The jury's still out on this. A couple years ago I made the quarter-finals in the 2006 Fade In Awards. I entered last year and awaiting the results now. Fade In has a pretty strong prestige seeing that it's a decent screenwriting magazine. But like all screenwriting mags, there's only so much you can learn. For 12 years, they've been running this contest that allowed for several opportunities for several different genres along with a grand prize for the whole thing. The monetary gain isn't so much, but it's the chance to have your work out and about in hopes to start your career.
All writers are skeptical especially when it means shelling out cash for a contest that usually allows for only one winner. So, you're set up to lose from the get-go, but it's the hope and chance that might pay off in the long run. But rarely do you hear about the winners. Only a handful. And writing for contests is not like writing for a studio or even writing for yourself. You have to approach it with a mentality of a mass market script that has to appeal to a mundane audience. An audience that is decided by a handful of readers who may or may not be qualified to judge what a good script is.
In this article, it goes into the allegedly fraudulent/negligent aspect of the Fade In Awards. A friend of mine won one of the genre portions of this very contest. She beat me out of the action/adventure genre a couple years ago. I won't answer for her, because I don't know what happened to her after the contest. I'll wait and see what she said about her win. All I know is that she's still hard at work on her own projects that she did on her own. While I'm at it, I'll pimp her new DVD, Ten Inch Hero, available on Amazon. It stars Jensen Ackles and punk rock legend John Doe--also VIII of James Gunn's The Specials.
I have another friend who did some reading for one of the top five screenwriting contests. And the readers seem to be the problem there. No reader wants to read crap, but they're forced to wade through thousands of scripts. Even if you pay them, they really don't want to do it. And there comes a point after reading thousands of scripts that you can predict everything that's going to happen. Kinda like a movie or a TV show. Most of the scripts still go in the bin, but the contest will still cash your check. But at that stage it's not the contest that's corrupt, but the readers.
And while I'm at it, let's talk about Sherry Fine. You can find one of her "agencies" The Screenplay Agency here. I only posted the link so you can see it for yourself. Now, she has other clones like this only the colors of the sites are slightly different that target different kinds of writers like Christian writers, novelists, etc. Here's more on Sherry Fine and her several sister scams. Absolutewrite.com/forums. But the scam here is that you're re-routed to editing services that spin you into editing circles that gives you broad advice which you will pay for. If you find yourself involved with one of Sherry Fine's companies, you'll shell out quite a bit of cash and find yourself nowhere and wasting your time on your script based on broad critiques you could get at Zoetrope and Triggerstree for free. The other thing about Sherry Fine is there probably is no Sherry Fine. Just a fake name some dude in Florida uses. If you should ever find yourself receiving a contract from Miss Fine check the authoring properties on the contract. You'll see that it wasn't written on her computer, but someone that can be Googled and tracked to somewhere in Florida.
But it's things like these that make it tough on us spec writers. It closes more doors and quashes more hope. We're told by professional screenwriters one the best ways to get discovered if you don't know anybody is to submit to contests. But if major contests like Fade In go bad, then what else is left? The Nicholl?
While I'm at it, let's pimp PG-Porn: Helpful Bus. It's a spin on the Bang Bus porn you can check out here. If you're unfamiliar with Bang Bus, you might want to check them out to get more acquainted with the style they are parodying. It stars Craig Robinson of The Office and Sean Gunn of The Gilmore Girls and any more would probably give away too much. But you will see some familiar faces. Remember, Spike.com/pgporn. Anyway, the new ep premieres Tuesday the 17th which also happens to be on St. Patrick's Day!
Anyway, The Ablazin' Devil Head has spoken.
Just got this in an email newsletter regarding The Wrap's article. It is interesting that The Wrap has never brought to light any real proof and people named in the article are refuting it in the article's comments.
AN IMPORTANT LETTER FROM FADE IN'S EDITOR IN CHIEF
As many of you who've previously entered the contest know, we clearly state on our online contest page, FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions link) and additionally in paragraph two of each and every notification letter contestants receive, who the contest judges are and who writes analysis on finalist's winning screenplays. We have never, nor would ever state that our Advisory Board members are the competition's judges or analysts. Of the approximate 200 finalists and Grand Prize winners we've selected over the last decade, until now, not one has ever accused us of this type of false advertising.
This past December, I personally received several disturbing emails from a newly-named Fade In Awards finalist.
The emails instructed me to immediately deliver to him $1,500 cash via Fed Ex in exchange for the name of an individual who had supposedly contacted him and made derogatory statements about our competition. When I refused, this individual threatened me personally, and specifically emailed me that he had my home address, had pulled my credit report and that he would do several things to me if I did not immediately meet his demands.
The threats kept coming, so we went to the authorities. When we presented his emails to the police, they immediately suggested I file a police report and additionally attain a restraining order. We were then informed by law enforcement that this person was already under criminal investigation for this type of activity. It was more than apparent that, for the first time in the competition's history, we would have to disqualify a finalist.
Last week, it became clear that he was starting to make good on his threats. In fact, as soon as this outrageous story broke, he took credit by writing on his online blog: "The town must be buzzing over this long known and even longer untold dirty secret—that was until Audrey Kelly fucked the wrong writer and [entertainment media company founder/COO's name omitted] and [company name omitted] took a stand." The vulgar, defamatory statements were removed after our magazine's lawyers sent him and Google cease and desist letters.
