Monday, February 08, 2016

Craddock's AMERICAN EXODUS lands $50K MovieGuide Chronos Prize

We're very pleased to report that our client Katherine Craddock's script AMERICAN EXODUS just won the $50K grand prize from MovieGuide for Inspiring Screenplay by an Established Filmmaker. "American Exodus" (formerly "Band of Angels") was written as a part of Alex Metcalf/Tim Albaugh's UCLA classes and is also a Nicholl Quarterfinalist, a BlueCat Quarter Finalist, and a Second Rounder for the Austin Film Festival. It also scored a Consider/Consider from us here at Coverage Ink.

Logline: Escaped slave Harriet Tubman rescues enslaved fugitives as a conductor on the Underground Railroad in the 1850s – but with a $40,000.00 bounty on her head and the law against her, can she risk her freedom one last time to free her own parents? 

The script is now out to the industry. We're super stoked about this one and of course, we'll keep you updated. Go get 'em, Katherine!

www.coverageink.com

Rivera Crushes Fox Writers Intensive

And the hits just keep on coming! Our pal and client Jorge Rivera was just named as a participant in the Fox Writers Intensive Program for 2016. The program aims to provide a pathway into the biz for minority writers, and is a year-long training program where the participants work with industry mentors and are groomed for staff writing jobs in TV. at the end of the year, one of the ten participants receives a Fellowship and will receive a development deal with a Fox-affiliated company. Every participant receives an invaluable hands-on education and guidance into a writing career, and many Fox Intensive alumni have gone on to become staff writers and show creators. As well, participants are sent to public schools where they work with young writers to develop and stage their material. we couldn't be prouder of Jorge, who has put in serious sweat equity to earn his slot. Way to go, dude!

www.coverageink.com
 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Meet the Get Repped Now Class of 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present to you the nine Get Repped Now! writers/writing teams who kicked our collective glutes with creamy scriptliciousness. We feel like proud parents... with an enormous brood who are all finally graduating and getting the heck out of the house. We've done our best to help and guide them all, but now sink or swim is up to them... and our manager panel, of course.

www.coverageink.comWhat's this all about? Twice a year, we here at Coverage Ink do a promotion called GET REPPED NOW! For a limited time (generally about 4-6 weeks,) all feature and pilot scripts submitted to us for screenplay analysis are also eligible to be read by our panel of four industry-leading lit managers: Jake Wagner from Benderspink, Micah Klatzker from Industry, Chris Mills from Magnet and Jeff Belkin from Zero Gravity. Scripts that garner a 'consider' rating for screenplay (or better) during the promotion are presented to our panel with our recommendations. We've done this three times in the past, which has resulted in two success stories -- writer Joey Ernand landing at Benderspink and Brandon Barker getting signed to Benderspink and UTA and selling his script to Disney for six figures.

Sounds easy? Hold your horses. 'Considers' account for less than 5% of submissions. While we see a lot of 'pretty good,' actually nailing that coveted 'consider' can be devilishly tricky and require heavy lifting and many drafts. Thus it is with overflowing pride we present to you the nine writers/writing teams who nailed it. They're all finishing up their polish drafts, and then in late January the scripts are going out. What scripts will the manager panel spark to -- if any? 

So without further ado, in no particular order, here is the complete list of Coverage Ink Get Repped Now! January 2016 considers. Let's all pull for them! 

www.coverageink.com

Tainted (pilot) by Alex Chevasco and Tony Dunoyer

Ironbound by Pete Cafaro

Flip Flop by Dave Cooper, Laurie Foxx and Shawn Nelson

Script by Writer X (Name withheld by writer’s request)

Romeo and Jenna by Joey Hargrove

Plainview by Michael Scott Reese and Adam Oliver Schwartz

Cascade by Dominic Ludeau

Spudsters by Sojean Peou

Here Goes Nothing by Adam Bertocci

Get Repped Now! returns April 2016. So knuckle down and bring it on the rewrite, and we'll see you then.

Monday, January 11, 2016

JUST KILL HIM!

by Jim Cirile

Having heard good things about THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, the Amazon Original featuring the return of that dynamic duo Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick (you may remember they had something to do with a little movie called BLADE RUNNER,) my partner Tanya and I checked it out. The series takes place in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II, and the USA has been divided up between the Third Reich and the the Japanese. Naturally, a small resistance is fighting back. Cool premise, well-executed. The pilot was great; it looked fabulously expensive, and the characters were interesting and cleverly drawn.

