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Tips on Receiving Notes from Producer & Entertainment Exec Jonny Paterson

Tips on Receiving Notes from Producer & Entertainment Exec Jonny Paterson

By Advice

You did it! You finally finished that screenplay after many weeks, months, or even years of work. Now what? Well, if you ask an experienced writer they'd probably say that it's time to get some feedback, but oftentimes the process can be a little daunting, confusing, and hard to capitalize on. That's why we sat down with Jonny Paterson to ask him how writers can make the most of the notes they receive.

Jonny is a producer, entertainment executive, and founder of JP International Productions, but he's now also one of the talented professionals offering Industry Direct Notes on Coverfly. He was kind enough to share some excellent tips on the process of getting notes on your script, how to make sense of them, and how to turn those suggestions into great edits that strengthen your story.

Check out our interview with Jonny Paterson below, then continue on for some of our favorite takeaways.

You're on the Same Team

It can be difficult receiving notes, especially when they address things about your story that you really like or that you think work really well. So, how do you deal with feedback you don't necessarily agree with? Well, it all starts with understanding that the reader, producer, or executive want the same thing that you want — for your project to be successful. Jonny says:

"It's a balance — and the balance is between your own vision and what you're going for and what the executive that you're talking to and working with is telling you is going to give your project a better chance of success. Those two things don't always go hand-in-hand, and that looks like compromise."

He goes on:

"One way to look at it is when we give you notes we have mutually aligned goals, which is to make something together. None of us has time to spin our wheels on things that either we're not excited about, don't really believe in, or just don't want to do. I would always come at the notes-receiving side of it from an understanding of who we are and why we're giving them, which is genuine to try to help you."

Read More: Mastering the Art of Receiving Notes with Nicholas Bogner, Lit Manager and Producer

Identify the "Note Behind the Note"

You might've heard this phrase before — the "note behind the note." Essentially, it's referring to the fundamental issue a note is trying to address. This is an important distinction, because writers, readers, producers, and executives are all human beings with different communication styles and understandings of the project, so it's vital to be able to navigate through the notes you receive to understand the point they're trying to make. Jonny explains:

"If you understand where the note is coming from, then you as the creator can have creative license to try things and come up with the best version of it."

At the End of the Day, It's About Building Relationships

Receiving notes can be a really vulnerable thing for many writers, so naturally, the chance of taking things personally is quite high. However, the name of the game is maintaining and growing your professional relationships, so make sure to keep your communication respectful and professional. Jonny says that "this industry is about building relationships," and goes on to say:

"If you're taking notes and you just don't like the notes, you don't agree with the notes, you don't want to address the notes, that doesn't mean your relationship with that person has to be fractured because of that. It's just a case of being respectful to each other for each other's time and energies. So, you just respectfully say, 'We're not creatively aligned on this.'"

Read More: Let Writer/Producer Richard Kahan Explain the Importance of Script Notes

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!

Let Writer/Producer Richard Kahan Explain the Importance of Script Notes

Let Writer/Producer Richard Kahan Explain the Importance of Script Notes

By About Coverfly, Interview

Screenwriters, like all artists, are always looking for ways to improve their work. One of the best ways to do this is by getting script notes from someone who not only knows a good screenplay when they see one but who also knows the film industry.

Producer, writer, and actor Richard Kahan (Beacon 23, Outlander) is one of the high-level industry professionals that offers coverage through Coverfly Industry-Direct Notes. Coverfly recently got the chance to speak with him about the benefits of getting feedback on your script from a fellow screenwriter, as well as the importance of being a part of a writing community.

Check out the interview below and continue on to read our favorite takeaways.

Don't Be Afraid of Receiving Script Notes

First and foremost, be open to feedback. It can be difficult to hear negative things about your work, but it's important to remember that the goal is to make your screenplay the best it can be.

Kahan says:

I think it's very natural to have that immediate reaction of like, "Oh, no, no! Don't change." If you don't care about what you're writing, you wouldn't have that reaction. So, I think that speaks to passion. And that's totally normal — I get that; everyone I know gets that. That being said, you know, your mind works differently than mine. Your life experience is different than mine. That's the beauty. In a TV writers room, when it's working well, it should be — everyone has different ages, different ethnicities, different backgrounds, different life experiences. You bring that to the page.

No screenplay is perfect and having other people read it, especially a professional, will open your eyes to its real potential. It's better to have a flawed screenplay that you're willing to revise than a "perfect" one that no one will ever read.

Read More: Mastering the Art of Receiving Notes with Nicholas Bogner, Lit Manager and Producer

Should You Get Script Notes from a Fellow Screenwriter?

