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So I found a few details about Linlea, but couldn't find anything about Zero Gravity. They sound good, based on their posting. Anybody know anything about them?
Zero Gravity has requested a look at my screenplay but I too know nothing about them. Any info. on who they are and what they've done would be greatly appreciated.
I spoke to Mark yesterday. They seem pretty cool. He really liked my screenplay Bedbugs, but he said he didn't know if he could sell it. I think he is looking at the spec scripts to see who can write and can't and then seeing they will do an original project, unless what you have he feels he can sell. But overall I got a good feeling about him.
thanks for the word. Glad to hear they sound cool. Congrats on the good read. I'll look forward to (hopefully) hearing from them about my script. So what's Bedbugs about?
How long after receiving your s/p did it take Mark/ZG to respond?
I want to say 2 weeks. three tops.
Has anyone else heard back from ZG? Anyone have any more info to share?
Sounds like a spacey organization. Anybody have ground zero references on them? HCD have them listed? Grover
I had sent Zero Gravity my script and they passed on it. They want an action movie ie: Lethal Weapon, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Rush Hour. Something like what Joel Silver or Jerry Bruckheimer might produce.
Got a Lethal/HARD Action script they might want. Do I phone, email or fax a logline? Or send scrip? Got phone # contact name or address?
Thanks, just found it under Writers Wanted -- what a great site!
I'd like to echo Grover's questions:
Can someone check the HCD to see if Zero Gravity or Mark Williams are listed, as either a production company or a manager.
Williams says they're a production company with years of experience, contacts, and several current projects.
Through a Google search, I came up with a "Zero Gravity Productions", but this is a New York-based company, and the ZG/Mark Williams in question has a Santa Monica submission address.
Also, is it not standard for a manager who wants to rep you and asks you to write/develop a script with them to formalize said intentions with a written contract?
Forgot to mention in my above post that Williams says they're also a management company and that this is a new venture for them.
I didn't know that they were specifically looking for an action script. They requested my script a few weeks ago. And, I made it clear that it was supernatural thriller.
Does anyone know if they're monitoring this list? Aw, who cares.
I've been talking to Mark for about a month now. He does seem reassuring, but there are two things that bother me: (1) he hasn't offered to send either of my 2 scripts around town (I haven't asked, to be fair); and (2) I've heard of production companies trying to get unestablished writers to "work for free" under the guise that it's mutually beneficial for both parties. Your sweat, and they get free ideas, synopses, whatever.
Oh wait, a third thing. He wants me to work on an action buddy comedy, and he uses the phrase "oil and water" a lot.
Everyone I've heard of that Mark Williams has favorably contacted has a similar story to tell: "He loved my writing but didn't think he could sell my script...so he's asked me to a) write a s/p based on one of his ideas; or b) to come up with a list of ideas that he and I will develop together."
In either case, a or b, Zero Gravity/Mark Williams can claim part or whole ownership of the finished work, as it was his idea, or because he jointly developed it. He used the same ploy with me -- loved my writing but thought my script was unmarketable. He asked me to send him other ideas; I sent him some 30 loglines, none of which "grabbed" him. He immediately suggested I use his idea -- a "one-last-heist" theme (which I very quickly learned was a copycat of several newly/soon-to-be released pics: Oceans 11, Bandits, Heist) He sent me a one-paragraph synopsis which boiled down to "gang gets together for one last heist". Hardly original or high concept. He said the uniqueness of the story was in the strength of the characters: the hero was the former lover or husband of the female gang member and the tensions between them cause the gang problems. Hey, now there's something we've never seen before!
Anyway, red flags began waving before my eyes. I told Mr. Williams that I was uncomfortable proceding without a contract in place which clearly stipulated the financials and IP ownership. His reply was that, while it was not his company's preference to offer a contract, he would if I insisted. However, he never did directly address my question regarding intellectual property ownership of the screenplay I was to write based on his idea, which set off an alarm. I chose not to continue working or corresponding with Mr. Williams or Zero Gravity thereafter as it is not my habit to provide professional services for free...
All I can offer you is to say that, if my instincts are correct, Mark/ZG have no genuine desire to push your or any other writer's original work, but rather, is intent on manipulating new writers into performing work-for-hire for zero compensation.
Your response pretty much finalizes my decision.
