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how to get an agent

I Wasn’t Supposed to Get a Literary Agent During the Pandemic. Now I Have Four

By Advice, Inside Look, Success Stories

I wasn’t supposed to get a literary agent in 2020. Seriously, I mean...

  • I don’t live in Los Angeles
  • I'm homeschooling two small boys
  • I have a full-time day-job
  • In my abundant free-time I advocating as a refugee volunteer
  • Oh, and there's a global pandemic happening that's shuttered much of Hollywood

Becoming a working screenwriter just wasn’t in the cards for me this year. Everyone told me to forget about it. 2020 wasn’t going to be my year. Turns out, everyone was wrong. Because not only did I recently land a manager; I just signed with not one, but a whole team of literary agents at Verve (four to be exact). For a little context, here are some of Verve's current clients:

  • Milo Ventimiglia
  • Anna Chlumsky
  • Willa Holland
  • Leah Remini
  • James D'Arcy
  • JJ Feild
  • Nia Long
  • Nicholas D'Agosto
  • Morris Chestnut
  • Aaron Guzikowski
  • Colin Trevorrow
  • Olatunde Osunsanmi
  • Sydelle Noel
  • Greg Russo

This is the story of how my entire screenwriting career took off this year, and how you can hopefully make the same thing happen for you.

My first screenplay

Like a lot of you, I had a lot of ideas for films and television. They were just waiting for that bit of motivation to get from brain to paper (computer screen). One day, inspiration struck and I finally decided to make good on that promise to myself. I researched, wrote, edited, made charts, and then rewrote again. Finally, I handed it out to friends and people at the office. That was the scariest part.

I got enough positive feedback to move forward. I’d go all in and write my screenplay.  But what does “all-in” look like, exactly, and where do I go from here?

My screenwriting schedule

Officially, my writing routine is to write from 9:00 pm - 4 am Sunday-Friday. You read that right. 9 pm to 4 am. I sleep until 7 am then run one of my kids to school, then go back to sleep until 8:15 am, and then haul-ass to work.

I do a little screenwriting and research in the Lyft to work, start work at 9 am (maybe 9:15 am), write on my lunch hour (if no friends can meetup), haul-ass to pick up my kids around 4:30 pm, and I squeeze in a few social calls to friends on my way home. By 5 pm, I try to be ready to cook a homemade meal and be totally devoted to my kids (when screenwriting was really bad -- we’d order out). After that, they go to bed around 8:45 pm.

I clean my house like the Tasmanian Devil from 8:45 pm-9:00 pm then start screenwriting again. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I fit in an hour of volunteering from 4 pm-5 pm. And on Sunday evenings I prep for another night of screenwriting while also preparing my kids folders for the week ahead.  

Saturdays I’m with my kiddos, but at night I try to see friends and then write some more when I get home — even if that means starting at 1 am or 2 am. Bring on the black tea and Doritos.   

How to avoid screenwriter burnout

Keeping this schedule for the last few years really did a number on how I process my emotions. I’d get anxiety and then double-down on my vacuum (using all the attachments). You have to hustle to make it as a screenwriter, but it's also important to take care of yourself. 

I only had one friend in the industry, and she didn’t even work in screenwriting. My odds of becoming a professional screenwriter were slim to none. Luckily, my sunny disposition prevented me from processing the reality of my situation.

How to handle criticism as a screenwriter

Many people blew me off. But just as many said they’d love to read my work. It was actually amazing how kind some people were. Still, the reality is, that everyone is going to have input on your script. And some of it is going to be harsh:

  • One reader said they thought it was “stupid to have a female killer that wasn’t likable, women have to be likable.” That day hit me on so many levels, as the reviewer was a fellow female screenwriter
  • Another told me “girls shouldn’t write gritty dramas.”
  • An industry friend finally got around to reading my stuff and said, “Sorry. Do you have anything more focused on like cooking or traveling pants? I like that type of stuff.” I had waited five months to hear that?!

One memorable experience was when an exec invited me to meet with them in New York. I bought a plane ticket and paid the deposit on a hotel room only to have them cancel on me two days before the meeting. I had to look at my tiny kids and think, “Well, I just spent our fun money on my whimsical dream to be a screenwriter — for nothing.

But the worst was when a producer — who loved my work asked to meet with me in LA. I flew out to LA and he suggested a few tweaks he wanted to see. Then he suggested that as an “Asian female writer” I shouldn’t be in the room.“The room doesn’t look like you, no offense.” I went back to my hotel room and screamed into a Dorito bag. I decided to choke down his words and choose to believe he was wrong.  

Screenwriting is a tough business

I’d used all my paid-time-off, my mom was watching my kids, and I’d flown to Los Angeles, despite my fear of flying, only to be told “you can’t” and “you won’t”. People were asking if I could change my projects to be more about cooking or traveling pants?! It would’ve been easy to quit.

Criticism and callous rejections are just part of the screenwriting business. Seriously, you have to accept that. Plan for it. Prepared to be dismissed and written off. Be okay with it, because as hard as each rejection is, it really is just part of the process of becoming a working screenwriter. Accept it as the cost of doing business, and get back to work!

Delusion is your friend

When my parents adopted me as a little girl, they told me I could be anything I wanted. But, that was then. This was LA. If you want to “make it” you have to stop looking for praise and move forward with your dreams, no matter what.

Sometimes I’d get good news like I placed or won a festival or competition, and I’d feel like all my hard work was all worth it. But there are still ups and downs. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s how almost everyone does it.

