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4 Tips for Improving Your Brand as a Screenwriter

By Advice, Events, Screenwriting 101

So you have a few really strong scripts under your belt that you’ve been rewriting constantly, and now you’re ready to use them to start your writing career. But before you simply send those scripts out, you need to figure out your brand.

At the end of the day, reps look at your writing and your brand. This not only includes what you love to write but also your background, your personal connection to your projects, and your unique voice as a writer and a person.

Here to help are the panelists from the Coverfly Career Lab’s first panel, who had a lot of helpful advice on how to improve your brand.

Be Open to Pivot

Even if you think you know what your brand is at the start, it is important to be prepared to make a change as you start taking meetings and getting your work seen by professionals. You may think of yourself as the romantic comedy expert, but a producer could see potential for horror or thriller based off of a meeting with you. A good example of this comes from panelist Monica Macer, the showrunner for Netflix’s Gentefied, who remembers how an early pivot from action to character driven work helped her establish her brand and that becoming “a better character writer has made [her] a better action writer.” 

Another writer who shared a similar experience is playwright and television writer David Rambo, known for his work on Empire and CSI, who found himself having to pivot in order to focus on story instead of character. “I was always known as the character guy,” says David, “it took me a long time to learn story.” Being open to these changes can change what you believe your brand is, but could show you aspects of your writing you may not have considered as your strongest assets.

Maintain Your Voice

No matter how much you pivot, it is crucial to maintain your distinct voice and keep it consistent regardless of what you are writing or demonstrating as the strongest part of your brand. You are a distinct person with a unique perspective to bring to the table, and it is important to see this in your writing as part of your brand. This is something that can really help your brand stand out, and when you’re taking meetings, according to Monica, it’s a great way “to be memorable in a day of ten meetings”. 

Maintaining a clear voice is something that Eric Fineman, the senior Vice President of Pascal Pictures, really values when it comes to finding new writers to work with. “Find a personal connection to each project…you want to feel a real passion and urgency to write the script, which hopefully will translate to the urgency for the audience to want to watch it.”

Be Open to Opportunities

Both David and Monica emphasized the importance of being open to opportunity, both for brand as well as for career. “No job is too small. Put in the work…opportunities need to be capitalized upon” says Monica. It also helps to take these opportunities to test the waters and see new genres and stories that could really help your brand. These opportunities also help create a bigger backstory for you as a writer, providing pieces you can use to help contribute to your brand.

Bios and Loglines

So after a lot of deliberating, opportunity taking and pivoting, you’ve finally figured out your brand that combines your voice and the work you excel in. The last step comes with putting this into a package that is easy for managers, agents, and execs to read and understand who you are. This comes both with a bio for you as a writer as well as loglines for the scripts in your repertoire.

Eric’s big piece of advice? “Consider bios and loglines from an analyst perspective” and ask yourself “how does the information correspond with what you’re seeing in the industry?” For more information on writing a strong bio, check out Coverfly’s blog Writing a Great Writer Bio for Your Coverfly Profile.


Jeff is a Los Angeles based writer and a Senior Story Analyst at Coverfly. He has served as a reader for various production companies including Blumhouse and Valhalla and is a lover of genre and creepy stories.

Coverfly Career Lab Schedule and Speakers

By About Coverfly, Announcements, Events

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

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

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

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

PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join Us!