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Topic: Has anyone been told to pay for a line producer before a development company would package and develop their project? I have...would appreciate your comments.

Author: Elizabeth Mokan Posted: 08/14/09 01:29 PM

A development/packaging company recently posted an ad on various writing websites. They claimed to be interested in developing and packaging both feature film scripts along with TV Series projects for both domestic and foreign markets. However, they made it clear that they were not interested in optioning anyone's projects.

After initially submitting a logline and a synopsis for an original half-hour sitcom that I have written, Matthew King-Ringo from Creative Entertainment & Media Inc. contacted me. Please note that each time he sent me an e-mail, he wrote a different title after his name. (Maybe it varied from day-to-day.) Matthew asked me to send him my Series Bible but not my PILOT episode.

A few days later, Matthew e-mailed me and asked if I would phone him because he was very interested in developing my project. During this phone meeting, after telling me about his company, (I think he was reading info that was previously prepared), one of the first things that he asked me was, do I know a line producer who could prepare a budget, shooting schedule, etc., for my series, and yet he still never asked to read my PILOT. I, of course, said that I do not know a line producer and am not familiar with preparing budgets and shooting schedules.

Matthew continued to say how important it was to have a line producer before approaching any studio with a pitch. He said that the studio executives not only want to hear the logline of a project, but they want to have a prepared budget on the table as well.

Matthew went on to say that his company, which according to him has an impressive website, does not have their own line producer. However, they could contract one for a price. They would be willing to pick up half of the fee, (How generous!), and guess who would pick up the rest? You got it - THE WRITER.

Matthew went on to tell me that line producers do not work for nothing. I said, "Yeah, but at this rate the writer sure does". Not only did Matthew NOT want to option my project, but he wanted to charge me up to $5,000.00 for a line producer. What next? The catering bill? (By the way, he did mention that his company does have access to their own caterer.) I can only imagine where this money would really be going, and I can only imagine what other hidden expenses would eventually enter into play.

I told Matthew that I would be pursuing other avenues at this time. He didn't seem too happy. I guess he lost a commission.

Has anyone ever experienced anything like this with a developing/packaging company before? I've heard of agents charging fees for reading and marketing, but I have never been asked to pay for a line producer before. Would greatly appreciate your comments.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Marie Mokan elizabethmokan@gmail.com

P.S. I also found out that Creative Ent. & Media previously offered writers a two-year contract to develop their projects even before reading them. One person thought it might have been to stop the competition from having their work produced if it was similar to the projects of Creative Ent. & Media. However, now I think that they wanted to tie up the writer's project for two years so that they could spring all of these hidden costs on them.

Author: Terry Frazier Posted: 08/14/09 01:44 PM

I wouldn't work with any producer, agent, or manager who asked me to put up money.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 08/14/09 01:59 PM

Scam. Total scam.

Your instincts were dead-on to walk away. They would have lost interest real fast if you said, "Why, yes. I do know a line producer."

Author: John Pusztay Posted: 08/14/09 05:34 PM

It's the filmmakers responsibility to pay people, not you.

It's like asking the Gaffer if he would put the money up to buy your script before we start shooting.

Author: Ron Brassfield Posted: 08/14/09 08:35 PM

Thanks for the warning. Run away, run away!

Author: Dan Gomez Posted: 08/15/09 10:38 AM



I'm taking for granted this person resides in Los Angeles County (LAC).

The LAC District Attorney has a division set up to investigate fraud in the motion picture industry.

California Law prohibits anyone from soliciting money as a promise for employment.

This person is using a different technique -- he's saying "use his services" before he "accepts you" into his "conglomerate."

You should file a complaint with LAC District Attorney.

Author: Elizabeth Mokan Posted: 08/17/09 01:18 PM

I would like to thank everyone for responding so far on the above matter.

I have filed a complaint with the LAC District Attorney Office. Thank you, Dan, for your suggestion. I would not have realized to file such a complaint. However, this company, Creative Entertainment & Media, was so slick, or so they thought, that I'm sure they will try to talk their way out of it by saying that the writer can hire their own line producer for free. As if somebody like that would work for free.

