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Coverfly Career Lab Schedule and Speakers

By About Coverfly, Announcements, Events

On Saturday, June 20th 2020, Coverfly is excited to present our first Coverfly Career Lab, a day-long intensive focusing on key professional skills for emerging screenwriters. Over a full day of panel sessions with A-list industry leaders – studio execs, managers, showrunners, Oscar-nominees and more – you will learn key skills and strategies to advance your career: general meetings, working with representation, standing out from the crowd and getting (and staying) hired.

Live-streamed online, the event is a pay-what-you-can benefit for The Actors Fund and the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF), two organizations that serve the entertainment industry community in need.

Coverfly exists to make sure that talented emerging writers have the skills and support they need to get discovered and hired in Hollywood. The Career Lab is our way to share that knowledge outside of the typical centers of the entertainment industry. If you have a few polished scripts, have a good understanding of the industry, and are looking to get signed by an agent or a manager, this virtual lab is for you!

This event is not meant for beginner writers, but is open to anyone, anywhere and is donation-based. Bring your questions and your game-day focus, because this is where you learn strategies and tools to catapult your career to the next level. Below you’ll find more details on the format of the event, and bios for the speakers. We hope you can join us!

PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE:

11:00am – 11:15am: Preparing for Success, with the Coverfly Development Team

Our team starts-off the day with tips and recommendations on how to make the most of the program.

11:15am – 12:15pm PANEL 1: “Perfecting your Brand” 

How do you best present yourself to the industry? How do you know what they’re looking for? This panel covers best practices on everything from branding to bios and loglines, with special focus on personal experience of what works and what to avoid.

Speakers:
Monica Macer
Monica Macer is a screenwriter, Exec. Producer, and Showrunner of Korean and African American descent. She has written for some of the most acclaimed television series over the last 15 years, including LOST and QUEEN SUGAR. Most recently, Macer served as showrunner and executive producer of Netflix’s Latinx dramedy, GENTEFIED. Additional writing and producing credits ranging from PRISON BREAK (FOX) to TEEN WOLF (MTV), NASHVILLE (ABC) to DECEPTION (NBC), and THE BREAKS (VH1). As showrunner of Queen Sugar’s second season, Macer was tapped as one of Variety’s 10 Writers to Watch. She currently serves on the Motion Picture Television Fund’s (MPTF) NextGen board and is a co-founder of the newly minted organization, Korean American Leaders in Hollywood. Additionally, Macer is a 2020 Coalition of Asian Pacific (CAPE) Writing Fellows Mentor.

Eric Fineman, Senior Vice President, Pascal Pictures
Eric Fineman is a Senior Vice President at Pascal Pictures where he has worked since 2018. Before that, he was a Vice President of Production at Columbia Pictures working on such films as: VENOM, SPIDER-MAN:HOMECOMING, MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, GOOSEBUMPS, INFERNO, along with many others.

David Rambo, TV Writer and Playwright
David Rambo has written some of the most popular television of the last twenty years, including CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, V, NYC-22, REVOLUTION, the record-smashing premiere season of EMPIRE, the TNT series WILL, CLAWS, and the upcoming Netflix drama TINY PRETTY THINGS. He is the author of the plays THE LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS (off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre starring Judith Ivey; Lortel nomination), GOD’S MAN IN TEXAS, THE ICE-BREAKER, BABBITT, an all-new book for Lerner and Loewe’s PAINT YOUR WAGON, and THE TUG OF WAR. His work has been widely produced at theatres throughout the country, including The Old Globe, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geffen Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre, Alliance Theatre and Pasadena Playhouse. In addition, he adapted several classic screenplays for live performance, including ALL ABOUT EVE, CASABLANCA, ADAM’S RIB and SUNSET BOULEVARD, produced at the Hollywood Bowl with John Mauceri conducting Franz Waxman’s Oscar-winning score. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of N. Carolina School of the Arts.

12:30pm – 1:30pm PANEL 2: “The Writer’s Team”

Description: Who are the team members – Managers and Agents – that are key to a writer’s success? How does a new writer find representation, and what are the hallmarks of an ideal writer-rep relationship? Learn from top representatives as they share what works and what doesn’t, from referrals and first meetings to building a career-long partnership.

