Coverage, Ink. was founded in January, 2002 by Jim Cirile, a multi-produced, WGA-member writer/artist/musician and columnist for Creative Screenwriting magazine. Coverage, Ink. seeks to provide affordable agency and studio-style coverage to all screenwriters.
Tired with spending big bucks on screenplay analysts, many of whom weren't worth it, Jim built up a network of production company and agency readers whom he utilized to hone his own material before sending it out to agents, managers, and production companies. Now you can have the same advantage.
Coverage is simply a reader's report. Every script submitted to a feature film studio or agency or production company gets "covered." Readers are the companies' first and best line of defense. The reader's report usually provides a one or two page synopsis of the screenplay, a breakdown of the characters, a page or two of commentary/evaluation, and lastly, a bar graph evaluating your screenplay from Excellent to Poor in the following categories:
- Main Characters
- Minor Characters
- Visual Elements
- Commercial Prospects
Finally, your screenplay is rated either "Recommend," "Consider," or "Pass," for both the script itself and for the writer. So in theory, if the script isn't spectacular but the writing is, you may still garner some interest.
The agent, manager, or creative executive then scans these reports and determines which scripts are worth his or her time to read. Sometimes, even if you receive terrible coverage, if there's an element of your screenplay that attracts the exec -- such as, it's in a genre that's hot right now -- your script may get read by a second person anyway. Bad coverage is not necessarily the death knell every time...just most times.
By the way, hardly anyone ever gets a "Recommend." When a reader tags a script "Recommend," they're basically sounding the alarm bells and telling everyone to drop what they're doing and Read This Script Now! The reader is also sticking his or her neck on the chopping block, because if the exec does not agree with the reader's assessment, and resents the time spent reading the script, then the reader may not be taken seriously in the future or worse, could be out of a job.
So, bear in mind that there are actually three levels of "Consider" -- Strong, Moderate (AKA a "straight-up consider",) and Consider With Reservations. These allow the reader to express their enthusiasm, or lack thereof, for the material, while still remaining safely in the consider category.
You don't necessarily have to choose one or the other. If you have the money, we say you should do both. There are plenty of great analysts out there (but a few stinkers, too, ) and the more knowledgeable feedback you get on your script the better off you'll be. CI also offers a full range of services from standard coverage all the way up to CI Pro analyses and ongoing mentoring/phone consultations -- whatever you may need.
That said, the advantages of a professional script reader over an analyst are as follows:
Our readers are all actually working in the industry. They are currently employed by, or read on a freelance basis, for production companies with studio deals, large indies, and medium to large-sized agencies. Thus they not only have read thousands of scripts, but they can assess your script not only based on quality but on marketability. We try to give you guidance to not only improve your script but also help improve your odds of a sale based on market trends both historic and current.
Our readers are all tested and verified by Coverage, Ink. We ONLY use readers who have college degrees and large production company or well-respected agency experience. Then before we let them review anyone's script, we test them as well as send them a test script to evaluate. We grade their knowledge of structure, formatting, proofreading, myth, character development, film history and their ability to clearly articulate their thoughts in report format. We stand behind all of our readers. You have no such quality control with an analyst, as they are mostly one-man bands.
Our standard and CI Pro analyses are a lot cheaper than any analyst, and our clients tell us constantly that the clear and concise coverage format is much more helpful to them than a long phone call or 8 pages of meandering notes. We tell you clearly and concisely what we think works and what doesn't, and give you suggestions on how to rethink problem areas of your script.
You can resubmit to us whenever you like, as often as you like, requesting another reader or the same one. Resubmissions are off.
I personally got shot down at Disney when a production company submitted one of my scripts to them, only to find bad coverage (from a much earlier draft) on file from years before. This tainted the project in everyone's minds, and we were essentially D.O.A.
The second reason has to do with TRACKING. Tracking is the process by which production companies keep track of material entering the marketplace. If your script is sent out in any significant way -- e.g., by an agent or manager -- once it's received by a production company, the title and writers are tracked by professional trackers, who have their own little network and tracking boards.
