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A headshot of Derek Quick

Writer Spotlight: Derek Quick

By Success Stories

Derek Quick is making a name for himself in the industry after landing the most meetings during Coverfly's Pitch Week. His screenplays have helped him join the 2023 Writers Guild Veteran program, the NBC Universal sponsored Native American Media Alliance Feature Writers lab, and the the RespectAbility Entertainment Lab.

We sat down to talk with Quick about how he navigated Pitch Week, made his screenplays, Maid to Steal and Rez Nation, stand out to financiers, and the future of his career.


CF: You landed the most meetings during this season’s Pitch Week. What was it like?

DQ: I had the best time during Coverfly Pitch Week. The current environment in the industry is tough, coming out of a strike and with another potential IATSE strike pending. It has made even general meetings hard to get for even seasoned WGA members. Being able to pitch my projects, Maid to Steal and Rez Nation, and connect on a personal level was phenomenal, and Coverfly made things happen. Managers and producers requested multiple projects of mine, which was a huge plus!

CF: Tell us about the pitch. What kinds of things did you focus on? What was your strategy for making it appealing to financiers?

DQ: My main focus during the pitch was to open up and share my unique vision for my stories. I believe the best projects usually start with a pitch that is so connected to the creator that only they can tell the story. I also wanted to connect personally and not make it solely about business or selling the script.

I created teaser trailers and visuals that I shared alongside my screenplays after the meetings. Since film is a visual medium, I believe using visuals in addition to a well-polished script tremendously helps convey your vision. I enjoy the process of making a teaser trailer, and it's even better when people think it's an actual film and are excited to see it!

A grayscale image of a man talking to another man over laptops; Coverfly Spotlight: Derek Quick

CF: What are your favorite elements of Maid to Steal? What do you feel makes it commercially and culturally relevant?

DQ: My favorite element of Maid to Steal is its personal connection to my own experiences. As a homeless, disabled veteran living out of my Jeep, I worked cleaning mega-churches in Texas during the global financial crisis. The disconnect between mega-churches and the hidden homeless community is a concept I found fascinating to explore. I wanted to dive into what it would be like to have a child while facing homelessness while at the same time hiding it from everyone and the lengths a mother would go to secure a safe life for her daughter.

Maid to Steal is (Breaking Bad) meets (Good Girls), where struggling mothers venture into a risky criminal world. They establish a cleaning company as a cover to launder money and conduct church heists with their team of immigrant workers. I love that the protagonist, Emma, is also struggling in a custody battle, willing to do anything to give her daughter a better life. It's reminiscent of (Kramer vs. Kramer) but shows the mother's side without taking sides. Mike, her ex, is a great father, making the struggle even more saddening.

When my parents divorced, we moved away with my father while my mother relocated to England, we faced many financial hardships during this time. We didn’t see my mother for a long time, but she reconnected with us after half a decade, and our relationship improved over time. I was always curious about what my mother was doing while away. She wrote every week, but as teenagers, we often ignored her, which must have been heartbreaking. I wanted to place my lead character, Emma, in a similar situation.

I love the juxtaposition of these characters being role models to their children while doing whatever it takes to survive. They grow and discover their strength as mothers—they aren’t just maids. What makes this story relatable and commercially viable is that many parents can connect with it, especially in the current economic hardship where even the upper middle class in America is starting to struggle.

CF: How did Pitch Week create momentum for your career?

DQ: Pitch Week opened many doors for me. I was recently accepted into the RespectAbility Entertainment Lab, so I've been busy with that. I've won a few competitions listed on Coverfly, too. Coverfly was the reason I applied to RespectAbility. Through this, I've been meeting various leaders in the entertainment industry, including executives and recruiters from Disney, Warner Bros, ABC, Paramount, and Sony.

I believe this is going to be a challenging time for people in the industry due to the current economic environment and the potential for further strikes, but it will also create new opportunities. When following up with managers or producers, it's nice to have something to break the ice. I can mention Coverfly Pitch Week and talk about the great people I connected with. Managers appreciate proactive clients, and being involved in these events demonstrates that quality.

Derek Quick in a military uniform; Writer Spotlight: Derek Quick

Derek Quick

CF: What are you working on now?

DQ: Currently, I am working on my commercial feature screenplay titled Donor. It is based on true events from my life, where a U.S. Navy SEAL goes AWOL at Christmas to donate his kidney to his critically ill wife, pursued by military police and a billionaire organ trader. It’s John Q meets John Wick with the classic holiday heroism of Die Hard.

My wife had double renal failure and needed a transplant to save her life. My struggles in taking care of her while being on active duty in the military were immense. It was tough balancing my duty to her and my service to the country. I was often away on deployments, and it is one of the reasons I wanted to tell this story along with the extreme cost and failure of the US medical system.

