Tuesday, July 15, 2014

MORENA BACCARIN Announced as Star of "Malevolent"

Morena Baccarin, who received an Emmy Award nomination for her work on Homeland, has been cast in Coverage Ink Films' new production MALEVOLENT. 

The animated horror feature film, directed by Jason Axinn (Starpocalypse), concerns a dying, wealthy industrialist (Ray Wise, Robocop, Twin Peaks) who calls his estranged kids together, ostensibly to discuss his will -- but what he has in mind is something else entirely. Baccarin stars as Gamemaster, from an alien race that stages bloody conflicts among humans and then wagers on the outcome. The Hollywood Reporter broke the story.


Ms. Baccarin is of course well-known to genre fans due to her roles in Joss Whedon's Firefly, Stargate and V. MALEVOLENT also stars Bill Mosley ("The Devil's Rejects") and Dani Lennon ("Bite Me"). The film is executive produced and written by Coverage Ink's Jim Cirile and Tanya Klein ("Liberator") and produced by Cindi Rice and Paige Barnett (Space Guys in Space, Bite Me.)

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Dog and Pony Show

Hi, folks!

Recently I had the pleasure of hosting Agent's Hot Sheet - Live! for the second straight year at Great American Pitchfest. Once again, we had a killer panel of heavyweight Hollywood literary reps, and we discussed all manner of things. We'll be bringing you video excerpts right here on our blog over the coming weeks. Humongous props to UTA's Amanda Hymson, Benderspink's Jake Wagner, Circle of Confusion's Jairo Alvarado and Chris Mills from Magnet Management.

One of the things I had to ask the panel was about the necessity of being "good in a room." We've all heard this expression; in short, it means being compelling, knowledgeable and personable. But this concept seems oddly incompatible with being a screenwriter. In fact, I know a lot of writers who are the exact opposite -- kinda introverted, quiet, neurotic, etc. -- heck, the reason we pursue writing in the first place is because it's insular. Walk into any LA coffee shop, for crying out loud, and you will see twenty screenwriters cranking away on their laptops -- together in a group yet interacting not at all. I wanted to know if simply being a great writer is enough for Hollywood. Watch this video to see what our panel had to say:

Not long after moving to Hollywood two decades ago, I scored an agent, and one of my comedies went out as a spec. A couple of companies were interested, chief among them New Line Cinema. I was ecstatic - I figured all we had to do was go in there and answer some questions. But the producer who was attached, to my shock, explained to me how things really worked. "They probably have not read the script," he said, although they no doubt have skimmed the in-house coverage. But how could they take a meeting on a project they haven't even read? "Happens all the time," he noted. And then he explained that for the most part the people you meet with in these types of meetings are just filling up their day to justify their salaries. No, he said, we had to put on a dog and pony show.

What that meant telling them the entire story from beginning to end, in the most insanely high-energy, unforgettable way possible -- literally putting on a performance. Frankly, this pissed me off. As the writer, I felt the words on the page should stand on their own. Further, I resented having to go in there and be a performing monkey for some bored, ADD middle management creative executives.

Yeah, whatever. Naturally, we worked out the mother of all dog and pony shows.

The producer and I went in there and spent a good half-hour literally running like madmen all around the room, reenacting all the major set-pieces, tag-teaming off of each other. One of us would do the set-up; the other would kick it into the goal. And so it went for a half hour, until by the end we collapsed -- exhausted, glistening with sweat, but still beaming these huge, dumb-ass smiles, 'cause you see, we had to pretend to enjoy this charade as well as project "these guys are super cool and easy to work with." It was one hell of an effort.

Well, we made it all the way up to Mike DeLuca, who was running the show over there at the time, and of course we did the whole dog and pony show again from the top. And... ultimately they passed. But still, that was my first experience with trying to sell a script to Hollywood. The screenplay was merely the ticket to entry. I've never forgotten that pitch, one of the more elaborate ones I've ever done. There have been many others, but the one thing they have in common is that at all times, I try to make it clear that I'm easy to work with, I respect their time and opinions, and that I'm a pro who will get it done (whether or not any of those things are actually true.) The screenplay really is just half the battle. Once someone calls you in for a meeting, it becomes all about them weighing whether or not they can work with you. Because we're talking what could be a protracted period of development, especially if the project gathers momentum. The exec, agent, manager or producer needs to know that you're someone who can communicate their story verbally as well as not be a looney or a pain in the ass or paralyzed in a sea of neuroses. Who wants to deal with that person for six months or more?

So this means that many of us who are not necessarily the best at presenting or public speaking have to find a way to become so if you want to make it as a screenwriter. Here's a simple but obvious tipper: plan everything out in advance. P.P.P.P.P.P., as the Rogue Warrior himself Dick Marcinko says -- Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. You should write out your pitch and rehearse it, just like a stage actor for a performance. You don't have to necessarily memorize it, although that helps -- a few glances at notes every now and again is fine. But the main thing is to be upbeat and keep eye contact, which forces the people you're meeting with to stay engaged. And do some research into who you're meeting with (hello, interwebs) so you have a few things to discuss, and connect the dots in a friendly (and non-stalkery) way. Maybe they went to college in your hometown or grew up near you, or you know the same people or like the same teams. Check out the company's slate so you can talk knowledgeably about their projects. Above all, just try to be cool -- even if you're a nervous wreck inside. Don't ever let 'em see ya sweat, as they say.