By episode five, we'd given up on this turkey. 

You see, lazy writing undermines everything.



***SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.***

Episode two held up reasonably well too. But by episode three, we'd started to notice moments of missed potential and convenient plotting. For example, our protagonist Julianna's (Alexa Davalos) boyfriend Frank (Rupert Evans) just happens to be put into a jail cell adjacent to a resistance leader -- the very same one who is partly responsible for Julianna being on the run at the moment. And of course, there's a vent they can communicate through. Now we thought for sure that this was all arranged, so that the bad guys could listen in and hopefully extract useful intel. Nope. Pure coincidence. BZZZ! Lazy writing alert #1. But still, that wasn't too bad; we forgave and moved on. 

And so it went for the next few shows. Along with episode four came the unmistakable smell of poop on your shoe. Still, we soldiered on. But nothing prepared us for the festering pile that was episode five, which included such groaners as:

1) Nazi agent Joe (Luke Kleintank) is captured by Nazis after being AWOL for four days, having disobeyed direct orders from his superior and blowing a crucial high-stakes mission that allows the resistance a major victory... and they let him off with a warning. His superior even invites Joe to his home for a family barbecue.

Are you freaking sh*tting me?

We've just spent five episodes detailing how ruthless these people are, and now we have a clear transgression from someone who'd already previously been warned -- and there are no immediate and violent repercussions?


Firing a gun after getting shot in your gun arm ain't no thang.
2) Frank plots to kill a high-ranking official at a public speech. Inexplicably, he is able to work his way through a crowd of thousands, past both Nazi and Japanese security, to get within about 20 feet of the official. This, mind you, after he's only recently gotten out of jail for suspicion of his girlfriend helping the resistance, during which time he is brutalized and several members of his family are murdered to prompt him to talk. 

And then -- his gun arm already suffering from a recent gunshot that should probably have left him in shock and unable to use that limb, he heads to the speech to make the shot and cruises right up to the front without an eyebrow raised.

3) The very same sequence culminates in a Japanese official finding half of a distinctive pendant which Frank made, which he just happens to drop -- and that same official coincidentally later finds the other half of the same pendant on Julianna, thus pointing him at our heroes.

4) Julianna -- whom we'd seen kicking ass, literally, in a judo studio in episode one -- has yet to actually fight back despite numerous altercations and threats to her life.  Finally, she's cornered by an attacker -- this is her moment! Show us what you can do, girl! Get your Cynthia Rothrock on! Nope. She cowers and must be rescued by Joe. Didn't we leave this sort of crap behind in 1967?

5) But the coup de grace? We've all seen this a gazillion times -- that cheesy moment in movies and TV shows where the protagonist(s) knocks the bad guy down, but not out. What *should* they do?

JUST KILL HIM!

Bash his head in, put a bullet in his skull -- problem solved, right? But what usually happens is, they temporarily disable the bad guy, then frantically race out the door, as if there's some urgency to getting away. Except there is no real urgency, because if you JUST KILL HIM while he's disabled, you don't need to race away because the person who was chasing you is freaking mincemeat. And thus, Julianna and Joe blow a perfect opportunity to take out the bounty hunter stalking them. Why? Because the series doesn't want to lose this character.

Would it have hurt the story to just kill him? Nope. Because more bounty hunters would follow -- a whole team this time, probably. So we'd give our characters a genuine moment, a win, buy them a breather and actually allow them to behave the way a real person would -- and the threat would still continue, thus monkey-wrenching precisely none of the writers' plans. Sure, we'd lose that one particular bad guy, but who cares? This is where shows like SONS OF ANARCHY got it so right -- doesn't matter who it is, if it's logical that the character's ass is grass, then he or she is going down, and we'll deal with the ramifications.

And so, folks, that was the death knell for THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE as far as we're concerned.

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I never actually use these skills. Don't get your hopes up.
Now maybe this is the problem with being story analysts. It becomes difficult to overlook lazy, convenient writing. Just look at the show's aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes (95% critics/90% audience.) Clearly, people dig it. Hey, so did we. We just wish that the scripts were a little tighter. And so while it probably works just fine as pop entertainment, we can only imagine what THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE could have been if they had, say, the BREAKING BAD or even JESSICA JONES writer's room.

