Category

Announcements

Announcing coverflyX: A Peer-to-Peer Script Notes Exchange

By | Announcements

Today, we’re excited to announce coverflyX,  a new service from Coverfly – and we think it’s going to be a game-changer for screenwriters.

Up until now, if a writer wanted feedback on their screenplay, they’d have to either pay for professional feedback from a coverage service or screenwriting competition, or they’d have to ask a friend to read it. But not everyone has money, and not everyone has friends.

coverflyX, short for “Coverfly eXchange”, is a free service that allows writers to get peer notes on their screenplays in return for Coverfly tokens. Coverfly tokens have no monetary value and cannot be sold or bought.  Instead, writers can earn tokens by providing notes on the work of other Coverfly users, and in turn they can exchange those tokens for feedback on their own projects.

Upon receiving the feedback from the peer reviewer, the writer will be prompted to rate their reader’s feedback. Readers with higher ratings will have access to more scripts in the coverflyX marketplace, and will also be able to guarantee a certain quality of readers that have access to their own scripts.

coverflyX tokens are also given out to writers on Coverfly with Coverfly Scores above 400.  In addition, tokens can be spent by submitting to Coverfly’s list of Open Writing Assignments.

coverflyX writers can offer a “bid” of tokens for feedback on their projects. These tokens go to the reader that claims and completes the feedback. So, for example, you might bid 3 tokens on one of your feature scripts that’s 120 pages in length. If the bid is too low (and there are other scripts of similar length offering more than 3 tokens on the marketplace), then it may go unclaimed by readers, in which case, the writer might have to increase the bid to have it claimed.

coverflyX readers will have five days upon claiming feedback to complete their notes, which consist of 300 words on the strengths of the script, 300 words on the weaknesses of the script, and an optional section for any additional thoughts. Readers who do not complete the feedback on time will be penalized with “strikes“. Too many strikes, and the reader’s account could be suspended.

This concept is new, and largely experimental.  We don’t know yet if the marketplace will be able to balance itself and meet the demands of writers requesting peer notes, so we’ll be constantly monitoring and evolving the platform in the coming months.  Please feel free to reach out with any feedback!

Coverfly doesn’t charge a penny for this service.  No credit card or personal information is needed to sign up.  We hope coverflyX becomes another arrow in the quiver of writers as they develop their stories.

Of course, Coverfly also offers many other services to screenwriters. Notably: The Red List, a curated list of Screenwriting Competitions, and OWAs (Open Writing Assignments).

 

 

An Open Letter to Our Community

By | About Coverfly, Announcements

UPDATE 6/3/2018: The blog post referenced in the letter below was taken offline by the post’s author a few hours after we posted this response. We have preserved the language from the blog post, and our line-by-line responses, below.

To the Screenwriting Community,

I’m Scot, the co-founder of Coverfly. I’ve spent the last few years of my life building Coverfly. In the past few weeks, Coverfly has been the target of a coordinated effort by a competitor to smear our company amongst writers and screenwriting contests alike.

TL;DR: The short version of this long post is that Coverfly is and always has been committed to helping, protecting and promoting emerging screenwriters. At the bottom of this letter is a point-by-point response to the defamatory blog post by a competitor which claims too many false things to succinctly state in this opening paragraph.

When we first launched the writer-facing side of Coverfly a few months ago, we genuinely believed that writers were going to be thrilled: for the first time, there was a platform that made it easy to track your submissions across all of the best talent discovery platforms, and we made it free. 

And for the most part, writers have been thrilled. We’ve had over 8,000 writers sign up in just a few months and have facilitated multiple success stories on behalf of writers just in the past few weeks. We take the responsibility of providing excellent technology and service to our partners and customers very seriously. 

Still, there has been a rumor peddled– without any substantiating evidence– that we were somehow scamming or mishandling writers’ data. Many of these defamatory posts by anonymous authors were driving home the same erroneous charges against us, even as we provided evidence against them. Most recently, a blog post by an anonymous author began circulating. If you haven’t seen the post from the anonymous poster, we have included it below this letter. The same person who posted it also created fake Twitter, Stage32, Reddit and Gmail accounts and sent the post to many top festivals and competition administrators. The post is riddled with fabrications and half-truths that intentionally portray Coverly in a nefarious light. 

My objective here will be both to address the claims made in the blog post, and also to show why someone would go to such an extent to make all of this up and share it so persistently.

I address each of the claims in the post, point by point, below this letter. 

When we first read it, we saw right away that somebody was intentionally manipulating and misrepresenting the facts. We did have some reason to suspect a specific competitor. While we were careful not to jump to any conclusions, we decided to look further into it.

