Letters to the Editor

Fun With the Film Critics

Many thanks for the superlative insights offered in
“Their Opinions Count”(Issue #47, Vol. 9) by Mark Griffin. It’s
about time that discerning, intelligent critics like Kenneth Turan,
Roger Ebert and

David Sterritt received some long overdue recognition for advising
a nation of wary moviegoers. It cannot be an easy task to continuously
provide entertaining, informed and meaningful commentary about so
many recent films that are noticeably devoid of those qualities.
I had a much better time reading these compelling interviews than
I’ve had at my neighborhood multiplex all year.

—Cynthia DiPietro, Amawalk, NY

Hidden Costs and Tiny Successes

While I found Jennifer Wood’s article “Screenwriting
Success in Cyberspace”(Issue #47, Vol. 9) informative, there are
two important items that were overlooked. Hidden costs: Just last
week I discovered ScriptShark’s Website and was genuinely excited.
But then a friend pointed out the small print concerning ScriptShark’s
parent company, Baseline/Filmtracker, collecting 10 percent of the
sale of a script: “If Baseline/Filmtracker enables the eventual
sale or option for sale of a project listed on SpecMarket, Baseline/Filmtracker
will be entitled to collect a 10 percent fee from the gross proceeds
of any such sale.”

This makes a huge difference if you’re also shelling
out 10-15 percent to an agent. I don’t know if any other online
services take a commission on sales or options, but this should
be part of the screenwriter’s decision-making.

Tiny Successes: Writers’ Script Network seems to
be the only one that boasts more than a handful of success stories,
and it includes the date of every recent sale or deal. The other
sites mention a few of their sales, but we don’t know how recent
they are, or if there are any other potential sales or negotiations.
Other sites only use testimonials to “prove”how popular the service
is, without any real success stories. Again, the proof is in real
effectiveness. In future articles, these items should be addressed
to better inform the budding screenwriter.

—Robert Chomiak, Vancouver, BC

ScriptShark and Script P.I.M.P. Respond

Hidden Costs: There are no hidden costs. It has been
standard practice for us to send a letter to the writer after their
script receives a ‘consider’ that lets them know about the commission.
More importantly, the quote used from our site also clearly states
that if we aren’t involved with the promotion of the material, we
won’t commission it—as was the case with Hardcourt, a script that
recently sold to Phoenix that we covered, but did not promote. If
we don’t do the work, we don’t commission. If the writer has the
ability to get the script into the hands of agents, managers or
producers, we suggest they do it without us. Because we agree: you
shouldn’t be paying unwarranted commissions.

If, however, they would like our expertise and help,
then we will do what we can. But, like all businesses, we do charge
for our services. Representation for writers and sales of scripts
don’t just magically appear, no matter what any service or publication
leads a writer to believe.

That being said, we are certainly not the only service
to commission for this kind of service. It is standard policy for
most of the coverage services in the field. We work very hard for
those writers that have had their careers started by our service,
and are willing to furnish your magazine with interviews and/or
testimonials that will clearly back this up…

Proven Success: To answer the final question, we
ask you and your readers to simply peruse our home page as well
as www.scriptshark.com/inthenews.html. This month alone, we have
had three very notable successes. Additionally, ScriptShark has
been in the trades repeatedly this summer and seen a number of our
writers repeat success because we helped provide them the foundation
to build a career, not just a low/no money option to a small production
company… This makes sense, because Baseline/FilmTracker provides
data and software to studios, production companies and agencies.
In addition to looking for data, these executives are looking for
strong material that can be developed into commercial films.

The coverage portion of ScriptShark has always been
a tool built for executives, and our analyses are often less forgiving
than other services. Other sites post without analyzing the material.
Thus, they don’t have the unfortunate duty of delivering negative
responses to their writers. The goal of coverage, however, is not
to provide notes or encouraging words, but rather deliver the kind
of feedback that will honestly provoke an executive, representative
or producer to respond to a piece of material.

We are focused on providing high-quality services
and assistance to all our clients (both writers and executives),
and it’s expected that the scripts submitted for coverage are of
professional caliber. Our growth lies in the hands of the writers
that submit to us. The more success we turn over, the more success
we will have. However, being the first of our kind in this field,
we are very conscious of the fact that significant successes only
come at the hands of quality writing.

—Ryan Williams, Filmtracker/ScriptShark, Santa Monica,

Let me answer the questions raised in regards to
Script P.I.M.P.: 1. We do not take any commission fees. If Script
P.I.M.P. helps option/sell your script, we get nothing but a better
reputation among writers. 2. As for ‘recent success stories,’ we’ve
had four in the last year: Donna White optioned her script, Turn-Around,
through placement in our ‘Script P.I.M.P. Recommends’ category on
Writers Script Network. Doug Rappaport gained agent representation
and agreed to a five-figure writing project for director David Winkler.
William Jack Sibley optioned his script, Amor, to director/producer
Bryan Harston in a six-figure deal. Robert Nelms gained agent representation
from Sara Margoshes of SMA, LLC.

—Chadwick Clough, President & CEO, Script P.I.M.P.,

Ray Carney’s Back— and So Are
His Naysayers

It is amusing, to say the least, and false advertising,
to say the most, that this month’s interview with Ray Carney is
billed in the table of contents as “a brand new rant.”In point of
fact, it’s the same old rant, is it not? Right down to some of the
same sound bites and catchphrases?

It is a distinct piece only inasmuch as Mr. Carney
does not, to my memory, remind us that he is “the world’s leading
authority on John Cassavetes,”as he is wont to do at the drop of
a hat.

Other than this refreshing break from Mr. Carney’s
relentless self-promotion, the “brand new rant”seems little more
than yet another regurgitation of his trademark, shopworn blend
of pontification, sneering disdain and mind-boggling arrogance written
up by (no surprise here) another of his acolytes.

Mr. Carney has successfully “branded”himself as a
rebellious outsider, but when one takes into consideration statements
like his snorting, categorical dismissal of, say, Steven Spielberg’s
capacity to think about the limits, implications and context of
his craft—a summary, personal, ad hominem attack (made, I’ll warrant,
without having ever spent any time in Mr. Spielberg’s company)—one
can’t help but think that outside is exactly where Mr. Carney belongs.

Mr. Carney, in my opinion, has no place in a publication
aimed at the community of creative artists; let him remain outside—or
better yet, perched on his proverbial ivory tower, preaching to
the choir, where he seems to enjoy the attention generated by his
increasingly shrill, banal and insulting academic carping at the
expense of actual filmmakers.

—Michael Sheehan, Chicago, IL

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