If I hear anything more from the LAC District Attorney's Office, I will let everyone know. Again, I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions.

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/17/09 06:25 PM

Elizabeth,

Pass on this, big time. A line producer who produces a budget is the reponsibilty of the producer for the project, not the writer. These guys are looking for a patsy to do their work for them. They probably can't look at a project and project an estimate.

I agree...these guys are scam artists, and I use the word "artists" very loosely.

Rsqrd

Author: jimi pool Posted: 09/22/09 07:03 PM

I am so glad that you posted this blog. I too have been contacted by these con artists and got the same lines. They inially said that I could hire any line producer but once I got one{at a much cheaper price} they tried to shake me down, saying if I didn't use them they didn't need my project. Only two weeks before it was the greatest thing on earth! I see there going out of California and looking for artists in other states. Probaly safer for them. Please everyone don't get caught up in the hype! Jimi Pool

Author: Michael Murphy Posted: 09/22/09 09:13 PM

Not much to add; I had a small producer with legit credits volunteer to have a line producer put a pencil to it. They knew it was too big budget for them, but they wanted to look anyway. NEVER a hint that anyone but them was responsible for that aspect; to do otherwise is fishy, I suspect.

Author: Irin Evers Posted: 09/22/09 09:26 PM

Lotta red flags here too. Something I do when I want to check a company is type the name and the word "scam" into yahoo and google, like:

"Bogus Entertainment, scam"

...to see what comes up. If you want, I can call and play dumb - say I'm a line producer and was called by some writer (fake name) who wants me to put together some stuff but they had no idea what they were talking about. Can you tell me what I need to prepare for them? - and see the reaction. But I think we know the answer anyway.

Author: GIL TEED Posted: 05/20/11 04:18 AM

I am truly excited to have finally found the fountain of pure ignorance! What kind of kool-aid are you all drinking!

Are all of you aware:

Networks and studios no longer take unsolicited scripts. And if the networks and studios aren't going to read your project, what is your next option?

Let me guess; you do not have any credits or projects that have made any money but you're going to tell production companies to pay editors, writers and producers to work on your script because you've declared yourself to be a writer.

I don't know this company but I do know; everyone of you preaching about what you don't have to do or who you don't have to pay...are probably still sitting on your projects!

All of you need to stop drinking that KOOL-AID and get caught up on current events! The industry has changed how it does business! Writers are not entitled to anything! Just like you charge to write scripts companies now charge to work on projects. It's called "work for hire". If you want to get your project on TV or distributed; then get it developed, find an investor, get it produced then distributed! If you don't know how to do this or have the resources...then find a way to pay someone that does!!

Get off your butts and stop crying about what businesses can or can't charge for services they offer! And just because they charge for services, they are not breaking any laws. If they were they would have been shut down years ago! Take control of your project and get it funded, produced and distributed and stop acting like spoiled children!!

For the record:

My attorney formerly worked for the DA's office and made the following comment:

The District Attorney doesn't investigate anything...they prosecute. Which means you need to file a complaint with the LAPD and good luck with that mission. Because what are you going to complain about? Officer, there's a production company charging writers for budgets and other services, arrest them!!

If you paid this company money for a service and you don't like the service they delivered... then file a civil suit. But wait; you haven't paid them anything so what your real complaint is; you don't want to pay them to work on your project, you want them to work for you and not pay them...sounds good to me.

All these KOOL-AID drinkers told you about some law stating production companies can charge you fees for development or production; but can't tell you what law book that law is in. Nobody I know can find it anywhere in any law book! Hate to disappoint you but, a company can charge fees for anything they want...only option you have is not to use their service.

GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON!

Author: TJ Cimfel Posted: 05/20/11 10:10 AM

Um. This thread was from 2009. Safe to say we've moved on.

Author: GIL TEED Posted: 05/20/11 02:38 PM

Hi TJ,

You would think that something posted in 2009 would be old news and people would have moved on by now...but those postings are still on the search engines and people still reference them as though they were written today.