I too asked about ownership and contracts and pretty much got the same response. Once we hammer out an idea together that we're both interested in, then we would talk about money.
I only sent him 3 ideas. The ideas he sent me were re-treads on the action buddy comedy. Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour, just in a different locale. Sounded like straight-to-video stuff, things I just couldn't get interested in. The characters were cliche, one wise-cracking cop, the other serious. One old, one young. One plays by the rules, the other does things his way. The basic premise of the plots needed a lot of work, but Mark said what would sell the scripts was the humor and interaction between the characters.
I asked if these scripts were to be written as something ZG was to produce, or as straight specs to send to other companies. Didn't get a strong definite answer.
Anyhow, amateurs work for free. If someone wants me to write for them, I have to get paid. If you don't see yourself as a professional, no one else will.
It's deja vu all over again. I had the same meeting with Mark, at his office.
I guess the only difference was that when I asked who owned the script, he didn't pause when answering I did.
He said he would take a story by credit along with myself.
But the rest of the experience is the same. Thanks for making me feel...not so special.
I just received a request to read my screenplay last night (10/18)... after reading this board, I think I'll give THEM a pass. It's tough enough trying to break into this biz without some vulture standing by ready to feed off your ideas.
Let me throw something out. Let's start by assuming that I'm completly ignorant to the workings of Hollywood - which isn't far from the truth.
A management company asks to read your script. They like your writing, but don't think they can sell it, or any of your others. They are only looking for projects that "they" deem marketable.
They like your writing, so they ask you to work with them in writing a new script based on one of their ideas. When all is through, the writer, you, own the script. The management company gets partial story credit.
And the mangement company has a short record of success. They are new, but they obviously have connections.
What are they doing that's improper by getting a group of writers to write scripts that they believe to commercial (different ideas for each writer)?
Okay, they're not paying the writers, but why should they? We're trying to find a break just as much as their are trying to find a script that they can sell.
Am I to think they're sneaky because they're taking in as many scripts as possible, hoping to find a winner? Personally, I don't. Does it suck for us, the writer? Hell yeah. It's a long shot. But do I blame Zero Gravity for taking this approach? No.
Frankly, I'm torn on the whole issue.
I've talked with Mark since this whole post started and expressed my concerns to him. But before I rattle on any more, let's hear what your thoughts are so far.
"What are they doing that's improper by getting a group of writers to write scripts that they believe to commercial (different ideas for each writer)?
Okay, they're not paying the writers, but why should they?"
You just answered your own question.
When you go through the idea pitching session with Mark, you are settling on an idea he approves.
He is the producer. He has the power.
It is, essentially, a work for hire. If you're not getting paid, then you're getting taken advantage of.
I have several friends-- it's one of the oldest stories in Hollywood, next to the producer telling the girl "I can make you a star"-- whom producers convinced that it would be in their best interests to write for free. This would be their big break. After we make a movie, you'll get writing assignments.
And it did NOTHING for their careers. Producers gets a free screenplay, writer wastes 3 months of his life when he could have been working on his own stuff.
Either you're an amateur or a professional. By agreeing to work for free, guess which one that makes you.
I think David's post pretty well sums it up. I, similar to you, wanted to get in on the ground floor of a brand new prodco to be set up here in L.A. I was very helpful to the new Dir. of Development, plus he and the new V.P. really loved my short script, so they suggested that I "finish" the feature length version. I did.
Next I hear that I'm going to get a salaried position in the startup and a first look opportunity, but would it be possible to show a new "experienced" Producer/Writer my script, but in a 2 hour pilot form? Would I send them a new version with a re-write to include re-occuring characters, etc? I did.
Next was, "can you assist this other closely-related-to-me writer with his Treatment, because we like your writing and we like his story?" I would.
Did all the promises come true? No. The moment I mentioned I had consulted with an Entertainment Attorney about a "collaborative agreement", I was unceremouneously dumped, and told my cops & gangs in East L.A. script would be put on the back burner for at least 2 years. (they had not even offered any option money to date)
David is right. I chose to draw the line in the sand. No more freebees. The only thing I am writing as per any request is the 2 page synopsis of the new script, which is generating interest, and by other prodco's in the biz, already existing in L.A.
I choose the professional route. Zero Gravity will not be only my Query list. That's the power of this message board. We can find out about "non-professional" tactics by some people out there.
