Ask The Script Mentor #5

questions

A continuation of previous articles that include a sampling of questions sent to “The Script Mentor”, with our corresponding advice/suggestions. Some of these may be the burning questions you’ve had…but were afraid to ask!

Q. Where can I find good examples of query letters? I’ve never actually seen one. Any advice?

A. Like almost everything else in screenwriting, you’re going to get a thousand different answers from a thousand different people- each one telling you the other answers are wrong. The right answer is- any query letter format or style you use that gets a producer to request to read your script is a good query letter.

Beyond that, I can tell you that I teach and promote a particular style of query letter, one that was constructed based on the responses to a recent polling of hundreds of executives, producers, producer assistants, gatekeepers and anyone else whose responsibility is to read query letters.

The following is an example of the new style query that executives and others look for in the “perfect” query letter. It is designed to include all of the necessary information, provide a clear and concise structure, and help highlight what THEY are looking for. It is the format I use. You don’t have to use it; yours may be perfectly suitable.

STEP #1- Contact Information

Name
City, State, Zip
Hm Tel #/ Cell #
Email addy

You’ll want to center your contact info first. This is for two reasons:
1) Many people actually FORGET to include contact information altogether. This way, it’s there!
2) It’ll take up some room on the page and help prevent you from “over-writing”.
STEP #2- Query Letter Intro

“Dear (You’ll address them as they signed their email):
I am offering this (award-winning) screenplay, “TITLE”, for your review. “

(If you were referred to them, or are responding to their request, you’ll want to say that here).

“I was referred to you by actor Sean Penn, who related that you were interested in the perfect project to film in the Puerto Rican jungles…”

STEP #3- Logline

At this point, I like to include my perfectly constructed, 30-word-or-less logline.

STEP #4- The Body of the Query

“Hook #1: Write out the one of the three main hooks here
(Highlight your main “hook”- one element that separates your story from all others of this genre)

In the following sentence, explain the hook a little more without repeating yourself
(Your hook will be followed by one or two sentences that explain the hook in greater detail)

Hook #2: (Repeat above)

Hook #3 or Hook/Twist: (if you have a killer twist to your story)”

STEP #5- Closing Remarks
“If you like the concept, I would be happy to send you a PDF of the script.”

(Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “mash-up” lines like “Total Recall” meets “The Matrix” or, in mine, “The Transporter” meets “Driving Miss Daisy”. Some are real clever, but my first reaction is always “Oh, really? You’ve written the next ‘Driving Miss Daisy’? Get over yourself!”…but maybe that’s just me)

STEP #6- Writer’s Bio

WRITERS BIO: Write this BIO in the third person, similar to a press release. You’ll want to highlight any writing successes you may have had. I would leave out the “placements in contests”, unless they are finalists or winning scripts, and only in major or middle-tiered contests (4,000 entries or more). I would include any other significant writing you’ve done, any published articles in your field, or a brief mention of why you think you are more qualified to write on the subject that you’ve written about in the screenplay. You MUST be selective, as you don’t want to go more than three lines here.

STEP #7- Closing Signature/Contact Info
Name
Email address
Home number/ Cell number

*************************************************************************************
To demonstrate this format more clearly, the following is a sample of one of my recent query letters:

Geno Scala
(Physical Address, City, State, Zip)
sharkeatingmanroductions@hotmail.com
(818) 602-3221

“Dear Producer,

I was referred to you by (name), who informed me that you might be interested in reviewing contest-winning screenplays. As a result, I am forwarding my logline and synopsis for my award-winning action adventure/comedy “BANKING ON BETTY” for your perusal.

Logline: When an ex-con is arrested the day before his wedding, he is forced to drive a witness — the mob boss’ mother — cross country, dodging bullets, corrupt cops, and one very scorned lover.

HOOK #1: A third-strike felon is forced to drive a mob witness to court.
Jack Reese, a Hollywood stunt driver with a passion for fast, sexy — and “hot” — cars, has been popped for what could be his final strike. The F.B.I. does offer him a way out, however. All he has to do is drive a federal witness to court.