Every screenwriter’s journey is different

I heard story after story of contradicting experiences from my screenwriting friends and colleagues:

  • A friend had been on multiple popular dramas and had a manager, but getting work was a struggle after those gigs and they couldn’t get an agent
  • Another friend had won incredibly prestigious awards, but couldn’t get a manager or an agent to read their work
  • Then you hear about someone who hasn’t really worked or won a recognized award getting a manager(?!) while another friend had won major awards, interned at two large production houses, and couldn’t get read

You will hear stories of writers getting an agent and manager after winning a major competition. And you’ll hear frustrations from another writer who won the same competition last year but still can’t get a manager or agent. There is no one path to screenwriting success. You just have to keep trying things like submitting to competitions, networking, pitching, and sending out query letters. That’s the boring secret to success. Never give up.

How I got a manager from 2000 miles away

I sat through all these stories as I networked on the phone, on social media, and in-person. And then, one day, I got a notification from Coverfly that I’d been picked for Pitch Week. I couldn’t believe it.

Through Coverfly, I met my manager online in a Zoom call. He was very easy to speak with and gave interesting insights into how he read things and what he saw in writing. We signed together a week later!

My television pilot continued to do very well competitively, and networking was getting easier. Then about six months later, a connection that had become a friend asked if I could help with a project. I was reluctant but thought it’d be great to do this for someone who had given me so much advice and education on the industry.

That encounter led to my meeting an agent. We chatted indirectly through the group we were in.  Afterward, I wondered… “How horrible would it be to try and get his input on a project?”  

How I got an agent during a pandemic

I told my talent manager I was hoping to expand our team and that I planned to inquire with an agent.

I sent the agent an email asking for some input. He responded promptly, saying that he’d be cool to jump on a call. We chatted for maybe 20-30 minutes ultimately with him saying he wanted to read my stuff!

If you’re a struggling scribe you know how exciting that is to hear!

Before we hung-up, he admitted it could be a while (I’d been prepared for months) and that he appreciated our chat and looked forward to reading my work. I must’ve caught him at the right time because two days later he let me know he loved it. He wanted to know right away when we could chat!

I was so used to the process-of-the-process. But then, one evening my phone rang. I’ll never forget it. I was in the kitchen wearing one shoe — my kid had taken the other to use as a “boat” — and I was in the middle of burning our “Hello Fresh”! I saw an unknown California number pop-up on my phone, and answered reluctantly.

The voice on the other side directed me to the agent!

He let me know that they loved my work and that they'd wanted to assign me a team of agents, four to be exact. He couldn’t hear it, but I was crying. They'd already called my manager to set up a Zoom call to make it official.  

He doesn’t know this, but after we hung up I went into my children’s room and hugged them so tightly. Then I bawled my eyes out.

How to become a working screenwriter

Dinner was burned and I only had one shoe on, but I was elated! A working, homeschooling mother, in Chicago, during a pandemic got signed to a team of agents in LA. If you’re in the middle of your own struggle to become a screenwriter, breathe and believe. You are not alone.

Focus on content, embrace both positive and negative engagements, and avoid transactional moves choosing instead to be a good listener and a kind member of the writing community. Accept obstacles as the cost of doing business and move on. Seek mentorship and advice from those that can empathize with the fickle process. And most importantly, don’t view managers or agents as the end of the story.

You have to keep being your best advocate and keep hustling, listening, learning, and putting in the time because the truth is “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity."

So many thanks: To my agents at Verve, and Eric Borja at Alldayeveryday. And, to the entire Coverfly team, with extra thanks to Tom Dever and Emily Dell. And, special thanks to my “go-to” David Rabinowitz. I couldn’t have done any of this without you all.

Take the next (big) step in your career. Apply for Coverfly Pitch Week and get your script in front of the industry professionals that can make your dreams of becoming a screenwriter a reality.

coverfly pitch week

For all the latest from Coverfly, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

LeLe Park is a screenwriter. Her original drama pilot "The Bliss Killer" has won/placed in several competitions including Screencraft, Final Draft, Scriptation Showcase, Script Summit, and Shore Scripts. Her short screenplay, "ACHE" has also won/placed in various screenwriting competitions including Austin Film Festival, The Bluecat Screenplay Competition, The Golden Script Competition, Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIFF), and The Richmond. She was the pitch choice at Coverfly, staff pick at ScriptD, a guest speaker at Bucknell University, and moderated Coverfly's Career Lab. She recently finished her biographical feature script, "Visceral Fatherland", as well as, her prestige limited series "Night vs Day". She is represented by VERVE Talent & Literary Agency and Eric Borja at Alldayeveryday.

screenwriting pitches

How I Landed Six Pitch Meetings in One Week

By Advice, Inside Look, Success Stories

Being selected to participate in Coverfly’s Fall 2020 Pitch Week event was a great experience for me! I'd missed out on the previous cycle in the spring, so I applied sort of last-minute on a whim after seeing a reminder email from Coverfly about the final deadline. When I was notified that I’d been officially selected to pitch to at least one company, I was definitely excited. But when I learned that I’d been chosen by industry executives to take part in six separate pitch meetings, I was equal parts nervous and ecstatic!

I immediately started preparing. Here's how I landed six pitch meetings in one week, and what I did to prepare.

How to prepare for a pitch meeting

I was fortunate enough to have some prior experience with pitching going into Pitch Week, in the form of a few general meetings and some great programs I’ve attended. Shout out to the CineStory Feature Retreat for the tutelage sessions on pitching!

I've also been able to observe a lot of pitches during my days in the trenches working as an assistant in development. But I approached this challenge of pitching virtually the same as I would any other pitch-related scenario — research. Lots and lots of research.