It's your call, Marc. Good luck.
Write well. Sell well. Live well.
I too have worked with Mark. In fact, I'm working on a romantic comedy with him right now. It's based on my idea which we agreed upon from about a dozen. You may think your idea is great, but if Disney is in pre-production on a similar premise, it's not going fly. You need someone to be on top of this type of information for you.
Since I started writing, Mark's been helping guide me. I have never gotten better notes from anyone. They're clear and directed. If you've never gotten good notes, you can't appreciate them. Most writers I know live in a vacuum and get lost in their stories.
As for Zero Gravity, I'm assuming if you're on this board, you haven't made a windfall from selling screenplays. That in turn means you are an amateur, like it or not. I've heard us called "writers on the fringe". And it's a long way in.
ZG is a management company, not a production company. Money paid upfront is never an issue. They, like all the others, represent writers and attempt to sell screenplays. They are no different than Zide/Perry or Bender/Spink or whatever other management company you are sending your scripts.
But there is one key difference, opportunity. The other companies either never respond or send a standard pass letter. But, Mark has taken a different approach. He's willing to recognize talent and work with writers, helping them develop a new project. Help we all certainly need. It's one thing to win a contest and another to sell a script for 500 grand.
It's ignorant to think he's giving you the run around. He's offering up his time and energy. And, once the script is done, he has a vested interest in the project and will most likely work even harder to sell it. If you've had an agent, you may have learned, if a script goes out and doesn't sell, your agent will most likely forget it ever existed and simply say, "Next."
As for ownership, Mark's the manager, not the writer. You own the property... which will be yours forever if you don't have someone working for you to sell it.
Don't be confused, being on the fringe is not a fun place to be. You have to pay your dues. Sacrifice. Work for free. Work any way you can. Play by their rules. And if you hit, then and only then can you play by your own rules.
I hope things work out for you and Mark. If you and he click, and you're making progress, then by all means, go forward. I did not intend to imply, or state, "whatever you do, don't work for this guy." I was merely stating my personal experience, and the advice that I would give to somebody in a similar experience.
Am I a professional working writer yet? Am I getting paid to write? No.
But I still maintain, whether you are a professional or an amateur, that aspiring writers, or "writers on the fringe," should behave in a professional manner. That includes working on your craft on a daily basis, meeting deadlines, and for me, getting paid for work for hire.
My only question for you is, is Mark sending your completed scripts out to prodcos and studios and getting them read? That for me was certainly an issue. (And to be fair, I never asked him to send out either of the two scripts of mine he read, but I felt that if he were my manager, that should be automatic.)
You have to ask yourself, is this moving my career forward in the direction I want? It sounds like the answer for you is yes, so by all means, go for it, and best of luck.
You obviously don't know Mark. His paramount concern is story. When he sends a script out to his contacts, it is his reputation on the line, moreso than yours. He has to believe in it...
It's fine if you don't want to write for free... but that's basically what you're doing anyway, hoping someone will like your work when you're done. Managers don't pay writers to write. You seem to be misinformed.
And if you don't want to work with, not for, Mark, that's cool too. But for some reason, you're attacking his character and attempting to taint his reputation, at least as far as this site is concerned.
To get to the bottom of this, I casually told Mark I met you and asked him about your writing... Off the top of his head, he said, "a little green, but has potential."
As for your aforementioned two screenplays that you expected him to send out... He recalled one was an "expensive period-piece pirate movie with no real hook". And the other was "a boy band flick with a Christian rock slant... I'd rather leave that to the 'N Sync crowd."
So clue in... his basic message to you is a pass on your two scripts... and unless you've picked up representation recently, I'm guessing it's a pass just like every other manager/agent you've queried.
But, he left the door open to let you in... and you've proceeded to take that as a strike against his character. I guarantee he never once told you what to write, he was only attempting to guide you... something I know he's good at.
As for sending scripts out, I've never heard of a manager or agent who made a dime by working on scripts and then doing nothing with them. I highly doubt Mark would spend the extra time developing a project just for the fun of it.
I wouldn't care, except you continue to post your cynical nature on this board, and others take your misinformation as fact. But the fact is, Mark is a smart guy with good intentions. By inadvertently "telling" other writers not to send in their scripts, you're only hurting their chances and closing one door of opportunity.
