About a year ago, I posted an article about my suspicions over an ad found on Craigslist from a “John Alexander” of Eccentric Stories. He advertised various screenwriting services, including adapting books into screenplays and ghostwriting. At that time, I placed a call into Mr. Alexander, and within a few short minutes of time, it was fairly obvious he knew very little about the craft of screenwriting. He didn’t seem to have a grasp on the common terminology often used in screenwriting, and was less than forward with his pricing schedules and due dates, etc. It was clear to me this was a scam, and said as much in the article.
The other day, I was contacted by Kenny Wilson, a most recent customer of Mr. Alexander, who expressed his sincere regrets of not having seen my article prior to signing on with Eccentric Stories and paying a hefty sum for a screenplay adaptation of his novel. Now, there were many red flags along the way, as Mr. Wilson now admits, but at the time, he was a bit more trusting of the man. As with many con artists, they have a skill to win people over and convince them they’re on the level, which is why they are so successful, after all. Mr. Wilson paid John Alexander the sum of one thousand dollars ($1000) to adapt a 700+ page Action novel into a screenplay, and this transaction took place at the end of 2014. Here it is in March 2016, and he has yet to see a written word.
Mr. Wilson has managed to get a hold of Alexander during much of this time, and he was strung along, being told the project was coming along fine. Towards the end, when Mr. Wilson had had enough, and demanded his screenplay, he received a call from a “family member” of Mr. Alexander’s, claiming that he had a heart attack. Mr. Wilson was able to speak with him later still, when he was told that the script was done, and he (Alexander) was flying him (Mr. Wilson) out to Los Angeles- all expenses paid- where he had scheduled a number of meetings with various studio executives interested in purchasing the script. Mr. Wilson was highly skeptical, but he did re-arrange his work schedule to be on the safe side.
He never heard back.
We will be assisting Mr. Wilson as much as we can in helping him recover his money and recover his project.
Some important points to consider when you’re looking to hire a screenwriter for a paid assignment such as an adaptation or a ghostwriting job. To read a 700 page book and then adapt it into a viable screenplay beyond a first draft is, at the minimum, a four-to- six month job (length of time varies depending on the writer, of course). I’ve done screenplays in six weeks, and I’ve done them in sixteen months. No one of any real skill level is going to charge $1000 to do that for you; that’s less than $1 an hour. I might charge $1000 just to READ a 700-page, self-published book, because I know what it’s probably going to read like!
Next, you should ALWAYS get a written contract, outlining EXACTLY what you’re going to get for your money. I will give you an idea of what I always provide in my contracts:
A) The start and end date(s);
B) The hourly rate;
C) The number of hours expected for the project;
D) Payment terms; half down prior to start; final pay prior to receipt of final draft;
E) Guaranteed first forty pages for review;
F) One (1) FREE rewrite
I will also tell you I have friends and connections in the business that I can send the project to if I believe it’s warranted, because I do. I have a number of people who will read anything I send them because they not only trust my writing skills, they trust my judgment of things I forward. There’s absolutely no guarantee of any option, purchase or production, unless I choose to produce it myself, and that’s not entirely likely either. Anyone who makes promises like that, are who tells you about all-expense paid trips to meet studio executives- take your money and run, because that’s what they’re going to do!