"No good deed goes unpunished" is the expression that best describes our view as to the other disgruntled former contest finalist that took part in this story (we believe that the quotes from the two additional contestants were actually old quotes lifted off of a contest website by the reporter.) This finalist's claim was that we promised to introduce and promote her to producers and agents then did not and had refused to give her a first place cash prize of $750 until she took the magazine to small claims court. As anyone can ascertain by reading our application, website and advertisements, only the Grand Prize winner receives introductions to the entertainment community. As a courtesy and to be supportive, within a month of her turning in her rewrite based on our detailed notes, we did email her winning script out to a number of agents and managers. Even though we made several requests, she refused to turn in her W-9 tax form and instead went on a smear campaign. The form is required by the U.S. Government prior to disbursement of all prizes totaling over $600, and we are under a legal obligation to report all winnings received by contestants to the Internal Revenue Service at the conclusion of each year.
Rather than meet with an agent who liked her script, remove her derogatory posts and simply turn in the tax form, this contestant continued with a smear campaign both online and in emails to fellow and former contestants, before finally filing a complaint against Fade In in small claims court. Ironically, she brought her signed W-9 tax form to court with her. Even more ironic, she apologized and said this was all probably a misunderstanding on her part and then requested a hug!
In the published "story," Fade In is also accused of not paying finalist Powell Weaver. We have attached Mr. Weaver's cancelled check and signed certified mail receipt for same. We have not heard from Mr. Weaver since May of 2008.
Although we also believe 2005 finalist Craig Berger's quote was lifted from a third party website for their story, we still find Berger's dissatisfaction puzzling. He alleges that we told him we would help him further by sending his winning script "Murder Girls" out to agents and managers but then failed to do so. Even though he was not a Grand Prize Winner and it was not our obligation, at his request we did in fact send his screenplay to agents and managers and also to New Line Cinema and MTV Films.
Recently, Mr. Berger posted the following statement regarding the website's derogatory story on his blog...
"A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a reporter for [the competitor's site]. The reporter wanted to know about my experiences with the Fade In screenwriting contest, as I had come in 2nd in the Comedy category in 2005. I agreed to talk with her. Probably my first mistake."
"The reporter asked me if I was happy with my relationship with Fade In, as she [claimed she] had spoken to a number of people who had not received the prizes they were promised. I told her unequivocally that I had received everything that was promised to me. I also told her that the notes I got from [Fade In] were some of the best notes I had ever received, and that I had been a finalist or the winner in a number of contests and none of them had done more for me than Fade In."
As is mentioned on our website, many of our competition winners have gone on to be signed by prominent talent agencies, including APA, CAA, Endeavor, ICM and William Morris, and to make successful feature films, including Blades of Glory, Clay Pigeons, Perfect Stranger, Preston Tylk and Taking Lives. This year promises to have releases of two contest winners' scripts; Javelina and Adam. Other winners are working steadily and have been hired to write or direct the upcoming feature films, The Art of Making Money, The Baster, Daggers and Need. We believe our competition's reputation for helping to launch the careers of very talented aspiring writers and directors speaks for itself.
Fade In supplied this company's reporter and its COO/founder with the correct information prior to their publishing the false and defamatory allegations. We even pointed out our online FAQ (where the first question is, "Who judges the competition?"), our online contest page, which again clearly states who writes the analysis and advised them their sources were both unreliable and impeachable, yet they chose to ignore this information and publish inaccurate statements. I question the motivation of the company and the ethics of the writer when, for instance, in their newest March 15th post the reporter claims that Doug Amaturo could not be reached for comment, when Doug called and let me know he had spoken to the reporter twice over this past weekend and also received an email from her.
"In just this past weekend, she called me a few times and we spoke. I relayed to her that I was very disappointed that she went ahead and used my name in this damaging article towards you and Fade In when she specifically told me she would not. I told her that I thought you created a great magazine and that if I could have done everything over I would have done more to continue working with you, as you were a very generous employer, not only to me but also to everyone who worked there. Unfortunately for her, I only said nice things about you. What she's trying to do is skew the information and rewrite the past. She wanted to ask me a few more questions so I told her to email me. I thought the questions she emailed were petty and her approach was a bit deceptive; fairly manipulative. In other words, she was fishing for too much for the sole purpose of molding the facts in her favor."
As for the reporter's attempt to discredit us regarding our sponsors, we called our Apple entertainment marketing contact of thirteen years, Suzanne Lindberg, who told us she doesn't speak to reporters and has not spoken to any reporter, as it's Apple's policy not to speak to the media about its past sponsorships. She said they've been cutting all of their sponsorship deals lately. They're just not doing it anymore. She went on to say that she did get a note from Apple's PR department asking about the logo on our site and she advised them that she hadn't approved anything like that lately. That Apple has sponsored the Awards before but were unable to do it anymore. (Note: The logo is still on the Awards page of our site because we have not yet updated the page to the 2009 Awards, which launch in June.)
As of this date, both the new media company and its COO/founder refuse to print retractions and continue to defame me personally by publishing bogus statements. The facts behind each of the allegations would have been easy to investigate if there was actually any interest by them in pursuing the truth. It is both unfortunate and pathetic that this emerging media entity believes that the only way it can attract attention to its new venture is to forego journalistic ethics and publish a negative story about one of its competitors.
Nobody is above criticism and we are interested in any ideas on how we can improve both Fade In and our Awards but the claims disseminated by this new company are spurious. Fade In stands behind its screenwriting competition and its process. We felt it was important to bring the aforementioned facts and documentation to your attention and want to thank everyone for their emails and calls of support, including past and present contest finalists, our publication's contributing writers and artists, industry producers, executives, agents, publicists and, of course, our Board of Advisors.
Audrey Kelly Editor in Chief FADE IN MAGAZINE
Then after this very letter the same The Wrap source wrote this in response Fade In Demands Retraction. I do find it odd that The Wrap is the only news source reporting on this.