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Monday, April 11, 2005

Just ran across this saddening article about agencies turning their query letters over to internet script hawking sites. You write a letter to Paradigm, you get a letter back from ScriptPIMP or ScriptShark or whatever saying they'll read your script for $150 and then if they like it they'll turn it over to a proper agency -- and take a cut of the eventual sale, if there is one.

If this is still happening, it's sad. WGA-signatory agencies are not allowed to charge for reading scripts, and this is a way of farming out the charge. Okay, it's not sending people to Syria to be tortured, but it's not too ethical. (Unethical behavior in Hollywood? I am shocked, shocked.)

$150 to reject your script does not seem worth it. Most people will reject your script for free.

UPDATE: But see interesting comments from readers...

12 Comments:

Allow me to bring the reality of a new writer into focus.

I have used Scriptshark when it was run by founders Ed Kashiba and Roy Lee ( The Ring, The Grudge, etc ). The service they provided was professional and the recommendation I got from them opened many doors. I had no problems recommending the service until they sold Scriptshark to Ifilm and started to charge 10% of sales that was initiated by them.

That was several years ago, and now, Scriptshark doesn't charge that 10% anymore.

Would I recommend the service to a new writer? Yes, absolutely. Why?

No one worth pursuing will read a script from an unagented writer without a referral from someone they know and trust.

I can understand why a producer or agency will refer the new writer to services like Scriptshark. There is just no way an agency or a production company can spend the ressources necessary to review every submission that comes from an unproven writer. The sheer volume would make it impossible for them to even consider a fraction of those submissions. At least, those entities who send the writer to Scriptshark keep the door open. And should the writer's script get a "consider" or "recommend", it will be read. I know mine was.

Are those services for everyone? Obviously not. Scriptshark, for one, is very selective and gives either a "consider" or better rating to less than 2% of scripts they receive. So only good, market ready scripts will make it through the process. So it's a good idea to send only one's best work.

Costly? Yes, but if a writer is without contacts and he/she believes the work is up to professional standards, than it's money well spend. The coverage alone was worth it, imho, and he/she can get that needed referral.

Scams? Maybe. Most of these coverage/referral services are. So check them out, take time to verify their success stories, how long they've been in business and most of all use your better judgment. Fear and desperation are a writers worse advisors. So is paranoia. Other then that, some of these services can, if the writer's work is good, be his/her foot in the door.

Disclaimer. I have no affiliation with Scriptshark or any such service. And today, I'm represented by N.B. at Omada.

Hope this helps put things in perspective. That of a new writer.

DL

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 PM  

yeah, this happens. it happened to me when i submitted a script query to paradigm a couple years ago. i was pretty disgusted.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 PM  

From the Scriptshark site:

> Good material stands on it’s own.

Yeah, they're professional writers. (I hope no one reading this needs to be reminded of the difference between "its" and "it's".)

By Anonymous Malvolio, at 11:12 PM  

Who said they were writers? No one on their site, for sure.

Let me know if you ever find a writer who doesn't make spelling mistakes. I'd like to know more about this mytic creature. :)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 PM  

Perhaps it makes more sense to pay a fee to a script-shark or filmliterarygroup.com than to enter myriad contests. Entering half-a-dozen contests might cost the writer twice as much as a basic package from Scriptshark...and doesn't generate feedback. I presume these services will tell the writer if the script sucks, and why.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:47 PM  

Used ScriptShark last year. Got a pass, but found the coverage professional and very very useful for the rewrite. If you are going to try a referral service, I'd recommend this one.

(this is a new anonymous, not the original poster)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 PM  

used scriptshark and got coverage and notes for a script twice and the second coverage contradicted the first coverage and when I used the suggestions from the first person and put them in the script, the second coverage person told me to take them out. So I spent $600 for two different opinions. THANKS

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 PM  

with a grain of salt......... in 1992 I submitted a script to Scriptshark and had the work critiqued....the script was a sequel to Death Race 2000 entitled Death Race II:2020 (it was somewhere around the 20th anniversary of the original film)... Anyway the critique read and responded (and I quote) "Who would be interested in making a such a film as we are close to the year 2000....... it would probably be a low budget project at best .... there wouldn't be a market for a cult film such as Death Race 2000......you might consider writing Connon Ball Run, but then car films aren't that marketable anyway" .....

A couple of years later Fast and the Furious hit the theaters and the new age of the car genre was born..... by the way as to "who would be interested in such a film?" Try Tom Cruise (producer) and Paul Wes Anderson (Director) 15 years later as Death Race 3000 is in the works....

I know my script had some flaws (Dialogue is not my strong point....then again was there dialogue in Fast and the Furious?) ... but the point is there was a solid story and an idea that just might have flown if it was pitched to the right person even a few years later when the car genre had its rebirth throughout the '90s.....

I guess I'm wondering if Scriptshark has any true power or do they just collect the fees from hollywood hopefuls with no intention or ability to push a concept forward....

........that's finally off my chest!

p.s. Mr.Cruise or Mr. Anderson if you ever need a script for the sequel to Death Race 3000 I'll get a dust rag, polish one up and send it over ... ;)

By Blogger raycrx, at 8:29 PM  

Just my two cents but... As a writer, you are asking a production company to read your script and to make it. We are taking about millions of dollars to develop, shoot, and distribute a film. It seems to me that the writers investment of 150.00 is a pitance. You know?

If the work is good, it will go were you wanted it to in the first place.

By Blogger crazybilly, at 2:00 PM  

One of my scripts finished in the top 20 in three different script contests, including one second place finish with FADE IN Magazine. Scriptshark, not knowing about the script's history, gave it a pass and a sharp critique.

The trouble with these services is that they're looking TOO HARD for flaws, instead of just reading. You can see Sponge Bob in the clouds if you look hard enough and that's your goal. So my advice would be to get a consensus. One opinion really means very little.

Three of my books were rejected nearly 20 times by publishers, but all three went on to be published, and to stay in print for over 15 years (they're still in print.) One was an international bestseller and another was chosen by the editors of Amazon.com among the "Ten Best" of its kind published in the last several years.

Consensus matters.

By Blogger Marc, at 12:17 PM  

WOW! Great blog I stumbled onto while researching script consultants. Great feedback from everyone who chimed in. I'm in the Screenwriting U Pro Series class (best class ever) and Scriptshark seems to be the service of choice, they offer several choices depending on need. I have a few others lined up and will possibly utilize more than one based on one of the comments above. Mu question is, what;s the deal with logline sites and site where you basically put your baby up for the world to see. I write a motocross- themed story in 2001 and had an early version of it up on one of the "Lit Sales" sites. Never heard from anyone regarding it yet a couple years alter I see Corbin Blue (or Cordon Bleu) making a motocross movie all over my motocross magazines with a storyline eerily similar to the early version I posted on said site. If I get a hold of a copy of this film and see it was "borrowed" from my putting it up there I will be the most prolific antagonist they ever saw. Social media is a bitch and it can work both ways for writers who register and show proof of p regression to a story and show it was posted on said site to gain interest, not to be ripped off. Any comments on this sort of thing Alex?

By Blogger ktm882, at 1:52 AM  

I wrote a script called "Living Nightmares" several years ago and had it registered with the WGAW. Found out recently that AMC ripped the title for one of there own films. Called the writer's guild to see what they could do and was told that it's perfectly legal for companies to rip the title of your work. Talk about some B.S.

By Blogger Michael McKean, at 4:26 PM  

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