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.
https://lelepark05.wixsite.com/lelepark

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.
screenwriting career WGAW

Screenwriting Career Advice: WGA Committee of Women Writers

By Advice

Recently the WGA West invited Tom Dever, Coverfly’s Director Writer Development, to speak with their Committee of Women Writers. The WGA Committee of Women Writers represents the interests of female WGA writers who are seeking WGA-covered work. They sponsor events designed to increase our knowledge of the craft and the marketplace, discuss the role of women as storytellers, and foster networking and collaboration between women in all Guilds, as well as increase opportunities for education, employment opportunities, and creative expression.

Tom spoke about the state of the industry, opportunities for veteran women writers in development and representation, and general conversation on the craft and career of screenwriting. The event was private and for WGA members only, but here’s a quick rundown of what you missed, and how you can take the next step in your screenwriting career

Be your own best advocate

You do not need somebody else’s permission or contacts to pursue the career you want for yourself. You don’t need a manager or agent to set generals or meet with execs. Don’t be afraid to generate those opportunities for yourself any way you can (without breaking the law!).

Accelerate your career through self-generated opportunities. The time has never been better to promote your skills and your work. Enter competitions, promote your writing and get your name out there.

Be confident

Never apologize for your goals, ambitions, passions, ideas, or strengths. Someone has to do your dream job so it might as well be you! You are smart, capable, resilient, and talented enough to do it. Believe that you can be a working screenwriter and you can be.

Don’t chase trends

Film industry trends change faster than you can write. If you pitched John Wick, Stranger Things, or Get Out ten years ago, you’d have been shown the door and without getting your parking validated. So don’t try to write what you think other people want, because it’s a waste of time. Write what you want instead.

Write what you’re good at, no matter which genre it might be. And stay focused on what you want to do; not what you feel you’re expected to do. Not only will it make you happier, but it will likely lead to more professional writing opportunities than just following the crowd.

Be open to feedback in all forms

There is no universal metric of quality for material, especially not screenplays. Sure, there are common screenwriting conventions you should follow, but everyone scores scripts under subjective criteria. One reader could think you’re a genius, while another thinks your script is trash. That doesn’t make either of them right or wrong.

Take feedback and criticism in stride, because even bad feedback can help you grow as a writer. And remember, you’re neither required to take all of their feedback nor should you dismiss their opinions as a vendetta. Reviews and critiques are just data points on how someone responds to your material. Hear it. Heed it. Hopefully, you can use it.

Where you go from there is up to you.

Look in the long view

Despite a handful of “success stories,” nothing happens in Hollywood overnight. Script deals take time. Finding the right agent isn’t a one-shot thing. Even if you nail your first general meeting, you still have a lot of work left to do and a lot of time before you see the results of your hard work. And that’s ok.

Screenwriting is all about hurrying up and waiting. Things take time here to go from script to signing to screen. Learn to love the in-between times. And if you get impatient, just remember what your ultimate goal is. You can have a day, a week, or a month, where you don’t make the progress you’d hoped for. But when you trace your progress over the past 6, 12, or 18 months you should discover that you’re moving in the right direction. If that isn’t the case, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.

How screenwriters get discovered

Take advantage of Coverfly. Sorry I had to plug. Coverfly is here as a platform to help screenwriters at every stage in their career, whether you’re just starting out or you have multiple credits and still need a little support finding industry partners or pitching projects. Through our programs, initiatives, products, services, and community, we’re here to help take that next step in your career whatever it is.

Create your Coverfly Screenwriting profile today and see what taking the next step in your writing career really looks like.

screenwriter profile

how to pitch your script

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

By Inside Look

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be a jerk

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

Focus on what makes you unique

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

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

Shoot your shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be confident

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

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

Find what we have in common

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

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

How to pitch your script to Hollywood insiders and studio execs

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

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.

pitch week tips

How to Get Chosen for Pitch Week

By Events, Success Stories, Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again — Coverfly Pitch Week. And this year’s line-up of agents, managers, producers, and studio execs have selected 123 screenwriters for nearly 250 pitches! In fact, many talented screenwriters who submitted to Pitch Week were selected to pitch their scripts to more than one industry decision-maker. Here’s a quick look at how Coverfly Pitch Week selection works, and a few of the common factors that we found between our roster of successful screenwriters that were chosen to pitch this year.