What it's like to pitch your script virtually

As soon as I knew who I was going to be pitching to, I started by trying to learn as much about those individuals as I could:

  • What is their current job title?
  • Which kind of projects have they or their company produced or been attached to recently?
  • Do we have any common connections (people, studios, jobs)?

Which is all just a nice way of saying that I did some heavy internet stalking! But, respectfully, you want to be able to tailor your pitch to each room as much as possible, especially in situations like this where you only have twelve minutes a session. Every second counts!

How to get the most out of your pitch

For example, if you have multiple projects and you know you’re pitching to a television exec at Netflix, they’re most likely going to be interested in hearing about your original pilot first, and not your feature. Plan accordingly.

The best advice that I can offer on how to pitch successfully (even virtually or on your first try) is simply this:

Know. Your. Stories!

And get right to the point.

6 simple tips for your next virtual pitch

  1. Think of your logline. Now make it more conversational.
  2. Don’t try to memorize or rehearse what you’re going to say. Just have a few key bullet points in your head (or create a cheat sheet if you think you might get nervous and freeze. But put it somewhere that doesn’t require you to look away a lot, and never read directly from something! It'll show.)
  3. Share the heart of your story and what makes it unique. Why should they be excited about your story? What about the characters? Include a personal connection if you can, like why did you write this story, and what makes you the best person to tell it?
  4. Don’t explain the entire script. The goal of a pitch is to get them interested!
  5. Learn how to use the program (in most cases, Zoom) to help prevent any technical difficulties. And test it right before every meeting. Make sure that your video and sound are working properly, that you have sufficient lighting (never backlit!), and that there’s nothing *ahem* inappropriate or distracting visible in your background.
  6. Finally, it goes without saying that you should be polite, don’t be late, know when to listen, and keep an eye on the clock so that you can thank them and wrap up your pitch professionally.

How to answer questions in a pitch meeting

It's tempting to "use up" all 12 minutes on your pitch, but that's the wrong approach. Leave time and space for them to ask questions. And you should ask questions in return, to try and get to know them a little. It’s hard in twelve minutes, but honestly, most people will acknowledge the fact that pitching is a bit of a weird situation. Just be yourself and try to maximize the time as much as you can.

Be ready to answer questions that might go beyond you and your writing by staying (as current as you can) with the industry. You should know who’s making what and where, and also expect that ever-important question, “What else do you have?”

A pitch meeting might initially be set up to talk about a specific project, but you should always be prepared to share other ideas with them and to sell yourself in general as a writer. Pitching is really all about building relationships. You never know what could come from any given meeting or connection.

How to pitch your script post COVID

We’re living in strange times! But everyone is genuinely trying to find new ways forward, and we’re all figuring it out together. In my experience, the fundamentals of pitching have not – and probably won’t ever – change, and there are pros and cons to doing it virtually.

The pros are that it allows work to continue safely. And from a scheduling standpoint, you can get more pitching done faster when you don’t need to spend hours fighting traffic all over Los Angeles in-between meetings. I'm one of the people who feel that they are “better in the room.” There's a certain element that gets lost by not being physically present with someone. But even with the luxury of a longer in-person meeting, you still have to hook people right away, so being able to do that even under the added pressure of a strict time limit is an essential skill that I think all writers should strive to master regardless.

How to get six pitches in one week

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

The best way to succeed at something like Pitch Week is to think of the application process like pre-pitching. Because you’re essentially pitching to pitch!

  • Take the time to get your Coverfly profile up to date, and make it short, punchy, and compelling.
  • Keep generating interest and accolades for your projects, that will help in building a viable track record that you can then utilize as a form of professional vetting when promoting yourself and your work – especially if you don’t have other avenues of direct access to the industry or the means to move to Los Angeles.

Personally, I don't think that the need or benefits of in-person pitch meetings will ever go away completely. But events like Pitch Week are great tools to help writers get discovered. More so in the case of Coverfly, because they don’t charge any fees to apply. For me, that element made me feel more confident in the fact that they really do put writers first, and that I had nothing to lose.

What I learned from Coverfly Pitch Week

Pitch Week for me was a total whirlwind! It was both nerve-wracking and very rewarding, and I grew even more comfortable pitching than I had been beforehand – specifically with pitching virtually.

Virtual pitches are a reality of screenwriting today. And while most writers tend not to be social creatures by nature (I liked to joke during the beginning of quarantine that I had been training for it my whole life) the more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the more you get your work out there and the more exposure you receive is only going to benefit you. With the current state of the world, there’s really no better time to take advantage of virtual pitching opportunities. So keep writing, and keep fighting!

screenwriter success story pitch week

Alexandra Amadio was shaped by a unique upbringing in Maui, Hawai'i. She moved to Los Angeles and started working in production when she was just 17 years old, going on to work in development for such producers as Mike Medavoy, Denise Di Novi, and as an executive assistant for director Rob Cohen. Her feature script, “All-Star”, recently attached Wendey Stanzler (Sex and the City; Carnival Row) to direct.

Alexandra's goal is to get "All-Star" into production and find writing representation. She'd also like to write on Amazon's Lord of the Rings series.
how to pitch your script

How to Pitch Your Script Like a Pro: 6 Tips from Hollywood Execs

By Inside Look

Pitch meetings are scary, especially if you've never pitched to a room full of reps or studio executives. Luckily, there's something you can do to fight the pitch meeting jitters and pitch your script like a seasoned pro. How do we know? Because we asked dozens of studio executives, agents, reps, and Hollywood decision-makers who took part in our most recent Coverfly Fall Pitch Week what they're looking for in a pitch meeting. And they had a lot to say.