Currently, a lot of seasoned writers and showrunners are having trouble getting work on TV or selling pilots, so I have been focusing on my feature screenplays more as they have a better chance of getting read let alone made.

I really would like to encourage writers to use Coverfly. They have numerous free opportunities! They even have a place where writers can exchange scripts and give notes for free.

If anyone wants to check out my projects or just connect, please visit my website and reach out.

Thanks again to Geoffroy and Delenn at Coverfly and V for this interview and the staff that worked behind the scenes on making Coverfly Pitch Week such a great event.

A headshot of Lore V. Olivera against a purple background; How Lore V. Olivera Discovered the Path to TV Writing Through Coverfly

How Lore V. Olivera Discovered the Path to TV Writing Through Coverfly

By Success Stories

At just 25 years old, horror writer Lore V. Olivera is already on her way to both television and film success. Currently staffed on the upcoming Amazon show El Gato, based on the comic book series El Gato Negro, Olivera recently sold her TV show, Blood Runs Down, to Blumhouse. She’s also working hard to set up her feature film, The House in Coyoacán

We sat down with Olivera to find out how she jumpstarted her career and hear her advice for other writers.

Discovering Her Love for Screenwriting

Growing up in Mexico, Olivera always knew she wanted to be a writer. At the tender age of 16, she had already developed a love for gothic literature, so going to boarding school in Scotland, the land of mysterious lochs, blustery highlands, and whisky, made perfect sense. But it wasn’t until her first year of college at Stanford University that she discovered her true calling.

A headshot of Lore V. Olivera against a purple background; How Lore V. Olivera Discovered the Path to TV Writing Through Coverfly

Lore V. Olivera

“I was going to major in English and then just be a writer in the woods. But then I came across screenwriting my first year, and I was obsessed! It's so cool that it's an invitation for other people to collaborate. I'm a very social person, and I don’t do very well alone in my room writing. I just need more back and forth,” she says. 

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Olivera found the time to start writing scripts. Although she was alone, it allowed her to truly focus on writing her feature screenplay, The House in Coyoacán. But once it was completed, she struggled to determine her next move. That’s when she discovered Coverfly.

Everyone's at home [during the pandemic], so I got onto Coverflyand I started applying to competitions. I sent out my script for table reads and that sort of stuff. And it got attention fairly quickly, which was great,” she says.

After that, Olivera began writing original TV pilots, which led her to win the Roadmap Writers Diversity Fellowship. It helped me so much because they taught me how to pitch myself, how to go to meetings, and how to present myself as a writer. I also learned the importance of branding,” she says. 

Read More: How Coverfly Helps Screenwriters Get Discovered

How Lore V. Olivera Branded Herself as a Writer

Most writers know how to create a logline for their script, but many don’t think to create a logline for themselves (or a website). Olivera has done both to establish herself as a horror writer, and it’s paying off. 

“I know a lot of creatives that are like, 'Don't put yourself into a box!' But especially when you're starting, I think it doesn't hurt to have an intro card and be like, ‘This is who I am and what I like to write.’ It helps you brand yourself and your scripts. If you post on social media, it's very helpful to have that,” she says.

Though her logline isn’t set in stone and will continue to change as she gets more professional projects under her belt, her current logline reads: 

Born in Mexico, I write dark tales that bring Latinx creators together while also appealing to larger audiences. My work includes mostly female-centered stories that explore intersections between the horrific and the beautiful.

“I would say that a lot in general meetings. After a while, you find a way to say it more casually, but it's great to just know it at first. I like to talk a lot, but usually not about myself,  so it helped,” she says. 

Olivera also says that being able to tell your story/background in under two minutes, which is usually the limit of people's attention span, is helpful too. “In my case, it was also about finding what made you different, and that's something that Hollywood is very much into these days,” she says. 

Though she says it’s not necessary to become a brand, “It just helps in an industry where you're selling yourself most of the time. A lot of people hate it, I understand. We’re artists in the end, but you aren't doing this for other artists. You're branding yourself for producers and directors and for actors who do look at you like a product. You’ve got to play the game sometimes, I think.”

Read More: How Writer Adi Blotman Brought Her Script to Screen in a Year

High-Angle Shot of a Person Writing on the Paper Using a Pen; How Lore V. Olivera Discovered the Path to TV Writing Through Coverfly

Lore V. Olivera's Advice for Getting Started in Hollywood

While Olivera thinks finding ways to network, like going to mixers is helpful, she says this one thing can make a huge difference in navigating through the Hollywood landscape.

“I feel like the biggest thing is to find a mentor. And that's tough and tricky—especially in this industry, and especially being a woman, it's a challenge. But if you are lucky enough to find one, that can be a game changer. In my case, I found a mentor very early on, and she’s an absolute queen,” she says.