Fortunately, the author did a poor job of covering his tracks, and failed to realize that screenshots hold potentially identifying information about the individual who took them. The author neglected to remove the metadata from the screenshot of The Script Lab’s announcement of its partnership with Red Ampersand. This metadata (also known as “exif” data) includes the date and time that the screenshot was taken (which is also directly in the filename), as well as information about the make and model of the computer monitor it was taken on.

I was able to look at The Script Lab’s traffic logs to see the visitor on the screen-shotted page at the exact time indicated by the image the author posted. The only user who visited the page within several hours of the timestamp came from an IP which geolocates to where we had predicted the competitor was, and is, operating from, in a specific city and neighborhood (not in California).

While this piece of evidence was substantial, we came across further evidence that validated our hypothesis. Months ago, we corresponded privately with this competitor and they emailed us a screenshot of something unrelated to the current situation. I scanned the metadata on that screenshot and found that the signature on the monitor matched exactly the signature on the monitor of the screenshot on the blog post. This would indicate that whoever posted the blog post uses the same exact type of monitor (make and model) as the competitor we corresponded with a few months ago; it’s an expensive large-screen Apple display that was discontinued by Apple a couple of years ago. The metadata also reveals that the specific color configuration (also known as an ICC profile) of the monitor was identical, as well. 

Given the evidence I was able to extract from the image in the post that fully corroborated our hypothesis, we are very confident that as we continue to pull this string, the truth will continue to come out.

We’ve had this information for about a week, and had decided to keep it under wraps until we could consult with a legal team, gather more information, and figure out how to approach it properly. As such, yesterday we enlisted a team of lawyers to pursue this case.

However, the recent flare-up of posts on Twitter and elsewhere left us no choice but to speak up immediately – if we don’t defend ourselves in the court of public opinion with the information we have at this moment, our brand and reputation that we’ve worked so hard to build could be tarnished forever. Our legal team has advised us not to publicly expose the name of the subject of our investigation at this point until we know all the facts.

I am, and always have been, an open book regarding Coverfly. I am immensely proud of what I and the rest of my hardworking team have created, and I’m committed to staking my reputation on it. I realize there are people in this industry who take advantage of aspiring screenwriters, but there are also people who work hard to do great things for emerging writers. I’m a software engineer who didn’t expect to end up in this space, but I’m not going anywhere, and I will continue to strive to make it a nicer place while I’m around. I promise complete transparency and honesty as this story develops. 

I believe that we’ve created an immensely valuable tool for writers. I welcome examination of Coverfly and the other brands owned by Red Ampersand. To that end, I ask that you examine the claims levied against us in the defamatory post with careful attention. We are here, and we are real. Don’t let anonymous con artists shake your faith. 

Best,

Scot Lawrie

Co-founder, Coverfly


Below is the original post by the anonymous source, with my point-by-point response in turquoise.


Unmasking the Coverfly Scam Network

Yes, this is our logo.

 

I recently uncovered a complex scam called Coverfly that is using a variety of deceptive and illegal schemes to steal personal information from screenwriters in order to exploit their intellectual property and cheat them out of money.

Coverfly is free – I’m not sure how the author means we’d be cheating anyone out of money. No one has ever come forward and claimed to have been charged for something they didn’t purchase from a contest.  We charge the competitions that accept submissions a small percentage of their submission fees. We aren’t sharing any intellectual property with anyone without express permission. The only people who have access to screenplays are the writers who submit them and the contests they submit them to. If writers then choose to make their projects public, their projects become viewable to the industry (via our Industry Dashboard).

When we first launched, I don’t think we had clear enough messaging around how our service worked. There were some understandably concerned writers who weren’t sure why they could create an account and subsequently find past contest placements and scripts already in their dashboard.

To explain – every contest and festival uses technology to manage their competition, whether it’s Google Drive, Dropbox, Salesforce, or other platforms. That’s exactly what Coverfly was prior to October 2017 – a private, secure, best-in-class place for contest administrators simply to manage submissions. When we launched our writer-facing dashboard in 2017, there were thousands of writers’ submissions already in the Coverfly system, within each contest administrator’s account, and we made the decision to give those writers (and only those writers) access to their own submissions upon creating a Coverfly account. The alternative would have been to hide screenplays that contest administrators had on the Coverfly platform. The idea was to create transparency, but it created confusion. 

 

The young “frat bro” owners of Coverfly also operate a large network of shady screenplay contests under various brand names, which are detailed below, and other related websites whose primary business is to prey upon naive screenwriters.

The network isn’t large at all (just WeScreenplay and ScreenCraft), and we’re quite proud of being associated with both of these services’ sterling reputations and many success stories and prestigious industry partnerships. There are indeed shady, anonymous contests, festivals and services out there, but ScreenCraft and WeScreenplay have a track record of transparency and generating success and real career momentum for their many winners and finalists. Just ask a winner or check out some success stories listed on ScreenCraft’s website. And Google reviews. 