HOOK #2: The witness is an 80-yr. old buzzard of a gal with a saucy mouth to match.
Betty Rosenthal is no ordinary witness. As the one-time accountant for the mob, she’s being forced to testify against her “family”- and against her will. With her unique- but fading- photographic memory, Betty is the ONLY hope the government has to finally break the Fiorelli crime syndicate.

HOOK #3: Betty is a kind of mother only the Godfather could love…and he wants her DEAD!
What Jack doesn’t know that his “package”- the witness that can take down the biggest crime syndicate in the country- just happens to be the mother of the Godfather himself!

Together, Jack and Betty form the unlikeliest of road teams; they despise each other, but need each other to survive a pursuit that includes rogue cops, hired hit men, and one scorned lover. Along the way, Jack and Betty develop a bond of trust, but that bond is tested when they come face to face with the Godfather himself.

If you like the concept of the action/comedy “BANKING ON BETTY”, I’d be happy to send you the script.

WRITERS BIO: Geno Scala’s “BANKING ON BETTY” was the winner of the 2012 StoryPros Screenwriting Competition, runner-up in the highly regarded 2013 Scriptapalooza Competition, and a top finalist of the 2012 Script Pipeline Competition. It was also a semi-finalist in the Screenwriting Goldmine and Screenplay Festival competitions.
Mr. Scala currently writes television and feature film screenplays on assignment for several different production companies.

Respectfully,

Geno Scala
(Physical Address, City, State, Zip)
sharkeatingmanroductions@hotmail.com
(818) 602-3221

Q. Hi, Script Mentor! I will soon be completing my third screenplay. My thinking is that I need to get an agent to help me get noticed. I have been in contact with an agent out of the Seven Bridges Group and have had some moderate success there, but still no representation. Any suggestions?

A. Yes. Don’t waste your time trying to get an agent. You’re not there yet.
Agents are not interested in writers unless and until they start making serious money with their writing. If your screenplay is involved in a bidding war, an agent will step up, or if you start selling a number of scripts, someone will contact you. You’ll know when you’re at that stage; they’ll be calling you.

In the meantime, you need to build your own buzz so people know what you’ve done or accomplished. Three scripts is a start, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, they’re all in the same genre, and you can start becoming the “go-to” writer for that genre. You’ll need to start getting job assignments. I started with a $200 script job a few years ago, and today, I’m writing an episodic TV drama for big money. Not bragging; just telling you that it’s completely possible.
Beyond that, you’ll want to look for a literary manager. They will work on getting your career going, and they are the conduit to agents, as that’s what THEY do. You’ll want to find one that is small, boutique, perhaps starting their own agency looking for active writers wanting to take the next step in their careers…

…and that sounds like YOU!

Q. My friend paid $10,000 to this company New Show Studios. I googled them and saw so many bad reviews of people being ripped off. I cringed and told him, and he believes his script was in front of a production company now. Do you have any information on them?

A. I could have seen these guys coming from a mile away. This is a great example of what a few pics with celebrities, a hired Daytime TV actor, and a shiny new website can represent.

The first red flag was the claim that “Pittsburgh was the New Hollywood”!
Really? Since when?

Next, the CEO’s claim to fame was the “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” video. He and SFM (the parent company) are distributors- good to have once you’ve made the film, but they have nothing to do with production or evaluation of scripts as far as I can tell.

In my opinion, what your friend has done was pay $10K for about $1K worth of work, including printed materials and a “how to” DVD. I suspect they may ask for more money down the line, but for your friend, it may be too late.

Some companies prey on the desperation of those of us willing to do just about anything to get famous, and it makes me very sad. After dealing with crooks and victims for years in fraud, both as a police detective, and later as a private investigator, there is no end to this sadness. These companies spring up, take what they can, then disappear.

Let’s see how it plays out. Maybe I’m 100% wrong, and this friend will have a movie made and it’ll be distributed by the thousands as a straight-to-DVD. Based on what I’m seeing, even in my most desperate of days, I never would have done it, personally. The salesmen over the phone are very, very good, and even I can be very gullible at times. As a rule, no one should ever have to pay to have your script considered or produced, unless you are investing in the project as a producer. The idea of a production finding potential in your screenplay is that they are willing to invest in the production.