But Olivera has another piece of advice that may be particularly helpful to women who encounter overconfident, entitled men.

“So many men will undermine you for being a woman or for being young or Latina, and you have to learn how to stand up for yourself. Sometimes as a woman, you feel like you don't belong in the room, or you feel like you have to prove that you belong at that table and you need to work twice as hard. For men, that's just not the way it works and that's tough,” she says.

George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld) in a pitch meeting in 'Seinfeld'


So what’s her solution? A made-up dude named Chad.

“I made up this internal alter ego that's a white guy that I bring out in general meetings. His name is Chad, and he’s cool," Olivera said. "Chad doesn't give a shit if he's qualified for the job. He doesn't care that he has no experience. He doesn't care that he's young, and he thinks he deserves twice what he's being offered just by the nature of being himself."

"So that helps me a lot because I have huge imposter syndrome from being Mexican and Latina and young. I think to myself, ‘What would Chad do?’ When I’m in a meeting and they're asking me, ‘Do you think you can write this episode on your own?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course!’ Then, you can shut down the Zoom and panic. But on Zoom, stay Chad, and then you can crack later. Honestly, that’s what's taking me the farthest so far.”

The air date for El Gato on Amazon Prime has yet to be announced.

Read More: How Coverfly Writer Billie Bates Broke In With 'Spirit Halloween'

8 Coverfly Writers That Made It onto the Black List

8 Coverfly Writers That Made It Onto The Black List

By Success Stories

As Coverfly continues to expand and diversify the ways in which we support thousands of writers each year, we were thrilled to see so many screenwriters we had the chance to individually work with and support have their work celebrated on the 2023 Black List. 

We are particularly thrilled to see new offerings such as our WGA Writer Benefits Program and newly-launched Industry Direct Notes lead directly to professional results. Seeing achievements like these is a testament to the quality of writers we get the privilege of working with and the investment and dedication of our writer development team.

Read on to find out how Coverfly worked for them, and explore the resources available to most, if not all, Coverfly writers. 

Kurt McLeod

Kurt McLeod, was introduced to his reps at Grandview through our WGA Writer Benefits Program

In speaking with Kurt about his career, he offered this perspective:

“Aspiring writers I speak to often seem fixated on connections and representation at the expense of working on their material. All that peripheral stuff matters, but if you focus on the material first and foremost, the other stuff becomes a lot easier. All you can do is write stories you care about, as many as you can, as well as you can. And when it comes time to email your logline to your curated list of 1000 producers or reps or friends of friends who might know someone who knows someone, at least you know you gave yourself the best chance to get that elusive nibble."

Kurt McLeod

He went on:

"With a wide net of connections to industry players, Coverfly acts like a high-end matchmaker, taking time to thoughtfully select the contacts who make the most sense for your material and goals.

[I can’t] tell you how grateful I am for your help connecting me to the right people. Pretty incredible how much easier this job is when you have reps working hard for you.” 

Nick Hurwitch

Nick Hurwitch signed with Heroes & Villains Entertainment after the Coverfly team introduced them.

Nick’s advice for screenwriters:

“A year ago I was coming off a series of great contest placements for one of my feature scripts. It was the latest in a series of "Hey, I think this might be it!" moments in my long, winding journey toward doing this for a living. I even had a producer and a director attached. Ultimately, it didn't go anywhere. No reps, no sale. But my network and my confidence had grown. So I wrote the next one, which was cool but needed more work, and the one after that, which people really responded to. And when that one started to get attention, I was already writing the one after that. As a screenwriter, the only place you're in total control is with the words on the page. More finished scripts means more opportunities. Eventually, something good is going to come of it.”

Nick Hurwitch

About his experience with Coverfly, Nick told us:

“Coverfly was instrumental in my signing with a manager. Earlier this year, they made me an "Endorsed Writer." Independently of that, I earned a Mentorship with Michael Sherman through their Act Two program, who was gracious and helped me chart a course from where I was to where I wanted to go. Meanwhile, [the team] worked behind the scenes to submit my best work to select managers."

Congrats, Nick! Well deserved.

Tricia Lee

After a record-breaking 12 meetings at Pitch Week, Tricia Lee signed with a literary manager at Neon Kite after Coverfly set up the meeting.

Tricia Lee

“Through the Coverfly Pitch Week opportunity, I was introduced to my now manager, Jay Glazer at Neon Kite. Without their introduction, I never would have otherwise met him, but I'm super excited for where my career is going to go from here!” 

We think she’s on the right path!

Russell Goldman

Russell Goldman was on the 2021 Coverfly Best Unrepped Writers List, and since signed with a team of agents at Verve! We picked up on Russell's talent before he had a manager, and after being featured on our list, he quickly took off.

"Coverfly gave me confidence in how to present my interests, priorities and the path I want for myself." 

