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Frank Castle says:
Anyone ever get a "yes, send your script" to their query letter? And what happened next?
Hello Frank,

Are you talking about Stage 32? If not, where?

Michelle L. De La Garza
Frank Castle says:
[Deleted by Amazon Studios on April 10, 2017 02:58 PM PDT]
Hi Frank,

I actually just a pitched a project to UTA and NBC Universal through the website. I haven't heard anything back yet, but its only been a day. I've heard good things about the service, but who knows...
catcon says:
I've had under ten reads, but I spent over $1500; yes, those were in the early days when I had money and thought it was worth it for such services. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever even had a 'pass' reply. They took the scripts and then just left me hanging. I guess it wasn't a problem, because the service guarantees only a response to the query, not to the script you send. Grrrr...

Nonetheless, there's always a chance, with any of these services. And VPF especially does have some really cool companies in their list that you can't find any other way, and even if you did they wouldn't be open to queries.
Frank Castle says:
I used 4 queries yesterday. Immediately got 1 pass, and 1 yes, send script. But you're right catcon, you should be able to get a response on your script, if it's asked for.
Frank Castle says:
Also, the site is misleading in that, it titles the name of the person you will be contacting as Producer. But if you google the name, they're really the assistant to the producer. Might as well just try connecting with them through Linkedin for free.
catcon says:
> assistant to the producer

I wouldn't say that's misleading, though. It's up to us to do due diligence and know this.

As for connecting through LinkedIn for free, I don't know if you mean you already have a paid membership with LI and have a number of 'free' InMails. Because LinkedIn is an excellent 'free' search tool, but for making contact it ain't for free -- except for those VERY FEW out there who have themselves set up to be contacted via OPEN LINK (I think that's what it's called).

There's one producer... I hesitate to name him here, who's most notable for being involved with Cruise's terrific Valkyrie... anyway, you can actually send an InMail to this fellow for free. I've sent several pitches over the years, but gotten no bites.

Oh heck, never mind, here's another "favor for ye'": Go to IMDB for Valkryie, full cast, and look up a 'line producer: additional photography, U.S.'.

There. I didn't give away his name. But you can now look him up in LinkedIn and you can fire off a free InMail message.
catcon says:
Urp, I don't want to frustrate too many people: Make sure you take the producer's middle initial out of the LinkedIn search, and also specify 'Motion Picture' industry to narrow down the search. Bingo.
Frank Castle says:
Yes, not everyone accepts regular requests to connect but many do.

I sent 3 Linkedin requests to connect today. Free account. 2 assistants, and 1 head of talent agency. All names I found on VPF. Whether they accept or not is a different story. But why not try it first for free and if that doesn't work, pay VPF to do it their way.
Frank Castle says:
The whole deal with VPF, is "Pitch to Pros." I guess "Pitch to Assistants to Pros" doesn't have quite the same pulling power.

Anyway, you're right, I should have found out more about the person I was pitching to in the first place. Live and learn.
catcon says:
Mm-hmm. That's exactly what I've done. The VPF folks name their contacts, and then you dig to see if they're "out there". Sometimes they'll actually answer to the free pitch, and say "we don't take unsolicited pitches, but you can pitch us on VPF, Inktip, etc." I had exactly that, yesterday. So, some of them simply want their $2 or whatever it is that they get from the $10 that VPF charges.

At least one purchased package from VPF is really worth it. First of all, it may work for you! But even if not, then you have access to that beloved list of name and 'current needs', and while those may not be as current as they say (I've pitched a comedy to somebody declaring they want comedies, and they got back to me with "huh?"), it's a good benchmark.

I'd use the service more, but I've told the proprietor that, personally, I think his charge is TWICE what it should be. For some of the really good contacts he has (that won't take direct pitches, or I can't find their email addresses), I'd not hesitate to pay $5 regularly. After all, here in Canada, that $5 can buy me a lottery ticket for our $50M lotto.

You have to wonder which is the better deal, when the VPF bundles start to pile up into the hundreds of dollars if you don't watch out.
catcon says:
By the way -- separate post required -- if you're looking for somebody who is a bigwig with the company, and (from my experience) has responded with MORE than simply "it just didn't grab us", try John at Cross Creek Pictures. He took a script and a synopsis, from maybe 8 overall pitches, which is a good average, and responded with helpful hints even where he didn't ask for anything. That is, a solid paragraph or two of comments. Seems like a good guy, and Cross Creek Pictures is nothing to sneeze at!
Frank Castle says:
Yeah, I don't feel like I wasted $50 US. Five pitches and the list of names is a good start I think.

I do feel a little misguided however because you don't get those names until after you've paid money. That's what ticked me off - that they're only assistants. But enough of that.

Thanks for the CCP tip. Much appreciated. BTW, I'm in Toronto. Excellent day today.
catcon says:
> I'm in Toronto

Well I'm down the 401 in London, so I presume that you totally get what I'm saying about our $5 Lotto Max vs. all that dough for VPF (or Inktip, or Blcklst, or contests, etc.)

With the membership, remember to sign up for VPFs newsletter to get announcements of price deals and 'new pros'. There's a deal just about every week, and on every Yankee holiday there's a good one. That is, 7-for-$50, or 12- or even 13-for-$90, etc.