How many screenwriters were chosen for Coverfly Pitch Week (September 2020)?

  • 123 screenwriters were selected for 250 pitches total
  • Just under half of all writers were selected for at least 2 separate pitches
  • 12 writers were chosen for 3 pitches
  • 7 writers were tapped for 4 pitches
  • 6 writers are pitching to 5 groups
  • 5 writers were selected for 6 different pitches
  • And one talented screenwriter was selected for 8 separate pitches!

This Pitch Week is absolutely jam-packed with top-tier writers, agents, managers, Hollywood literary agents, and development execs from companies like CAA, Good Fear, Circle of Confusion, Zero Gravity, Lee Stobby Entertainment, Cartel Entertainment, Management 360, and many more. If you want to learn how these screenwriters were chosen and what they have in common, read this writer roundup so you’re ready to pitch at our next Pitch Week — February 21-25, 2021.

How screenwriters get chosen for Pitch Week: 3 things they have in common

The selection process for Coverfly Pitch Week is full of intangibles and variables. However, we were able to find some common trends among the 123 writers that were selected to pitch to industry professionals. Here are three of our biggest takeaways for how to make your profile, logline, and scripts stand out so you can pitch to Hollywood decision-makers:

A strong personal bio

Nearly every single writer that was selected to pitch this year has a professional bio on their screenwriting profile. Not only that, each of these bios lets development executives know exactly what kind of screenwriter they’re looking at. Pitch Week writers clearly state who they are, what kind of screenplays they write, what their goals are, and how their professional experiences have influenced not just their most recent screenplays, but all of their work. The first step to getting your screenplay pitch ready is filling out your writer’s bio. Make yours as descriptive as you can.

A clear photo that captures their personality

Every single one of the top selected writers for Pitch Week this year had a clear, professional photo on their profile. It’s 2020. There’s no excuse not to have a decent, posed profile picture on your personal or Coverfly screenwriter page. You can even get a decent picture with portrait mode on an old iPhone. Find a friend or grab a tripod and take a good picture of yourself.

If you want to get your script in front of industry insiders you need to have a profile picture on your site. End of story.

Add multiple projects to your profile

All of the top selected writers each have multiple projects on their profile pages. And while these scripts and projects varied from features to TV they were all consistent in voice, style, and tone. Use your profile to highlight your range. It’s ok to write for TV and for Film. In fact, writing in multiple formats can make you an enticing candidate for studios looking for diverse and multi-talented screenwriters.

How to get selected for Coverfly Pitch Week

Pitch Week is your chance to get your screenplay in front of some of the most influential managers, producers, and agents in Hollywood. Learn more about how you (and your script!) can prepare for the next Coverfly Pitch Week here. And remember, Pitch Week is free for Coverfly members, so sign up now!

professional screenwriter profile

How to Create a Professional Screenwriter Profile

By About Coverfly

You need a professional screenwriter profile if you want to pitch to top studio executives, agents, and managers. If you’ve written a handful of scripts, purchased coverage, or submitted your scripts to competitions it’s time to take your career to the next level with a professional-looking screenwriter profile. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to create a clean, professional screenwriter profile that highlights your skills, accolades, and past projects so you can pitch (and sell!) your scripts to producers, agents, managers, showrunners, and industry decision-makers.

Here’s how to create a great screenwriting profile on Coverfly in seven easy steps.

