience by Lena Slachmuijilder