When I was writing novels, I found RWA (Romance Writers of America, www.rwanational.org) and its local/online chapters an incredible source for contests, conference and networking.
When I moved to screenwriting, there was a dearth of help, in fact I felt very isolated, something I wasn't used to. And to make matters worse, I didn't live in LA any longer so how was I going to make the contacts needed?
That scenario was true only a hand full of years ago. Now there is a plethora of resources for screenwriters, but how do you know who's reliable?
I've used InkTip for several years and I trust them. If you've read Marilyn Atlas's blog here at Five Scribes, you'll know she highly recommends them. InkTip is one of the best. But read on and I'm sure you too will be convinced.
Please Welcome Gato Scatena to Five Scribes.
Gato was born in Walnut Creek, California, and grew up in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. He attended and graduated from Kealakehe High School, and then the University of California at Santa Cruz (class of '06). He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
He began as an actor at the age of 8, and has worked in front of and behind the camera on several films, both independent and studio-level. In 2007, he started producing independent films with several associates from past projects and school. In 2008, he began developing a financing network, and as of December 2008, he has been working on several feature films in development and pre-production.
In April of 2008, Gato was hired into the Marketing Department of InkTip, a company that facilitates intellectual property acquisitions and literary talent hires and representations. After developing and pitching several marketing and company operation proposals geared to increase the company's studio-level and top agency clientele, he was promoted to Vice President of Marketing in July of the same year.
Leslie Ann: Good Morning, Gato. Tell us your exciting news before we move onto our interview (and what an interview!)
Gato Scatena: Good morning! Yes, we're proud and excited to announce the launch of our newly designed site, please come and take a look; www.inktip.com
LA: What made Jerrol LeBaron decide that InkTip was the way to go? Was he a struggling screenwriter? What is his industry background? And why the internet?
GS: I don’t know that Jerrol would ever call himself a screenwriter, though he did write one screenplay. He really designed InkTip to help entertainment professionals easily find good scripts and writers—producing isn’t easy. But I would say that Jerrol LeBaron is a facilitator in the truest sense of the word. He’s had writing experience, acting experience, sales experience and so on. But during all phases of his life, he’s been an entrepreneur with a keen eye for gaps. He’s successfully launched and run several companies and it just so happens that he dabbled in screenwriting long enough to see a gap—InkTip filled it.
Why the Internet? Well, it’s the only communication medium that allows many to communicate with many. But knowing Jerrol, even if this were the 1800s, he would have found a way using the telegraph.
LA: How has InkTip changed since its Millennium year inception nine years ago?
GS: Besides changing its name from “Writers Script Network” to “InkTip,” the company’s client dynamics has evolved. Jerrol started the company to connect entertainment industry professionals with writers, and by following that clear mandate, the company has fine tuned its disparate interactions with writers and entertainment pros over the years. Writers’ needs are different than those of entertainment executives, and we’ve evolved to successfully serve both.
LA: Why should people pay to get your tips? Can't they just do research on the 'net and find the same information and contacts?
GS: That’s a good question. Sure, a writer can search the Internet for production company leads and tips, but let’s take a look at the supply and demand here. There is a high supply and a low demand, so the key to success for the supply end (the writer) is getting to the demand (producers) quickly and with priority.
A lead posted on a random industry website will continue to sit on Google years after it was created—a lead even a couple weeks old can be seen as dated and obsolete. What’s more, there is no localized place for up-to-date leads. So, just doing searches for company mandates and script calls will lead writers to dried-up reservoirs and dead-ends.
With the InkTip Preferred Newsletter, a writer is receiving leads that very few writers are getting, the leads are not just current, they are brand new, and the producers and companies that use InkTip to send leads know that writers in our network adhere to professional technique and etiquette. Simply put, the demand is high, the supply is low and the communication between parties is up-to-date and current.
LA: I recently read in a book that one should be wary of online services? That one needn't pay to network, that it is unnecessary, what do you say to that?
GS: Well, I think that being wary of all services is part of being an informed consumer—not exclusive to online companies. I trust that if every writer did all their research on InkTip, all writers would be registered with InkTip. It’s no secret that the Internet offers anonymity to scam artists, which is precisely why I am focused on making InkTip as transparent to the public as possible.
