“The industry doesn’t just want data. He wants personalized recommendations for specific needs, ”said software company co-founder John Rhodes.
Here’s just one example: Kyra Jones was an aspiring Chicago-based screenwriter when she joined Coverfly in 2018. As a black woman and feminist with a background in discussing intimate relationships and sex, Jones had won two awards for different screenwriting for her work and was a finalist in several other competitions. While she has yet to find a portrayal, Coverfly has ranked her in the top 3% of all emerging screenwriters. And after attending a biannual Pitch Week event hosted by Coverfly, Jones was signed on for a writing job on the Hulu show “Woke” in just 48 hours.
“It’s hard to believe how much my career has transformed over the past three weeks which is a real testament to the Coverfly process that culminated for me at Pitch Week,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds. ”
Another writer using Coverfly has sold a specific script to Netflix for a project currently in production in Toronto. A third appeared on a Chuck Lorre show after presenting offers from more than 10 different companies. And this month, Gabourey Sidibe announced that she will be making her directorial debut on a screenplay by a writing duo who were discovered by a literary director through the platform.
John Rhodes, Co-Founder and Head of Industry Partnerships at Coverfly, said he sees these types of success stories every day. The platform currently has 70,000 registered users with 45,000 searchable projects, and Coverfly has seen over 500 success stories with writers signing on with an agent or manager, getting hired on a show, or choosing or selling their scripts. Additionally, Coverfly estimates that another 70% of its success stories identify as diverse writers, as defined by the WGA, and it aims to make 80% of new WGA members who are d first passed through Coverfly.
“Coverfly aggregates all of this data and makes it searchable, filterable and essentially manipulable by industry players who are looking for unfamiliar voices, big projects,” Rhodes told TheWrap. “We see the dreams of these writers come true mainly through our platforms. “
Coverfly works by aggregating data points from across the industry, using an algorithm to create a profile and a score to assess “confidence” in a writer by assessing strengths and weaknesses rather than a good or bad subjective. . The database examines film festival appearances and awards, accolades from writer assessment services like the Nicholl Scholarship or Blacklist, if a writer has a performance, has appeared in studio writers’ programs or has any other working credit.
A team of story analysts then reviews thousands of scripts submitted per month, especially those that have been rated highly on the Trust Scale and after meeting with screenwriters on the platform. They provide additional ratings, metrics, and data points to better categorize a project. They will even evaluate more intangible elements such as a writer’s performance in a play to give a complete picture of the writer as an individual.
Rhodes argues that Coverfly differs from more traditional writing discovery services – like those from which it is aggregated – because it is not a closed system of experts recommending only scripts from writers who have paid to be checked by the service.
“We are a shared public service that tries to make it easier to find talent,” Rhodes said. “Everyone who helps facilitate talent discovery is doing good things, but they weren’t doing it with a data-driven, scalable approach. “
Users can create trackers, filter projects using word clouds and specific parameters, and Coverfly sends regular email updates with organized lists of new scripts that have become available. While reading the scripts, buyer staff can then, in Coverfly, take additional notes or reviews and eliminate spreadsheets in the process. And while Coverfly charges a license fee for the use of its scenario management software, its database discovery tools are free to writers and industry users.
“We have managers who say, ‘I have a show looking for a black, British legal expert to write on a show.’ Well, we have the data to target that specific type of writer, ”Rhodes said. “The industry doesn’t just want data. He wants personalized recommendations for specific needs.
Adam Kolbrenner, a producer known for “Prisoners,” a former literary agent and head of his company, Lit Entertainment Group, said Coverfly had helped him sift through the dozens of query emails he was receiving. every day for new scripts.
“When it comes to us, we know it has been reviewed and verified to some extent, qualified, and then it’s just a matter of whether it is right for our business,” Kolbrenner said. “With Coverfly, it’s very specific, and they’re going to take those thousands of case emails over the course of a year and implement them. And that’s a huge button for me.
Kolbrenner says a service like this didn’t exist five years ago, and for decades the industry has relied on random queries or recommendations from friends or family to establish a connection. He said a more data-driven approach to talent discovery can benefit emerging writers trying to get started and buyers looking to move forward in the streaming age.
“It gives writers the edge and takes away from the fact that this business is only the business of those you know. It’s not true, and Coverfly proves it’s not true, ”he said. “Before a service like Coverfly, it’s a hit in the dark.”
The Coverfly approach also eliminates unsolicited calls to a studio manager and the disappointment of a rejection. “Today we have a better understanding of the data we’re getting, we have a better understanding of what buyers are looking for,” Kolbrenner said.
Coverfly saw an increase in activity amid the WGA and ATA conflict, with producers looking for other sources to find talent. But with agents again representing writers and production resuming after the worst of the pandemic, many representatives slowed down new signings and focused more on existing clients.
But that too could change, and Coverfly is developing new programs and events to improve the matches between writers and buyers. One is sort of industry speed dating for pitch sessions, and another is Tinder for loglines, giving users the ability to browse ideas to find something that works for them.
Kolbrenner says he’s always approached the old-fashioned way, with calls from people asking for recommendations in the hopes of finding a needle in a haystack. The more “progressive” of those who embrace a new way of discovering talent, he said, might be the most prepared to survive.
For the record: a previous version of this story mistakenly mentioned Rhodes as CEO. He is co-founder and responsible for industrial partnerships for Coverfly.