How to create a professional screenwriting profile

Every professional screenwriter needs to have these 7 elements on their profile page:

  1. Your full name (or the name of your writing partnership)
  2. A (good) high-resolution headshot or profile photo. It’s never been easier to take a quality profile picture. Grab a friend (or a tripod), get some good lighting, turn on “portrait mode” and don’t stop until you get a great photo.
  3. Short bio. A three sentence bio is the industry standard and includes things like your most recent or most impressive accomplishment, an overview of your portfolio, and how your personal experience informs your writing.
  4. Latest draft, logline, and info for every project in your portfolio. More is always better.
  5. Representation status. Are you looking for representation? Do you already have representation? Please list it here
  6. Credits or previous work experience. If you’ve been staffed on a show, list it here
  7. Claim any wins, placements, or accolades. Now isn’t the time to be humble. If you placed—or won—any competitions list your successes. Awards and finalists lists are a great way to set your profile apart. Note: Coverfly automatically tracks placements for you, but if any Coverfly-qualifying placements are missing, you can request them be linked to your profile here.

Lastly, make sure to update your profile page URL with your name (not a string of random string of numbers). This not only makes your profile look more professional, it also (literally) gets your name out there if someone searches for you!

screenwriter profile accolades

It really does make a big difference when your profile is 100% up to date. Producers and development executives want to know their working with a pro. And agents, managers, and showrunners will appreciate your attention to detail.

What NOT to include in your screenwriter profile

A good profile is also clean. Keep your profile focused on the the genre or style of screenplay you want to sell or the type of show you want to be staffed on and you’ll increase your chances for success. Also, try to avoid these common screenwriter profile mistakes:

  • Grainy or low-quality profile photos
  • Weird jokes (unless you’re a comedy writer)
  • Run on sentences and overly long bios
  • Projects without loglines

The importance of a (good) screenwriter profile

Your screenwriting profile on Coverfly is your first—and often last—chance to make an impression with industry decision-makers. It has to shine. A bad or even just incomplete profile can derail your dreams of becoming a working screenwriter in a single glance. Studio executives and producers simply don’t have time to wade through mediocre writer profiles. If your name comes across someone’s desk, you have to stand out.

When your profile is ready to start pitching

Updating your screenwriting profile is an important step in your screenwriting career. Sometimes a great profile page can be all you need to give you the confidence—and industry visibility—to start pitching your projects, requesting coverage and feedback, and entering more contests to keep boosting your online presence.

A great way to test your shiny new profile is by entering our FREE Coverfly Pitch Week competition. This bi-annual, free, merit-based, program offers virtual pitch sessions for emerging writers. And it’s quickly become the entertainment industry’s most significant free pitch event for screenwriters.

Sign up or login into Coverfly to get alerts and notifications for the next Coverfly Pitch Week. If you create a great profile you’re already on your way to a professional screenwriting career.

Getting the Most Out of Screenplay Coverage: Expectations

By Advice, Screenwriting 101

Once a screenwriter sends their work out for feedback, their mind will undoubtedly start churning. The anticipation that comes with waiting for feedback can be anxiety-inducing.

A screenplay is never really finished until the film is wrapped, and even then the story evolves in during production. So it’s vital that writers learn to receive and apply notes with humility and grace, recognizing that it’s a collaborative effort with many creative minds. When receiving notes, a screenwriter needs to leave their ego at the door and accept feedback with an open mind. Sure, not every note will need to be (or should be) applied — all notes should all be considered with a proverbial grain of salt.

Take the notes as simply one reader’s reaction to your material. Just as every film has people who love it and people who dislike it, so will your script. Don’t take any praise or criticism personally.

Most scripts undergo dozens of rounds of notes and rewrites before going into production. It’s true that writing is re-writing.

To help manage your expectations, here is an example of the general format most script analysts follow when reviewing your screenplay:


Basic screenplay coverage usually touches upon the top portion of the graphic, providing you with the title, format, budget, genre, setting, logline, summary, and comments.

For more in-depth coverage, the script analyst will break down the strengths and weaknesses of each story trait found in the bottom of the graphic. These analyses can range from 5-10 pages. Traits evaluated could include Concept, Story, Characters, Structure, Pacing and Originality.

Here is a great example of coverage from our partner WeScreenplay.