In short, if just one major studio passes on your script, it's entirely possible that negative feedback about your script could hit the boards, and you could be dead all over town, before anyone at any other company even reads it. Scary but true!
ABOUT OUR READERS
Clap yourself on the back and go get 'em, tiger. Unlike some services, Coverage, Ink. makes no bogus claims that we will "shop your material" or "introduce you to our industry contacts." We simply tell you whether or not, in the reader's expert opinion, your material's got a shot, and if it doesn't, we offer suggestions of how to get you back on track. Getting out there and shopping it is up to you.
We believe that our some of our competitors are using a "carrot and stick" approach by offering you prizes and tales of industry access. While this certainly sounds tantalizing, here's the reality: very, very few scripts get the "Strong Considers" or "Recommends" required to merit an industry referral, and the ones that do have generally been developed through multiple drafts with an agent, manager, producer, script analyst or coverage service.
“The problem I have with some coverage services is that I think they're giving people the idea they're offering something other than development help, such as industry access, which generally isn't the case.” – Julian Thuan, UTA
So be careful about selecting a coverage service based on any dangling carrot. To get your script to the point where it rocks the house, you've got to do the work, and often that means many, many revisions. The myth that someone can crank out a script in 3 weeks and go out and sell it for £0.81 () million is just that--a myth. The rest of us have to swallow our egos and write draft after draft, honing, editing and revising until our PASSES transform into RECOMMENDS.
That said, if you get good coverage from us, in addition to the invaluable development help, remember that it can also be a powerful marketing tool. We have no objections to you using our coverage for self-promotion. Mentioning that you received a "Consider" from Coverage, Ink. in a query letter is a VERY good idea. It's validation, and will certainly improve your ability to get your script read.
Many of our clients do just that. We frequently get calls from producers doing their due diligence, checking to see if the coverage quoted in the query letters they get is accurate. We have had several clients find representation and get projects optioned based on sending out queries and enclosing excerpts from their positive coverage. (Of course, the trick is to get coverage good enough to merit industry attention, generally a "consider" or better.)
A word of warning: do not embellish or misrepresent your coverage.
All of the above said, we have also in the past helped a very small handful of clients get representation. But again, this is very, very rare.
So WHEN and ONLY WHEN your script is ready to rock, then you should enter it in our Get Repped Now! contest and other reputable industry contests (go to www.moviebytes.com for a complete rundown.) Get those queries fired up and call everyone you know who’s somehow connected to the biz. Schedule a call with us to discuss your marketing strategy and pick our brains. Remember: once your script is good enough, people will find YOU.
None. That's exactly the point. Wouldn't you rather find out if something's not working BEFORE you send the script to any agents, managers, or creative execs? Coverage, Ink. offers only a professional reader's opinion.
But, that opinion is based on years of industry experience and strong knowledge of what the market is looking for. Unlike many agencies and prodcos, we do not let interns or college kids read your scripts -- only seasoned, smart folks with no axes to grind. If something's amiss in your script, our very smart and savvy readers will point out the key problem areas.
Coverage, Ink. now offers GENRE MATCH. On your order form, simply fill in the script’s genre in the Genre Match box. We will then make best effort to place your script with someone with similar tastes.
FYI, Readers are trained to have an eye on what the market will be interested in, not to defer to their own personal tastes. Therefore, they are supposed to be able to recognize a good piece of material, regardless of their preferences.
However, it’s also good to know your wacky comedy will be read by someone with a sense of humor, or your historical drama would be read by someone who doesn’t hate historical dramas!
Yes! “Creative Screenwriting” columnist, “Script” magazine writer and Coverage, Ink. founder Jim Cirile will indeed personally read your script if you request that option (pending availability.) Jim's fee is for in-depth coverage, which INCLUDES free mark-up/script editing and return postage. If you'd like Jim to evaluate your script, please contact us to confirm availability.
In addition to almost two decades as a professional screenwriter, Jim has been a script reader for several production companies and is the Head Judge and Contest Coordinator for the annual CS Open Writing Tournament at the Los Angeles Screenwriting Expo. He's evaluated thousands of scripts. As the agents and managers expert for “Creative Screenwriting” and “Script” magazines, Jim interviews top literary agents about industry trends and has his finger on the pulse of the industry.