 

Don’t be fooled by the many major logos featured on their website. I reached out to the the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and was told they have absolutely zero affiliation with Coverfly and that they will be demanding their logo be removed from the Coverfly site immediately.

We had the logo there because we have an integration to allow writers optionally to sync their Academy Nicholl Fellowship placements data automatically on Coverfly, which has been a very popular feature with our users (both writers and industry professionals). This feature is integral to the value proposition we have of offering centralization for talent-discovery programs for the industry to see lots of data all in one place, and to offer emerging writers more control over how their data is presented to the industry.  We’ve spoken with the heads of Nicholl and they are aware of this integration.

 

The good news is that word about the Coverfly scam is rapidly making its way around the screenwriting community. And it looks like there are many others like me that have been burned by these crooks.

This “word” has mostly spread by the very author of this post, hiding behind different aliases.

 

Check out these threads below for more helpful information about the Coverfly scam:

Reddit

Stage32

After many back and forth emails and phone calls with contests, submission platforms, and other screenwriters, along with some good old fashioned internet sleuthing, I have uncovered some very disturbing information that all writers should be aware of.

PART 1: How Coverfly Steals Screenwriters’ Personal Information

Coverfly has come up with an ingenious scheme where they have managed to convince several screenplay contests and film festivals to allow Coverfly to provide cheap screenplay reading and script judging services. In other words, screenplay contests pay Coverfly a small fee to read and score their screenplay entries.

This is partially true – we do offer to hire carefully vetted and hand-picked readers on behalf of contests who need help finding experienced script readers. These professional readers are separated by contest, and each contest has its own judging criteria, metrics, goals and unique juries.  Almost all of the competitions on our platform hire their own readers directly, though. 

 

Contests don’t want to read and judge hundreds, maybe even thousands of scripts. So why not pay Coverfly to do the grunt work? Not exactly ethical for a contest to be outsourcing their script reading, but I digress. The real question is how can Coverfly turn a profit reading scripts for so little money? And how can they possibly read all those thousands of scripts?

Coverfly doesn’t turn a profit, yet. We’re a young and quickly growing platform and we expect to be profitable soon. We make money by charging contest administrators a small submission fee, just like other submission platforms, in exchange for offering our software for automating admin and keeping the process of evaluating thousands of screenplays organized and very efficient – so they can focus on the important work of reading screenplays, deciding on winners, and organizing their festival or mentorship programs. 

Every single script that comes through our system gets read and evaluated at least once. We keep meticulously organized records, and those evaluations are closely reviewed and maintained. 

 

Well, it turns out Coverfly is not interested in making money providing script reading/judging services so much as they are interested in stealing the sensitive and valuable customer data (screenwriters) of the contests they supposedly serve.

We steal no data. We have a transparent and stringent data use and privacy policy which is clearly stated on our website. User privacy and protecting the intellectual property of writers is of paramount importance to us. The only data we collect at checkout are writers’ emails, names, and script information. We haven’t sent a single marketing email to anyone who has signed up to Coverfly. We’ve certainly never sold our email database to anyone, nor will we. It’s hard to respond to an accusation that’s so vague, but we’ve always been very careful with the limited data we have on writers. 

 

My unfortunate experience with the Coverfly fraudsters all started when I submitted my screenplay to a contest called the Page International Screenwriting Awards, which is a legitimate contest with a good reputation in the industry. Then something weird happened…

I received an email from a company called Coverfly telling me how to access my new Coverfly account. Huh? Coverfly was also trying to get me to pay money and upgrade to something called “The Red List” (a blatant rip-off of a legitimate service called the Black List). Wait, hold on. I’ve never even heard of Coverfly, and I sure haven’t registered for their service. So how is it possible that I have an account with them? And why are they spamming me trying to get me to give them money? How in the world did they get my personal information in the first place?

Coverfly is free for writers and there is no “upgrade” to be on the Red List. What most writers don’t know is that Coverfly’s backend administration platform for contests is quite robust. Many organizational partners use us to manage their submissions and readers, which requires importing submissions from third party platforms into Coverfly so that those scripts can become available to their readers and judges, all in one easy-to-manage place. This is similar to contests using Google Drive, Dropbox, or any other 3rd party cloud-based platform to manage their submissions. When this import happens, we email the writer a confirmation receipt with a link to let them know that they can update their submission in Coverfly, if they want. For competitions that don’t allow draft updates, we don’t send those emails. 