Speakers:
Ava Jamshidi, Literary Manager, Industry Entertainment
Bio: Industry Entertainment is the management and production company behind such Hollywood talent as Ted Danson, Chan-wook Park, Kal Penn, Jeff Goldblum, Alexis Bledel and many more.

Matt Dy, Literary Manager, Lit Entertainment Group
Bio: Matt Dy is a Literary Manager at Lit Entertainment Group. Formerly Matt ran the Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. Lit Entertainment was founded by manager-producer Adam Kolbrenner who produced the Oscar-nominated film, Prisoners, for Warner Bros/Alcon Entertainment, written by Lit client Aaron Guzikowski. Lit Entertainment’s next film is Fox’s Free Guy, along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. The film, starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Shawn Levy, is an original spec from Lit client Matt Lieberman.

Parker Davis, Literary Agent, Verve
Parker Davis is a motion picture agent at Verve, a premiere talent and literary agency based in Los Angeles, representing clients in film, television and new media. Davis has focused on cultivating voices with unique points of view and nurturing their careers. He was the #1 agent on the Black List and Hit List last year.  His clients include Davis include the writers of UNCLE DREW, Amazon Studios’ THE LORD OF THE RINGS series, STAR TREK 4, JURASSIC WORLD 3, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, and BOYS DON’T CRY.

2:00pm – 3:00pm PANEL 3: “Good in a Room”

Meetings, pitches and generals are keys to success for all writers, from breaking-in to long-term careers. Learn from writers, Showrunners and Execs about what it’s like to be on both sides of a great meeting, how to prepare, how to present yourself and red flags to avoid.

Speakers:
Sera Gamble, Showrunner, TV Writer
Bio: Sera Gamble is the creator, with Greg Berlanti, of YOU (Netflix), based on Caroline Kepnes’s acclaimed novel. Upon its worldwide debut in December 2018, YOU was seen by an estimated 40 million viewers. Gamble is also the writer and executive producer of THE MAGICIANS (Syfy). The number one scripted show on Syfy, The Magicians ended its five year run in March 2020. Previously, Gamble wrote and produced the cult CW series SUPERNATURAL for its first seven seasons, also running the show in seasons six and seven. Gamble is a first-generation American, for which she credits her work ethic. Gamble’s family are Holocaust survivors; members of her family fled to Russia and Siberia during the Nazi occupation. At age seven she was given her first book of fairy tales, which made her promptly decide she wanted Hans Christian Andersen’s job. Her Hollywood career began when she was a finalist on the second season of “Project Greenlight” in 2003.

Jelani Johnson, Exec Vice-President, Content Strategy and Senior Partner, MACRO
Bio: Jelani Johnson serves as MACRO’s EVP of Content Strategy and Senior Partner of MACRO. Most recently, Johnson spent 4+ years as a Motion Picture Agent at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). While at CAA his clients included: Melina Matsoukas, A$AP Rocky, Cheo Coker, Jesse Williams, Lenny Kravitz, Storm Reid, Angel Soto, Solvan “Slick” Naim, Gina Rodriguez, Virgil Williams, Mara Brock Akil and André Holland amongst others. Johnson began his career in entertainment as an intern at CAA and transitioned into talent management at the Santa Monica-based management company Generate. He subsequently co-founded The Mission Entertainment, a management and production company focused on multicultural content creators, before returning back to CAA. Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in History and Anthropology from Columbia University.

Cate Adams, Vice President, Production, Warner Bros. Pictures
Cate Adams is a Vice President in the Warner Bros. Pictures creative group, which is responsible for developing and producing the feature films that WB distributes worldwide. Cate was part of the creative team behind the 2019 films TOMB RAIDER and THE MEG. In her early years as a creative executive, Cate worked on Jeff Nichols’ MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, Shane Black’s THE NICE GUYS, and Guy Ritchie’s KING ARTHUR.  Cate is currently overseeing the development and production of a diverse film slate, including a re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES, a live-action animation hybrid version of TOM & JERRY, and a SESAME STREET film.  Cate serves as a NextGen Board Member for the Motion Picture Television Fund and sits on the Committee for the Science and Entertainment Exchange.