Jim hails from the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, and applies that technique to his analysis along with a healthy helping of myth and gentle guidance. You'll get a greater depth of helpful, in-depth feedback with an analysis from Jim (generally 12-18 pages of comments) along with a frank assessment of your script's marketability.
For more on Jim and other CI Analysts, please see our READERS page.
Absolutely. We are happy to talk with you about your project. Whether you're just kicking around story ideas and want a sounding board, or you have a completed outline or a finished script, talking to us on the phone makes sense. We'll help you find the most marketable ideas and alert you to areas where you may be going off track or getting stuck.
The give and take in these conversations is creatively stimulating and quite fun, too. And any ideas bandied about in these talks are yours to keep and use as you desire.
So whether you're trying to figure out which of your six ideas you should write next or are trying to solve some logic or structure issues in a finished script, you can take advantage of this very useful and fun service. The hourly rate to talk to one of our team is
Please note that we must also charge for reading time (which obviously varies depending on the material, but figure about 1/2 hour for a 10-page outline and about 2 to 3 hours for a script). However, we can generally work something out for any situation.
We'll give you an estimate upon submission of the material. To make an appointment, please call us at 323-702-2989 or e-mail.
We hope so! Our goal is to empower you. And our readers always go the extra mile. In fact, our standard coverage is often more in-depth than many other coverage companies' expanded coverage. There are less expensive coverage options, and there are far more expensive ones as well. But we like to think that no one else quite hits that value sweet spot the same way we do.
- No cookie cutter coverage!
- All scripts checked in and assigned manually
- All coverage reviewed by senior CI partner for clarity and consistency
- Personalized customer service
- Special requests? No problem
- Free follow-up questions (up to 10 minutes)
All of our readers are tested and certified by us, and each must have a college degree (2 of our readers have Masters’ in screenwriting) and a minimum of 1-year of experience in development or doing story editing or analysis for a large production company with a studio deal or a well-known agency. We make sure they know their stuff before we let them loose on your script by testing them extensively ahead of time. We stand behind the opinions of all of our readers.
We also provide a detailed synopsis with every coverage report. We do this to ensure that the reader knows your script backwards and forwards before commenting on it. Many companies don't provide this, and that means the reader may be missing some of the details that comes from being forced to synopsize a screenplay. Bear in mind, these synopses are not provided for presentation purposes. They simply list important plot events in the story, but are not intended to be a polished, well-crafted synopsis you can drop on a producer. (We can of course do that for you if you like -- you let us know.)
Finally, we check in and process all screenplay submissions and coverage reports by hand. There is no cookie-cutter coverage here!
If you have any questions, reach out to us.
You can pay via credit card or Paypal account. We use PayPal as our online billing vendor. But fear not, you do not have to have a Paypal account! You can pay directly by credit card. After you SUBMIT YOUR SCRIPT, you will receive a confirmation e-mail from us along with a PayPal invoice. If you don't have a PayPal account, or do not want to use Paypal, just click on "use Paypal as guest." You will then be able to pay directly via credit card without needing a Paypal account. PayPal is owned by eBay and is a proven safe and reliable way to pay over the internet.
If you prefer, you can also mail us a check:
3651 S. La Brea Ave #522
Los Angeles CA 90016
Often those deals provide no synopsis (meaning the reader blazes through your script once, not carefully reading it twice like we do, and thus can miss A LOT) and 1-2 pages of bare-bones analysis as opposed to the detailed, incisive, thought-provoking and supportive commentary like we offer. Oftentimes it’s some college kid who’s decided to make a couple bucks. There are a lot of people out there who think they can do coverage.
We believe CI offers the best quality and price around, period. Our coverage reports are generally a lot more in-depth than many of our competitors.
If you feel you've gotten better service or price from ANY other legitimate script analysis company, we want to know about it! CONTACT US.
Coverage, Ink’s turnaround time for STANDARD coverage is generally ten days or less. On rare occasions, we may be late, and if so we’ll try to give you a heads-up in advance.