Q. What do you mean by the “look” of a professional spec screenplay? Are you talking specific formatting issues (like the size of the action blocks, etc.), or the overall flow, or something else?

A. There are some easy fixes to your screenplay. I’m simply addressing issues that have been noticed by others, but they weren’t as willing to point these problems out to you.

The Query Letter: Yes, books and blogs all suggest certain ways of writing these things, but if I told you that a recent poll asked for input from thousands of producers, producer assistants, professional script readers, gatekeepers and those on the front lines of the industry, and a preferred query letter format was devised, would you believe it? If you did, would you use it?
Well, that poll WAS conducted a few years back, and today, only a handful of writers know it, have learned it, and currently use it. It is a major piece of what we teach at The Script Mentor. The new form is designed to highlight the points that these people are looking for in a query letter. They want to know what separates YOUR story from every other story in the genre ever written or that is currently being shopped around. We do this by highlighting the “hooks”- preferably three of them. The “hook” is that single element that makes you screenplay different.
If it’s like the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf, and the wolf gets his house blown down by the pigs – THAT would be your hook.

In 1975, if you wrote a horror story that took place at a beach during the 4th of July weekend where a killer was terrorizing a town by killing the inhabitants, it might be one of twenty such pictures. If you made the killer a shark, and the person chosen to save the town is a sheriff- whose deathly afraid of the ocean- you’ve got yourself two great hooks (no pun intended), and an instant classic in “Jaws”. So, you’ll need a query letter that highlights at least three major hooks of your story.

The Logline: I read about 1 in a 100 that is even close to decent; most are laughably horrible. This is the single most poorly-written facet of the screenwriter’s marketing plan, and it can arguably be considered the most important.

So, why do people struggle with it?

I don’t think they fully comprehend the “rules” for creating a logline and the purpose for using it. At The Script Mentor, I developed and copyrighted an easy formula to assure the writer of getting a good logline every time out, in a matter of seconds.

Overall Spec Screenplay Appearance: To your final question- when I talk about appearance, I do mean “first impression”- the flip-through of the first ten pages. I immediately noticed that:

- The parentheticals were wrong:

- The master scene headings and sub-headings were incorrect;

- The lack of real descriptions;

- Sound effects as dialogue:

- The over-capitalization of words;

- The incorrect action tense (noted by excessive “-ing” ending verbs);

- Extraneous words/ heavy word weight (you averaged 200 words per page in Act I; 188 words in Act II; 230 words in Act III. The target number of words is 150-180 per page, on average, throughout).

So, that was MY first impression.

You’re a good writer; much better than most. It’s these little things that separate the really, really GOOD writers from everyone else. It is my belief- one that is borne out every day in this industry- that you can have a truly great concept and twist in a story, but no one may ever know it.

Why?

Because if the writing violates most, or all, of the spec screenwriting protocols, no producer worth his salt will read beyond the first ten pages, or even the first three.

Conversely, a spec screenwriter can write a perfectly formatted screenplay; it’s very lean, moves quickly, has the right balance of action and descriptive text- but the overall concept might be played out some. I’d bet it will still garner the attention you seek from producers and contest judges, etc. These writers are most likely going to get writing assignments and possibly staff writing jobs, if that’s their calling. Eventually, a writer like this will hit on a very original concept, or come up with a twist on an old concept, and get it optioned and/or sold, perhaps even produced.

You want to be THAT writer.

 

Client Seeks (2) Scripts For Production!

We are seeking TWO scripts for a fellow producer/client; A-list talent is ready and waiting!

One script should be a Western/Comedy or Western/Action film. This will have an OPEN budget.

The second script is budgeted at $3M. The client is seeking an Action/Comedy that can be shot in and around New Orleans. If your script is not specific about location (or if the setting is not particularly integral to the story), we would encourage you to submit it if it’s an action/comedy.