Russell Goldman

Russell told us:

"The script has been over two years in the making and I’ll be editing pieces of it until well after the feature wraps. The biggest thing circling my head this week has been believing in a concept, in characters, and in the kind of story I want to tell so much that I’d work on it for the next two years. Yet I’ve learned to not be afraid to keep seeing my story through the eyes of new readers, from department heads to executives. There’s always a better articulation to be found of the idea you fell in love with in the first place."

Jeremy Marwick

Coverfly writer Jeremy Marwick met Daniel Seco, literary manager/partner at Empirical Evidence, after requesting notes from him through the Coverfly Industry Direct Notes program. They hit it off and Jeremy signed with Daniel! Here's what Daniel said about this experience:

“Jeremy's success, both in terms of PROPEL making the 2023 Black List and its prospects going forward as a viable film project, is a reflection of the caliber of writer utilizing Coverfly's coverage services.”


More successes from this year’s Black List include:

We are so proud to be a small part of these writers’ journeys. Congrats to all! 

Wisdom and Advice From Up and Coming Coverfly Writers

Wisdom and Advice From Up and Coming Coverfly Writers

By Advice, Success Stories

It is impossible to state or truly assess the effect of the WGA Writer’s Strike of this past year. Current members of the guild sacrificed their livelihoods to redefine and preserve what it means to be a professional screenwriter. The hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers who Coverfly support, educate, and serve, saw, with unprecedented transparency, the financial realities and challenges professional writers face beyond which words go on the page. We undoubtedly exist in a different film industry than we did in May of 2023, much less in February of 2020.

With the release of our List of Lists every December, we usually celebrate the successes and accomplishments of the preceding calendar year. While there was much to be proud of in the last twelve months, such a reflection did not feel appropriate for 2023. Instead, we wanted to take this time and this forum to reflect on the sacrifices that brought us here and look ahead to a more equitable future in 2024 and beyond.

Through the trials of the strike, writers emerged with historic wins: wage increases, room minimums, second step payments for feature writers, better residuals for career sustainability, and protections against artificial intelligence. While the gap between the ending of the WGA and SAG strikes delayed a full-fledged return to work, the industry seems poised to hit the ground running in a new frontier next year.

To coincide with the release of the 2023 List of Lists, we reached out to writers featured on previous years' lists to share their perspective, wisdom, experience, and cause for optimism ahead.


"I've been so inspired by the awesome and supportive community of writers, artists, and people who want a bright future for this industry -- I've got high hopes for 2024. Looking forward to hearing about all of the new projects and stories and art people are working on. A major highlight for me will be writing and directing a new short horror film. I love working on a set and getting to collaborate with a team, so I'm excited to hopefully be filming something in the new year."

— Maria Wilson

"I’m evolving and maturing as a writer. I can feel it! My writing goals continue to shift a bit more towards moving the needle on representation for my community, and elevating those topics that are considered taboo, with the intention of educating and enlightening, while entertaining of course."

— Rachel Strauss Muniz

"Oftentimes when it comes to writing and being stuck, it's due to what immediately comes next. The key is to always write what you can see. The order can be sussed out at any time."

— Jill Robi

"Whether a script is “good or bad” is subjective, and personally, the wrong line of thinking. Most people writing at this level know how to craft story. More often than not, the ability to “make” your work is dependent upon finding people in the industry with the connections and power that also distinctly resonate with you and/or the work you’ve presented them with. That’s a planet-aligning event and then you need a multitude more planet-aligning events to happen. That’s independent of talent and skill."

— Xavier Burgin

"The strike offered me an opportunity to reconnect with my process as a writer. With the business aspect of show business on hold—no generals, no pitches, no lunches—I could focus on the writing. Though I am sure I will annoy many other writers by saying this, 2023 was one of my most productive years in terms of pure writing."

— Brenden Gallagher

" In the midst of an existential industry crisis, our collective ability to come together and find/build community. It was difficult maintaining the creative engine in the midst of so much uncertainty and turmoil, but because of that community I was able to still be somewhat productive. And we fought for the health of our profession and won."

— Jai Jamison

List of Lists: Where Are the 2021 Writers Now?

List of Lists: Where Are the 2021 Writers Now?

By About Coverfly, Success Stories

Coverfly and its partners have the privilege of working directly with thousands of writers; reading tens of thousands of samples, and servicing hundreds of industry professionals scouting new talent and material. In many cases– if not most– we are the first touchpoint for a writer launching a successful career. That’s why we launched the inaugural Coverfly List of Lists and Tracking Board Next List at the end of 2021.

The first is designed to celebrate the bests of the year-end lists, the latter to highlight the top emerging voices, and to put them and their team front and center rather than just their samples.