Turnaround time for SEMI-RUSH analysis is 5 days. If you’re in a hurry, just tick the SEMI-RUSH box on your order form. ( additional.)
Lastly, CI offers RUSH service (48-hour turnaround) for additional. If you’re in a big hurry, this one is for you. Just tick the RUSH box on your order form.
CI Pro and JC Analysis are also *probably* not available on a rush or semi-rush basis simply due to the incredibly labor-intensive process. However, feel free to send us a message on our contact form.
Click the SUBMIT IT! tab or GET STARTED button to begin the release/order form process. After you fill out the forms, click SUBMIT. We will then e-mail you a PayPal invoice along with a confirmation of receipt and your analysis delivery date.
PDF is our preferred submission format. However, we accept online script submissions in the following formats:
- .FDR or .FDX (Final Draft)
- .RTF (Rich Text Format)
- .DOC (Word) or
- .PDF (Adobe).
- .DOCX (Word 2007 or later.)
If you use Movie Magic or any other screenwriting software, please save your file as PDF document before sending to us.
Movie Magic users, if you don’t know how to save your script as a PDF (it is a bit tricky,) please watch this short tutorial video.
Please note that due to a glitch in Movie Magic, if you save your script in RTF format, the page count balloons up 10%!
SUBMITTING BY REGULAR MAIL:
Send your SCRIPT, CHECK or MONEY ORDER made payable to COVERAGE, INK., and release form to:
3651 S. La Brea Ave. #522
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Our standard coverage reports tend to be VERY detailed. We start with a logline, which is the reader's one-line synopsis of what they think your script is about. (This is important because this may be different than what you think it's about.) This is followed by a detailed synopsis, in which the reader summarizes the script. Note that this is not a "presentation synopsis"-- it is more just a list of the important plot events than something you'd ever want to show people. It is usually 1-3 pages (again, this is to ensure the reader knows your script inside and out before evaluating it and doesn't gloss over any of the details.)
Then the actual analysis is generally 3-5 pages long, single spaced. It hits every major area of the screenplay: structure, character development, stakes, dialogue, plot logic, pacing, grammar, style and overall storytelling ability, and much more. Most importantly, we try to offer creative solutions for the problems we find, and don't just say, "this doesn't work." This is followed by a detailed bar graph evaluating all the areas of your screenplay (21 categories in all) from "Not Good" to "Excellent." Lastly, we rate the script and the writer on a scale from "pass" to "recommend."
As our clients will tell you, our "standard" analysis is actually more in line with what many other services offer as their "expanded" or "development" coverage. With us, it's the same 129 bucks flat.
For an additional you can choose to have your script edited/marked up. This is a great way to see exactly what's going on in the reader's mind as he's reading the script, as his thoughts will be reflected in the margin notes. So if you start to lose the reader, you'll see exactly where and why-invaluable!
We'll also catch typos, formatting problems, grammatical mistakes, and most importantly, cross out scenes that run long and even suggest alternative dialogue or scene restructuring as needed all right there on your script.
We have some coverage samples posted here. If you'd like more recent samples or samples from a specific genre, just give us a call or send us a message.
The logline and synopsis are actually for your benefit. They force the reader to go over your script a second time in order to summarize it in detail. Many times readers pick up things on the second go-through they've missed the first time. It takes a good chunk of extra time to do this. Some companies do NOT do this, and others include short, glossed-over or even sometimes wildly inaccurate synopses!
Our process ensures the writer that the script is fresh in the reader's mind, and that the reader thoroughly understands and digests the material before they analyze it.
Coverage Ink uses the following ratings at the conclusion of every analysis report:
PASS, CONSIDER WITH RESERVATIONS, CONSIDER, STRONG CONSIDER, and RECOMMEND.
These ratings are given for both "Script" and for "Writer." So at the end of the report, you may see something that looks like this:
This can seem a bit discouraging at first, but allow us to explain. 90% of submissions to CI are a pass for Script and about 75-80% are a pass for Writer -- in other words, the vast majority. This does not mean that we felt your script was lousy or that you can't write. What it simply means is, in the reader's opinion, you're not quite there yet.