After hearing over 250 pitches from 123 writers during Coverfly Pitch Week, here are the six most common pieces of advice Hollywood insiders have for screenwriters pitching their scripts. Follow these tips and own the room during your next pitch meeting.

How to pitch your script like a pro: Coverfly Pitch Week

  • 250 Pitches
  • 123 Writers
  • Virtual pitches from Australia, The UK, Canada, Italy, and over 20 states
  • Most pitches for a single writer: 8
  • Most pitches for a rep: 31
  • 78 project requests and counting!

Here's everything you need to know to make your next script pitch meeting a success.

Don’t be a jerk

Be nice, be polite, be on time, smile, and be engaged. This might seem like the easiest bit of advice, but it bears repeating. Kindness and professionalism go a long way. The best part is that it’s easy to do! No matter what else happens, be a good person and your pitch will start off on the right foot.

Focus on what makes you unique

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of talented screenwriters in the same format and genre. The only way for you to stand out from the crowd is to focus on what makes you — and only you— unique. Your life experience, your voice, your projects, and your story are special. Truly. Our Pitch Week reps reiterated that the most impactful pitches are from unique places. They want to hear original pitches from original voices.

What makes you and your story different from the other pitches they hear day in and day out? If you can uncover and highlight that distinction, your pitch stands a better chance of making a lasting first impression on Hollywood decision-makers.

Shoot your shot

Don’t hold back. During Pitch Week (and most Hollywood script pitch meetings) you only get 12 minutes to make a strong impression. 720 seconds. That's not a lot of time to make a studio exec or rep want to read your script (and hopefully sign you). Don’t spew your life story at 500 wpm, but don't waste time with too much chit chat either. This is your shot. Take it.

The floor is yours to say what you need to communicate to get the most impressive and exciting stuff you have to offer out there. There's no wrong way to present your pitch, as long as you have a plan. Hone your pitch and practice what you want to say in 12 minutes (or less) and you'll be ready to rock your next pitch meeting.

Don’t just say what happens in the story, focus on how the audience will experience it

A pitch meeting is not a plot synopsis. Do not waste your (and their) time recapping every scene in linear order. A successful pitch meeting focuses not just on what makes your project special, but how audiences will react to it. That's what ultimately sells. That means it's not just about the story, but how the story will be told.

  • What's the narrative structure?
  • How will the script make the audience feel?
  • Why is this story important to audiences right now?

Widen the scope of your pitch to the impact of your story, not just the details, and you'll entice decision-makers to imagine that script on the big screen.

Be confident

There's nothing more contagious than enthusiasm. You've worked hard on your script. Be proud of it! All of the reps and executives we spoke with during Pitch Week said they love it when screenwriters are excited to talk about their work. A script pitch meeting isn't supposed to be boring. They want to be swept up in your enthusiasm. If you can share your energy and passion in a way that gets others excited about your project and your vision, you're on your way to a successful pitch and maybe even a project request.

Also, never undercut your work or fixate on what's wrong with it. It's ok to be humble(ish), but your pitch meeting is not the time to be self-deprecating. Take pride in all your hard work because if you don't champion your script, no one else will. Confidence goes a long way in a pitch meeting.

Find what we have in common

Pitch meetings aren't just about scripts. They're about building relationships. You have to convince executives not only that you're a talented writer with a white-hot script. You also have to show them that you're someone they will want to work with on this project and future projects to come. Forge that relationship.

Pitch meetings aren't even always about successfully pitching your script. Sometimes your project won't make sense for a studio or rep. But that doesn't mean they won't want to work with you. If you can show that you're talented, hard-working, and aligned with their production process, you can build a working relationship that lasts long after your 12-minute pitch is over. Remember that connections and networking are still key to success in Hollywood. Use your time wisely and build relationships during your next pitch meeting.

How to pitch your script to Hollywood insiders and studio execs

Pitch meetings don't have to be scary. Remember that you're in that room (or Zoom!) for a reason. Be confident, be courteous, show that you're capable, and highlight your originality. Every pitch meeting is a chance to not only showcase your script but an opportunity to build working relationships with Hollywood insiders that can last for years. Try to relax and connect with the people in the room and you'll be off to a great start in Hollywood.

Coverfly Inside Look: Your Script Produced

By Contests, Inside Look, Interview

The first annual 2019 Your Script Produced! Worldwide Screenwriting Competition launched recently, sponsored by Doval Bacall Films, who will fully fund, develop, package and produce the Grand Prize winning film script for $250,000 USD. There is also over $25,000 available in cash prizes for the winner.

Part of Coverfly's mission is to curate a selective list of screenwriting competitions, and to promote transparency by interviewing the administrators behind screenwriting competitions.

Doval Bacall grew up in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan. His appetite for learning, and burning desire to succeed motivated him to educate himself and learn the foundation and skills necessary to become a successful businessman. He believes that you can never think of yourself as a master of any trade or skill, as it stands in the way of improving yourself.

After a successful run in real estate acquisitions and developments, and creating what is known today as Bacall Capital, Doval Bacall has shifted his attention to the Film & Entertainment Industry, which has always has been his passion.

We interviewed Doval and asked him some questions about Your Script Produced! Competition — See his answers below:

Coverfly: Thanks for doing an interview with us about your inaugural screenwriting competition. Why did you start the Your Script Produced! Screenwriting Competition? 