When we compiled the list we thought, if nothing else, it will be interesting to look back a year later and see what the featured writers accomplished. We knew there would be some cool highlights, but we were blown away by what the 2021 selections accomplished in 2022.

Let's go over a few of them from the 2021 Coverfly List of Lists and the Tracking Board Next List.

Next List Successes

Here is an eye-popping breakdown. From the inaugural Next List, in the past year, of the 30 featured writers we had:

  • Co-EP of HBO Max series LEGENDARY
  • Staff writer on Sony/Peacock series TWISTED METAL
  • Writer on the Emmy award-winning series ARCANE
  • Optioned their feature to LuckyChap, Amy Lo, and Indian Paintbrush producing.  Christina Choe directing
  • Staffed on STRAIGHT MAN at AMC
  • Story Editor on Season 2 of AMC series DARK WINDS
  • Staff writer on DINNER WITH THE PARENTS for CBS Studios and Amazon
  • Story Editor on latest season of STRANGER THINGS
  • Staff writer on Netflix series THE CRAVING, EP’d by Darren Aronofsky
  • Director of an episode for Issa Rae’s RAP SH!T on HBO Max
  • Winner of Special Jury Award for Directing and Community Filmmaking at SXSW
  • Staff writer on latest season of BRIDGERTON
  • Staff writer on Mahershala Ali series THE PLOT on Onyx
  • Staff writer on BEEF on Netflix
  • Staff writer on THE CLEANING LADY on Fox
  • Staff writer on Tessa Thompson podcast THE LEFT/RIGHT GAME
  • Feature film produced by Voltage Pictures
  • Staff writer on Freeform’s SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE
  • Winner of Disney Fellowship

All of this SINCE the release of the list.


Best Unrepped Writers Who Have Since Signed

Not to be outdone, we had similarly encouraging results from our inaugural Best Unrepped Writers List as 7 of the featured writers have since signed with representation at major management companies and agencies.

  • Jay Franklin: Staffed on Netflix S2 of Sandman signed with Circle of Confusion
  • David L. Williams: Signed with manager at Gramercy Park + agents at Verve, optioned feature Clementine
  • Russel Goldman: Signed with agents at Verve
  • Baakal Geleta: Signed with managers at Entertainment 360
  • MacKenzie Fallon: Signed with a manager at Authentic, developing a feature film with production company End Cue
  • Caroline Renard: Signed with managers at Artists First

2021 Most Viewed Project Wins

One of the most popular resources on the Coverfly Industry portal is the search functionality that provides hyper-specific results down to the format, genre, subgenre, writer background, representation status, ethnicity, or unique life experience. Take a look at this breakdown of successes from Coverfly's Most Viewed Projects List of 2021.

  • Neer Shelter | CALL OUT: Signed two shopping agreements with Citizen Skull
  • Jennifer Grand | THE THIRD STAGE: Signed an option agreement with John Funk Productions
  • Asabi Lee & Paul Hart-Wilden | HAUNTING AT 1600: Attracted attention from several producers; writers got hired to write Gabourey Sidibe's PALE HORSE with Chris Courtney Martin after being featured and repped through Coverfly
  • Thomas Douglas Mann | GET HAPPY: Signed a shopping agreement with Citizen Skull Productions
  • Tricia Lee: GOOD CHANCE: Signed with a literary manager at Neon Kite; project currently has EPs attached

As Coverfly has continued to grow and evolve, we are excited and honored by the opportunity to support thousands of writers in varying stages of their careers.  In 2022 alone we were able to help writers land a paid writing gig at Paramount, staff on a Hulu series, and release their film on Netflix.

As the industry evolves and presents new opportunities with new challenges for writers, Coverfly remains committed and excited to help whomever, however we can.

We will see you all in 2023!

The 2022 List of Lists is out now!

How Coverfly Writer Billie Bates Broke In With 'Spirit Halloween'

How Coverfly Writer Billie Bates Broke In With 'Spirit Halloween'

By Advice, Success Stories

Just in time for the spookiest time of year, Spirit Halloween: The Movie has officially hit theaters. The supernatural horror film was written by Coverfly writer Billie Bates, but hers is not your typical story of Hollywood success.

Born in Australia, the Colorado-based writer broke in without a manager after racking up a whopping 24 listed accolades on Coverfly. She's the perfect example of a writer who used Coverfly as it's designed — submitting to, placing in, and leveraging a variety of programs and competitions until she got her foot in the door. Perhaps the most normal part of Billie Bates' path to success is the amount of time, effort, and sheer force of will it took to get her to where she is today!

We caught up with Billie to talk about her journey to success and how she approaches her writing.

Coverfly: Where are you from originally, and did you have a career before you started writing?

Billie Bates: I grew up in Australia. I had multiple careers and traveled extensively before pursuing writing, which I think has been the most valuable thing for me as a writer outside of learning the craft.  