It’s worth also mentioning that The Red List is not in any way a ripoff of The Black List. While the name is a nod to the prestigious annual ranking of best unproduced screenplays, the actual purpose of The Red List is to present a dynamically updated leaderboard of the top projects currently opted-in to Coverfly’s industry-facing database. 

When we launched in October of 2017, we sent confirmation emails to writers when they submitted to contests that tracked placements on Coverfly letting them know that they could see their placement on Coverfly itself. In early February of 2018, we stopped sending those confirmation emails, as we didn’t feel they were critical to the writer’s experience in the competition.

 

Here’s how.

When a contest hires Coverfly to read scripts, Coverfly will ask for sub-user access to the contest’s FilmFreeway or Withoutabox account so that they can access the contest’s scripts “for judging purposes.”

To clarify, every contest on Coverfly has its own set of readers. 

FilmFreeway and Withoutabox have settings that allow festival sub-users (judges) access to anonymized scripts only, with no cover pages, no names, and no contact information of screenwriters. To get around this, Coverfly told contests that in order for their so called “software to interface correctly” they needed full sub-user access to the script files. A little tech jargon goes a long way.

I’m not sure what the author is trying to say here. Some contest administrators give Coverfly access to their accounts on FilmFreeway and Withoutabox so that the entries can be aggregated and judged in one centralized place. That’s an awesome feature for contests, and a lot better for writers than the contest just storing the submissions in Google Drive, for example, because with Coverfly, the writers can now have access to their submissions, to track or altogether delete them if they want. We’re helping give more control and transparency to writers over their data. 

 

Little did the festivals know that Coverfly then downloaded the personal information of ALL their entrants and then used that information to create Coverfly accounts for each of them, all without the knowledge or permission of the contest, and more importantly, the screenwriters!

The contests’ administrators were the ones explicitly using Coverfly to manage and aggregate their submissions. Not a single contest, festival, lab or fellowship that has used this functionality is unaware that they’re using it. We’ve never created Coverfly accounts for writers without them explicitly signing up. As addressed several paragraphs above, some writers have signed up, seen their past submissions, and been confused as to how they got there. We recognized this confusion when we first launched and we improved functionality and communication on the site in January to address the issue. Again, we have NEVER created accounts for writers without their permission.

 

Coverfly, being the brazen con-artists that they are, then had the audacity to email the very writers whose information they stole, welcoming them to Coverfly and trying to upsell them a variety of B.S. screenwriting services. WHAT THE ACTUAL F@&!?

We’ve never sent a single marketing email to writers that have signed up for Coverfly. The only email we’ve ever sent to any segment of the Coverfly user list was an email updating our users on our GDPR compliant data use policy a few weeks ago. We send transactional emails to our users, such as receipts when they submit to one of the many organizations on our platform, or when their scores are updated (if they have created a Coverfly account). 

 

Since I only use FilmFreeway and Withoutabox to submit to contests, the first thing I did was email them both and ask them how the hell Coverfly got my information. I received a reply almost immediately from FilmFreeway:

“Similar to what you describe, recently we have received multiple complaints from customers informing us that Coverfly has gained access to their personal information through festival subuser accounts and used this information to market their own services. This is a violation of our Terms of Service and absolutely not tolerated on FilmFreeway.

We take the protection of our users’ information very seriously and have permanently banned Coverfly from FilmFreeway, severed their access, and deactivated all of Coverfly’s festival subuser accounts. Festivals that were using Coverfly’s services have been informed of the deactivation of Coverfly’s accounts.”

It’s true that FilmFreeway emailed our contests’ administrators with incorrect information that they did not verify first.

 

So Coverfly tricked contests and film festivals into giving them full access to their entries and then used that data to market and sell their own crappy services. This is fraud.

This is completely false. We never “tricked” any contests. We have direct relationships and clear written agreements with every contest administrator that uses our platform. Regarding the accusation that we’ve used any data to market to our services – see above – we’ve never marketed our services to Coverfly users via email. 

 

Once FilmFreeway cut off their access, Coverfly was quick to adapt. Coverfly opened their own submission platform for screenplay contests, basically a crappy WordPress version of Filmfreeway and Withoutabox. With their own submission platform in hand, they no longer needed sub-user access to screenplay contests because writers’ personal information and scripts are now uploaded directly to Coverfly! All under the guise of “processing submissions” for other screenplay contests and film festivals.

Actually, we just recently opened our writer-facing submission platform (which is not a WordPress site, by the way) in October 2017. Plus, we encouraged writers to submit and contests to accept submissions from any platform that was best for writers — FilmFreeway, Withoutabox, ISA, Submittable. We were first and foremost a management tool for festivals and competitions. Coverfly is a robust submissions management platform used by dozens of top industry organizations. 