A pass for script could mean many things. The screenplay may need some character work, or have structure, tone or logic issues. It could have a weak idea, or an idea that hasn't been exploited to its potential; or it could be a great idea but the execution just isn't where it needs to be -- yet. It could be nebulous tonally or clearly a first draft. or it could be closer to the mark but still with a couple of big problems. Obviously this definition is quite broad, because again, 90% of our submissions fall into this category. Fortunately, we tell you quite specifically in the analysis what the issues are and how to fix them. And of course, a certain amount of subjectivity (the reader is only human) figures in here as well.
A pass for writer usually means that the writer's screenwriting craft level is not where it needs to be, in the reader's opinion. Once again, this is a broad, overarching and subjective judgment, and it is not to be confused with us saying "you can't write." The screenplay format is a deceptively tricky medium to work in, and many fine novelists and playwrights find making the transition daunting due to the limitations of the format. The "pass" could mean that the writer hasn't quite nailed the mechanics of this format yet. Or perhaps scenes run on too long or are fraught with redundancies, inaction or lack of conflict. Every scene in a screenplay must advance the story and must have conflict. The writing could be overwritten for a screenplay, or perhaps the dialogue just doesn't flow yet. Maybe the writer simply hasn't really found a 'voice' yet, and thus the writing might be kind of flat or lacking sparkle or panache. Indeed, the writing could be pretty decent overall, maybe even with flashes of greatness -- but overall it's just not at that top 20-25% level. Again, it's very subjective, and again, the specific reasons for the scores are clearly enumerated in the analysis.
"Consider with Reservations" means you're getting closer to the mark. You're in the zone. Not quite there, but the results of your labor are beginning to show. Still work to be done, though.
"Consider" means you are clearly showing chops. But still, there are issues -- details to be cleaned up, logic issues to address, perhaps some character choices that could be less stock.
Anything above "Consider" means you are ready to rock. And the extremely elusive 'Recommend" means the reader LOVED your script.
So if you get a pass for script and writer, should you throw a tantrum or retreat into a sullen stupor? Well, of course not. Here's a little secret: we have established, working writer clients whose first few drafts always get pass/pass, or sometimes consider for writer but pass for script. This happens all the time. It's a tough pill to swallow, sure, but it doesn't mean you've got no game. It just means the current draft is not bringing it. There are issues! The document we give you has the info you need to bring your "A" game. Break it down into an action plan and get cracking. You can do it!
We can do anything you like, whether it's origination from solely an idea or scraps of notes, to a dialogue polish, to a rebreak/reworking of the structure, to turning a feature into a pilot, to creating a pitch deck, etc. You name it, we can do it.
In general, unless you are a producer, ghostwriting should be a last resort. We here at CI prefer to empower you to make the changes yourself whenever possible, rather than us doing it for you. If the goal is simply to sell a script and launch a writing career, then us ghostwriting material for you may actually be counter-productive. The reason is because agents and managers don't generally look upon a script simply as a commodity they can sell. They are looking at the writer and the career. They want to know you can deliver consistently, be good in a room, and nail those writing assignments. Oftentimes you cannot get signed unless you have two or more pieces of material at the same level as the one that caught their eye in the first place. This assures them you have the goods and can deliver consistently. If the script is a one-off, it just becomes a piece of business, and many times they will not be interested.
Of course, that doesn't prevent you from shopping your ghostwritten script around, and producers don't care as much about developing your writing career -- they're just looking for good scripts. However, the fact remains that in order to establish a writing career, you'll need to be able to deliver consistently. And if you have to come back to us for a polish every time, this can become both problematic and expensive. And the industry will soon catch on that something is amiss.
So in many cases we will recommend to writers that rather than have us come in and fix your script, we can instead set up a phone or Skype consultation (or a series of them) wherein you can work one on one with one of our story analysts. This ensures that you are the one making the fixes, not us, and the exchange of ideas will certainly help the process as well as help you learn how to DIY -- and elevate both your craft and your confidence.
That said, there are certain circumstances where ghostwriting or partnering with a CI story analyst on a script may make sense, so please let us know your situation and what you've got, and we can discuss solutions that best fit your situation.