3:30pm – 4:30pm PANEL 4: “Getting (and Staying) Hired”

You’ve learned about branding, working with your team, taking the critical meetings, now how do you close the deal and get the job? More importantly, how do you keep it? This panel focuses on what working writers do to stay constantly working, from rewrites and collaboration to pitches and industry trends.

Speakers:
Vanessa Taylor, Oscar-nominated Screenwriter
Bio: Vanessa Taylor has worked in both television (most recently GAME OF THRONES) and film. Her feature work includes HOPE SPRINGS, DIVERGENT, THE SHAPE OF WATER, for which she was nominated, along with co-writer and director Guillermo del Toro, for an Oscar, and the upcoming HILLBILLY ELEGY, directed by Ron Howard.

Alexandra Cunningham, Television Showrunner and Executive Producer
Alexandra Cunningham is the creator, showrunner and Exec. Producer of DIRTY JOHN based on the hit LA Times podcast of the same name, which premieres on USA Network June 2, 2020, and stars Amanda Peet and Christian Slater.  Cunningham began her television career on NYPD BLUE. She has since written and produced such shows as ROME, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, BATES MOTEL, AQUARIUS, and CHANCE starring Hugh Laurie on Hulu. Cunningham graduated from Johns Hopkins and Columbia, and was a playwriting fellow at the Juilliard School.

Lang Fisher, TV Creator, Writer and Executive Producer
Lang Fisher is a writer, producer, and director based out of Los Angeles, California. She recently co-created and executive produced the acclaimed Netflix series NEVER HAVE I EVER with Mindy Kaling. Prior to this, Lang has been a writer and producer on three seasons of BROOKLYN 99, five seasons of THE MINDY PROJECT, and was a staff writer on the Emmy-nominated final season of 30 ROCK. The 30 ROCK episode that she cowrote, “A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World” was named one of Variety’s “25 Best TV Episodes of the Decade.” Before venturing into the world of sitcoms, Lang spent six years writing for the satirical news outlet The Onion for which she won a Peabody as a member of the writing staff for The Onion News Network. She is a graduate of Columbia University and lives with her baby and her cat.

4:45pm – 5:00pm Let’s Move Forward, with the Coverfly Development Team

Time to pull it all together and dive into a few mid-and-long term strategies for writers to improve their craft and get noticed. Bring your questions, as we take some time to share lessons from the day, as well as insights we’ve garnered from our wider industry network.

Join Us!

Coverfly Career Lab Rescheduled to June 20th

By Announcements

The Coverfly Career Lab, scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed to Saturday, June 20th

As the events in our nation prompt a long-overdue conversation about injustice and systemic racism, Coverfly wants to keep the focus on this critical national movement. We believe it is right to keep the floor open for those voices right now. 

All panelists and moderators are confirmed and excited for the event on June 20th, with bonus speakers just announced, including:

  • Monica Macer (Executive Producer, Showrunner, GENTEFIED, QUEEN SUGAR, TV Writer LOST, NASHVILLE, etc)
  • Alexandra Cunningham (Creator/Showrunner/Exec. Producer DIRTY JOHN, TV Writer ROME, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, BATES MOTEL, NYPD BLUE, etc)  
  • Parker Davis (Literary Agent at Verve Talent Agency
  • Cate Adams (Vice President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures). 

Coverfly exists to serve writers, and the Coverfly Career Lab will return very soon, to give advice, tools and strategies to emerging artists to advance their screenwriting careers. 

We hope you will return with us in a short while for this educational event to benefit the Actors Fund and the Motion Picture Television Fund, two organizations that serve writers and our community in times of need. 

If you’ve already signed up, the private link you’ve already received will still work on June 20th for the event and you’ll have access to the recorded sessions after. There’s no action needed.

Until then, let’s all listen, learn, make art and raise our voices. 

“If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?” – Alice Walker

Thank you, 

Scot, Mitch, Maggie, Tom, Julianna, Mark, Jen, Jeff, Micah and the Coverfly Team

Announcing our Second Virtual Live Read!

By Announcements

We are excited to announce our next performance of the Coverfly Virtual Table Read Series in partnership with The Storytellers Conservatory! Join us this Friday April 10th at 4pm PST (7pm EST) on the Coverfly Facebook page here: facebook.com/coverfly

At 4pm PST on Friday you’ll see our Facebook Live video of the virtual table read with professional SAG/AFTRA actors of a very funny comedy feature screenplay selected from hundreds of free applications. Learn more about our free Extras here.

