Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coverage Ink/Writers on the Storm March Newsletter

MARCH GLADNESS! Get $20 off any coverage/story analysis submission to Coverage Ink now through March 15, 2014. Includes features, 1-hr TV and manuscripts. 1/2-hr TV, shorts and outlines are excluded. May not be combined with other discounts. Submit your script at and use code GLADNESS to get your discount. Coverage Ink -- The Industry Experts. 

Hi friends,

We’re very excited this month to bring you an interview with WOTS top ten writer Patrick Tobin (“Cake.”) Tobin’s script made the Black List late last year, catapulting him into orbit. “Cake” is now fast-tracked with a certain actress whose initials are JENNIFER FREAKING ANISTON starring and producing.

Yeah, holy crapola is right.

I think Patrick’s story will resonate with many of us. See, he is not what we would call “young,” at least not in Hollywood terms. He graduated film school in 1990. And we all know that Hollywood is a youth-oriented town. “It would be ridiculous for me to say that (ageism) doesn’t happen,” says manager A.B. Fischer from Shuman Co. “If they’re looking for the next up-and-coming writer, the 50-year-old person is probably not that person. But with an incredible piece of writing, it doesn’t matter.” Manager Ava Jamshidi from Industry Entertainment feels that it’s less about age than personality. “For me, the biggest thing is how they are in a room. If somebody’s awesome and dynamic and great in a room, then that’s almost as important as being a really good writer. Having a really good script gets you into the room, but if you can’t wow ‘em once you’re there, you’re never going to get the job.”

Ava put her money where her mouth is. She signed Patrick Tobin based on the strength of “Cake.” How about them apples? So for all of us out there who are noticing the gray hairs are beginning to overtake, check out what Patrick Tobin has to say.

One other thing. I asked Richard Arlook from the Arlook Group (who discovered last year’s Black List darling “Rodham” off a query letter) for the real skinny on ageism in Hollywood. “Let’s say Writer ‘A’ graduates USC Film School at 21 years old,” says Arlook. “He writes a spec, and it sells; he gets a couple of assignments. By the time he’s 25, he’s a working writer. Everybody that he knows (are now) VPs at the studios or working for producers or producers themselves. He continues to work and tends to get hired by his contemporaries. So now it’s 20 years later. He’s in his mid 40s. Meanwhile, there are other guys in their mid 20s that went to film school being hired by their contemporaries. The reality of it is that once you get to be in your 40s in this business, you’re working on a really, really senior level. How many guys in their 40s are reading samples and stuff like that? You can call it ageism. To me, it’s like a circle of life.” 

True dat. On the other hand, us writers in our 40s, 50s and 60s have that much more life experience and skill to bring to the table. As long as we leave our inner geezer at home, we should still be able to kick some ass. But I’ll let Patrick Tobin tell you all about that.

Fight the power, my friends!

Jim Cirile

TRACKING B TV Script Contest - Early Entry Deadline 2/28/14 

Whoa, the Tracking B early entry deadline is upon us. If you have a TV pilot, this one is a must-enter. See, Tracking B is the real deal -- a genuine industry tracking board. Their contest offers no prizes per se -- just access. Check out the jaw-dropping industry panel who will be reading the submissions, companies like Lionsgate, CBS, Gersh and many more. Tracking B's success rate puts every other contest to shame. Last year's finalist, sci-fi pilot EXTANT, was picked up by CBS after a bidding war with FX and TNT. The series launches mid-season. HURRY - enter now! And good luck.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Or, How Patrick Tobin Went From Struggling, Unrepresented Screenwriter to Hot Commodity With a Go Film Starring an A-List Actress

By Jim Cirile

Every now and again, we hear about a screenwriting overnight sensation, only to discover it took years of hard work to get there. Patrick Tobin is one such case. He’s been at it for over two decades, cranking out scripts, entering contests and honing his craft. In 2013, fortune smiled as he made the Zoetrope semi-finals as well as our own Writers on the Storm top ten, then got signed by WME and Industry Entertainment and made The Black List. As if that’s not enough, Jennifer Aniston will be starring in and producing the adaptation of his quirky drama CAKE for After Dark Films and Shenghua Entertainment.

Not a bad year.

We sat down with Patrick to get the skinny on this long journey and its amazing and well-earned pay-off.


Jim Cirile (JC): You must feel pretty good right about now.

Patrick Tobin (PT): It’s been crazy this last year, things have gotten better and better since the end of the year. I’ve been getting lots of meetings, trying to get assignments, take the next step.