Doval Bacall: I have always loved films and the business and wanted to produce films. I've studied screenwriting and I've read hundreds of screenplays. After spending a year researching how films get made, I decided to simply learn by doing. This is why I'm fully financing a feature film. And to find a screenplay, I decided to create an opportunity for up-and-coming talented writers.

This is why "Your Script Produced!" Worldwide Screenwriting Competition was launched.

CF: Who's judging this inaugural competition and how will you select the winner? 

DB: We have several Hollywood veterans who joined our team to discover and launch writers worldwide including:

  • Sheila Shah (Known for Saw V, Rambo V... 14+ more credits to her name.)
  • Shannon Makhanian (One of Hollywood's best casting directors for 20+ years with 200+ feature film credits.)
  • Bruno Chatelin (Former film distributor for Sony & UGC Fox, Founder of, Launched 200+ films.)
  • Tim Abell (Known for: Sniper: Special Ops, We Were Soldiers and 150+ credit to his name.)
  • Al Maddin (Music/Film Producer working with Def Jam, Lionsgate and Paramount. Known for working with Jam Master Jay, Mary J Blige, and 50+ more celebrity artists.)
  • Tim Lounibos (Known for: Bosch, Hawaii Five-O, JAG, The West Wing, and 50+ TV/Film Credits to his name.)
  • Mike Beckingham, brother of Simon Pegg (Known for: Subconscious, AMS Secrets, Black Site, and 12+ credits to his name
  • Rob Van Dam, world-famous Wrestler/Hollywood actor (Known for: Sniper: Special Ops, Time Toys, 3-Headed shark attack, and dozen-plus credits to his name.)
  • Angela Harvey (Known for: Teen Wolf - MTV, Salvation - CBS, Station 19 - ABC, and 12+ Film/TV credits to her name.)
  • Genevieve Wong (Known for: Law & Order, Access Hollywood, E! News, and 30+ TV credits to her name.)

The Grand Prize and Category finalists will be selected by our elite jury. I will select the Grand Prize script and produce the film.

CF: Who's financing the $250,000 budget to produce the winning screenplay? 

DB: I am personally financing the grand prize for a quarter-million dollars. No need to wait for anyone, I want to live up to my promise, and my promise is to discover, develop, fund and produce the grand prize winner and I will guarantee it gets done. There is no catch. This is a dream opportunity for many writers.

CF: Besides seeing their film produced, are there any other things that the winner of this screenplay competition will receive? 

DB: Absolutely! The writer will come on board as a consultant since this is the story they have written, and he/she will experience first hand working with seasoned Hollywood players and learn the process of developing the script (perfecting the story and making it production ready) and throughout pre-production and on set-production. The experience our winners will receive will be priceless. Category finalists will also get a behind-the-scenes look at the development and production process.

CF: Why is there a submission fee? 

DB: Just like any other competition such as Big Break, Austin Film Festival, The Academy Nicholl Fellowships, and many other organizations that charge a fee, we also charge a fee that covers the logistics of operating a large talent-discovery program, including paying script readers, our elite roster of judges, marketing and promoting the competition AND the winners in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety Magazine, Script Magazine, and The Script Lab.

Your Script Produced! Worldwide Screenwriting Competition guarantees to produce the Grand Prize Winner. The category winners will be optioned and we'll help develop, fund and potentially produce their feature films or TV shows as well.

Our unparalleled cash awards and prizes make our competition worth the entry fee.

CF: Are there any specific types of screenplays that you and your team are looking for in this inaugural competition?

DB: We are looking for what Samuel Goldwyn once had advised, "Give me the same, with a twist." Well told stories that can entertain the audience and maybe even teach a life lesson or two.

For all the latest from Coverfly, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Coverfly Inside Look: The LAUNCH Million Dollar Collegiate Screenplay Competition

By Contests, Inside Look, Interview

The LAUNCH is a Million Dollar Screenplay Competition for college students with the mission to inspire the next generation of great screenwriters. The LAUNCH will enable one talented screenwriter to realize their dream by having their screenplay made by Hollywood producers as a feature film, with a budget of at least $1,000,000 USD. Plus, the top eight finalists will be awarded a total of $100,000 USD in education grants and other prizes.

Zachary Green is an entrepreneur, film producer and most importantly, one of the judges and brains behind The LAUNCH. He began his career at the prestigious William Morris Talent Agency in their infamous mailroom and has since had a successful career in brand storytelling, ranging from social media/marketing companies like House Party, to traditional promotional marketing firms like Equity/Pitch (Burger King) and Simon Marketing (McDonald’s, Toys R Us, Warner Bros. Paramount, Artisan Entertainment), to game-changing startups like internet incubator Idealab and others.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Zachary a few questions about The LAUNCH. See his answers below.

Coverfly: What does THE LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition offer student screenwriters?

Zachary Green: The mission of The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition is to find the next generation of amazing collegiate screenwriters from around the world. Through the screenplay competition, The LAUNCH awards $100,000 in education grants to the top eight screenplays, with the top three receiving an offer of representation with APA and Valor Entertainment, and the grand prize winner will have their screenplay produced as a feature film with a budget of approximately $1 million. The competition offers college students an amazing chance to break into the entertainment business.

CF: How did this screenwriting competition come about and who's involved? 

ZG: Philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond approached producers Jason Shuman and myself about starting a program to benefit college students in the arts. They wanted to help college students find a way to break into the entertainment business, while helping to offset some of the rising costs of attending school.  After a few different iterations, The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition was born.

CF: Tell us a little bit about your first year's winner Stanley Kalu and his screenplay, THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON.