2 weeks ago I was a producer on an independent project that went over budget and was shut down. The creator of the project said he chose this production company over CEM because they did not have any negative comments about them online. I told him I worked on a film project 5 months ago, that had been developed and sold to a major studio by Creative Entertainment & Media. I'm not suggesting he should have gone with CEM, however I did question his logic given the company he chose had nowhere near the experience CEM had.

I wish he had referenced more reliable industry sources; and not just opinions of independents writing comments on the internet.

For the record: I don't care what company anyone uses. However, I am suggesting checking more reliable sources, preferably from within the industry. Also, don't forget to check the references of the person complaining. Just because they write something; doesn't make it true.

Author: Marjory Kaptanoglu Posted: 05/20/11 04:16 PM

Your first message on this thread states: "I don't know this company".

In your second message you say: "I told him I worked on a film project 5 months ago, that had been developed and sold to a major studio by Creative Entertainment & Media. I'm not suggesting he should have gone with CEM, however I did question his logic given the company he chose had nowhere near the experience CEM had."

You've apparently worked with CEM and know the breadth of their industry experience.

I don't think your posts are helping your cause. Just sayin'.

Author: GIL TEED Posted: 05/21/11 03:57 PM

Ms. Just Sayin,

I don't know this company or know anyone that works for them. I clearly stated "I worked on a film project 5 months ago, that had been developed and sold to a major studio by Creative Entertainment & Media." Which means the film was sold to the studio who in turn hired the company I was working for. We were told the show was created by an independent that used Creative Entertainment & Media to develop and negotiate the sell. May I add if I did know them& that would not be a bad thing; they seem to be doing very well.

You also commented: "I don't think your posts are helping your cause."

May I ask; what's my cause?

For the record my objective is to counter point the abundance of negative shear ignorance that exist about how this industry operates! And to provide a rebuttal to the haters that get to say anything they want without being questioned or confronted to substantiate with proof they're statements are true... only now there will be a rebuttal.

That said, if you believe my cause is to inform independents they "should get off their butts and "Take control of your project and get it funded, produced and distributed and stop crying like spoiled children'' and/or "checking more reliable sources" than just some comment on an internet website or blogs that can't be verified! I'm guilty!

But even if I had worked for CEM...how would it affect my cause or diminish my message?

For independents this can be a great time or a time for feeling sorry for yourself and mistreated. People using every option they can, including production companies to produce, license and distribute their projects see it as a great time!

The others are losers and spend their time on websites and blogs blaming others for their lack of imitative and will to win!

You may also want to read another website comment that has complainers on it talking about Creative Entertainment & Media Inc. and others.

Be sure to check out the comment by Mike Amber an entertainment attorney& its about 10 comments down from the top&. http://www.moviebytes.com/messageboard.cfm?action=DisplayMessages&topic=6049&ShowAll=True

Also check out: http://independentsstopwhining.blogspot.com/2011/05/writers-independents-stop-whining.html

Author: lauren poe Posted: 06/13/11 12:04 PM

Hi, I see you all talking about CEM. I spoke w/ the executive producer, and she loved my project idea and asked me to send her my treatment and she would get back to me by Friday. This was 3 weeks ago, and although she hasnt called, and she didnt mention money, I now look on the internet and find all these supposed scams. Should I be nervous? By the way, im a teen writer.

Author: Thomas Ford Posted: 09/11/11 07:10 PM

lauren poe, First please let me say that I am aware of CEM and I am also a new person dealing with them. They have gotten back to me and they are looking to move forward with my project.

Many people use the internet as a tool to discourage others from doing business with companies they don't like. Due to the fact that we can get on the internet and say just what ever we want to say without fear of any legal or criminal action.

With that being saud .. I won't tell you what do do about CEM, nor will I engage you in believeing that what people here are posting are untrue. But what I will say is this. I assume that you have a computer and you have a phone. Why not take some time and due your own Duediligence before you listen to some angry person(s) rant and rave about what or who they don't like.

Alot of people don't like Wal Mart, That dosen't mean they are bad.

People don't like Sprint. Again... Not bad.

Until we have Laws in place to punish those who make fales statments My views are that I believe in 25% of what I read on the Internet.

Find your creditable sources. IMDB is a good place to start.

If I misspelled some words I am sorry, Hopfully you get my point.