 

I did not receive a response to my email to Withoutabox, so I am unable to confirm whether or not Coverfly has also been banned from Withoutabox. It is possible that Coverfly may still using Withoutabox to steal screenwriter information from contests.

Same as above, we do not steal data. Also, in my experience, Withoutabox has always responded to customer support emails. It’s hard to believe that they would ignore the claims made above. 

 

I have also written to several screenplay contests that are listed on Coverfly’s website. Virtually all of them expressed shock and claimed they had no idea that Coverfly had been using their data to create Coverfly accounts for their submitters. Several of them, including Page Awards, have already vanished from the Coverfly website and I expect that the rest will too when they find out how Coverfly operates.

This is completely incorrect. We have direct, warm relationships with every contest administrator on Coverfly and speak to many of them on a weekly basis to make sure their competitions’ staff, readers and judges are having a good experience and that their processes are running smoothly. 

We still have a great relationship with PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, which is an excellent organization and one of the best competitions available to writers. Their most recent contest submissions cycle just ended, which is why their contest is no longer listed on our active competitions page. You can read PAGE’s own statement about their relationship with us here.

 

It gets deeper…

Part 2: A Network of Contests and Websites Preying on Screenwriters

The owners of Coverfly also own and manage a large network of screenplay contests and screenwriting related websites all operating under different brands. As others have noted in the Coverfly threads linked above, at minimum, this amounts to a HUGE conflict of interest.

WeScreenplay and ScreenCraft are organizations that we are very proud to be affiliated with. We’re transparent with both writers and contests that our parent company owns both of these services, as well. Our parent company Red Ampersand is linked to on every one of our websites and all of this information is in our “Meet the Team” page which is linked on the homepage menu bar of Coverfly.

 

Screenwriters who submit their scripts to these umbrella-owned contests think they’re entering their script into several contests, but are unwittingly sending their script (and their money) to the SAME DAMN COMPANY, and paying triple, quadruple, or even more (depending on how many of their shitty contests they get duped into entering).

WeScreenplay and ScreenCraft have different juries, different readers, different staff, different read structures, and different prizes. They’re owned by the same company, but beyond that, they’re completely different services, and we’re proud of both of them. 

 

The owners of the Coverfly companies go out of their way to hide, obfuscate and conceal the true ownership, management and relation of their contests and brands.

This is false. Almost every single screenshot/link that the author cites below is from a page on one of our properties.  Our parent company Red Ampersand is linked on every one of our websites and all of this information is in our “Meet the Team” page which is linked on the homepage menu bar of Coverfly. 

 

The parent company is called Red Ampersand Inc., and here is a list of the contests and companies we know they own so far.

Screencraft

Screencraft operates at least 15 different screenplay contests.

Technically, this is correct, but it’s misleading when taken out of context. Most competitions lump all genres and formats into a single contest with separate categories. ScreenCraft, on the other hand, breaks their competitions into separate contests by genre and format, which explains why there are this many.

One of the reasons ScreenCraft goes to the trouble of producing so many genre-specific annual screenwriting competitions is that they see value in tailoring the industry jury to each major genre, to eliminate genre-bias and to create a more focused, valuable experience for their writers because they know they’re submitting to readers and judges who love and specialize in the genre of their screenplay. 

ScreenCraft spends a lot of time and energy coordinating top-notch industry jurors for ScreenCraft’s targeted genre-specific competitions, as well as time spent developing and promoting winners to the industry. It’s the reason why ScreenCraft has such a long track record of writer success stories.

 

And here’s a real doozy. It turns out that the winner of Screencraft’s Fellowship $1,000 prize was none other than Coverfly’s co-founder and CEO, Mark Stasenko. But I’m sure that was just a crazy coincidence. I’m sure his script really was the best.

Mark won the ScreenCraft Fellowship in the beginning of 2015. Mark’s first encounter with ScreenCraft was when they called him to notify him that he had won the contest, and there’s a back-and-forth email thread to prove it. I didn’t meet John or Cameron from ScreenCraft until mid-2016, about a year and a half after Mark won their contest, to show them Coverfly (at the time, a fledgling software with very few industry partners). 

In the beginning of 2017, about two years later, ScreenCraft merged with the teams behind WeScreenplay and Coverfly, under one umbrella: Red Ampersand, Inc.

The only reason we came to know ScreenCraft is because of Mark’s interactions with John and Cameron after he won. One of the reasons Mark advocated for joining ScreenCraft was because he experienced firsthand how valuable ScreenCraft’s approach had been for him; his ScreenCraft win landed him a manager who has actively shaped his writing career. If you can’t tell, I’m immensely proud to be on the same team as Mark, who experienced firsthand the benefits of screenwriting competitions.