YOU: You should submit your title, a well-constructed logline, a professional query letter and one page synopsis- and let us know WHERE YOU SAW THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. Please attach a PDF of a minimum opening 10 pages of screenplay to be considered. The evaluation process will be based upon these items and these items only. You can forward submissions to sharkeatingmanproductions@hotmail.com. In the subject section of your email, please include “(Title) as referred by SEMP”. Please include all contact information, including mailing address (see next).

US: Once the client determines those projects they wish to review, we will be sending out “submission packages”, snail-mailed to your physical address. The package will include an official request to review the completed screenplay and a signed release document to be signed and returned to the production company.

At that time, you will be given/have direct contact information with the client.

NOTE: Neither Shark-Eating Man Productions nor The Script Mentor are in any way affiliated with the client production company conducting this search.

This search will continue through the end of July. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.

*Those who have been notified of a request to review material, and/or asked for mailing addresses, no need to re-submit, unless you have new scripts you want considered.

Thank you, and good luck!

“Don’t Be A Douchebag”- The Truth About Screenwriting Job Services

yousuck   We recently had a “conversation” (via email) with Craig James, who operates the ISA website, regarding the reprinting of ads from other sites. He was upset and angry at the picture we painted regarding ISA and similar newsletter websites who promote “writing gigs”. He challenged the assertion that ISA lifts posting from other web sites and reprints them on their own, as if they cultivated the job opportunity through their own hard work. He also denied holding these job opportunities “ransom” by demanding payment to their service prior to receiving the job contact information; information previously available for “free” on the originating job site.

This was a few of his responses (edited for space, not substance):

Re: The “lifting” of previously published posts: “Yes, we post gigs we find on Mandy, but not until we email the person who posted them there and request that they create an account on our site. They MUST create an account before we’ll post their gig, with their permission.”

When asked to provide one piece of evidence that they actually receive permission to re-post from EITHER the poster or the originating web site, Mr. James refused. Just because you claim it, doesn’t make it true. My claims are validated not ONLY through reams of printed out ads that were lifted from original sites, but also by his own admission.

It also doesn’t explain why, when this was first brought to the attention of the public, both ISA and SSU began re-writing the words of the ad in their attempt to avoid detection. If they are doing this with permission and with innocent intent, why, then, go through that trouble?

Re: The claim that ISA “holds information hostage”: “Yes some members have earlier access to them as a benefit to their Connect membership but no one on the site is required to pay to see gigs. All gigs, paid, unpaid or deferred are available to ALL members within 5 days of posting. Some are immediately available but no one ever has to pay to submit. And to help offset the cost for all the time we spend legitimately finding gigs on the internet we hold some of those gigs for 5 days before ALL members can see them.”

Once again, we have an admission in his own words. The claim was never about holding the “job posting” hostage. The assertion was that they withhold the information that is needed to RESPOND to the posted ad. He openly admits to doing this, but clarifies that it is for “five days only”. In my opinion, if you withhold contact information from a job seeker- especially information readily available for FREE- and your intent is to SELL this contact information (in ISA case, by signing up for Connect membership), it is unethical. If you cultivate your OWN leads and want to sell that information to a subscriber base, then that is a legitimate service. This is clearly not the case here.

Re: The assertion that his previous partner runs a similar, unethical business: “I have no relationship with Jacob Stuart. He runs Screenwriting Utopia and I have no interest in him, his company, his methods, etc. I don’t know him…”

We have been told emphatically that they once worked together in the past, and in fact, Mr. James actually fired Stuart. Either he has issues with his memory, or he or Stuart is lying. It doesn’t really matter either way, as they are both unethical.

The bottom line is this; you can choose to sign up for either ISA or SSU newsletters and pay the annual rate for information readily available on the net, or you can avoid these types of “services” who prey off of the hard work, time and resources (money) that other sites use to actually mind these job leads to provide for YOU, the screenwriter. If you use services that take this information and, in essence, claim it as their own, you are helping to perpetuate the theft of this hard work, time and resources.

These guys are even advertising “success stories” when the position is filled- even if they had nothing to do with filling the position! How sleazy can one get?