CF: When did you decide to pursue writing as a career, and what was your ultimate goal

BB: I was based out of London for a few years, and Chic Lit was having its heyday. It was the type of breezy poolside read I was devouring on work trips, so it made sense that if I wanted to write, I’d write what I know and combine the glamorous world of private aviation and the chic lit genre. I took a few online courses, then wrote and self-published a book. It was terrible — I’m not a novelist by any stretch — but the target audience liked it enough and felt it would make a fun movie. That led me to read my first screenplay and purchase my first screenwriting books and software. I was instantly obsessed and had found my calling. 

"Spirit Halloween was my 6th script in my 5th year of screenwriting, but it took five more years to get traction, go through development, and finally make it to the screen."

CF: How did programs and competitions help you get started and progress?

BB: I won the family category at Nashville Film Festival in 2018 with Spirit Halloween, which led to a few cold-call read requests. One request led to a shopping agreement offer with a known director interested, which I declined, and another led to a paid option, which I took. 

My other option around the same time came via Coverfly Pitch Week. It wasn’t even one of the scripts I was pitching, but Jonny Patterson of Confluential was looking for rom-coms; I remembered I had one gathering dust; he asked to read it, loved it, and optioned it. 

How Coverfly Writer Billie Bates Broke In With 'Spirit Halloween'_'Spirit Halloween'

'Spirit Halloween'

CF: You have some raunchy comedies. How did you approach writing a family film? 

BB: Raunchy comedies are my after-dark streaming indulgence, but most of the theatrical releases I've seen in the past decade have been movies I take my kids to. I've learned what works and what doesn't in family films based on their response and my own enjoyment.   

CF: How do you approach vacillating between genres and tone in general? 

BB: I feel the need to vomit out something edgier after being in a tamer space for a few months. I'm a writer with rich life experiences; I'd feel incomplete if I only tapped one of my creative wells!

"Anything that whispers at you on the page will scream at you from the screen."

CF: Any advice for writers struggling with self-doubt? 

BB: Settle in and embrace the journey. You'll hear people say it takes 7-10 scripts or 7-10 years to make it, and I'd have to agree. Spirit Halloween was my 6th script in my 5th year of screenwriting, but it took five more years to get traction, go through development, and finally make it to the screen. 

So write, get your work out there every way possible, and write some more. With so many streaming platforms out there now, content is king. Continually adding to your repertoire will increase the likelihood of having something someone somewhere wants.

CF: Any advice for breaking in from somewhere other than LA?

BB: You need a good work ethic, a non-abrasive personality, one outstanding script, or, preferably, a handful of competently executed scripts; you can share that from anywhere in the world. 

Also, don’t get hung up on finding a manager; get hung up on having a good amount of quality scripts and pitching them. When you have a career to manage, the manager will come.

How Coverfly Writer Billie Bates Broke In With 'Spirit Halloween'_Christopher Lloyd in 'Spirit Halloween'

Christopher Lloyd in 'Spirit Halloween'

CF: Did the script for Spirit Halloween change or evolve over the course of development? 

BB: Early drafts of the script had quite a complex mythology regarding the spirit and the steps needed to put it to rest. At the request of the company that optioned it, I wrote most of it out for budgetary reasons. When Particular Crowd partnered with Strike Back Studios and Hideout Pictures and David Poag came on board to direct, I was able to add back in a streamlined version. I think it's tighter for it and suits the younger-skewing audience better than the original.

CF: What was it like seeing your writing on its feet produced? 

BB: As far as direction, aesthetic, and tone, I couldn't be happier with how seamless David's interpretation was from the page to the screen. 

I'll say this, though, anything that whispers at you on the page will scream at you from the screen. If you think a line of dialogue is serviceable but not great on the page, you'll likely hate it in surround sound!

CF: Any other projects coming up? 

BB: I have a small Christmas film in post coming out in December, and I have a few other assignments in various stages of development. We're also hoping for an announcement from Confluential on The Bait in the coming months. The script has a fantastic director attached — Oran Zegman — who recently released her feature debut, HONOR SOCIETY, with Paramount+. So stay tuned for more on that.

A special thanks to Billie Bates for taking the time to share her story with us.

Spirit Halloween: The Movie is now in select theaters and will be released on VOD on October 11th.

Check out more Success Stories on Coverfly!

Amy Hartman

Coverfly Endorsed Writer Signs with Anonymous Content

By Success Stories

Coverfly Endorsed Writer, Amy Hartman, recently signed with a Literary Manager at Anonymous Content. We had the chance to chat with her about her background, experience, and how she broke in.