 

Screencraft offers screenwriter “consulting” services ranging from $40 to $1,095.

This is true. Ask anyone who’s ever bought “Cameron’s Notes” and they’ll tell you they’re the best notes they’ve ever gotten. They’re not only notes –  they’re also phone calls, multiple reads of new drafts, and additional projects and ongoing development attention. It’d be hard to honestly argue anyone cares more about aspiring writers and the story development process than Cameron, who has been sought out to read for many organizations besides ScreenCraft, including the Sundance Institute, Lionsgate, Paradigm, Amazon Studios, Resolution, and many other companies. 

 

WeScreenplay

WeScreenplay operates at least 4 different screenplay contests.

This is true – except WeScreenplay only runs 3 now – one for TV, one for features, and one diversity-focused screenwriting program that has raised over $12,000 for charity (Books for Kids and Array Alliance).

 

We Screenplay offers “coverage” services ranging from $69 to $199.

This is also true, and I’m quite proud of it. $69 for 5 pages of notes in 72 hours. 

 

The Script Lab

A writers “educational blog” that serves as a funnel directing writers right back to Coverfly’s website.

Yes, The Script Lab is an educational blog. We have one link to Coverfly and have sent a single email out to the TSL subscribers announcing Coverfly’s new features. The Script Lab also hosted the online TSL Writer’s Summit that raised over $10,000 for industry nonprofits last year.

 

The People Responsible

Mark Stasenko

The real CEO of Coverfly is Mark Stasenko.  He is also listed as the Founder of WeScreenplay. We remember Mark as the winner of Screencraft’s $1,000 Fellowship Prize.

This is true. Mark is a damn good screenwriter. Winning the Fellowship is also how Mark first met John and Cameron – see a few paragraphs above for details.

 

Not surprisingly, Mark and his team go through great effort to hide the fact that he is the Coverfly CEO. Perhaps because Mark was awarded the Screencraft Fellowship prize they want to distance his perceived involvement with Coverfly and Screencraft?

Mark was the CEO of Coverfly into 2017 and never attempted to hide it. In fact, this post itself links to 3 different places where Mark publicly announces he’s the CEO, on record. In late 2017, he got a job writing on a Netflix show and had to take a backseat with his duties at Coverfly. I’ve taken on the leadership role at this point, but I prefer to focus more on the technical development of Coverfly than the business side.  

 

If you visit the Coverfly website, Mark is listed waaaay down near the bottom of the site as simply “an advisor,” with just a very brief, 2-line biography. Just an advisor, right? Certainly not a decision maker.

Mark is certainly a decision maker and helps out with day-to-day operations when he can. I’m not really sure what the author is getting at here.

 

Ah, but they left a paper trail. The Internet never forgets. Back in October 2016. Mark issued a press release where he identifies himself as the “CEO of Coverfly” and talks about how Coverfly “acquired” another of their own companies, The Script Lab. Hmm, how convenient.

But in fact we were the ones who posted that press release on our own website. Mark was justifiably proud of the early version of Coverfly back in 2016. Also, The Script Lab has been around for a decade. It became Coverfly’s “own company” when we acquired it in 2016, as stated.

 

Interesting how the CEO and founder of Coverfly is now just a lowly “advisor” on the Coverfly website.

Also, in April 2017, there was an announcement made on The Script Lab website that “The parent company, Red Ampersand, Inc., formed in January 2017, is owned by partners John Rhodes, Scot Lawrie, Mark Stasenko and Cameron Cubbison.”

Mark also left a trail on the Internet where he is listed as CEO and Co-founder of Coverfly here, here, and here.

Again, the above is simply a screenshot of our website. We were the ones who posted and shared this information. If we had been trying to hide it, we wouldn’t have posted it. When Mark was hired as a full-time staff writer on a Netflix show, he stopped working for Coverfly and WeScreenplay for a few months. During that time Coverfly added its “Meet the Team” page, and we listed him as an advisor because he wasn’t able to be involved in the day-to-day work and decisions. Mark has recently been added back on in a more full-time capacity until his next writing gig.

 

John Rhodes

John Rhodes is the Co-founder of Screencraft and is also listed on Coverfly as just a lowly “advisor,” again, way down near the very bottom the advisors list.

Oddly, John has been doing multiple podcast appearances where he describes himself as “Head of Marketing and Business Development of Coverfly.” Seems like a greater role than that of just an advisor to me.

Interesting how Coverfly has its “advisors” handling all its important PR and media appearances. Lies, lies and more lies.