If you do need hands-on with your script and cannot DIY, then we prefer you hire one of our story analysts as a (credited) writer for hire, rather than (anonymous) ghost-writing.
What are the fees for ghostwriting or hiring a writer through CI?
This depends on many factors, such as the work needing to be done, the story analyst assigned to the material, the complexity of the project, research, time frame and so forth. For smaller projects our hourly rate (/hr) applies. For larger projects such as rewriting a whole act, or origination of a screenplay or teleplay from scratch, we quote these out individually. Bear in mind however that this is not cheap. Origination on a full-length screenplay, for example, can cost from -15K or more, especially if you and/or the writer hired are WGA.
For more details please see Coverage, Ink's Professional Writing Services page.
This depends on many factors, such as the work needing to be done, the story analyst assigned to the material, the complexity of the project, research, time frame and so forth. For smaller projects, our hourly rate (/hr) applies. For larger projects such as rewriting a whole act, or origination of a screenplay or teleplay from scratch, we quote these out individually. Bear in mind however that this is not cheap. Origination on a full-length screenplay, for example, can cost from -15K or more, especially if you and/or the writer hired are WGA. For more details please see Coverage, Ink's Professional Writing Services page.
There are several ways this can go. If you are planning to have us do all the heavy lifting, then unless your are a producer or have some special circumstance, we will insist the CI writer be credited, either solely or as a writing partner. In this situation, the fee can be a buy-out (a 1-time only fee,) but usually we treat the fee as an advance against a potential sale. For example, the writing fee might be K upfront, with an additional amount to be paid if the script is sold/optioned. So let's say the script sells for K, then that amount will be reducible by the K already paid. Thus the amount due to the writer would be K.
In that same scenario, if you were sharing the writing credit with the CI writer 50/50, (Screenplay by Bill Jones & Ann Smith, for example, with Ann Smith being the CI writer,) then your share of the sale would be K, while the CI writer would receive K (before taxes and WGA, agent or manager fees.)
Please note that we do NOT work on spec. There will always be an upfront fee.
Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds. We can always work out something that works for each individual situation.For more details please see Coverage, Ink's Professional Writing Services page.
Coverage, Ink is not an agency or management company, and we are not in the business of shopping scripts (we take no commissions like those companies that do.) We're just about helping you develop your material and make it rock. That said, we are happy to give you some ideas and recommendations for companies you may wish to target, as well as consult with you on an overall marketing strategy.
Additionally, if you do partner with a CI writer and that person's name receives credit on the script, then that person would and should invest his or her time in helping you shop the script. They have a vested interest in doing so. CI will offer whatever help we can as well as help grease the wheels if we know anyone we think the material might be right for.
For more details please see Coverage, Ink's Professional Writing Services page.
You'll be off to a running start on the rewrite if you can look at the coverage objectively and then apply the suggestions to your script. Don’t take it personally! Sometimes the hardest part is being able to put your ego aside, and to learn to listen to constructive criticism.
Rest assured, we're all on the same side -- we want your script to be the best it can be. And when you've completed another pass on the script, you can always resubmit it to us for additional feedback.
The best way to approach the coverage is to make an ACTION PLAN. Read over the coverage several times over a period of days until you thoroughly understand the numerous points contained therein. Then when you’re ready to tackle it, open up the coverage in your word processor. Beneath each note, jot some ideas on how to solve the problem. This may take some thought and will often require new scenes or rethinking your structure.
If you're stumped, discuss with friends or writing partner. But you'll soon have your action plan, a to-do list of changes you need to make. Then just sit down and start working through them one by one. But remember: don't just crank out a new draft in 3 days and send it back to us.
Every time that happens, we find that the writer has addressed perhaps the minor issues but has often ignored many of the larger problems in the script. These changes need to be carefully considered and executed.
Hey, we're writers, too. We know how exactly painful it can be to have your material dissected. There's nothing quite like that awful feeling of realizing that your entire Act 2 just isn't working, etc. But you need to remember that rewriting is part of the process. Working writers in Hollywood have to rewrite their material all the time.