ZG: Stanley Kalu is now 22 years of age, a senior at USC and a screenwriting major.  He is originally from Nigeria, now calls Kenya home and his winning screenplay The Obituary of Tunde Johnson was written his sophomore year and was the first screenplay he ever wrote.

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a gripping and emotional drama about a queer, wealthy black teenager stuck in an endless time loop of police brutality until he can come to terms with his sexuality and confront his current toxic relationship.  After reading it, Zachary and Jason knew they had found the perfect screenplay to select for the Grand Prize in the inaugural year of The LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition.

CF: What's one unique piece of advice you'd give to writers who enter your screenplay competition?

ZG: The biggest piece of advice I can give writers entering the competition, is to write about what you know and write from the heart.  The top three screenplays in last year’s competition were all deeply personal screenplays and from just about page one, you could feel each of the writers emotional journey on the page.  If you write about something you’re passionate about, something you've lived, something that has deeply affected you, it will come across on the page in ways that will engage the reader on a different level.

CF: What can writers do to be best prepared to capitalize on winning this contest?

ZG: I think the best thing writers can do to prepare themselves in the advent they win and/or place in the competitions is to prepare for a lot of work, collaboration, to have patience, be open to learn and enjoy the ride.  If your screenplay is chosen as the grand prize winning screenplay, you will have to strap in on the rocket ship.  Stanley was about to be a senior at USC when his screenplay was chosen as the winner and in less the three months, his film was in production and his life was changed.  His career was jumpstarted in the most amazing way, going to multiple meetings a week with production companies, other writers, studios, etc., all the while remaining humble and appreciative along the way.

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Coverfly Inside Look: HUMANITAS

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Pictured above: HUMANITAS President Ali LeRoi (Everybody Hates Chris), The Kieser Award Recipient Marta Kauffman (Friends), Gloria Allred, and HUMANITAS Executive Director Cathleen Young.

HUMANITAS has empowered writers for more than 40 years. They're a non-profit organization with several prestigious screenwriting competitions. On Coverfly, we feature HUMANITAS New Voices, The Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship and The David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship. We recently had the opportunity to ask Executive Director Cathleen Young a few questions about HUMANITAS. See her answers below.

Coverfly: Can you tell us a little bit about HUMANITAS New Voices?

Cathleen Young: At HUMANITAS the writer is the star. While film and television are collaborative mediums, the heart and mind of the writer is always the driving creative force. That’s why we honor the vision and voices of gifted film and television writers and help launch the next generation of writers.

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

CY: Do you want to get into “the room?” As in “the writer’s room?” It’s the most valuable piece of creative real estate in Hollywood. And getting that door open is not easy.  HUMANITAS helps opens that door by pairing talented writers with working showrunners. That’s like jumping to the head of the class. We have a very unique program that no one else offers in this town. And it comes with a $7,500 grant to buy you some time to focus on your craft.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for aspiring writers?

CY: I believe every aspiring writer should enter as many contests and competitions as they can. It gets their name out there -- and it forces you to sit down and write! Winning a contest or competition is a powerful way to attract the attention of agents, showrunners and executives. Winning can be game-changing for the careers of focused, ambitious writers.

CF: Who are some HUMANITAS NEW VOICES alumni?

CY: SJ Hodges - Showrunner for Awesomeness TV’s Guidance, Mentored by Jason Katims

Martin Zimmerman - Executive Producer/Showrunner on Netflix’s Spanish language series, Puerta 7,  Producer on Netflix’s Ozark, Mentored by Alan Ball

Luisa Leschin - Co-Executive Producer on Amazon’s Just Add Magic, Co-Executive Producer on CBS’ Everybody Hates Chris, Mentored by Ali LeRoi

Will Pascoe -  Supervising Producer on Hulu’s Shut Eye, Mentored by Hart Hanson

Greta Heinemann - Producer on CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans, Mentored by Pam Veasey

Damir & Dario Konjicija - Executive Story Editors on CBS’ Young Sheldon - Mentored by Carter Covington

CF: What's one unique piece of advice you'd give to writers who enter your contest?

CY: I always tell up-and-coming writers to NEVER, EVER forget the 4 most important words when writing. Well, technically it’s 5 words. Here they are: “I’ll fix it later.” Meaning, keep writing. Don’t get stuck endlessly rewriting the first act or the first chapter. Tell a story that is true and authentic to you and KEEP AT IT until you get it right. 

CF: What can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a winning the competition?

CY: A giant red flag for me in judging a potential candidate is when they haven’t written very many scripts. Writers need to write. A real writer WANTS to write. Writers need to write a bunch of BAD scripts so they can learn to write GOOD scripts. If a writer doesn’t have multiple scripts in his or her portfolio, it’s hard for me to take them seriously. Another “skill” that is critical to success is being able to hear a good note. The superpower skill needed for success is the ability to make a good note your own... and to take a bad note and make it a good note that addresses some weakness in your script. 

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Coverfly Inside Look: Sun Valley Film Festival's Screenwriters Lab

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The mission of Sun Valley Film Festival's Screenwriters Lab is to connect screenwriters with mentors who can help share their story. Steve Gaghan secured an agent for their first finalist and alter a writing gig. David Seidler helped a finalist get representation and co-wrote a project with him. Will McCormack has mentored a few finalists, and the latest success is the screenplay was made into a film and is at Sundance this year. Recently, Chris Moore helped sell the winning script from the year he was a judge. We recently had the opportunity to ask Emily Granville, the Lab and Fellowship Manager at Sun Valley Film Festival, a few questions. See her answers below.