As you break into the industry, one of the first lessons you’ll learn is that film is collaboration. There are many reasons an idea might work on the page but cannot practically be produced.

A producer may provide notes that ask you to cut back on an action sequence because the budget just won’t allow two car chases. Or the director may not believe a character’s goal is clear enough. It’s the writer’s job to fix these issues, and a writer will fix them. If your partners trust in your adaptability, hopefully you’ll be the one making the changes.

Over the course of your career, you’ll learn that a film is made through collaboration and that combining excitable minds will only make the final product that much better. Practice embracing notes now with peer-to-peer script exchanges and coverage services to help improve your work.

Here’s what you should NOT expect from your coverage.

  • All the Answers: A script analyst might provide some general suggestions, but they will not give you answers to the issues they highlight. That’s your job.
  • Ultimate Praise: Although a reader will hopefully lend some encouragement, don’t expect them to laud your work as the next great masterpiece. It’s their job to pick it apart.
  • Ridicule: Even if you really miss the mark, you should never be subjected to ridicule or demeaning language from your script analyst. If the abuse is coming from an organization, be sure to report it. If it is coming from a fellow writer or friend — you deserve to be surrounded by people who exude positive energy.
  • Subpar Coverage: You’ve invested plenty of time into writing the script, and you’re investing hard earned cash to get constructive feedback. So it’s only right to expect analysis that shows the reader actually read your work. Most reputable services will provide thorough and insightful critiques of your script. If you feel a coverage falls woefully short, politely reach out to the organization and they’ll most likely work with you to rectify the issue.

And another main reason that writers get feedback on their scripts is to increase their Coverfly Score. As a project improves with re-writes, each subsequent evaluation can count toward the aggregate weighted average of your Coverfly Score which in turns can help your project attract attention of industry professionals.

Kevin Nelson is a writer and director based in New York City, baby. He has written and produced critically acclaimed short films and music videos with incredibly talented artists, worked with anti-human trafficking organizations in Nepal, and would rather be in nature right now. Check out his Coverfly profile, see more madness on Instagram or follow his work on https://www.kevinpatricknelson.com

A Guide to Agents and Managers for Screenwriters

By Advice, Screenwriting 101

One of the most common questions we get at Coverfly is “how do I sign with an agent or manager?” There is no clear answer or path, and it is one of the aspects of the business of screenwriting with the most mystery and uncertainty swirling around it.  With the help of several industry professionals, we decided to demystify this for you.

And to be clear: just because you may have representation does not mean the rest of the screenwriting journey is smooth sailing. In fact, many writers have multiple reps over the course of their careers. Like any human relationship, the writer/rep relationship can be fraught with difficulties. Issues with personality, work ethic and expectations for your career can derail what should be a positive and symbiotic relationship.

Fortunately, the panelists in the Coverfly Career Lab’s second panel shared a lot about great ways to ensure that you have the right representation for you.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

As an up and coming writer, jumping at any agent or manager interested in repping you can set you up for trouble. You as the writer should know your wants and needs, and it is important to know these at the start of the representation pursuit. “It’s like a relationship,” says Matt Dy, a lit manager at Lit Entertainment Group, and he’s completely right. The best relationships develop naturally and are the ones where wants and needs are aligned.

Parker Davis, a lit agent at Verve Talent Agency, offers the helpful tidbit that “new writers should seek new managers.” Writers will often go through more than one manager or agent during the course of their career. Starting with a rep who is closer to your career level can help you team up with someone who is hungry, driven, and eager to get your work out there.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH

Another way you can know who the best reps are for you is to do your homework! “Do your due diligence” says Parker. By doing your research, you demonstrate that you’re proactive and understand the industry., Managers and agents are always eager to work with writers who aren’t afraid of doing the work.

It can also help to lean on other writers to get this homework done. Matt suggests writers groups as a great way to figure out the right reps for you (as well as commiserate with people going through the same journey as you). Not only that, but according to Ava Jamshidi, lit manager at Industry Entertainment, “building your network is how you build your opportunities.” Always remember that writers can help other writers! 