The info is also usually posted to their FB page (no membership needed) at:

www.facebook.com/virtualpitchfest

So if anyone sees a deal announced there, that'd be the time to sign up and give it a try.

Best deal I ever saw was a few years ago, where they had 2 freebies on every package. I bought TWO of the the 4-for-$20, for 8 pitches for $40! But I haven't seen that since.

But still, I wasted them. As is often claimed, new writers send out scripts before they're ready. My simultaneous problem has been to send out QUERIES and loglines that are poorly worded, and not ready, which resulted in considerable wasted money, eg. on VPF and elsewhere, and missed opportunities.

That's because it seems to me that, a few years ago, VPF for one had bigger and more notable producers on board, such as mini-majors and Paramount, etc. though I do see they have Universal/NBC now, though they come and they go, so keep that in mind.
K Klmn says:
I sent out a number of queries for features I have written. I got one send the script, but more importantly one producer gave me some information I haven't seen elsewhere.

I've since stopped trying to market my feature scripts and am switching to pilots.
Frank Castle says:
K,

Care to do a solid and share this bit of info you haven't seen elsewhere?
catcon says:
Ha, I took what he said to mean "skip features, do TV writing instead".
Frank Castle says:
I kinda figured that was it. Was unsure.
catcon says:
A conclusion many of us have also taken from events in this very place.

For a year now, my features go through to completion in 2 days. The same material, chopped into a pilot and first episode? From a week to 76 days. (Note: It is confirmed that there are different readers, features vs. pilots)

To bring this back to a VPF discussion, you can filter their producer's list for 'TV'. That's new, compared to a few years ago, and there's a ton of them.
Frank Castle says:
Buyer Beware,
Here's the kind of "Pro" you're paying $10 a shot to pitch to on VPF. This is from his Linkedin profile. I ask, is this person really professionally qualified to judge your script? Any script?

Name (Removed)
Producer's Assistant
Company Name XYZ Studios

Currently assist Co-Executive Producer (Name removed)

- Coordinated with talent management in regards to scheduling throughout production
- Created and oversaw cast contact grid, availability calendar & prep calendar
- Provided support to EPs on research projects, administrative support & project scheduling
- Coordinated with network and studio publicity departments archivists, press interviews & on-set photographers
- Helped compile staffing grids for various departments during pre-production (camera, wardrobe, hair/makeup, casting, etc.)
- Coordinated table reads, concept, prop, VFX & production meetings

Yeah, I'm feeling ripped off by this site. They won't get anymore money from me.
catcon says:
Actually, that profile doesn't sound that bad. But out of nearly 400 'pros' on the site, there are probably only a couple of dozen front-line creative executives or higher. Always double-check the name provided with Google, LinkedIn, etc.

And remember, it's not "Virtual Script Fest", it's "Virtual PITCH Fest".

They don't even judge scripts, unless you get really lucky; for me, it was a 1% request rate.

So they're judging just the pitch. Very, very difficult to rationalize $10 when the response (for me, since I last sent them money 2 years ago) was usually "Just didn't grab us". No doubt, that is the default option on an interface that the producers have, that we don't see.

I'm sure some of the more popular ones get a couple of hundred of these a week, for which they earn $2 (so I've heard) per.

Click. Click. Click. Click.

(Makes that other service that was banned from here, a few weeks ago, seem pretty writer-friendly, doesn't it?)
Frank Castle says:
catcon,

Come on man, are you nuts? The man is a coordinator. 3 out of the 5 job descriptions he's listed are coordinated this and that. He sets up meetings, table reads, and draws charts. #sad.

BTW, what's this other service you're talking about?
I had to see what all the excitement was about, so I tried a pitch. I'll let you know how it goes. LOL

If anything, I at least get to practice my pitching. Plus, I have access to a list of places to research further.

Michelle L. De La Garza
catcon says:
> nuts?

Ha, you c'mon! We Canadians have enough roadblocks in front of us and we have to do more due diligence than most others!

Even the big-shot producers and studios hire staff from writing courses, for no- or low-pay, to do this type of job - everything from phones to filing to script coverage. It's terrible. At least we writers can stand our ground and tell a prodco who offers a zero-dollar option to get lost (or perhaps use some more diplomatic rejection language).

I pity these 'coordinator' hirees a bit, but I also understand that the prodcos have to wade through thousands of submissions each week. It's tough.

That's why anybody who aspires to be a writer, but who quits before they've written 10 screenplays and before they've sent 10K email pitches (if they're not in L.A.), is probably doomed.

As for VPF's advertising ethic, the 'company' in the list is a genuine producer (or manager, or agent, as indicated), but 90% of the time the person evaluating the pitch is going to be one of these contract hires, probably called a 'coordinator'.

That's just the way it is.

Oh, and as for the 'unnamed' other service? The one by a now-banned forum contributor, whose reward for a truckload of advice and help here was to get turfed by an activist/complainer? Do a search here in the forums (using the text box up at the top-right) for 'Walley'. His service's name comes up quickly, but I dare not even name it, now, or maybe I'll get banned.

You will see that all the search links are inactive, but the website URL is simple to figure.

A one hundred percent positive recommended service. Not kidding you. And free.

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