And even though criticism can be a hard pill to swallow, the sooner you swallow it, the sooner you'll be on your way to becoming a better writer. No, it's not easy. But all of us here at Coverage, Ink. are in the same boat with you.
If you feel you need mentoring or really in-depth analysis, we work closely with several excellent analysts, and we would be happy to refer you to one of them. All are all top-rated by Creative Screenwriting Magazine.
For more, read our free Coverage Survival Guide!
Let's be honest: nobody wants to hear criticism. It's tough to take. You've labored for months, maybe years on a script, and now somebody is picking it to pieces. It's enough to depress even the most steely of us.
Well, we know all about this firsthand. We're writers, too. We know what it's like to be on the receiving end of the coverage report. So the first thing you need to know is that no one here is out to insult you.
Unlike studio and agency coverage, which can often be outright scathing-just pointing out all the reasons no one should read the script-we here at CI we try to give the writer CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, to provide balanced and FAIR analysis.
We try to mention what works, along with what needs work. Now that doesn't mean we pull our punches. If areas of your script are not up to snuff, we will tell you.
But we try to not be insulting or condescending about it. That's not what we're about. Sometimes I think many script readers just mercilessly slam writers to prop up their own egos and make themselves feel better, at the writer's expense. Those guys do not last long here at CI.
So while yeah, occasionally you might feel a bit like a truck ran over you when you get the analysis and realize just how much work you likely have to do-our goal is to make you feel INSPIRED enough to take on the challenge.
We'll help you through the process, and even give you suggestions about how to develop an action plan to implement the notes afterwards. Feel free to call us at 323-702-2989 anytime and ask for help.
For more, read our free Coverage Survival Guide!
Don't we all! Fortunately there's Coverage, Ink's Spec Format Guide. Click HERE for more info!
That's not what we're about. We've been doing this a long time, and Coverage, Ink. has no interest in pilfering your ideas. Frankly, our readers read so many scripts that if they were dishonest, they'd have been weeded out pretty quickly.
All of our readers have non-disclosure agreements on file which state they are not to divulge any info about the scripts they read and that they have no rights to use any of the story ideas.
We absolutely encourage you to both register your script with the WGA registry and also the US Copyright Office. It is critical to copyright your material, because in the event of a dispute with producers or production companies, your damages may be limited without it.
Ah, the age-old question., the thing everyone wants to know. Coverage Ink’s Jim Cirile lays out the nitty-gritty, and you may be surprised by the answer.
GET REPPED NOW!
Coverage Ink’s Get Repped Now! is an opportunity to get your script to industry movers and shakers -- if you’ve got the goods. For a 2-month window, all feature scripts and TV pilots submitted to Coverage Ink for analysis which score a ‘consider’ for script -- approximately top 5% -- will be read by our panel of top-shelf industry managers. What happens from there depends on how they respond to your script. Only scripts submitted for coverage while the Get Repped Now! promotion is running are eligible. In case you missed it, here's the GET REPPED NOW! main page.
Absolutely. Check out our VIDEOS. The main things to keep in mind: originality and sizzle. No matter what genre you’re writing, steer clear of the cliche -- fresh and out of the box is the order of the day. As for sizzle, that means your craft. The snappier you are, the more wit you evidence, and your economy of words are all vitally important to announce you are a talent to be reckoned with. Don’t ever settle for just good.
Here are a few more things which may help add the shizzbombdiggity to your writing:
Writing fluid and natural-sounding dialogue is a tough thing to advise on, since oftentimes it's just a question of listening and practice. One piece of advice is to read the script aloud. Often dialogue which looks fine on the page can seem a bit clunky when spoken. It's a great habit to get into. Even better is doing a home group read, gathering a few family or friends to act out the script. Again, things can become clear quickly when they're not working as well as hoped.