When writers consider receiving script notes, they naturally think of script consultants and professional script readers to send their work to. But, should they send their scripts to fellow screenwriters? Yes. Why? Because they not only understand story structure, character development, and other story elements but also the arduous experience of sitting down and actually crafting a story from a blank page. Kahan explains:

Working with other writers and getting notes from other writers, I think you're gonna get specificity. And that makes the job easier. Again, not to say the managers and execs can't give great notes, but I think when you are used to sitting down at the typewriter and bleeding, as the saying goes, you know — you're in it, you know what that's like — you're gonna give actionable notes.

The Value of Being in a Writing Community

There are many reasons to be a part of a writing community. For one, it can provide you with support and motivation when you need it most. Additionally, being part of a community can provide you with valuable feedback on your work so you can improve your craft and become a better writer. Kahan shares his experience of working with his own community of writers:

It's hugely have that core group...especially when you're working in features, because you don't have that in a writers room. So to have that, from just a technical note standpoint, is huge. It's also's that support system. It's that group that can give you notes that you trust that you know have a different lived experience than you. 

Read More: Tips on Receiving Notes from Producer & Entertainment Exec Jonny Paterson



New to Coverfly: WGA Verification

By Announcements

Get verified today and stay tuned for future perks for guild members.

Since early 2022, Coverfly has been allowing writers to verify their Writers Guild of America (WGA) membership. This allows industry professionals to search for WGA writers and allows writers to promote their accomplishments. After evaluating the verification method as well as talking to many of our users, Coverfly is pleased to announce that we have modified the WGA verification process to make it much simpler. The new process improves security and usability, and gives users the flexibility to add a few additional guilds to their profiles!

Previously, we were verifying WGA memberships by requiring users to upload images of their WGA member cards or membership IDs. We recognized that this required information that not all members wanted to provide or had convenient access to. The new verification process is safe and secure and much simpler

How Does It Work?

First, go to your settings page and find the "Are you a member of any guilds?" section.

Whether you’re signing up for Coverfly for the first time or going into your user settings to add your membership, it's as simple as designating that you are part of the WGA East or WGA West, and then depending on your selection, providing the link to your WGA public profile from the WGA Member directory.  It looks something like this:

New to Coverfly: WGA Verification

You can find your listing in the WGA "Find a Writer" directory by searching your name on the WGA directory.

Since we are asking for your public profile that is available to anyone on the internet, we do need to validate that you are the person listed in the URL above. We are asking you to upload an image/PDF of a letter/email from the WGA, or your WGA membership card. Please remove any and all sensitive information.

Once we determine your membership status (which may take 24-48 hours) your profile will include a “Verified WGA Member” badge. 

New to Coverfly: WGA Verification_badge



Additionally, industry professionals can find you by searching for WGA members!

Along with the new process, we have also added some additional guilds (with the plan to add more in the future) that can be included in your profile if you belong to them and decide to include them.
the updated process.

Try it out now!

Read More: The History of the WGA

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!

Stand-Up Comedian Abby Govindan on How to Write Relatable Comedy

Stand-Up Comedian Abby Govindan on How to Write Relatable Comedy

By Interview

What does it take to be a great comedy writer? Just ask stand-up comedian Abby Govindan. 


Houston-native Abby Govindan is a writer and stand-up comedian whose career is taking off like a rocket. Since making her comedic debut at Caroline's on Broadway in New York City in 2017, she's gone viral online, performed all over the country, and has opened for some of the biggest names in stand-up, including Hasan Minhaj, Daniel Sloss, and Russell Peters.

Coverfly had the pleasure of sitting down with Abby to learn about her comedy career, the evolution of her comedy, and how she writes relatable jokes. Check out our interview below!

Learn more about Abby by heading over to her website. Also, if you're interested in seeing her show, be sure to check out her tour dates.

Writer Spotlight - Tamra Teig

Writer Spotlight: Tamra Teig

By Success Article

Tamra is a multiple award-winning screenwriter, including Slamdance, PAGE Silver, Stowe Story Lab, and other highly-ranked competitions, including Austin and Nicholl Quarterfinalist (top 5% of 7812 scripts).

We sat down to talk with her about her screenplay Chokepoint, a story about a work-obsessed senator who is taken hostage on a ship hijacked by high-tech pirates, asking about its commercial and cultural relevancy, what it was like pitching her idea, and how her 25-year experience as a journalist helped her write such an incredible tale.


CF: You signed with a manager a week after being highlighted in the Coverfly Newsletter. What was it like?

TT: It was a very pleasant surprise! I think it was because I did the hard work of building a portfolio and working to gain positive attention for my scripts to position myself as well as possible—then I benefited from the exposure and credibility Coverfly gave me.

Coverfly: What are your favorite elements of Chokepoint? What do you feel makes it commercially and culturally relevant?