How It All Began

This is always a tough question because it’s dozens of little things, but one moment I specifically remember was the first time I saw The Shawshank Redemption. I was probably 12 or so at the time, and the last 30 minutes of the prison break unfolding just blew my mind. That was the first time I realized a movie isn’t something that just happens but something someone writes first, and after that, I was just hooked on the idea of writing film and television.

Getting Started

After finishing undergrad and grad school, I got my first entertainment job through a film festival programmer I met in Singapore who hired me to run social media for the Palm Springs Short Film Festival. I packed my childhood bedroom into a cheap car and drove from Colorado to Palm Springs with plans to go to continue onto Los Angeles after the festival to look for both a job and a place to live. While at the festival, an independent film producer gave a terrific lecture on low-budget filmmaking. After his talk, I approached him and said I was eminently moving to LA and that if he had any projects coming up I’d love to intern if there was a need for that kind of thing. Luckily for me, he had a feature starting a few weeks later. I spent one month working for free on the set of that film, and after production wrapped he hired me as his assistant.

"Working on being kind to myself has been a huge part of developing my writing process."

I didn’t get my first writer’s room job until nearly three years later. I had gone from my producer’s assistant job to working as a Page at NBC. Some assistants in my department invited me to a comedy show, and there I met one of their boyfriends who was working as a writer’s assistant. Up until this point I had had a tough time meeting anyone working in TV, so I asked if he would get drinks with me. We hit it off and he asked for my resume, saying that if the pilot he was working on went they would probably need a writer’s PA. I emailed it off that night but didn’t hear anything for a couple of months. But, luckily for me, the pilot did get picked up and they did need a writer’s PA, and after a few rounds of interviews, I landed my first support staff position.

Early Roadblocks

It’s the same obstacle I continue to encounter: balancing work, writing, and trying to have a life. I have never been one of those people who writes every day, especially if I’m working a job with long days. For a long time, I harbored lots of guilt over taking some weekends off from writing or hanging with friends instead of cranking out a few more pages. It’s still something I struggle with, but lately, I’ve been spending a lot less time feeling guilty, which has absolutely improved the quality of my writing.

Breaking Through

Working on being kind to myself has been a huge part of developing my writing process. At some point, I realized that my friends with more “normal jobs” never felt bad for not doing more accounting or engineering or whatever on the weekends. They had their job and when the day was over they had a life. I think artists are burdened with a lot of undue pressure for the art to consume their lives.

Even though I am relatively new to Coverfly, I’ve already gained a significant amount of industry exposure through the platform. One of the hardest things about being a new writer is getting your material read, and Coverfly makes it easier for industry professionals to find and read your work.

"It’s the same obstacle I continue to encounter: balancing work, writing, and trying to have a life."

What Comes Next?

I’m still building out my long-term plan with my very recently acquired manager, but in the short term, I’m focusing on staffing and trying to get my material read. I’ve been fortunate and have worked in support staff positions more or less continuously for the last few years, but all that time in writers' rooms has kept me from making many connections in development, so I’m trying to build out my network in that regard.

Advice For Aspiring Writers

Write the script that scares you. Not the one that you think will sell or get you staffed or get you repped, but the one that you can’t stop thinking about but you aren’t sure you can pull off or are good enough to write. At worst it will make you better, and at best you might have something truly special on your hands.

Dream Project?

Y: The Last Man is one of the best things I’ve ever read and I would kill to be involved in the TV adaptation of it that’s in the works right now.

Start your screenwriting career!

Sign up for your own Coverfly account to create a professional screenwriting profile that will kickstart your screenwriting career. Read more screenwriter success stories here to get the inspiration for your next project.

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

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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 get signed as a screenwriter

How to Go from Film School to Screenwriter in 3 Months

By Success Stories

Recently we had a chance to chat with screenwriter, Chaz Hawkins who is hot off his recent signing with manager, Aaron Lipsett at Heroes & Villains Entertainment just three months after graduating from film school. Learn how Chaz's broke into the screenwriting industry and sold two of his scripts during a pandemic just a few months into his career.

how to become a screenwriter Coverfly: What were some of the biggest obstacles to your screenwriting career goals when you started out?

Chaz Hawkins: Timing.

I came into this industry during a strange time. A pandemic confined people to their homes while a civil rights movement beckoned us to the streets. And the economy took another “once-in-a-lifetime” downturn. At twenty-five, I have lived through, not one, not two, but three “once-in-a-lifetime” economic downturns.

I’m starting to doubt the education of people who repeat the phrase “once in a lifetime.” But I’ve realized now, there’s great humanity in this chaos.

CF: What are some of your biggest challenges and accomplishments in your young screenwriting career so far?

Definitely selling my first two screenplays THE SAUCE and PLIMOTH. It’s crazy graduating from Loyola Marymount University in May into a pandemic and being told, “Hey! Things are wild. Don’t expect much.” Then…BAM! I sold THE SAUCE in my first general ever. Literally, day one ended in a handshake. Blew my mind.