So how do we recognize "lazy" or convenient writing in our own scripts? It's the hardest thing in the world. We know we need to get from story point A to C. But then someone points out a flaw in our internal logic. Would this character really behave this way? Or are they only following orders, as it were -- the WRITER'S orders -- because this is the way the writer wants it to go? We want these two characters to have a scene, but is it really organic that they'd just bump into each other? If not, then make sure that it's not happenstance -- it's deliberate.

We have to be able to step outside of our scripts and look at them critically and, if it just doesn't work, then freaking rewrite it. If the logical path creates unintended complications that mess up the story -- GOOD. Every single one of the issues mentioned above could have been solved with a little scrutiny and elbow grease. Purge your writing of coincidences. And if reality or logic interferes with the way you want things to go, then embrace the interference -- for it is your best friend. Incorporating these roadblocks, setbacks, and INconveniences into your writing creates verisimilitude. Complications are a beautiful thing. For example, if that bounty hunter had bought it in episode five, the ripple effect would have been glorious. Firstly, no one would have seen it coming -- after we'd spent several episodes setting him up as a major character, poof -- he's done. Pulling the rug out from under viewers is exactly what you should be doing as writers. Secondly, the psychological fallout as well as complications that would ensue from this would create additional dramatic potential. 

Sadly, it was not to be. Don't make that mistake.

Just kill him.


www.coverageink.com


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SHIPP SAILS INTO THE "BLACK"

CI Contest Runner-Up Jeremy Shipp Makes the 2016 Black List

Shipp
We knew this guy had the goods five years ago. Screenwriter Jeremy Shipp placed second in Coverage Ink's Writers on the Storm contest with his clever WWII adventure script SLEIGHT OF HAND, about a magician turned spy. An experienced TV writer, Shipp had been mostly working in animation on fare like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", and he was itching to cut his teeth in features. We introduced him to UTA's Emerson Davis, who also saw Shipp's beacon shining brightly across the waters. 

Davis and veteran UTA agent and partner Julien Thuan (also a long-time Agent's Hot Sheet panelist) came aboard, and soon after, they'd set up Shipp's feature spec NIGHTFLYERS with Wind Dancer Films and Brown Bag Films. Since then we've kept in touch with Jeremy, watching his star rise (and weighing in on his drafts whenever he needed us.)

And now, his script CRIMSON TRAIL has docked at a slip on the coveted Black List, the annual list of the best scripts in town as voted upon by industry. Making the Black List generally propels a writer's career to a whole 'nother level. An awesome success story, and frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Shipp's a hard-working writer and a really cool fellow to boot. We're excited and couldn't be prouder, and we can't wait to see the movie as well as what he's got in store for us next.

Congrats, Jeremy!

--Jim C.


http://deadline.com/2015/12/2015-black-list-scripts-winners-full-list-1201666353/




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Get Repped Now EXTENDED - Final Deadline Midnight 11/22

Last chance, folks! For those stragglers who didn't make it in by our Nov. 15 deadline, we have our traditional 1-week grace period/extension. There is NO LATE ENTRY FEE or any of that nonsense. So if you haven't gotten your script in to Coverage Ink's Get Repped Now! yet, or if you were cranking to get it in by the Nov. 15 deadline but just couldn't ice it, then, baby, this is it. However, there will be NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS. Midnight Nov. 22 PST is the final deadline.

www.coverageink.com

GET REPPED NOW! is not a contest. It's a promotion where twice a year, for a limited period of time, we submit all scripts that have come in for coverage and scored a "consider" or better for script (roughly top 5%) to our manager panel. Each of them has agreed to personally read all of the considers because they trust our judgment and know that we've pre-screened the material for them. So while you may well be able to get a read from any of them on your own (and we encourage you to do so!,) having that CI "consider" behind you carries considerable weight and jumps you to the top of the pile. 

In fact, there was even something of a feeding frenzy over Brandon Barker, with several of our managers interested -- but Benderspink's Jake Wagner moved the fastest, grabbing him up within days of receiving the script from us. (Wagner sold that same script 3 weeks later to Disney.) Way to rock it, Brandon and Jake!


But hurry -- Get Repped Now! ends for real midnight PST Nov. 22 and will not return until Spring 2016. So head on over to Coverage Ink and show us what you've got. Good luck!

http://www.coverageink.com

THIS RANT IS ABOUT STRUCTURE!



by Tanya Klein



Would you like to live in a high-rise that had been built without using a proper blueprint?

Would you want to be operated on by someone who lacks basic understanding of anatomy?