We have selected DIRTY WATER DOGS by Terrie Viani, a comedy feature screenplay that follows a down-on-her-luck street vendor in New York who tries to rig a lottery for a hot new spot in the Central Park Zoo.

For any questions, please email support@coverfly.com. See you there!

We’re excited to announce that our last virtual live read resulted in the writer signing with a literary manager:

Congrats to screenwriter Jacob Wehrman!

“Coverfly proved to be a powerful resource. Opportunities like Coverfly’s Pitch Week and the Live Read series can get your work in front of actors, directors, and producers– for free. I feel that Coverfly has my back by vetting every contest, and they add serious value by offering those no-cost extra opportunities.” – Jacob Wehrman

Jacob Wehrman signed with a literary manager after his script was performed by a cast of actors for Coverfly’s Virtual Live Read!

Read more about Jacob’s story here.

Goodbye Withoutabox

By Announcements

After more than 10 years, film festival submission platform Withoutabox is shutting down, according to emails from the company to festival administrators today.  The company announced:

“After more than 10 years operating the Withoutabox film festival submission service, we have decided to phase out the service over the next year.

We are working with current film festival customers to fulfill Withoutabox’s commitments through October 30, 2019 and are working with filmmakers to ensure their submissions are properly processed during this transition. We are grateful to all the filmmakers who have shared their stories through Withoutabox and the film festivals who have discovered talented artists around the world using our service.

Why are you disabling the service?

After extensive consideration, we have decided to phase out the service over the next year. We are working with current film festival customers to fulfill Withoutabox’s commitments through October 30, 2019 and are working with filmmakers to ensure their submissions are properly processed in this transition phase. We are grateful to all the filmmakers who have shared their stories through Withoutabox and the film festivals who have discovered talented artists around the world using our service.”

The website pioneered online submissions for film festivals, and quickly grew to be the largest platform for submitting independent films for consideration by festivals. The company was launched in January 2000 by founders David Straus, Joe Neulight and Charles Neulight which allowed filmmakers to distribute their films to festivals. In January 2008, Withoutabox was acquired by IMDb, a subsidiary of Amazon. At its peak, Withoutabox hosted over 3000 film festivals on five continents, including such world-renowned festivals such as Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival.

The company earned revenue by charging a commission on festival submission fees, as well as by selling advertising to film festival administrators to promote their call for entries.

While the service was a breath of fresh air for filmmakers initially, who prior to Withoutabox had to submit their film 35mm prints and VHS tapes literally in a box to film festivals with a check for payment, the tide of public opinion began to turn.

After growing quickly to dominate the marketplace of film festival submissions, Withoutabox began to encounter criticism from festivals and filmmakers for charging to much money for their service and for having an unstable technical platform that was difficult to navigate.

Controversies

“The honeymoon was over for festivals,” as industry analyst Stephen Follows wrote in a piece titled The seismic shift in the world of film festivals.

Even before Amazon’s acquisition of the platform, anger and discontent about the service began to grow, as Withoutabox was blamed for a buggy site, high upfront fees for film festivals, high commission fees, anti-competitive practices and litigious behavior against upstart competitors, claiming unnecessary rights from filmmakers, and poor customer service. Additionally, Withoutabox claimed a patent on their submission platform which they wielded against would-be competitors.

A Facebook group called Filmmakers and Festivals Against Withoutabox was formed, and now has over 6,000 members.

Withoutabox came under fire for paying top film festivals to exclusively use their platform. As recently as this year, Withoutabox negotiated a 3-year exclusive deal with Sundance. It remains to be seen what will come of this deal in light of today’s news of Withoutabox’s demise.

As recently as last year (April 2017), Withoutabox crashed under the huge volume of of HBO Access screenplay submissions.

FilmFreeway’s debut in 2013 quickly supplanted Withoutabox as the preferred submission platform by many festivals and filmmakers.