I’ve encouraged exposure of our Wikipedia page, our IMDb profile, our press releases and all of our own success articles. We even go so far as to publish article corrections when we fail to credit someone. I would love to see InkTip get to the point where our results are all the advertising we need… Basically, I want to work myself out of a job.
But regarding networking: yes, it’s necessary! If you don’t know anyone, then no one can read your script. InkTip is a great resource to help get connected to the right circles and communities, and it costs us money to keep those communities current and active; that’s commerce. That doesn’t mean that writers shouldn’t seek more exposure, publicity and networking. For instance, LinkedIn is a great way to see who you have connections to. Maybe your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend is a development exec… who knows. LinkedIn would be able to tell you that.
There are a lot of great services, groups and events out there that could be valuable to writers. You know, even though I would love a writer’s success to always be through InkTip, we’ve consistently advertised for other companies and services that can benefit our writers because it helps.
LA: Is there a risk in using InkTip of A: theft of material? B: risk of over-exposure--the risk of a script being "burned?"
GS: InkTip has never had a lawsuit or a claim of theft. We take the security of our writers and their materials very serious. All entertainment professional searches and activities are monitored and recorded, and we do enforce our Terms of Service. That said, there is always a risk no matter where you distribute your scripts. It’s really the writer’s job to do everything they can to protect themselves with copyrights and registrations, and keeping a running record of their submissions.
Back to being transparent, we do allow all writers with script listings to see exactly who is viewing their materials and specifically what they are viewing.
LA: What does your Script Placement Service do for a writer?
GS: Our script placement service allows writers to place their titles, loglines, treatments, scripts and resume in the InkTip Executive Index with custom search attributes. It’s designed to make it easy for a writer to classify their script into all of the appropriate categories, which in turn makes it fast and easy for the right entertainment pros to find their material. It helps writers get exposure and gain access to entertainment pros currently looking for projects or writers.
LA: Then what about InkTip Magazine? Since you have to place a script on your site before you can be in the magazine, what's the advantage of the magazine?
GS: I’m sure it’s no surprise that producers, directors and reps don’t spend all day on a computer, so the InkTip Magazine is our way of bringing writers’ materials into their offline world. Our entertainment pros bring that mag on the plane, in the car, on vacation and to the toilet. Some use it as a supplement to our Exec Index and others simply prefer to have something tangible in their hands rather than sitting at a monitor every time. In any case, our magazine has led to a lot of success stories. We’re quite proud of it.
LA: How can we be sure that if we place a script in the magazine or use your placement service that we're dealing with real industry professionals.
GS: InkTip Membership is not easy to get. In order for a producer, agent, manager, director or name talent to become a member, they have to supply references, credits and ultimately proof of their ability to get a movie produced or into the hands of someone who can produce it. It doesn’t matter who applies, our Entertainment Pro Department verifies all of their credentials. And as I said before, we are always monitoring their activities and viewings.
LA: How do you convince the numerous industry professionals that InkTip is for them?
GS: It’s a pretty easy pitch. We work for them, we get results and we’re free to professionals seeking writers and scripts. Everything we do is customized to making it fast and easy for professionals to find exactly what they’re looking for. Nobody’s time is wasted because we automatically introduce the right pros to the rights materials and writers. Whether they’re just looking for a broad comedy or something so specific as a samurai action movie with a female lead and a giant spider for a co-star, we can get it for them.
LA: You have a Consultants and Classes page. Have you vetted them?
GS: We do vet our consultants and classes, but only to the degree that they have a good reputation and are professional in their business and behavior. Still, pairing a writer to the right consultant is akin to picking someone else’s friends for them, so we do not advertise for, or suggest one consultant over another.
LA: You also have a Short Script Listing page at no cost to the screenwriter! Why?
GS: Everyone has to start somewhere. Our Short Script Index is a great place for aspiring writers and aspiring filmmakers to find one another and get something produced. We don’t charge for this service because there is not a large enough supply or demand to necessitate the sophistication and energy that we put into our feature-length script Executive Index.