We say support the original sites that advertise these leads, and go out and scour the internet yourself and find these leads. Most of these jobs are removed (illegally) from sites such as Craigslist (Los Angeles/New York), Mandy.com, Elance.com, Mooncasting.com, DoneDealPro message boards, Ink Tip, and hundreds of other sources, including almost every prodco website out there.

One can provide this type of service ethically, as we do, if they choose to do so. On the rare occasion that one of my companies comes across an ad that we feel could be of benefit to our network of writers, we share that information, but we ALWAYS encourage the writer to respond to the post via the original posting site- Craigslist or Ink Tip, whatever. Most of our job postings and all of our script search announcements are as a direct result of our own networking. WE are providing the search on behalf of our client. In most cases, we do this free of charge to both the client AND the screenwriter.

For an industry that cares about the protection of our own written material and intellectual property to such a degree that many of us register and copyright all of our own written work, to willingly or unknowingly engage in exactly this type of conduct is hypocritical, as well as illegal. If anyone is willing to go to these lengths to lift posts and claim credit for “filling” the job positions, can you really trust them with your SCRIPT when they request script submissions? How about your personal ID, or even financial information (credit card, Pay Pal account) if you sign up for the newsletters?

The choice is yours.

*(the two graphic media additions were found on line through “Google” search. They were uncredited).

writeyourown

 

Script Search Submission Tips

submissionstips5As many of you know, I’ve been conducting several script searches for various clients, as well as one search for a screenwriting job. I do this because I want to help upcoming writers- and established ones- add to their resume and credits, make a little money, and hopefully find that “break” we’re all struggle to find.
The hard part is actually making the referral without doing too much damage to my own credibility, and then having to tell others why they may or may not have been recommended or referred to the next level. I realize I’m not REQUIRED to this, but I think it’s beneficial for the writer to hear exactly what we thought of the entire submission package: query, logline, one page and screenplay. Doing this does NOT win any friends, I can tell you, but once the dust settles, hopefully the writers will take a nice, long look at what I’m telling them and try to improve in this area.
Chances are, the rejections are piling up and you can’t understand why. You’ve been told how wonderful a writer you are, and you’re convinced that screenplay you have fits the criteria of the script search to a “T”. Look over your submission package and see if any of your issues just might be included on this list:
1) Failed to follow directions – In most script searches, pretty explicit directions are provided. You’re free NOT to adhere to them, out of personal choice, but there will be clients (I’m one of them) who will not give a second look at someone who failed to follow the specific directions. The reason is simple: if you can’t follow the directions on how to submit a query, than you’re probably not going to do well moving forward. It tells me you think you’re “different” and should be treated as such. Sorry, you’re not. Follow the directions.

2) Missing information (no query, no logline, no script) – For a script search, we received several submissions missing the script. Some didn’t include the query letter, the logline, the project title or contact information.

3) Spelling errors – If your query letter is rife with spelling and grammatical errors, no one is going to waste their time looking any further. You must treat you marketing material with the same respect and concern as your screenplay. In a competitive industry such as ours, you really DO have to be perfect.

4) Doesn’t fulfill the genre or budget requirements – In the case of our searches, one script had an open budget, yet another had a very precise budget requirement. If you submit a script that is obviously NOT in that range, it is automatically declined. You should not take the opportunity of a specific script search to submit everything you’ve ever written, especially when it doesn’t fit the stated genre requirements. You do more harm than good to you reputation. No producer looking for a Western is going to consider a sci-fi and be so overwhelmed with the greatness of the story that it will forgo the western script search and choose your screenplay. In your fantasies, maybe…

5) A synopsis doesn’t have a “surprise” ending – In a synopsis, you tell us the story, without specific details. A “reader’s digest” version. Your script probably doesn’t end with “you’ll never guess what happens next”, so your synopsis better not either.

6) Missing Writers Bio – Clearly, many folks do not know how to put together a proper query letter. While disheartening, it’s not the end-all, at least for this script search, but you really need to learn it. You should learn the “new and improved”, most preferred version as well (yes, there is one). Included in all query letters should be a “Writers Bio”; a place where you can tell the producer about your writing accomplishments and relevant credits or experience. One writer submitted a resume, which I included in the submission. He’s experience was so extensive and at such an impressive level, it could only be properly demonstrated through a resume. Most of us HAVE writing resumes, but probably can reduce the relevant information to two or three lines under a writers bio.