I received a request from ZG request and was ready to send it. Why not? Small company. Limited experience. But who knows.
You've given me doubts, Keenan. A manager who discusses the weaknesses of an individual's scripts, for posting on a message board, does not strike me as very professional.
I would recommend that you compare two recent postings. One concerning Linlea and one titled "Lisa is for suckers." Linlea had clients defend them. On the other hand, Lisa showed up, commented, and came out smelling like the proverbial rose.
"ZG is a management company, not a production company. Money paid upfront is never an issue. They, like all the others, represent writers and attempt to sell screenplays. They are no different than Zide/Perry or Bender/Spink or whatever other management company you are sending your scripts."
Oh but Zero Gravity most certainly IS a production company! In fact they've been a prodco much longer than they've been a management company. If Mark has told you otherwise then he's changing his spin completely. Here's what he told me, and I quote:
"So you are aware... We are producers/managers...The management company is a relatively new venture."
And in a later correspondence:
"Managers are producers. Many managers start out as agents or managers and then become producers. We went the other way. Established ourselves as producers, then put the manager's hat on. As such, I am representing you as the writer, as well as the project as a producer...The project is written on spec with our development staff's assistance."
Ergo, Keenan, it is BECAUSE Mark/ZG are first and foremost producers that they're not interested in shopping ANY of the hundreds of original, completed scripts that have by now been submitted to them. In fact, they're not interested in shopping any script as would a WGA-signatory agent or manager. As Mark told me, any project a "repped" writer writes while under their "management" would be covered as well by ZG AS PRODUCERS. What this translates to is work-for-hire for said producer. They're asking the writer to write a treatment followed up by a first draft of a feature screenplay ON SPEC, i.e., for free, which is not in accordance with WGA rules. And which is why, I'm willing to bet, that were you to ask Mark, he'd tell you that his production company is not a signatory of the WGA.
Keenan also writes:
"You may think your idea is great, but if Disney is in pre-production on a similar premise, it's not going fly. You need someone to be on top of this type of information for you."
Boy, does that echo the very words Mark told me...and no sooner were they echoed than did he send me his "commercial, high concept" idea that constituted nothing more than a two-word rip-off of not one, not two, but THREE heavily promoted flicks that are now or very soon to be released. The two-word rip-off: "HEIST FILM"
So, Keenan, if Mark is "on top" of things, and his suggestions are meant to avoid duplicating a "me-too" premise (by Disney or otherwise), how do you explain his suggesting such a much-done, non-concept to me? Like an earlier poster said, everything Mark seems to suggest is of the dreck that is intended for direct-to-video. After Mark suggested his vague "gang gets together for one last heist" story to me, I told him it reminded me of the soon-to-be-released "Ocean's 11" (which is itself a remake of the old Sinatra/rat pack flick from a few decades ago). To this, Mark responded on the defensive, lamely offering that the uniquity of his idea is in the strength of the characters. A week later, I came across a blurb about a Danny Devito movie scheduled for a 9/7 release that, oddly, was oh-so-similar to that which Mark asked me to write...and guess what the movie's title was? HEIST!!!
Then, a short time later, I see the Bruce Willis preview for "Bandits". Gee, either Mark is SOOOO NOT "on top" of things that it's laughable, or he's completely on top of things but intends only to make cheap, amateurish knock-offs (written for him for free by desperate, wannabe writers).
Glad you jumped in here, as you too are disseminating misinformation. To make your previous statement that they are not willing to shop scripts is nothing short of ludicrous. That's how managers, agents, producers make money.
ZG, like everyone else, shops scripts if they like the material and believe it to be marketable... but you must remember, this is subjective and based on their discretion. And projects they receive from "new" writers are held to an even higher standard than those writers that they already represent. Otherwise, they'd be signing every writer and their mother.
On the management/producer front, perhaps you need to brush up on the workings of Hollywood. There are very few managers who aren't producers. I cite again Zide/Perry and Bender/Spink... American Pie and Cats & Dogs... they sold the scripts as managers and produced them as producers.
And no, ZG does not own your material... I don't know why you think this, but it's just wrong. You own it. They sell it. The buyer pays you. And you pay the manager their commission. If they are also producers on the project, which isn't always the case, when the movie is made, they pay you back the commission. I hate to say it, but if you're going to make statements, you should know the facts.
