DEBUNKING SCREENWRITING MYTHS, PART XVII – “BEWARE OF FALSE PRO(FITS)!”

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One of the services “The Script Mentor” provides to our network (gratis) is collecting and posting various PAID screenwriting jobs AND script search opportunities. We do this through our LinkedIn group “Script Jobs and Searches” (https://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostRecent=&gid=6739059&trk=my_groups-tile-flipgrp), a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/scriptassignmentsandsearches/, and on Twitter (@scriptjobs).

Occasionally, we like to highlight the more “questionable” opportunities, while sharing with you what WE look for in these opportunities when doing our own due diligence.

Recently, a company known only as “Eccentric Stories”, promoted a screenwriting contest through Craigslist. They advertised that it provides their “monthly winners” $500 cash prize AND “guaranteed representation”.

Naturally, this claim piqued our interest.

The “Eccentric Stories” website advertises “Introductions to Agents, Producers and Executives”- seemingly every screenwriters dream- or nightmare, if you aren’t careful. Prominent in the first sentence of their home page is the claim “Take your Chance to be the next Academy Award winner discovered by Eccentric Stories”! Now, we’re ALWAYS wary of any contest or writing service that boosts (as-of-yet) unsubstantiated claims of “Academy Award- level” success, but when told that you have the chance to be the NEXT Academy Award winner discovered, wouldn’t that imply that there was a first one? If so, who was the first one? What was the project? No such back-up information is available, unfortunately.

Another sign of a questionable “contest”, especially one that promotes a writing service in conjunction with the same site, IS the level of writing skill demonstrated on the site itself. This site, for example, has every other word capitalized, and some pretty poor grammar structure and punctuation issues. It looks to have been written by a fifteen year-old girl texting through a smart phone.

The biggest red flag on sites like these is the fact that there is absolutely nobody advertised as being associated with them- no site owners, no website managers, no judges. Nothing. In fact, when we reached out to them – several times – in an attempt to discover who is directly involved in such a site, there has been no response. This fact alone should make writers stop and reconsider before submitting their intellectual property (screenplays or manuscripts) to them, or send them any amount of money.

If I were a betting man, I’d bet this is a website from outside of the United States, which means that even if your project is registered and copyrighted, you have no protection outside of the country. Chances are, you’d never know what would have happened to your project, and you’d probably not be compensated for someone else using it.

There are legitimate services out there that have fostered Academy Award-level material, nominees and, perhaps even a winner or two. In these cases, however, not only do they promote it, it would be on their home page in big bold letters!

While we await any follow-up information from them (we won’t be holding our breath) we would suggest that you, the screenwriter, keep a wary eye for these types of services or competitions; we refer to them as “money-grabs”. Check references; ask questions. If nothing else, ask us. We’ll do what we can to get you the answers you need to make an informed decision.

*Photo courtesy of Worth1000.com.

**No wolves or sheep were harmed in the creation of this image .

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