How about an airplane -- would you like to ride in one that had not been designed by people who have studied airplane engineering? 

There might be a few brave (suicidal) souls among you, but my guess is most of you will answer ‘hell no.’ Then why is it that so many screenplays represent the auteur-equivalent of the above-mentioned scenarios? 

As a story analyst, I read a lot of scripts. And I have to wonder why so many aspiring writers haven’t taken the time to learn what takes me about two minutes to explain -- that the script needs to have structure. My best guess is that many just don’t take their craft seriously and, yes, people, it’s a craft -- something that you study and hone throughout your career. This lack of solid writing craft seems to be partly to blame on the unfortunate misconception that it’s “the arts” where I get to “express myself freely” without being hemmed into a straitjacket. 

Well, with all due respect, then maybe you should consider poetry or performance art. 

Typical screenplay structure, expressed in architectural terms
Look, there is just no excuse anymore. A few short decades ago, if you wanted to learn about structure, there was only Syd Field and his books, along with William Goldman's great "Adventures in the Screen Trade." But now of course there are a quazillion tomes, websites, articles and so on, many just a click away. Every local library has ample resources on the subject. The how-to knowledge is not only plentiful, it's frigging omnipresent. Heck, you can download the Save the Cat! beat sheet for free.

Now we don't necessarily recommend slavish devotion to STC! and other formulaic structural templates (although it never actually has hurt a script, to my knowledge,) but the simple fact remains: if most beginning writers just glanced at any sort of structural roadmap before they began writing, many of the script's problems would go away. "Oh wait... act two should begin before page 50?" Yep.

Look, we all want to be successful screenwriters. It is a well-paid, highly specialized profession which requires a fair amount of mastery of the form (with a few famous exceptions who keep failing upwards -- but that's a whole 'nother rant.) In other words: one doesn't know innately how to write a screenplay simply because one has written some good essays or blogposts or even a novel or three. Like any other highly paid, specialized profession, screenwriting requires years of study and hard work to master (unless you just happen to know the right people; in which case, good for you.)

Okay, here are my two minutes of structure nitty-gritty. If I’ve covered one of your scripts, you may have heard my house analogy before – it’s the best one I’ve been able to come up with so far. Ahem:

+++

To tell any story effectively, a solid structure is vital. It also makes a writer’s life a lot easier, since it provides a blueprint, a roadmap, to the destination. The most vital part of any script is the setup. It’s akin to building a house. For any structure, you need a proper foundation. It doesn’t matter how cool your first floor is or how roomy your attic. If the foundation isn’t there, the house won’t stand for long. 

For script purposes that means you need to set up your world and your characters. That’s why in classic screenplay structure, the first 10 - 12 pages are used to accomplish just that. And if your script is a genre piece, then I highly recommend a hook before your setup -- a couple of pages that will set the genre tone, and then you can leisurely set up your characters in their "known world" without worrying about tonal discrepancies. 

Raising the steaks.
The inciting incident (the event that sets the story in motion and throws a monkey wrench into the protagonist's life) should happen around page 12-15. The rest of Act I is comprised of what’s commonly termed “the hero rejecting the call” – your protagonist not wanting to go on the critically important journey we know s/he must go on.  

The transition to Act II usually happens somewhere between pages 20 and 30. This is the moment where our protagonist leaves his/her old world behind and enters a whole new world that s/he isn’t familiar with and that holds dangers all of its own. The next aspect of Act II is the midpoint (somewhere between pages 50 and 60). That is usually an “up” or a “down” moment -- in other words, it either seems like the hero’s got it all covered (a false peak, which will collapse soon after the midpoint) or has royally screwed up (a false down, which will reverse soon after the midpoint). 

After the midpoint, the stakes need to be raised. Essentially, this is where the bad guys close in. The next part of Act II is the so-called “all is lost moment,” which generally occurs around page 75-80. This, by the way, doesn’t have to be a complete down moment (as the term might suggest). It’s essentially the opposite of the midpoint. So, if your midpoint was an up moment, then on page 75, you’ve got a down moment. The hero’s life is seemingly destroyed; the quest has gone down in flames. They're at the farthest possible point from achieving their important goal. It’s the end. (Albeit, a false one.) Often in movies, this is where the mentor character (the person the protagonist was leaning on for advice and guidance) dies. But it is also the moment where it’s darkest before the dawn. 