On this "Heist" movie thing you've been harping on... I can almost guarantee, Mark did not tell you you had to write that script. He was offering it up. If you didn't like it, just pass. You're allowed to be just as discriminating as he is. But, don't get all wound up about it.
And as far as it being a heist movie when all these other heist movies are coming out... if you wrote that script, sold it and it was produced, we're talking minimum two years... Hollywood makes heist movies. They've made them before, they'll make them again.
Further, Mark would probably be the first to tell you to avoid doing certain things that might be too similar to other movies. In fact, before I began writing with him, he suggested a list of movies I should watch and sent me two sold, as yet-produced scripts, so I wouldn't do anything they did.
From your seemingly minimal experience with Mark, I'm not sure why you're so set on crucifying his character, but please know the reality of Hollywood before you drive in your next spike.
Answering your thoughts... First off, Mark and I didn't discuss this website. Second, Hollywood is a very small community. They all know each other. They all talk. Good things and bad. It's just the way it is.
No harm was meant by him or me... just trying to clear up the situation.
The last thing I want to do is turn this into some kind of "flame board", and it is with great reluctance that I feel compelled to address the statements that have been made about me.
1. True, managers do not pay writers to write. But Mark is a producer first and foremost.
2. True, I have never met Mark. He may very well be a great human being and someone who can open doors for your career. I wish you the best of luck with him. If it appeared I attacked his character, I apologize. I did make a cheap shot regarding his "oil and water" comments. But I believe if you review my comments, they are primarily statements of fact regarding my limited involvement with him, and my views regarding the professional behavior to which I hold myself.
3. I am more suspicious that he tells me one thing regarding my writing, and you something else. Yes, that is the nature of Hollywood. And yes, I am probably a horrible writer. But I wonder what Mark says about other peoples' writing behind their backs... hmmm...
Again, Keenan, I wish you the best of luck regarding your writing career. I hold absolutely no ill will towards Mark. I wish him success in all his endeavors.
The comments and advice on this board mean nothing unless they help advance your screenwriting career, or help you from wasting time and effort. I was suspicious of his actions and intentions, and commented on this board after I read the comments of two or three others that echoed my own experiences.
Don't you just love it when someone new comes to the board and starts getting all worked up just because we get a little cautious? They start slinging around phrases like "attacking his character" and "tainting his reputation." And usually these new people's profiles are "unavailable."
I just find it a bit odd:)
Don't you also just love it when someone says something (e.g., "ZG is a management company, not a production company.") but when someone corrects them, they become overly defensive, reverse their position completely and then accuse the person who corrected them of "desseminating misinformation"?
What I'd like to know, if anyone can tell me, are projects that ZG has or is working on... For me, if I cannot establish a company or individual's track record (cannot find them in the HCD, the WGA list of signatories, this site or anywhere else for that matter), then, quite naturally, the red flags go up. I had one guy approach me about my script because he had met a co-worker of mine on a flight back from Hawaii. He liked my concept, called me and I checked him out. At least he had one major credit and had verifiable contacts. Maybe I'm being too cautious but getting a standard release form via e-mail with absolutely no other information about ZG makes me wonder.
First to Dave... you may be looking at his comments the wrong way. The fact that he wants to work with you is a compliment in itself. He in no way was attacking your writing ability.
Jase... why chime in with irrelevent comments? I am not a regular user of this site... heard about this discussion from a friend. If my words don't clarify who I am or what I believe, then I need to work on my typing skills.
Nick (no profile)... I will clarify my earlier statement which is actually correct. ZG is only a management company. Mark's production company is called Pierce/Williams. As many companies do (Zide Management/ Zide/Perry Productions; AMG/APG), he did this in order to keep the two entities separate. And thus, the management side only manages and the production side only produces... of course, there is some crossover.
As far as being defensive, I am only stating my beliefs... in a land full of harsh, often incorrect statements.
Mike (no profile)... ZG is a new company. Check under Pierce/Williams... you'll find they have a handful of movies in development/pre-production... MGM, Columbia, and a few others I can't recall. There is no doubt they are a young company, but that's probably one reason they are open to working with writers on the fringe.
Funny thing about all this... Mark's a very reasonable guy. If you have questions or problems, just call or email him. He's great about responding and he's got nothing to hide.