Coverfly: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your contest?

Emily Granville: Less can be more. Let the reader fill in some details. Then they become more invested in your story.

CF: What’s the best thing writers can do if they place in, but don’t win the contest?

EG: All finalists are included in parties and mentored. Take advantage of an intimate and accessible festival that supports the creation of film and celebrates the power of storytelling to challenge our way of seeing the world.

CF: When a writer wins, what can they expect from you and your contest? And what can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a win?

EG: Beyond the mentor connection and inclusion at the festival, I personally am involved with the writers and continue to try and get their script in the hands of someone who will appreciate it. Just last week I sent the pilot that won last year to a studio looking for edgy thrillers. Fingers crossed!

CF: Are there any special elements of the script your readers are looking for that you can share?

EG: I try and pair readers with scripts they might like. Certain readers love Sci-Fi, others don’t. The scripts that tend to rise up do not take too long to get going. Today, attention spans are shorter, so as a writer, keep that in mind. You can develop characters, etc., once you have a reader hooked.

CF: What does your reading process look like and who are your readers?

EG: As I mentioned, I try and match scripts with readers who are interested in the genre. We have a tiered system of readers, writers, journalists, agents and producers. And the script is covered by multiple people. At the end, we meet and fight for the scripts we want in the top three.

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

EG: The experience of the Sun Valley Film Festival - whose goal is to support up and coming filmmakers - is invaluable. I am really proud of the Lab’s success rate for the finalists and winners. In the past 6 years, 7 former finalists and winners have landed a writing job, gained management, or sold a script.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for all aspiring writers?

EG: Yes, but getting out and meeting the community behind film making is so important. Mark Duplass, when he hosted the Lab, urged networking at film festivals. Get together with a filmmaker and make a short.

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Coverfly Inside Look: Shore Scripts

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Shore Scripts' main goal is to discover new exciting screenwriting talent and boost careers. They put each year’s best scripts into the hands of their industry roster – all of whom have the experience and means to get your script made. We recently had the opportunity to ask Justine Owens, the Director of Contests at Shore Scripts, a few questions. See her answers below.

Coverfly: What's the mission of Shore Scripts Contests?

Justine Owens: Simple really. Shore Scripts was founded to kick-start screenwriting careers. We are extremely proud that our screenplay contests have helped 60+ writers gain representation, option, sell, and have their screenplays produced.

CF: What's one unique piece of advice you'd give to writers who enter your contest?

JO: Writers should not be afraid to get feedback on their script, and this especially applies before submitting to a contest. A second-pair-of-eyes is invaluable in helping a writer hone his/her craft. 

CF: What's the best thing writers can do if they place in, but don't win the contest?

JO: Some might say go back to the script and try a rewrite. But personally, I think they should take a moment to celebrate their success. Shout aloud and proud to everyone that will listen. The old saying goes, success breeds success. Advertising your achievements and referencing them in your approaches to new writing opportunities can make all the difference in whether you make the right first impression. It’s also worth noting that we send many QF & SF scripts out to our industry roster, so just because a writer didn’t win, it doesn’t mean their work won’t be sent out.

CF: When a writer wins, what can they expect from you and your contest? And what can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a win?

JO: At Shore Scripts things start happening for writers before they win. Our award-winning Judges read for the final round, which is an amazing opportunity for writers to share their work. Then, once the finalists are announced, we ask their permission to send their script to our amazing roster of 150+ industry professionals: producers, agents, managers, and directors all looking for new voices and new talent to work with. We advise our writers to ensure they know their story back to front, and to be ready to pitch other scripts they’ve completed in case they are asked ‘what else do you have!’ Be accessible and ready to respond when opportunity knocks. We stay in contact too. As our writers' projects develop, we're always happy to share their success and help advise if they have any questions. We're with our writers for the long-haul.

CF: Are there any special elements of the script your readers are looking for that you can share?

JO: Does the writer have an original voice? That’s a huge thing and so hard to master. We are looking for scripts that we can’t put down! Stories with an emotional hook that comes from the writer’s heart. It’s also essential that a writer knows how to format a screenplay correctly. The more ‘white space’ on the page the better! 

CF: What does your reading process look like and who are your readers?

JO: We read for every stage of our competitions – that can be up to four individual assessments. We take our reading process very seriously and welcome resubmissions as we know that writers like to improve their drafts over time. Our readers are extremely experienced. They’ve read for the likes of Universal, Lionsgate, Working Title, Zoetrope, and the BBC, to name but a few. Our Judges read and decide on our overall winners. 

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

JO: Our contest is valuable to writers because we are offering a gateway into the film industry. Placing in our contests offers an outstanding opportunity to get your script into the hands of industry insiders who can make a difference. A look at our Alumni is a testament to that. We also finance short films, which is another avenue to help our writers.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for all aspiring writers?

JO: It’s hard to say if it’s right for every writer. Only they know the answer to that. But by entering a contest like ours, a writer is giving themselves an opportunity to be discovered. If their script connects with us, we have the means of getting it into the hands of over 150 Industry Professionals.

CF: When does your next competition open?

JO: The Shore Scripts Short Film Fund reopens January 15th, 2019, and our FEATURE and TV PILOT contests open 1st March. You can follow Shore Scripts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Coverfly Inside Look: Vail Film Festival Screenplay Competition

By Contests, Inside Look, Interview

The Vail Film Festival Screenplay Competition is a vehicle for aspiring screenwriters to get their script read by established film producers, managers, and agents who are actively working at the top level of the film industry. We recently had the opportunity to ask Sean Cross and Megen Musegades, Directors of the Vail Screenplay Contest, a few questions. See their answers below.

