Our scam radar (“scamdar”) was alerted recently when we came across “Eccentric Stories Screenplay Contest” in a Craigslist ad (RED FLAG #1).
Eccentric Stories advertises writing contests for ALL of the following categories: Screenplay, TV script, Playwright, Novelist and Logline contests (RED FLAG #2). We’ve yet come across any LEGITIMATE enterprise that successfully operates “contests” for all of these major categories. Two previously identified scam sites; “WILDsound” and “Screenwriting Staffing”; operate in a similar fashion, and everyone in the industry knows them only as “money grabs”.
Eccentric’s Craigslist listing entices those to “take your chance to be the NEXT Academy Award winner discovered by Eccentric Stories”. Clearly, they are implying that previous Academy Award winners have been discovered by Eccentric Stories however, there is no mention of these previous Oscar winners, probably because they don’t exist (RED FLAG #3).
A review of their website reveals no names of ANY of the principles involved in the company (RED FLAG #4), describing themselves only as “a company run by and for writers and filmmakers”- purposely being vague and ambiguous. They also claim “Eccentric stories (sic) work with some very well known (sic) and effective producers who are ready, willing and able to work with first time and aspiring writers”. Again, they fail to mention a single producer (RED FLAG #5), not to mention failing to capitalize the second word in their own company title (“stories”), and excluding the proper punctuation in “well known” (RED FLAG #6). For a company whose stock in trade appears to be “judging” others writing, errors in their own ad should raise an eyebrow or two.
Eccentric also claims that they will “pitch your script, manuscripts and treatment from your Log Line to companies such as CAA, ICM, William Morris Endeavor, ACME, The Gage Group, etc.”. No logos of these companies sponsoring their site or their contests are anywhere to be found, and no quotes from any of the employees of these companies ever made it to the ad or to the site itself. Just a missed opportunity? Perhaps…but I doubt it.
They go further to claim that they “guarantee the winner representation” (RED FLAG #7). Again, they are ambiguous about the type of representation they guarantee; is it Talent Management? Career Management? Agent Representation? Marketing? Maybe they’ll manage your kid’s Little League baseball team; who knows?
“Eccentric Stories” does have a LinkedIn page, with a listed address of the “United States” (RED FLAG #8) with an email address, but again, no specifics as to who is running this company. Their site currently offers no links to any of these major social marketing sites (RED FLAG #9). The same vague written description found on their website is repeated on their page, and they show that they’ve only been in operation since January 2015. Maybe just more missed opportunities, or a poor job at building an effective website?
However, now they’ve announced their first monthly contest winners: Winning Screenplay: Austin Davies (Houston, TX); Winning Novel: Cheryl Carter-Love (Baltimore, MD); Winning Log Line: Judy Lattimore (Bakersfield, CA) and Winning Stage Play: Marques Sessoms (Atlanta, GA). In our attempt to reach out to the winners to offer our congratulations (and perhaps get some additional information on this contest), we did a basic Google search for the winners. However, NONE of the winner’s names came up matching the spelling as listed and/or the city of residence (RED FLAG #10).
Four people, apparently in the creative arts, yet none of them have a web page, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn profile, a listed telephone number or mailing address, or any internet marketing of their projects (RED FLAG #11). It seems that these four people simply wrote their projects and their one and only attempt at having it read or publicized in any way was through this particular contest!
What are the chances?
Now, there is a chance that, in its infancy, this company hasn’t yet worked out all of its hiccups and kinks. We would certainly allow for some of this oversight, and perhaps plans are being made to better improve the site, the information on the site, and provide more specifics about their contest.
It should be noted that, on several occasions, we’ve reached out to the owners of the site through the contact information provided, seeking additional information. To date, we’ve yet to receive any response (RED FLAG #12).
So, in review, the RED FLAGS are as follows:
1) Advertises on Craigslist
2) Multiple, unrelated contests
3) Unsubstantiated claims of Academy Award winners
4) No mention of any principles/executives with the company on their site.
5) Unnamed “producer” clients
6) Multiple spelling and/or punctuation/grammatical errors in their ad
7) Non-specific “guarantee of representation”
8) Address given: “United States”
9) No links to any other major social sites
10) No listing of any of the four winners selected
11) The winners have no previous Internet presence whatsoever
12) No return contact on multiple inquiries
We would also like to encourage ANY of the four listed winners, should they exist, to contact “The Script Mentor” and share with us their experiences with this contest. If and when they do, we’ll be sure to pass it on to you. Until that time, however, based on all of this information, easily gleaned when spending a few minutes of time conducting a cursory due diligence investigation, we have to believe this site to be just another scam; a “money grab” that you’d be better served to avoid completely.