What you should NEVER do is include a link to your web page, Twitter, Facebook or IMdb and tell the requestor “To learn more about me, check these out!” Ain’t happenin’…

7) Writers Bios without specifics – it’s a wonderful thing to be able to say you’ve been optioned eight times, and have had five movies released through studios. Care to mention any of the films by name? Unless you ARE a household name- and many of us aren’t, even in our own households- you need to back up your claims a bit. Again, it comes down to time and credibility; we don’t have the time to determine your credibility.

8) Do not beg – We all want it. Show you want it be submitting the script exactly as explained, write a cogent query letter with an effective logline, a proper synopsis/one page, include your contact information, and provide a script that meets the basic requirements of a spec script, and has been reviewed by a PROFESSIONAL. All the begging in the world is not going to get you any further, and it’s just “ewww”.

Here is an example of one of the better queries we received for this script search. I did not know the writer personally, but was only too happy to submit the screenplay concept to the client, along with the query:
I am submitting my western action concept, “(Title)”, for consideration.

Title: (Title)
Genre: Western
Logline: A wanted man falls for a vengeful Mexican girl while on the run from the crooked Texas Rangers who murdered her family.

Amora Vargas looms over a dead Texas Ranger, a smoking pistol in her hand. Just days ago, corrupt Rangers massacred her Tejano family and stole their land. Now, as the Rangers close in, Amora is swept away by her new love, Kit, a Texan on the run for Mexico, and hunted by a racist marshal. The lovers are ambushed; Amora’s going to hang!

Kit eludes his captors and races to save Amora only to find a woman’s body hanging from a noose – but it’s a decoy. Amora’s been kidnapped by the sadistic lead Ranger. Kit pursues the gang to a secluded cabin to rescue her. Fleeing to Mexico, the lovers face off against the villainous lawmen in a blaze of gunfire.

“(Title)” has placed in the PAGE Awards each of the past two years. If this concept is of interest, I’d be more than happy to discuss the script with you.

BIO: (Screenwriter’s name) is a Canadian writer by night, Energy Market Risk Manager by day, shark diver, world traveler, and former CAF infantry solider. He is actively involved in ScreenwritingU’s ProSeries Alumni.
There have been other variations of this query and submission equally good, but you would do well to have it appear something close to this. The writer did NOT know the updated query letter format that is preferred among many of the production companies these days, but for an earlier version of the accepted query letter, he did quite well.
If you have any questions about this script search, or how to write a proper query, logline or synopsis, please contact The Script Mentor at thescriptmentor@hotmail.com .

More News From The Script Mentor

May/ 2014

THE_SCRIPT_MENTOR_logos

A Special Offer for New Members

The Script Mentor Memorial Day- 50% Off Annual Service…with Money-Back Guarantee!

In honor of one of our favorite holidays of the year, The Script Mentor is offering a very rare special- 50% off our annual mentoring service (a $300 savings), from now until midnight, Monday, May 26, 2014.

This special comes with the unheard of FULL 100% money back guarantee if you should NOT achieve a minimum Quarterfinal finish in any one of the 3500 screenwriting competitions available (see site for details; some restrictions apply).

Sign up today to get your very own professional mentor to help you achieve your screenwriting goals- winning contests, getting requests from name producers, getting optioned, selling your script, and/or earning money doing what you love to do: writing screenplays!

Time to check out The Script Mentor at www.thescriptmentor.com, and sign up today!

 

Update: NANCY NEWBAUER Lands Paid Screenwriting Job!

The Script Mentor, in association with Shark-Eating Man Productions, recently concluded conducted a search for a screenwriter interested in a paid writing assignment out of Australia. The script was in the surfing genre, in the style of “Blue Crush” and “Soul Surfer”. The client selected Nancy Newbauer among the dozens of screenwriters who applied. Newbauer, a very talented screenwriter who has worked with the likes of Penny Marshall, Oliver Stone and Paramount Studios in the past, recently completed her own comedy “King Of Fresno”, which we will hear a lot about in the near future. Congratulations, Nancy!