Another effective way to connect with managers and agents is via reputable screenwriting competitions which showcase their winners and finalists to their industry partners and judges. Hundreds of writers have signed with their first reps via industry writing competitions. Coverfly has a list of reputable screenwriting talent-discovery programs with upcoming deadlines. Click to submit your script here.

FIGURE OUT YOUR WORK PROCESS

Difference in work schedules and processes can also create a divide between writers and their new reps. You may be a seven outline kind of writer, but you could find yourself with a manager who wants to read a full draft first. Or you could have a micromanaging manager when you work much better independently.

So how can you avoid this pitfall? Write a lot of material (especially at the beginning of your career). “Make an effort to give us stuff to do stuff on your behalf” says Ava. It is important to remember that high output is vital. Telling reps how much you write is really important. Also, Matt Dy offers a good piece of advice; “operate like a working writer”. That means treating your writing like your job and showing up every day to write pages and make progress on your scripts.

DON’T LOSE YOUR VOICE

You’ll probably see this running motif through these blogs, but having a unique voice is one of your most important assets as a writer. Finding and keeping your voice establishes your brand as a writer. Your unique voice helps showcase your passion as a writer, and “passion stands out” says Parker. Matt also encourages writers to use their “voice to stand out in a crowded field.”

So how does that translate into getting reps? It is important to use your voice to keep the work you are presenting consistent. This helps a rep know how to market you to the industry so you can get hired for writing assignments, sell your projects and get staffed on television shows. Also, it is crucial to learn how to keep your voice present in writing script after script. “Don’t dilute your voice writing in ten different things” says Ava, which is important to establish for a successful career.

And be sure to write a great professional bio for your Coverfly profile. Agents and managers are perusing Coverfly’s database every day looking for emerging writers who are ready to sign with professional representation. Having a great Coverfly profile can help you stand out.

Curious about the difference between agents and managers? Check out this blog post from our partners at ScreenCraft: 8 Differences Between Agents and Managers

dialogue coverfly

Improving Your Screenplay’s Dialogue 

By Advice, Screenwriting 101

Great dialogue has provided some of the most memorable moments in film history and can make or break the viability of your screenplay.

Dialogue is the expression of your character’s point of view and the relationships between characters. It serves as a vital tool for developing your characters, establishing back story and tone, as well as advancing your plot. But a word to the wise, dialogue when written poorly can be a clunky vehicle for exposition. As screenwriter Josh Friedman said, “Bad exposition is like bad lighting. It exposes more than it illuminates.” 

Your dialogue should feel natural and real while being carefully crafted to serve the narrative.

Dialogue also serves to build a bond with your audience by inviting them to understand what the characters say “between the lines.” The subtext of what a character says is often more important than what they say literally. And a character’s action or silence in a scene can signify much more than what they say with words. As Billy Wilder famously said of Lubitsch: “Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.” This is true with plot as well as with dialogue. Let the audience have an “aha!” moment when reading (or watching) your characters’ dialogue.

Here are some ways to improve your screenplay’s dialogue.

1. Every Character Needs Their Own Voice

Seldom should two characters have the same cadence and word choice. Their dialogue needs to be suited to their personalities. 

It’s best to leave things like dialects up to the actors because it can become distracting to readers. Remember, you want your screenplay to read as flawlessly as possible. Instead, try and squeeze in some regional words used by the locals of your setting. 

2. Make Each Line Matter

The main way that dialogue in screenwriting differs from how we speak in real life is that there is no time for filler statements or superfluous monologues. 

Every element of your script needs to be moving toward the climax as a cohesive unit. Dialogue included. Remain on topic, and always ask yourself whether a particular line of dialogue needs to be said.

Your dialogue should reflect the theme and tone of your screenplay while advancing the plot. Don’t waste time explaining things that your characters can show through action. Go through early drafts of your script and cut out any filler.

3. Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Your characters don’t always need to announce what they intend to do or how they feel. You’re likely to lose momentum that way. Don’t stop the narrative so that a character can plan out the rest of the movie. If they’re sad, show them listening to love ballads and crying. 

If a line of dialogue can be shown through action instead of being stated, the writing becomes more engrossing to a reader. 

4. Don’t Say Anything at All

Silence can be louder than words. Sometimes what is left unsaid rings out louder than a shout and creates a deeper sense of understanding between the audience and your characters.

Misunderstanding based on miscommunication can create a lot of conflict in your script.

A great example of this is the Black Mirror episode The Entire History of You. 

The main character replays his memories, picking up on subtle hints that lead him to believe his wife is having an affair. Through minor mannerisms and silent gestures, he’s able to piece together the truth behind his paranoia. 

5. Subtlety and Elusiveness

Keeping certain information from either the reader or characters helps keep the action intriguing. It also shifts the power dynamics of the relationship. Don’t show all of your cards right away. Up the stakes by raising the bet and keep your hand close to your chest.

You can utilize the hidden information based on the genre you’re writing for. For instance, when an audience knows a killer is lurking somewhere in the shadows but the character is unaware, you can create a real sense of dread and fear.

If there is a big reveal at the end of your script, include some instances of foreshadowing in the dialogue throughout the screenplay that point toward the reveal without giving anything away.

6. Build Up Suspense

Expository dialogue can lose the reader/viewer’s attention if it doesn’t lead them to some sort of payoff. 

A great example of this is the basement scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.

When American troops posing as German soldiers are cornered into a small room with only one way out by actual German soldiers, there is an impending doom that cannot be ignored — regardless of how long the conversation becomes. 

Readers and viewers know something is going to happen — so suspending that explosive moment for as long as possible while increasing the tension can have a dramatic effect.

As a jovial drinking game is played, little bits of information are revealed through the dialogue, until a seemingly mundane hand gesture increases the tension to a simmering point and leaves the audience on the edge of their seat waiting for the ball to drop.

7. Interruptions and Ellipses 

A great way to capture the emotion of your character is to interrupt their speech with a double dash (–) at the point of interruption, or an ellipses (…) if the dialogue is interrupted by action. Be careful of overusing the ellipses. This is a common mistake made by aspiring writers.

Another way you can use an interruption to your advantage is to interrupt long stretches of action with a reactionary line of dialogue. This helps create a little white space. If your character shoots a basketball and misses, will they be silent with their reaction? 

8. Dual Dialogue

Dual dialogue is another way to make your dialogue more realistic. If two characters are in a heated argument, they’re not going to wait for the other to finish their sentence. 

Characters shouldn’t just wait for the other to finish their line — they’re engaging in a conversation. They should listen, ignore, interrupt, talk over, and react to what is being said to them.

Writer and director Greta Gerwig managed to flawlessly pull off dual dialogue in Little Women by making uses of slashes (/) to signify the interruption point. 

For example:

Dual Dialogue Little Women

Gerwig has stated that her dialogue forms a rhythm, so having specific points where the characters interrupt each other allows the story to remain on beat.  

You can create dual dialogue in Final Draft by highlighting two characters’ dialogue and pressing command + D.

9. Avoid Clichés

If it’s been said before, say it differently or don’t say it at all.

It is often said that dialogue is the element of your screenplay that can really make the difference between a great script and one that isn’t quite there yet. With a little refinement and rewriting, your dialogue could help your screenplay catch the eyes and minds of the right people.

If you’d like to do more research on ways to improve your dialogue, seek out and read your favorite screenplays in the genre you wish to make your brand. Take notes. 

How are the lines delivered? What are the commonalities and differences between scripts? How does each line of dialogue capture each character’s personality?

Kevin Nelson is a writer and director based in New York City, baby. He has written and produced critically acclaimed short films and music videos with incredibly talented artists, worked with anti-human trafficking organizations in Nepal, and would rather be in nature right now. Check out his Coverfly profile, see more madness on Instagram or follow his work on https://www.kevinpatricknelson.com