There are no lies here. John spends most of his time leading the ScreenCraft team. When he is working on Coverfly, it’s in a marketing and business development capacity, and sometimes speaking with press. These days, Coverfly is mostly focused on technical development and operationally interfacing with our industry professionals who use Coverfly to discover emerging talent, and our organizational partners who use Coverfly to host their competitions, festivals, fellowships and labs. John is one of four partners and owners of our parent company Red Ampersand. 

 

John is also listed in first position on the ownership list of Red Ampersand.

Correct — we’ve posted publicly about our ownership.

 

Scot Lawrie

Scott Lawrie is listed on the Coverfly site as its President and CTO and one of the 4 principal owners of Red Ampersand.

As others have noted, depending on what site you check, Scott lists his occupation as either “Software Engineer” or “Script Consultant,” yet on the Reddit thread he admits, after bringing questioned by a reader, that he is “not a qualified script reader.”

My name is spelled with one t. I’m a software engineer.  Stage32 asked for my occupation when I signed up for an account and there was no (and there still is not) option for “software engineer”. Since I was working on WeScreenplay at the time, I simply put “Script Consultant” because that was the closest thing to what I was doing. 

 

Cameron Cubbison

Cameron Cubbison is listed as the Co-founder of Screencraft and one of the 4 principal owners of Red Ampersand.

This is true.

 

How Deep Does it Go?

I have a feeling we are just scratching the surface of how deep this Coverfly, Red Ampersand, WeScreenplay, Screencraft, and Script Lab network goes.

There are no other products or services owned by Red Ampersand.

 

If you don’t want your information stolen by Coverly, stay FAR AWAY from any contest or film festival that is listed on their website, otherwise you might as well just give them your personal information, your scripts, and all your IP.

These guys should be investigated immediately for deceptive business practices and criminal fraud.

We’d welcome an investigation. 

 

Please share this information on social media and pass this information along to your screenwriter friends.

Don’t let any more naive screenwriters fall victim to these predators!

If you got through this entire point-by-point response, thank you for taking the time to give us a fair shake. We welcome any further questions, comments or ideas. Our goal is to provide an innovative new platform that brings transparency, efficiency and organization to the process of screenwriter talent discovery in Hollywood. We’re collaborative, and open to feedback of all kinds. Please feel free to email us or ping us on social media. We want to hear from you. 

Screenwriter Patrick Byrne Signs with Literary Manager via Coverfly

By | Announcements, Success Stories

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

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

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

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

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

 

ScreenCraft Winners Colin Dalvit & Andrew Lahmann Sign with Manager Josh Dove at IPG

By | Announcements, Success Stories

Congratulations to screenwriting duo Colin Dalvit & Andrew Lahmann who won the ScreenCraft Action & Thriller Screenplay Contest in 2016. Just last week, they were discovered via Coverfly and signed by literary manager Josh Dove at Intellectual Property Group who discovered and read their script The Timbermen.

Intellectual Property Group is the literary management company behind such clients as Oscar-winner Paul Haggis (Crash and Million Dollar Baby) and Dennis Lehane (writer of cinematically adapted novels including Mystic River, Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone).

Colin and Andrew are writers, directors, and producers from Washington state, and together they founded film production company P-51 Pictures. The company’s first major film project was the award-winning feature documentary Out of Nothing, produced along with actor Ryan Stiles. The film is about a ragtag team of motorcycle builders determined to crush land speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The film played in film festivals around the world and was picked up for distribution by ESPN and Studio Canal.


Read Spotlight on: Action & Thriller Contest Winners Colin Dalvit & Andrew Lahmann.


Actor/comedian Ryan Stiles and Producer Andrew Lahmann consult on one of P-51 Pictures’ community projects to help students in Toledo, WA.


Congratulations to Colin and Andrew! Coverfly is proud to be part of your journey.

Find out more about their projects at P-51 Pictures.


For all the latest Coverfly news and updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Top Screenwriting Contests of 2018

By | Announcements

To ring in the new year, we’ve made a simple, downloadable screenplay competitions calendar with the all the dates and deadlines for the industry’s top screenwriting contests of 2018!

Whether you’re writing a feature screenplay, a short film or a TV pilot, mark your calendar with these deadlines!

As you may know, Coverfly is the industry’s largest database of unproduced screenplays, searchable by vetted industry professionals who are looking for good scripts.

Screenwriters have the most opportunities here, but if you’re a short story writer, novelist or playwright, there are a few opportunities here for you as well! If there’s a contest you think should be on this list, please email support@coverfly.com — or reach out to us on Twitter: @gocoverfly. You’ll hear from us right away! We’re here to help.

Click here to download our calendar of top screenwriting contests.

