paying to pitch

There are lots of sites and services that charge writers or filmmakers for the opportunity to “pitch” their projects. And there are just as many filmmakers and writers who decry the practice as an outright scam focused on simply taking the money of starry-eyed newbies with no intention of ever really making their movie (see the recent Nehst Studios post).

Sometimes those same writers and filmmakers pay for pitch sessions as adjuncts to seminars, festivals and etc, like the Great American Pitchfest. Unknown writers put out hundreds of dollars, maybe a couple thousand when you include travel lodging and food, to go to the Pitchfest in LA. They get to pitch their unknown project(s) to a bunch of “producers”, some of whom are legit, some of whom possibly are not, none of whom have ever heard of said writer, or have ever shown any interest in his work. They only agree to hear his pitch because he PAID. And many such writers seem to think this is a great opportunity, completely legitimate, money well spent, an investment in their careers, etc.

I still don’t understand why some folks insist that a Pitchfest makes sense, but when ONE producer or website makes the same offer, it’s a scam. It may be a scam, if that particular producer is a thief. But why is it by definition a “scam”, when a Pitchfest is a legitimate “opportunity”?

I’d love to hear examples and experiences about Pitchfest-esque events, individual producers/agents/managers who charge for pitch sessions, and online sites that charge to connect you with pitching opportunities.

And I’ll be writing a comparative blog soon on sites like VirtualPitchFest.com, GreenWriter.org, InkTip.com and ScriptStork.com, who charge (or not) to host your projects in the hopes of connecting you with a legitimate producer.

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Inktip

I’ve got my scripts on inktip.com, in the hopes that they’ll be seen and read by producers looking for new properties. Inktip is a legit site, they do a decent job screening the “producers”, vetting their resumes before allowing them access so we can be reasonably assured that whoever is looking at our stuff is not a poser. It costs for writers to post their features, which run for six months.

Producers can go into the system, run a search (for, say, a “family comedy” with a budget under 10M) and with any luck, your entry turns up in their search results as a title and a logline.

Then, they can click through to view your synopsis, and even download your script to read. From there, they contact you to buy it and produce it starring whatever reality-show loser was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel the week before, and pay you loads of money for the privilege.  (Don’t tell me that’s not how it works… lalalalala!)

We’ve had a crapload of producers see our logline (it turned up in their results, anyway — whether they read it or not is another matter). We’ve had exactly 14 go on to the synopsis. And exactly ONE actually download the script. It was Cube Vision… Ice Cube’s prodco, responsible for films like Barber Shop, Are We There Yet and Are We Done Yet. I think the script could be perfect for them, with some tweaking. But alas, we heard nothing. Weird thing is (as allowed by the rules) I dropped them a line (snail mail) to the address listed, and it bounced back “No Longer At This Address”. So we’ll never know what happened.

Oh well. Maybe I should pitch something called “Are We Sold Yet”.

The jury’s out on inktip… I’d like to have had more action after nine months, but I’ll let it ride a while longer.

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