And dawn approaches with Act III. (Around page 80 - 90.) This is where our protagonist finally hits upon the winning idea. S/he figures out how to defeat the bad guys and, with the help of allies made along the journey, learns his/her lesson and arcs.

See, two minutes. There's more to it, but again, these are the basics, and deviate from them at your peril! I mean, of course, many movies do; but sticking with the architectural theme, you've got to learn to properly design a building with working plumbing, power and heat, before you can become Gehry or LeCorbusier.

If you have any questions about structure (or anything else,) please email us. Seriously, we’re always happy to answer your questions – and it’s free. In the long run, it’ll save you work (and money) to have a solid outline before sitting down to write and (as an added benefit) it’ll save us from more gray hairs. Win/win.     

 +++

Tanya Klein is a writer/producer/director and story editor living in Los Angeles.
  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

First Get Repped Now! Consider Is In

Meet Adam Bertocci, our first Get Repped Now! consider for fall 2015 (so far.) Adam's script HERE GOES NOTHING, an adaptation of certain play called MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING but restaged in a high school, had all the right stuff. His script will be sent to our manager panel with our recommendations at the end of Get Repped Now!

Adam has enjoyed success as a novelist with his "comedie" TWO GENTLEMEN OF LEBOWSKI; and in case ye were wondering, yea, the dude doth abide. The novel is indeed a mash-up of The Coen Brothers and the Bard. With over 18,000 fans on Facebook, the book has very positive feedback, and one commenter noted, "(The book) incorporates lines from the movie in a thoroughly creative way while also being genuinely Shakespearean in style."

Bertocci is now looking to get traction in the screenwriting space, and we're only too happy to help.

GET REPPED NOW! runs through Nov. 15. All scripts which receive a "consider" for script will be read by our panel of top industry managers. Get your scripts in before it's too late at www.coverageink.com. Go, Adam!

www.coverageink.com

Monday, October 12, 2015

Coverage Ink's GET REPPED NOW! RETURNS

www.coverageink.com
Coverage Ink's Get Repped Now! 
October 12-Nov. 15, 2015

When we launched the first Get Repped Now! a year ago, we never expected it would have quite the response it has had. It's not a contest; there are no prizes, per se. But what we all really need more than anything is access. GRN is a great way for writers to actually get their scripts read by people that matter -- and best of all, put a little wattage behind them as well, in the form of our recommendations and the validation of good coverage.

See, we all know how hard it is to get the industry to pay attention to new writing talent. And you can't blame them, really. Most agents and managers have their hands full working crazy hours and then having to read their clients' drafts nights and weekends. There are only so many hours in the day; who has time to read unsolicited material? Even scripts that are requested may gather quite a bit of moss before ever getting read. Slush pile submissions are the lowest-priority reads -- generally covered by an assistant or intern and only when there's a rare lull in the action. The reps themselves, well, they generally will only read a new writer if it has been recommended to them by someone whose opinion they trust.

So that's where we come in. The first GRN brought us five considers; we knew these writers could make waves. Then Brandon Barker's script blew everything up times infinity.

Brandon Barker shows us how it's done
Barker's period adventure/comedy "Nottingham and Hood" -- sort of a "Midnight Run" in Sherwood Forest -- grabbed the attention of Benderspink's Jake Wagner, who moved lightning-fast. Within weeks, the script had sold to Disney (although we could not announce it for another month,) and Barker had signed with UTA. A grand slam right out of the gate. 

Then this year, Joey Ernand scored a triple-- three scripts entered into Get Repped Now!; and incredibly, three considers. Once again, Wagner pounced, and now those two are developing an original project together (read all about it right here.) Can you say "wow"? I knew that you could.

With wind at our backs, it is with great joy that we bring back Get Repped Now! one more time to close out 2015. We're looking for the best of the best -- scripts that demand attention and are great stories, well-told. Our standards are exacting -- the vast majority of submissions will be passes. But in all cases, we will detail exactly how to elevate both the material and your craft in the form of a thorough and empowering analysis of the material. As super agent turned producer Emile Gladstone once told me, "Screenwriting is a craft, like carpentry. It can be learned." And for those of you who land a consider, we will do everything we can to hone your presentation and hype your material.

Are you ready to bring it?

Get Repped Now! runs from October 12, 2015 to November 15, 2015. For complete rules and info, please visit Coverage Ink. We look forward to you blowing us away.

--Jim Cirile
www.coverageink.com

www.coverageink.com