My greatest challenge at the moment is keeping up! My time management has become more crucial than ever as I juggle both projects in development while writing and devising my next three.

CF: What were you hoping to gain from Coverfly when you first signed up for the platform?

When I joined Coverfly, I sought to get in front of as many eyes as possible. Cast a wide net and all that in hopes that just one pair might see something in my stories. Like every other emerging artist in this biz, I wanted that first job. No one's going to give you that first industry co-sign, but everyone wants you to have it. So you have to buckle down, hustle, and take it. The pandemic forced me to get craftier, and Coverfly increased my visibility while Hollywood was “shut down.”

CF: What was it like to sign with a manager and then option two screenplays in the span of three months.

It’s been odd. It’s like being in a state of suspended animation. Heroes and Villains manager, Aaron Lipsett signed me in June. Together we decided to use my horror feature THE SAUCE as my introduction to the greater entertainment industry. It made sense. It speaks to a lot of what’s going on outside our windows. The protests, the unfairness, the indecency. Some people just got too caught up in being Democratic or Republican that they forgot how to be human. THE SAUCE puts a fun but incisive lens on that.

I came into that first general (my first ever general) with Scott Free a bit nervous. But after a spirited pitch, I left with my first handshake. It was an incredible feeling. THE SAUCE was also the first feature I’d written after my father passed in October of 2018, and, miraculously, I got to trust it to Scott Free who made my father’s favorite movie of all time, GLADIATOR. In a way, they’ll be able to immortalize him with something I wrote, but that was just meeting number one after graduating merely a month and a half before. Talk about a high bar!

From then on, I was in my element Zooming from room to room, person to person, doing the water bottle tour from the comfort of my own apartment, which presents a unique advantage. Now, I can meet tons of amazing people in one day instead of driving all over town. That helped “keep the hot plate cooking.” That’s what we’d say in my mother’s house, at least.

PLIMOTH found a foothold with Creator Media (the John Wick Franchise!) which was a different experience. PLIMOTH was a passion project on the other end of the spectrum to THE SAUCE. A Turkey Day horror affair where Vampire Pilgrims invade the New World in search of Squanto.

I knew that, once THE SAUCE was off my hands, PLIMOTH was up next because I wanted to use my voice to push the needle forward for both of my identities — the American Black and Cherokee. So I started pitching it more fervently as my “leave behind.” After a great general with Creator Media, they fell in love with it.

I know that all sounds kind of epic and crazy, but, like, nobody pinch me. Please.

CF: What's next for your writing career? What are your short term and long term goals?

Right now, I want to focus on making THE SAUCE and PLIMOTH the best that they can be. So I’m devoting the majority of my bandwidth to their continued development. For my next move, I’ll be sitting in the director’s chair organizing a fun, high-octane, horror feature I’m developing with my team, FIGHT NIGHT.

I’m, also, developing a one-hour grounded sci-fi/western pilot, which will blend Cherokee myth with the Native expulsions of 1839, THE BIRD, THE BARD, AND THE BEETLE. Long term, I’ll build and run my own production company, so that I can open doors for others. It’s more fun to play this game when everyone can.

CF: What's a common misconception among aspiring screenwriters?

That one day your work will be perfect. Don’t get me wrong. Never take a crap step forward, but, at some point, we have to take a step. Waiting for that “perfect” draft is time wasted. There will always be other voices with opinions, so be happy with your work. Defend it, but always expect someone somewhere to find a flaw. It is up to you to decide whether you fix that flaw or not.

CF: If you could give aspiring writers one bit of advice from a craft standpoint, what would it be?

Pay attention. I know it’s hard to sit right now because of the madness happening everywhere. I don’t care about your politics, but this moment is beckoning us all to pay attention, listen, and recontextualize.

Emotions are so raw. My craft has benefitted from sharpening against it. Protesting, listening, and feeling allows me the opportunity to find strength in my own black and native experiences in America. Now, my craft uses that power to fight tooth and nail on the page too.

CF: If you could give aspiring writers one bit of advice from a career standpoint, what would it be?

Some writers come into the business with a diminished value on their worth to the greater Hollywood machine. It’s got a spotlight on it now, thanks to the WGA, but know your agency in these rooms. Writers provide the blueprint to which the rest of Hollywood stands, and they just want to meet us, talk about that crazy story we have, or brainstorm something together that’s even crazier because they want to build something with us that they cannot build by themselves.

If you enter that first room tentatively, all of the opportunities slowly slip until they’re snatched away from you like Anna Sophia Robb in BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA.

Start your screenwriting career

Sign up for your own Coverfly account to create a professional screenwriting profile that will kickstart your screenwriting career. Read more screenwriter success stories here to get the inspiration for your next project.