 

Update: SCOTT PARISIEN Joins The Script Mentor!

Highly- acclaimed screenwriter and consultant, SCOTT PARISIEN, has joined The Script Mentor organization as Story Analyst. As owner of Pro Screenplays (http://www.proscreenplays.com/), Scott is a multi-optioned and contest winning screenwriter. He most recently won the PAGE Awards, and more importantly, sold the winning screenplay “Incision”. The last 5 screenplays Scott has written have been optioned, and he has two features going into production in 2014 and 2015. Scott has also worked as a Senior Story Analyst with Script Pipeline for over 4 years, and has a strong passion for helping writers dig deeper to make their screenplays great. TSM founder, Geno Scala, credits Scott with helping him launch his own writing career: “Scott is an extremely talented and conscientious analysts. I’m often blown away by his analytical dissection over each and every screenplay he receives. He has the ability to grasp ideas and meanings in places where the writer themselves failed to see it.”

As members complete their mentoring process, their screenplay will be analyzed by Pro Screenplays as part of the mentoring process- at no additional cost to the member.

 

Update: RICK MONDAY Sells Taiwan on New Screenplay!

TSM member and radio personality “Rick Monday” has been approved to write a screenplay highlighting the culture and people of the island of Taiwan, the Minister of the Interior reported today. After a very exhaustive review, Rick will begin the screenplay “Chaiyi-ville“, as it fits the government’s criteria for portraying Taiwan in a positive light and as a separate entity from China. Taiwan is currently a hot spot for Hollywood films, with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Luc Besson having shot films there recently.

Rick is currently enrolled in the mentoring process with The Script Mentor.

To sign up for The Script Mentor newsletter, email thescriptmentor@hotmail.com, and we’ll add you to our ever-growing subscriber list!

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How to Network Through LinkedIn

Tom-Cruise-Steven-Spielberg-Producer-Post-SilhouetteThe art of networking- making connections within your industry- is a learned craft, much like the craft of screenwriting itself. There are many ways to “skin” that proverbial cat, but some ways are just better, more effective and less time-consuming than others.
Here are my quick-ten tips:

1. Accept the fact that it WILL take time and dedication: You HAVE to put aside a certain amount of time and do it consistently. If I’m scheduling a four-hour write day, I will factor in half of that time for networking: 4 hrs. writing, 2 hours networking.

2. Join groups: Perhaps ninety percent of all LinkedIn groups are total time-sucks. They are filled with self-promotion and re-postings of published articles. Join them, check them out, and after a few weeks if that’s what they are, then dump them.

3. Decide what you want from the group: If you are looking for helpful information, guidance, etc., find a group that is operated by a person in your industry. If you are going to treat it more as a social network, looking for friends, I suppose it doesn’t matter much.

4. Choose the group carefully: Check the profile of the owner and/or moderators of the group. If the owner is a legal secretary, for example, and they operate a group for screenwriters, chances are they’re not managing the group closely enough. With these sites, anyone posting a question is pushed off the front page- with no responses- in a matter of minutes. A closely moderated group will often prevent that type of thing from happening.

5. Reach out and “touch” someone: LinkedIn allows you to “endorse” someone. Do it! This begins a connection.

6. Welcome newcomers: Don’t post a welcome; send a personal message. Share your experiences. Make the note personal.

7. Do not hesitate to link in: If you are in the same group, that’s the opening you need. Don’t send the “standard” pre-written invite. Personalize it. Let them know you saw something in their profile that compelled you to want to meet them.

8. Review profiles thoroughly: I spend several minutes reviewing every profile before I send an invite. I look at where they live, their website, their employer, their other groups, their influences, and their other connections. I rarely invite someone with no previous connections.

9. Learn what and where the bogus profiles come from: If the person requesting a link in or group entry has no writing or entertainment background whatsoever, no information of their profile is available, and their photo appears to be less than legit, I avoid them altogether. Usually they’re from another country, and I don’t need to spam or the hacking worries.