Perhaps most importantly, subtext can often make the difference between okay and awesome. The most important things are often unsaid -- body language or reading between the lines. Here's a great article on the subject: http://www.charles-harris.co.uk/2013/05/dialogue-with-subtext/
YOUR TV PILOT CANNOT BE ORIGIN ONLY
By far the most common mistake we see in pilots is the origin story. The writer spends the whole episode getting all the characters and elements in place for the story to begin... in episode two. Your pilot must establish the "series engine," which is to say, show us what kind of show we're getting. If the pilot is a lot of setup, well, that's not a typical episode. This is why the number one piece of advice we give when it comes to pilots is: write the first two episodes of the show. Now toss out the first episode and use episode two as your pilot.
For example, looking at the BREAKING BAD pilot. You’ll notice that the pilot doesn’t end with Walt cooking his first batch; we’re already introduced to an antagonist who puts Walt’s life in danger, and has to be violently resolved in the climax. We need more juice of that nature, and by boiling off the filler, we’ll have the pages to do so. As well, we show all the elements that make up the typical Breaking Bad episode while still giving us the origin: Walt leading a double life and lying to his wife to cover his tracks; the DEA brother in law busting meth dealers; Walt using his cancer as rationale to fuel his grandiose dreams and get revenge on the life he was cheated out of; him arm-twisting Jesse into doing something Jesse does not want to do, and everything goes wrong and turns violent; and Walt using science to figure his way out of a bind. Yep, that's a typical episode of Breaking Bad, and it's all there in episode one.
WRITER, EDIT THYSELF
A crucial step that writers sometimes miss -- the edit pass. Read the script over thoroughly, scanning every single line, paragraph, every page, scrutinizing it carefully. Keep the axe poised. Any extraneous words -- get 'em outta there.
It's a bit of an art to train your eye to look for bloat, but it's a skill any writer can learn. Take any sentence and challenge yourself: can I say the same thing in half the words? Or do I need the sentence at all?
Be on the lookout for redundancies, scenes that are unrelated to the main storyline, unnecessarily wordy description (movie writing is supposed to be terse and snappy) and extraneous characters and subplots. Get into scenes late (after the intros, chit-chat, or reiterating the crisis) and then get out early (before the good-byes -- end the the "button" or the emotional high point of the scene. )
Bear in mind the 3-page scene rule: if a scene runs longer than three pages, there better be a damn good reason for it. If it can be done in less, do so.
Absolutely, and we encourage you to do so. You should always be out there marketing yourself aggressively -- when you’re certain the script is all it can be.
The advantage of Get Repped Now! is twofold. First, we have a relationship with our panel, and they know that the scripts we’re sending will be solid. In fact, they eagerly anticipate these submissions and generally read them pretty quickly. So you're getting the benefit of Coverage Ink advocating for you, and the managers know from our track record that what we send them will generally be worth their time.
Secondly, you’re getting a detailed coverage report out of the deal, an important tool in the polishing of the screenplay before it gets sent to the panel. In short, you’re bettering your odds. We writers should take every opportunity to get feedback on our scripts whenever we can because you need to eliminate any possible reasons to pass. Almost every script that has come into Coverage Ink since 2002 has needed some work. Our panellists know that when the script comes into them, a fair amount of development work will already have been done on the script, saving them precious time. They like that.
You will have to resubmit it during the Get Repped Now promotional period. Only scripts that receive a ‘consider’ or better for script during the Get Repped Now! promotion are sent to the manager panel. Legacy considers, or scripts that received a consider from somewhere other than CI, will not be forwarded.
Not at all. Pass/pass simply means that the reader felt the script and writing craft were not there yet. As super agent turned producer Emile Gladstone told us, “Screenwriting is a craft. It can be learned.” Every one of us needs an unexpectedly long amount of time to develop our craft. We all think it’s going to be fairly easy because we’re creative and are good at telling stories. But screenplays are deceptively difficult beasts, and that’s why the A-listers make the big bucks. Here at CI, we know full well that scripts often take many drafts to get awesome. Our new movie TO YOUR LAST DEATH took over 20 drafts to get the script right. So while pass/pass will never make any of us whoop for joy, you’ll have the path forward right in front of you in the form of a comprehensive script analysis. Roll up your sleeves and kick some ass. Remember, the best stuff always emerges during the rewrite process.
Check it out right here on our blog: Interview with Brandon Barker.