I was very flattered when Mark asked to read my two screenplays and offered me representation. It made my day... in fact, it made my week. I saw it as a great opportunity, and I appreciated the offer.
It was only after a few weeks of talking with him that I decided that my best interests and his best interests were not aligned. (If you would like to discuss this further, I would suggest we take this offline, as I think this conversation is getting somewhat exhausted. I can be contacted at either 213 304 5504 or 323 461 7027.)
It comes down to a few simple matters:
* He passed on my two screenplays. No problem. Not the first time, certainly not the last. But he did not send them out to other places, as a manager / agent would as a writing sample to get writing assignments. He also did not give me any notes as to bring either of them up to the level at which he would want to send them out. In all fairness, I did not ask for either of these things, but I would expect my representation (not an agent, but certainly a manager) to do them automatically. (If they were so bad in the first place, why would he want to represent me?)
* He is a producer. He wanted me to develop a buddy action comedy. His idea, not mine. Yes, I have the choice of whether to work on it or not. Even if we agreed to an idea, I do not write for producers for free. I don't need it that badly. (I have the financial and artistic freedom to walk away from such situations.)
* There were others in this thread who had the same experiences as I had, and the same doubts, concerns, and questions. It suggested a pattern of behavior which did not reassure me.
Three or four years ago, I would probably have jumped at the opportunity Mark presented. Again, it might very well work for you. I have nothing against Mark personally, but this is business.
P.S. As writers, we should strive to use clear and concise language. "Disseminating misinformation" is a euphemism created by politicians. If you want to call someone a liar, call them a liar.
After looking up Pierce/Williams, I did find a film on the "Who's Buying What" section of this site called "Hit the misses" which is being made by Columbia Pictures and is being produced by Mark and his partner Michael Pierce. This is the sort of legitimacy I think most of us are looking for. Thanks, Keenan, for pointing that out.
I'm glad there is some legit to them, they've ask to see my screenplay and I was somewhat apprehensive with this post at first, but I'll mail it by Wednesday.
Thanks Keenan and Mike.
I sent the comedy they requested, off this morning, and now I feel much better.
I don't feel that my comments were irrelevent. My point is that you could be anybody. We don't know you. You could be Mark for all we know. Hell, I could be Mark! All I am saying is that without a moviebytes profile you seem a little fishy. (not to mention that you are very defensive)
And I liked this statement (I hope you write dramas because this was just dripping with melodramatic B.S.)
"As far as being defensive, I am only stating my beliefs...in a land full of harsh, often incorrect statements."
Too bad most of the incorrect (and harsh) statements came from you.
Jase (profile available!)
I've spoken with Mark several times about this thread, and neither one of you are Mark.
Bottom line, Mark's not looking to screw anybody over, he's looking to sell some scripts. If you work with him, you take a chance of nothing working out.
You have more of an investment because you're usually working on one of his ideas - a whole new script. Are the ideas new - no. Are they commercial - yes.
He's doing just what every studio in the world does - American Pie makes $100 million, so every studio rushes buys a clone and rushes into production. Mark's ideas are just more universal. Oddball buddy pictures. One last heist. If they're good, and you can get them seen, they will always sell.
His approach may not benifit the writer, but it does benifit him, and I can't blame his for it. He's up front about. No secrets. Just ask him.
Marc (not Mark)
I just read this entire thread and have enjoyed myself immensely.
I too heard from Mark today regarding a script I wrote after I sent him a synopsis. "Sounds interesting" were his words. The good part about my situation is that the script is based on a novel I've already published. So, I'm not too worried about infringement or anything else.
I believe I'll send out my script by the end of the week. Then we will see where the chips fall.
Best of luck to all those who are sending Mark scripts and/or ideas.
I sent a sypnosis to them, and I got the "it sounds interesting to" I sent my script today, so lets see. I wish I had read this 1st. lol
I pitched Mark Williams in early August, and sent him a script. Still waiting to hear back.
I got the same "Sounds Interesting, Sent it" response that apparently most of you folks received, if they're interested.
It's Marc, not Mark.
My two script submission has elicited zero response. Wow! Must be terrible scripts!
I just pick up my marbles and move on to the next game.
Grover P.S. Don't be annoyed by the preference, I plan to change it.
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