10. If they could benefit by knowing someone else in your network, introduce them: LinkedIn has a way to do this through the site. Do it- it’s a nice thing to do.

Writing Gigs- Real or Scam?

scamalert

You may be one of the hundreds of screenwriters out there who have subscribed to any one of the many dozens of screenwriting services out there who promise you “paid writing gigs” for the low, low monthly price of whatever. I’m familiar with many of them, because in all honesty, I, too have subscribed- to almost all of them at one time or another. Most of these gigs will come to you in the form of a weekly newsletter, announcing a new batch of paid (or unpaid) writing gigs, or various script searches from producers. You probably also believe that these companies MUST have an amazing network of connections, ones that trust them enough to uniquely and solely advertise these jobs or script searches.

That’s the scam.

In most cases, those selling this “writing assignment” or “paid screenwriting” opportunity have never even contacted the client. Not once.

They’re all guilty of it, and if they deny it, they’re lying to you. Want to find out for yourself? Here’s what you do…

Next time you receive an announcement of a “new client” in search of a ghostwriter for pay, or a production company looking for a certain type of screenplay, simply cut and paste a portion (or all) of the announcement in your browser. You will find out immediately where those ads originated.

What these “services” are ACTUALLY giving you- for the monthly subscription rate of whatever- is a re-posting of an ad, gleaned from other FREE posting sites, like Craigslist Los Angeles, SimplyHired.com, Mandy.com, NewEnglandFilm.com and many other sources. In fact, just the other day, we found one such ad reprinted from one of these sites, with an original posting date of 2012! Do you THINK that job is still available? Doubt it. Chances are, they’re out of business already!

Fact is, sites like Craigslist actually PROHIBIT the re-posting of ads; it says so when you place an ad, or respond to one. So, in most cases, what these sites are doing is illegal and unethical. But, trust me- I KNOW these people involved in these sites. Being UNETHICAL is status quo for most of them!

Now, you’re one of the few thousand desperate screenwriters who have had the misfortune to have been scammed by one of these several services offering writing gigs and such. YOU even became a PAID subscriber, hoping to land one of these unique opportunities offered ONLY to THIS particular service’s subscriber list! Mind you, this script search is no longer going on; the client found their project six months earlier. But, being desperate, not wanting to leave any rock unturned, you mindlessly submit.

Imagine the response of the people running the original ad, receiving a flood of emails for an ad placed- and re-posted without their expressed permission- six months earlier (or in some cases, two years earlier)!

Some of you may still feel that paying the monthly, or annual, subscription fee is worth it to receive ads that are re-posted from a handful of free sites. That’s fine. I know when I post a script search or a position for hire, these requests come STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE. I talk to these people almost everyday. They are aware of the vast network that is shared by The Script Mentor and Shark-Eating Man Productions. They know the high quality of writers and talent in our network, and they ask for my help specifically, in finding them the qualified candidate or project for their search. To date, these script searches have yielded 13 options, 6 script sales, one agent representation, and a countless number of writing assignments, producer reads, intros, and more. I do this ONLY as an unpaid favor for those IN my network TO someone also in my network.

Go back through any one of the dozens of newsletters or email blasts you may have received over the past couple of months; try it for yourself. Eventually, these scammers will catch on and actually spend the time (and money) to re-write the ad significantly in order NOT to expose the fact that they are cut-and-paste ads from other free sources. This is why you’ll often find the email address incorrect and you’ll get the returned email telling you it is no longer a valid address. Funny how a recent request from an actual contact might include an email address that is incorrect. Hmmm…

Save yourself some money; do the research yourself. Finding writing gigs is easy; you just have to know some of the sources. There’s no magic to this, certain not from these clowns. Their “magic” is simply having the audacity to steal money from unsuspecting subscribers and taking advantage of your naivete.

Oh, and don’t bother to complain to them either. They have a habit of dodging their complaint emails and avoiding a response altogether. Just remember when the time comes to “re-up” the subscription or pay for any additional services these scammers try to sell- like contests, pitch fests or coverage services.

Once a thief, always a thief.