Tamra Teig: I think the fact that the scenarios in Chokepoint are plausible makes it more interesting. There’s a big appetite for stories based on true events. It’s kind of crazy that after I finished my script, two big events happened in the news that are in my story: the first scene in my script actually happened in real life: an oil tanker was attacked in a chokepoint. Then a few months ago, a container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal for six days, (another important global shipping corridor) at a global cost of $1 billion. Now it’s common knowledge that major shipping corridors have global economic impact.

Besides the authenticity of the story, my other favorite element of the story is my characters are more representative of our culture: all roles can be non-Caucasian, the protagonist is a 50-year-old, Latina-biracial female, and is not a typical action hero—she has no special ex-CIA or Navy SEAL skills, she’s just smart, strong and resourceful. Two other leads are over 65, another is over 40, and a main supporting role is LGBTQ+ female. All roles meet every test for writing diverse roles: Bechdel, Duvernay, Waithe, Villalobos, Ko, Peirce, Villarreal, and Landau. For writers who don’t know what these tests are, I suggest you Google them--and be mindful of them when you’re creating characters.

Whether it’s a financier, producer, manager or other busy exec, they need to immediately be able to see the story is unique and high-concept—meaning they can grasp the whole movie through your logline.

CF: How did Pitch Week create momentum for your career and do you think it helped facilitate your career and deal with production companies or signing with a manager?

TT: Before I even got to the stage of being selected in Pitch Week, I spent countless hours writing a number of projects, getting coverage on them to improve them as much as possible, then submitting them to various script competitions on Coverfly. I now have three scripts in the top 1% on the platform. After being a participant in Pitch Week, and almost a year of Chokepoint placing highly in multiple competitions, I was contacted by manager Jon Brown, of Ensemble Entertainment, and just signed with him.

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

TT: The first job is to come up with a really compelling logline. I find it one of the most challenging tasks of writing a screenplay, and it’s one of the most crucial. No matter how little time you have to talk to an exec, they’ll always first ask: “What’s it about?” You need to have a sentence or two that is concise and sets up the situation and the stakes clearly.  You need to have it down cold, and you need to say it with confidence, energy and enthusiasm, if you want to get them interested. The goal of your logline is to get someone to ask for the script, or at least ask another question. Whether it’s a financier, producer, manager or other busy exec, they need to immediately be able to see the story is unique and high-concept—meaning they can grasp the whole movie through your logline. The wider the appeal, the more marketable the project—and the greater the potential ROI.

It’s important to focus on the big hooks of the story, not try to cram in all the details. Instead, it’s important to set up the tone and world, introduce the protagonist and antagonist and the conflict in an intriguing way, highlight the major act turns, and to a quick summary of how it ends, making the protagonists arc clear.

As a journalist, I was trained to write concisely and vividly, which was great training for screenwriting and pitching.

CF: You have 25 years of experience as a journalist -- you started writing scripts later on in your career. How have these things helped or hindered you as a screenwriter?

TT: As a journalist, I was trained to write concisely and vividly, which was great training for screenwriting and pitching. You answer who, what, where, when and why in the first paragraph of every article, which is basically how a pitch is structured. I’ve also been a marketing consultant all that time, so I try to write stories with universal appeal and evaluate each new script idea by how marketable I think it is. It’s also an asset to have more life experiences to write about—I was married for a long time, raised three kids, moved a lot, traveled extensively internationally, and even lived in another country. I have an incredibly rich and unique set of life experiences to draw from. Also, because I’m starting my screenwriting career so late in life, I am super focused and driven; I don’t have any time to waste. I took advantage of the pandemic to be uber-productive: from December to now I: was hired and just completed a full-length feature, I wrote an international hour drama pilot with a book author; I did a full rewrite of multi-award-winning indie script The Fall, that I co-wrote and am producing partner on, receiving notes from an A-list director; and, I just got a Stowe Story Lab fellowship for my half-hour dramedy series Dog Mom, which is based on my personal experiences during Covid. I’m very fortunate that I love writing and I can devote myself to my passion—I’ve been writing 10-12 or more hours a day and am continuously learning how to improve my writing.

CF: How do you think having a manager will make an impact on your screenwriting career and what next steps have you discussed?

TT: I feel like signing with a manager is like a “golden ticket.” There are tens of thousands of scripts floating around, and the industry doesn’t take “unsolicited manuscripts.” There’s a huge barrier to entry. Even though I feel confident networking and trying to make my own connections, it’s daunting trying to make your mark, especially since the last year of normal in-person meetings and festivals being shut down. I’ve been pitching through platforms like Roadmap Writers and Stage 32, but it’s a numbers game, and it also comes down to economics. Now I have a mentor, who has a whole network of high-level executives and decades of experience, to champion my scripts and fast-track my career.

Jon has already gotten one of my scripts to an agent and is starting outreach to A-list directors on another. Compared to my original trajectory, I have no doubt that he is going to make things happen relatively quickly. I’m really excited about what the future holds, and very grateful for the part Coverfly played.