I know none of us signed up for this writing thing to be performers. But there it is. Crap! So: embrace it. Who knows, you might find out that, shock of shocks, the people you're meeting with are actually kind of cool. Before you know it, maybe you'll even be knocking back a few beers with this person you were so nervous about meeting. And if all else fails and you're losing 'em, run around the room like a maniac and shock 'em out of their torpor. Like it or not, they want to be entertained. (Woof! Neighhh.)

Jim Cirile, Coverage Ink

Coverage Ink Films Announces MALEVOLENT

We are super stoked to announce we are in production on our first feature film MALEVOLENT, an animated horror/thriller with a sci-fi twist. The story is sort of like SAW meets GROUNDHOG DAY. As of this writing, we cannot announce our star yet, although we can say she is well-known to genre fans. Our cast includes Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop), Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects) and Dani Lennon (Bite Me for FEARNet and Machinima) as Miriam, our beleaguered heroine. 


This is the first feature film for Coverage Ink, a leading indie screenplay development service established in 2002. Their previous short film/pilot LIBERATOR, starring Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Peta Wilson (La Femnme Nikita), Michael Dorn (Mr. Worf) and Ed Asner (Up), won ten awards and is currently available on iTunes and Amazon streaming

MALEVOLENT is being directed by award-winning filmmaker and commercial director Jason Axinn (Starpocalypse) and is being produced by the team behind Bite Me, Space Guys in Space and Dungeon Bastard. The film's writers and exec producers are CI's Tanya Klein and Jim Cirile.

Team "Malevolent" at Sonic Fuel Studios

“CI has always been about indie empowerment,” says Cirile. “You can make great movies without a lot of money. You just have to take the time to get the script right. Why wait around for someone to tell you you can make your movie? Just do it.”

Find out more about MALEVOLENT and keep track of upcoming developments at:



Save 15% on Barri Evins' San Fran Screenwriting Intensive

Our pal Barri Evins shared with us this cool event. If you're anywhere near the San Francisco Bay area this month, you'll want to check this out. Barri knows her stuff! She is a producer/exec, formerly president of Debra Hill Productions, and she has set up projects art Warners, Universal and HBO to name a few. This is an intensive weekend of education at a great price.

Use this discount code: "CINK" and receive a 15% discount on the seminar when you write signup@bigbigideas.com with the code. 


San Francisco Big Ideas Screenwriting Intensive July 25-27 

Make Breaking Into The Film Business A Reality:

• Understand the Industry from The Inside
• Create Concepts that Ignite Industry Interest
• Harness Your Passions and Showcase Your Strengths
• Stop Endlessly Rewriting!  Shape and Hone Stories on a Single Page
• Confidently Pitch, Structure and Develop Ideas with Powerful New Tools
• One Year of Individual Mentorship Keeps You On Track for Success 

Special Guest: Former LA Literary agent listens to your polished pitches and gives you advice on the marketplace for your idea.

This is THE LAST BIg Ideas Seminar to offer a full year of one-on-one mentorship to develop your idea and offer career advice -- worth thousands.  

$395 per person. Sign up today and don't forget the discount code! 



e-book, 343 pages
Author: Howard Casner
$2.99, Kindle only

Review by Tanya Klein

We’ve all been in this situation: we enter our masterpiece into one of the myriad screenwriting contests out there… and it doesn’t even make the quarterfinals. A script we’ve worked hard on, maybe we even got glowing coverage on it; yet, whoever read it for the contest simply didn’t like it enough to advance it. Why? How could they? What the #$%#!? In the same vein, often we send a script out for analysis and when the coverage comes back, it seems like the person didn’t even read the script we wrote, and we’re baffled by notes that seem to come out of left field. Again we wonder: what the bleep!?   

In his e-book “Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader,” Howard Casner attempts to answer all of our bleeping questions. Casner is a longtime reader for several screenplay contests such as Slamdance and Final Draft Big Break, as well as a script consultant. His book includes lessons he’s learned by seeing screenwriting contests up close and personal. He shares with us why he advanced some scripts while passing over others, as well as the biggest turn-offs for readers as well as the sometimes heated discussions that go on behind the scenes before all of the entries are whittled down to the top ten.  He also shares his musings on different genres, his dislike of formula and several screenwriting essays culled from his blog as well as many movie reviews.

The book indeed succeeds in probing the mind of a script reader -- that elusive person sitting at his or her desk reading script after script after script.  Yes, we all hate a verbose narrative and our eyes glaze over quickly while reading Faulkner-like denseness. And some will barely glance through never-ending action sequences and overly descriptive character introductions. As Casner notes, every reader hopes to get a script with characters that are so fresh and alive that they jump off the page and a story that is unique. 

Casner’s book isn’t – and doesn’t purport to be – a screenwriting manual. For someone looking to sharpen their screenwriting skills, there are many “how to” books out there. This isn’t one of them. Casner does share his “Ten Commandments of Screenwriting,” (and one can agree or disagree with them) but those won’t necessarily make you a better writer. The book comes alive when Casner gets into the nitty-gritty of a script reader’s life, from drunkenly kvetching to other readers about the terrible scripts that were submitted to facing moments of terror and panic when called upon by a contest coordinator to justify his selections. This is juicy inside-baseball stuff and is fascinating to read. One wishes that this was squarely the focus of the book, but Casner at times loses his way in general musings on screenwriting and genre proclivities as well as way too many movie reviews, which frankly we're just not as interested in.

If you want to know what the bleep goes on in a script reader’s head, Howard Casner’s “Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Consultant” is a good place to start and it’s currently available on Amazon. 


Tanya Klein is a New York writer/director/producer/actor living in Los Angeles.