LA: Does using InkTip replace the need for an agent or manager?
GS: No. In fact, many managers and agents are active InkTip Members who use us to find new talented clients. Writers should take advantage of every resource to which they have access in order to get more exposure to the right people.
LA: You have both a free newsletter and a preferred Newsletter that currently costs $50.00 for a four-month subscription. Tell our readers what the advantages are of each, please.
GS: The obvious advantage to the free newsletter is that it’s free. It contains an average of 1–2 leads per week with each lead being a minimum of 7 days old. It’s free to submit to the leads and requires no additional obligation, other than following our submission protocols. The free newsletter also contains various discounts and exclusive offers from other companies.
The Preferred Newsletter is very popular among our more experienced writers and contains every lead that comes through InkTip; an average of 6 brand new leads per week. In 2007, the Preferred Newsletter alone facilitated 40 feature options, 15 writer hires and 4 writers gaining representation. Additionally, Preferred subscribers receive all of the standard discounts and offers plus Preferred-only offers. Basically, Preferred subscribers receive first-dibs on everything.
LA: I don't live in CA, so I think your service is a great way to find people who are specifically interested in what I write. But I'm curious, do you have a large number of subscribers that live in LA? What about international writers? Our blog is read world wide!
GS: We have a very large California writer-base which reflects the localization of the film industry in Los Angeles, however the majority of our writers are spread world-wide. Just a couple weeks ago we had a Canadian writer get a script optioned by a production company in the country of Georgia, and another writer from Utah was hired by the International Academy of Film and Television in Cebu, Philippines.
Living in a metropolitan film hub would help any career, but I’m really proud to work for a company that lets talent speak regardless of geography.
LA: You have a list of Film Festivals and Contests on your site. Have these been vetted by your company?
GS: We do vet our contests and festivals, however provided that the organization in question operates professionally and morally, we only require that they be at least a 2nd annual festival. Like everything else, we do keep an eye on the performance of all of our cross-promotions to ensure the safety of our writers.
LA: Your Resource Center is really quite a gem. The Articles alone are a fantastic resource. I assume you're constantly updating them?
GS: Our door is always open to new articles, however our criteria can be strict as we want to ensure that the information provided is beneficial and unbiased. On our new website, we will be putting more effort into publishing more educational and entertaining articles. We would love to see a Leslie Ann article up there soon, wink wink.
LA: I took this from a banner on a recent email from Inktip...that Inktip was "The only website in the world where writers are hired or three scripts are optioned every week"
Yet, I'm hearing the industry is tightening its belt and staying with the tried and true...and maybe the old and tired. Comment?
GS: There is no doubt that Hollywood has been tightening the proverbial belt, but where the larger studios cut back, many smaller companies have been stepping in to fill the gap. We have seen a 0% change in options, hires, sales and reps. A little tid-bit to those who don’t know: during every recession or depression, the entertainment industry tends to thrive.
InkTip’s numbers have only been growing over the past years and they continue to grow. We’re averaging 19 films produced every year and have maintained our average of 3 options, sales or hires per week. Since InkTip launched, we’ve facilitated over 80 produced films and hundreds of options, sales, hires and writers gaining representation.
LA: Is there anything else you'd like to add? Or funny stories?
GS: Yea, sure. There’s this story that Jerrol always keeps in his back pocket and I think it’s relevant now more than ever. A few years back Jerrol got a call from a long-time InkTip Member and friend. He basically called just to tear apart some script that he read on InkTip and he was strongly advising Jerrol to have the script taken off. Anyway, it’s InkTip’s policy to only judge syntax and professionalism, but not the scripts or stories themselves, so we couldn’t take it off.
Not a week went by and not only did that same script get optioned, but it also led to the writer gaining management. That story really grinds it in that everyone has different taste, and I think that’s really important to remember in a business like ours. You can get a thousand “no’s,” but all it takes is one “yes."
LA, Thanks Gato, for the insight you've so generously given us on InkTip.
Guys, this is an incredible resource. Go now and check it out now. http://www.inktip.com/