The Coverfly Score

By | Announcements

For the past few years, Coverfly has helped screenplay contests and coverage providers behind the scenes as a platform for automating and streamlining administration. Today, Coverfly boasts one of the most comprehensive script databases ever seen, with millions of pages of scripts, feedback on those scripts, and evaluation data across every genre and format, from many of the top screenwriting competitions and screenplay coverage services. This database includes over 25,000 amateur and professional scripts, from writers around the world.

Now that writers will have the option of making their data available to the industry, we knew it was important to design a “quality metric.” After meticulously analyzing our database, surveying the industry on what they’d want in such a metric, and looking at the design of scoring/ranking algorithms used by technology platforms in other industries, we came up with our very own: the Coverfly Score. 

Before we dive into the details of the algorithm, it’s important to note that the Coverfly Score is not a metric of quality, it’s a metric of confidence of quality, which increases with more strong evaluations. 

In designing the Coverfly Score, we required that it satisfy the following criteria:

  • A high Coverfly Score requires multiple, high-marking evaluations. Besides just reflecting high marks from an evaluation, one evaluation from a single reader shouldn’t be enough to garner a high Coverfly Score.  In other words, ten evaluations of 8/10 should rank higher than one evaluation of 10/10. The Coverfly Score requires at least 5 evaluations (from qualifying contest readers or professional coverage services) to reach the acceptable “confidence” quotient in your project’s score, since more evaluations paints a clearer picture of how the industry will receive your script because it’s based on a wider range of professional industry readers’ evaluations. The more evaluations, the better! 
  • Coverfly Scores never go down. Yup, Coverfly Scores can’t go down. This was a design requirement primarily because many screenplays are works in progress, and we don’t want to discourage writers from submitting their screenplays for feedback at the risk of reducing their Coverfly Score. Rather, we wanted to incentivize the opposite; more evaluations on a project, good or bad, help us predict the project’s quality at a higher level of confidence. However, a strong Coverfly Score must be a metric of quality not quantity, so the next point is critical.
  • Attaining a high Coverfly Score is very difficult. An obvious risk that comes with Coverfly Scores that don’t decrease is an entire database of undifferentiated, highly rated scripts, which would defeat the purpose of a quality-metric in the first place.
  • Coverfly Scores are insulated from reader bias. The average scores given by readers can vary widely from reader to reader, just like movie reviews. The metric design should take that into account and normalize for reader bias.
  • Coverfly Scores weigh different scores differently. The more prestigious the contest, the more influence its evaluations will have on a Coverfly Score. Winning The Nicholl Fellowship should boost your Coverfly Score a lot more than winning Joe Schmo’s Weekly Logline Competition.

Here’s a deeper (more mathematical) look at how a Coverfly Score is calculated:

Each project’s Coverfly Score is recalculated anytime a new evaluation is entered into the system.  Evaluations are typically submitted by readers/judges, who score the project in several categories (i.e. plot, dialogue, voice, concept) on a scale of 0 to 10.

Each category’s score is compared to the reader’s overall average and standard deviation for that category, and the score is shifted to fit a more normally distributed “bell-curve”.

Next, a composite score is determined using the weighted sum model, which applies contest-specific weights to each scoring category and this process determines a single, reader-normalized score between 0 and 10 for the evaluation.

Next, we take every evaluation for a given project and again use the weighted sum model to apply weights to each evaluation based on the quality of the competition that the evaluation came from.  We plug this composite score into the following formula:

Score = xp/10 + x(1−e−q/Q)

Where p is the composite score (after competition weights have been applied), q is the number of evaluations multiplied by their respective weights, x is the number of evaluations (capped at 5), and Q is a constant we assign based on the importance of “quantity” in our calculation.

We then cap the score depending on how many evaluations the project has.  The cap increases the more evaluations there are, and is altogether removed after 5 evaluations. Finally, we multiply the score by a constant to create a wider range of scores, and to remove the false perception of associating a score of a 60 with an F and a score of an 90 with an A if it were on a 1-100 scale.

If this new score is lower than the most recent score before the recalculation, then we ignore it (so as to satisfy the non-decreasing score requirement).

If you’re still following along, you’ll notice a few implications of this design:

  1. An Coverfly Score won’t reach its full potential until it has received at least 5 evaluations
  2. A single evaluation with an extremely high composite score isn’t enough to put the Coverfly Score into the upper echelon of scores. In fact, one strong score alone isn’t even enough to get it out of the basement of Coverfly Scores.

Thus, the Coverfly Score is not necessarily a perfect reflection of a script’s quality – rather, it is a reflection of quality and confidence of quality simultaneously. High Coverfly Scores require multiple, high-marking evaluations from prestigious competitions and coverage providers – one or the other (quality/quantity) simply isn’t enough to determine a script’s quality confidently.

Check out our top Coverfly Scores on THE RED LIST.