JC: Give us a quick overview of your screenwriting history.

Tobin bakes one hell of a CAKE.
PT: I graduated from USC film school in ’90 and wrote a script in ’95 that was produced by Marsha Lucas, George Lucas’s ex-wife, who put up a million, called NO EASY WAY that Khandi Alexander starred in. It didn’t get into Sundance, but did get into South by Southwest. However, without Sundance’s stamp of approval it didn’t get distribution, which was too bad because Khandi didn’t get the recognition she deserved. In the late ‘90s, my brother had a tragedy, and my now-husband and I moved to Montana to be with him. My life went in a different direction; my movie career didn’t happen.

JC: Wow, heck of a way to get derailed.

PT: I pulled back a bit from screenwriting at that point. I started writing fiction and short stories that I could have more control over and some of them got published. “Cake” was actually my most successful story and (was published in) an anthology in 2008. I hadn’t thought about making a screenplay out of it, but it had a really good character. At the time my best friend was dating a German commercial director who wanted to make features, and he loved my short story. He had a book he wanted me to adapt into a screenplay, and while that didn’t go anywhere, it sparked my screenplay writing again.

JC: So you adapted the short story into a screenplay?

PT: I was working a full-time job and I literally finished a draft in 5 weeks. I would write at night and weekends and it was fun and like a hobby. I was with a writing group that would have actors come in and read for them and the great actress Deborah Geffner (PASSIONS, MONK) read CAKE, used it as an audition piece. The audience was riveted. I thought it might be a good springboard. This and a lot of things led up to it. But the first draft was like a disaster because the short story was like a last act and the character was really super unlikeable. A friend read it and loved the short story but not the script. I’ve been reworking it for the last 4 years because in between I was trying to shop a nonfiction book for a couple of years about my crazy family. I entered it in contests and it started being a finalist and year before last I was semi-finalist for Zoetrope’s top 30-35 scripts. I entered it in Writers on the Storm and CineStory and got a director who optioned it (Daniel Barnz, WON’T BACK DOWN) and got an agent at William Morris through him and then got on The Black List.

JC: How did Barnz become involved?

PT: He was a past winner of CineStory and he heard from (contest) judges how good CAKE was; he called and wanted to meet. We hit it off and did a rewrite. His agent at (WME) signed me and started sending it out as a sample (while) Daniel was trying to get an actress attached. Agents were really excited about the project, which is how it got on The Black List. I had about 30 meetings between October and December. 

JC: For folks who may not know, The Black List is a compendium of the industry’s favorite unproduced scripts that comes out every December. It’s become quite the tastemaker.

PT: So now I’ve got many different things I’m pitching at meetings now, book adaptations and figuring out how to make (CAKE). So I’m meeting with people, trying to get something in the interim so I can quit my day job. It’s tricky because I work in Anaheim, live in Long Beach, and have to go to LA -- it’s been a little crazy. But I feel it’s the most amazing opportunity I’ve been given. I’m not young and need to take advantage of it, so I can’t complain. I try to schedule the meetings on a certain day, have gotten to know the libraries, work on my laptop between meetings and it’s been nuts, but it’s been fun. My agents and managers have been very supportive of me.

JC: A lot of folks think ageism is a real concern in the industry.

PT: If I’d been 25, I don’t think I’d have the same opportunity I have now. I was worried about my age, but everyone I’ve met with are smart and engaged and just enjoy good movies. If you go in thinking, “I’m an old person,” they pick up on it. But if you go, “I’m a writer and I love good writing,” it makes a difference.

JC: It was announced at Berlin that CAKE is a go, and a certain actress with the initials “Jennifer Aniston” is attached to star and produce.

PT: I am BIG TIME psyched! Yeah, it's amazing how fast things are moving on the project. They're already in preproduction. It's surreal! But so cool too! I (knew) CAKE will be a great role for a good actress, and I’m so excited. Moving forward, I’ve got another script that I’m revising and I’m adapting another one of my short stories which I think has possibilities. It’s sort of a sci-fi horror story, like TAKE SHELTER meets LOOPER, and is way different than CAKE. Daniel is developing it with me. So I’m really excited for the future.

JC: Thanks so much, Patrick. Anything you’d like to say to your screenwriting brethren?

PT: My “words of wisdom” are: Don’t even think about the age issue and just focus on your writing and enter lots of contests. I never would’ve gotten anywhere without them or had the access I have now. I just kept working up the ladder to semi-finalist and finalist, kept entering contests and plugging away.