Today there are several industry-leading submission platforms for films and screenplays, notably:

  • Coverfly (specializing in curated screenplay competition submissions management)
  • FilmFreeway (specializing in film and script submissions, and event ticketing)
  • Submittable (specializing in multi-format submissions including film, books, essays and applications)

Coverfly has quickly grown to be the leading submissions management platform specializing in screenwriting competitions, fellowships and writing labs. Open only to top screenwriting competitions with proven reputations, Coverfly offers festival and contest administrators robust features for managing their contest’s submissions.

 

Coverfly Partner Contest Criteria

By Uncategorized

At Coverfly we believe that screenwriting competitions can be effective and valuable avenues to early career success for emerging writers. To help writers wade through the hundreds of competitions, festivals, labs, and grants available to them, Coverfly maintains robust partnerships with some of the most respected programs in the industry. 

As a service to writers, Coverfly is always evaluating new partners for inclusion on the platform. We carefully consider a competition’s merits before allowing it to be listed on Coverfly. 

How We Evaluate Partners

Professionalism

Writers often look to a program’s website to determine whether or not the organization behind it has their best interests in mind. They look for clean design, easy navigation, and clear information regarding contest fees, rules, and prize packages. 

Transparency

Writers want to feel confident that their submission will be read and that when they submit their work to a competition they’ll have an understanding of when they will hear back. Transparently communicating information and sticking to the deadlines and announcement dates you set are an essential part of maintaining writer trust. We also look for competitions that are mindful of publicly maintaining lists of past winners and finalists. 

Unique Value to Writers

Writers have nearly unlimited choices but limited budgets when it comes to submitting to competitions, and we look to curate a list of partners who each provide distinct offerings to writers, which may include a unique jury, an opportunity to share work with an untapped market of industry professionals or audiences, or anything else that might set a competition apart from others. 

Industry Network

We also love to partner with programs that understand the importance of securing professional juries and mentors who are actively working in the industry in order to provide winners and finalists with tangible benefits as they build their careers as writers. 

Track Record of Helping Writers

The best endorsement of a competition or festival is one that comes directly from writers. If your past winners and finalists are satisfied with the process of working with you, it’s a great sign. We also look for competitions that keep accurate data on past competition results and success stories because it shows us you care about the ongoing development of the writers you’ve selected. 

“A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats”

Ultimately, our goal is to build a community of like-minded programs all working together to level the playing field for new and emerging writers. We actively promote and support our partners and expect that support to be reciprocated. This means we look for partners who are passionate about their mission and who believe in and support ours.

How We Maintain Quality

In our initial evaluation, we take a holistic approach and meet internally to discuss the merits of a potential partner’s offerings. Our process also involves periodic reviews of all programs featured on Coverfly and a commitment to evaluating individual programs even if we’ve already worked with a partner in the past on another program, festival, or competition.

If you’re ready to work with us, fill out an application with details about your program. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the quality of any competition that is listed on Coverfly, please feel free to email us directly: support@coverfly.com. We will respond to you promptly.

Screenwriter Patrick Byrne Signs with Literary Manager via Coverfly

By Announcements, Success Stories

We’ve got another writer to congratulate: Patrick Byrne was discovered by literary manager Gavin Dorman via Coverfly! In the past couple years Patrick has received accolades from PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, WeScreenplay, ScreenCraft and the Nashville Film Festival.

Two of Patrick’s screenplays have been featured recently as top projects on The Red List – most notably, his feature screenplay The 405.

Patrick Byrne was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. For the last ten years he worked in TV and film (LOST as a production assistant for four seasons, and on the movies BATTLESHIP and INCURSION). He is a screenwriter and teacher. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and son.

Gavin Dorman signed Patrick after discovering him via Coverfly. Gavin is an independent producer/manager based in Los Angeles, CA. Previously, he worked for several years as a development executive at Vertigo Entertainment, where he helped craft a multitude of film projects, including: The Lego Movie (the 2014 blockbuster based on the toy line), Poltergeist (a remake of the horror classic), Run All Night (the Liam Neeson mob-thriller), The Stand (based on Stephen King’s esteemed novel), Deus Ex (based on the popular video game franchise).

This good news is on the heels of another recent Coverfly success story just a few weeks ago: Colin Dalvit & Andrew Lahmann Sign with Manager Josh Dove at IPG via Coverfly