Coverfly: What’s the mission of the Vail Screenplay Contest?

Vail Film Festival: The Vail Screenplay Competition was created by the founders of the Vail Film Festival to help give screenwriters more opportunities, and an additional path, to access the film industry. The Vail Film Festival includes Q&A's with filmmakers and screenwriters, and one of the most common questions is "How do you get someone in the industry to read your screenplay?" We realized that although there are many screenplay contests out there, we could be another resource, another avenue, for aspiring screenwriters, given the access we have to Hollywood producers, directors, and agents.

CF: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your contest?

VFF: Make sure that your script has your specific voice, whether it's through your lead characters, your story, the setting, etc. If you create something original to you, it will resonate with our readers.

CF: What’s the best thing writers can do if they place in, but don’t win the contest?

VFF: For the writers who place but don't win, use that as a calling card to get in front of agents and producers. Contests are a great way to get noticed, but whether you win or place, you should always be hustling, networking, and sending your work out. If you have a win or you placed in a contest, that will help convince a decision maker to read your work.

CF: When a writer wins, what can they expect from you and your contest? And what can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a win?

VFF: The winning writers will receive a cash prize ($10K for the feature screenplay winner, and $1500 for the short screenplay winner). The winners will also have their script sent to top producers and agents, and receive recognition in a national press release. In order to fully capitalize on the win, you should be prepared to take meetings and have a strong pitch ready. Additionally, you should have at least one other screenplay or project that you can pitch as your screenplay might be a great writing sample but not the right fit for every producer.

CF: Is there any special elements of the script your readers are looking for that you can share?

VFF: Our readers are looking first and foremost for compelling stories that engage the reader from the outset, and keep the reader interested throughout. Screenplays can be in any genre but the overall story must be engaging, the characters well developed, and each character's dialogue must be believable and true to their character.

CF: What does your reading process look like and who are your readers?

VFF: The screenplays are evaluated by several readers and rated on a 10 point scale. The ratings include overall structure, dialogue, pacing, character development, is there a consistent tone, and a compelling, engaging story. The top rated screenplays make it to the next round where the process begins again. Our readers are film industry professionals and veteran screenwriters.

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

VFF: The Vail Screenplay Contest is part of the Vail Film Festival and is a well-recognized contest, known to leading film producers, production companies, and agents. Whether you win or place, the contest will give you the opportunity to use that as a calling card when sending your script out. If you win, your screenplay will be recommended to Hollywood decision-makers.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for all aspiring writers?

VFF: Screenplay contests are a valuable path for many writers, giving them access that they otherwise wouldn't get. In addition to contests, screenwriters should network as much as possible, attend film festivals and industry events, and send their screenplays to independent producers. There is no one path to success as a screenwriter, and the more opportunities you create for yourself the better.

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Coverfly Inside Look: Scriptapalooza

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Founded in 1998, the Scriptapalooza screenwriting competition has become one of the most relevant screenwriting competitions in the industry. In the last 20 years, the company has developed several departments to nurture talent and create career opportunities. They also have a TV writing competition, coverage service and a fellowship. They believe that storytellers come from all over the world and from all walks of life, because of the simple fact that everyone has a story. Scriptapalooza has maintained its goal of helping as many writers as possible each year. This includes scripts being optioned and sold, writers acquiring literary representation and mentorship.

We had the opportunity to ask Mark Andrushko, Founder and President of Scriptapalooza, a few questions. His answers are below.

Coverfly: What’s the mission of Scriptapalooza?

Mark Andrushko: Our mission every day is to get your script into the hands of people that can either buy it, option it, or make the movie. That being said, our biggest priority is to always have the best producers reading all the screenplays, because that’s the most important thing. That’s what a screenplay competition should be doing. We have over 125 producers involved with reading all the entries that are entered.

CF: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your contest?

MA: Don’t rush it.  Make sure you submit the best script you can. Don’t worry, we’ll be here next year.

CF: What’s the best thing writers can do if they place in, but don’t win the contest?

MA: Writers should always be writing and have other material ready. Also, they should market themselves, as in contacting local papers and mentioning that they won Scriptapalooza. Just getting the word out there is important.

CF: When a writer wins, what can they expect from you and your contest? And what can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a win?

MA: If the writer gets to be a Semifinalist or higher, they will be promoted for an entire year by Scriptaplaooza. What that means is we will pitch/call producers on their behalf about their script. No other competition in the world does that.

CF: Are there any special elements of the script your readers are looking for that you can share?

MA: Well, we don’t believe in readers because readers can’t do anything with your script. All the reading at Scriptapalooza is done by producers, managers and agents. We go right to the source, that being a producer, manager or agent, these are the people that can set-up a meeting, option your script, take it to the studio or outright buy it.

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

MA: When we started in 1998, there were a few competitions that mattered and about 50 that didn’t. Now, they are still a few that matter and hundreds that don’t. I feel it’s difficult for new writers to navigate through these competitions and pick the right ones to submit to. Writers are constantly inundated with false and misleading ads, quotes and websites that give the illusion that these new competitions have connections to the industry. Well, most don’t. And after doing this for 20 years, we can say that. The value in submitting to Scriptapalooza is that you have 20 years of experience, connections and relationships that we have built in order to get you through the door.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for all aspiring writers?

MA: Absolutely. All you have to do is visit our website and click on HEADLINES, you will see 20 years of writers getting jobs, meetings, agents, their script optioned or even sold.

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