Every so often I get someone writing to me, asking if they should send a script to some "producer" they found on CraigsList (or some similar site). From my website:

During the past year or so, many budding screenwriters have told me that they’ve responded to “Script Wanted” postings on Internet screenwriting boards. These writers know I’m a big proponent of knowing who your script is going to, so they’ll usually ask the “producers” to provide information about themselves. For instance: “What type of budget are you working with?” “What have you produced previously?” “Will the writer get paid up front? Or would it be a step deal? Or will payment be deferred?” “What plans do you have for the completed movie (i.e. festivals, theatrical or direct-to-DVD release)?”

After posing these questions, most never hear anything back—or they get only a terse response with just an address. Sorry, but that just seems WRONG.

All riled up, I searched a few of these screenwriting boards, and queried twelve so-called producers. I let them know I had a script I’d love to send, but first I needed them to provide some background on who they were, etc. Five didn’t respond at all, 4 responded with merely an address to where I could send my script, and 3 responded with very friendly messages that provided absolutely no useful information whatsoever...but oh, they'd love to read my screenplay and here's a post office box I could send it to.

So, would I send a screenplay to one of these unknown entities? NO!!

Something else to keep in mind: Folks rummaging around on the Net in search of scripts are probably not in any position to get a movie made. It’s highly doubtful they even have the clout to get a script into the hands of someone who can get a movie made. In fact, I doubt these people even know anyone in the film industry. Also, it's a pretty safe bet that most of the people looking for scripts via the Internet are film students—or people who want to make their first film and need a script they can get for free or ultra-cheap. And that's fine…just let us know this up front!

So please...KNOW WHO YOU’RE SENDING YOUR SCRIPT TO. Get information from the people you query. Do Google searches. Protect yourself!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

I heard from the internet about a guy who took a "decent unsold script", went to France and told the director there that this was his script.

So folks be careful.

Some guy could take your decent script and sell it in Europe, under his/her name.

Make sure you get tons of info about the person before you send out your script.

Dube said...

Very good advice. Thanks for the tips!

Susan P. said...

The Internet is an ideal territory for being duped because people excuse hidden contact info etc. ("I don't tell people who I am so I can understand a business not wanting to"). I completed a major online research project a few years back and saw repeated incidents of individuals using the medium to scam. For example, a woman was advertising editing and review work. I was suspicious simply looking at her site material but I moved to the testimonials and then searched on those individuals. To cut a long story short, the site owner and all those who had written testimonials were all mature adults who had all been students in the same business course. Their motivation to give each other a helping hand simply didn't cut it in terms of professional integrity.

"Buyer - or perhaps reader - beware!!" should be your byword online. Suspend judgment, ask questions and don't depend on golden promises.

A timely piece Jim.

Susan P. said...

To add re the comment from anonymous, copyright your script. That process is not iron clad but will provide a legal basis to dispute someone else running off with your script and using it.