Okay. An interesting thing happened to me last week. I had just gotten back from Culver City and I got this phone call from Audrey Kelly of the Fade In Awards. She seemed a bit nervous and shaky so I didn’t know what she wanted at first. She mentioned something about MySpace and “something” I wrote or posted. It was like she was playing some game where I had to fill in the blanks. Then she went on and said something like, “Our lawyers were about to send you a letter, but I said, ‘Let me see if I can talk to him’”. Still wasn’t sure what she was getting at, because this went on for a few more moments. But to make the story short, it was in regards to a pair of The Wrap articles that accused Fade In of taking spec writers for a ride. At first I thought she was talking about my blog where I posted the article and links to the continuing drama and I mention that I posted her response to the article just underneath. Then she was like, “But that’s in your blog. That’s fine. I’m talking about MySpace.” “Uh, MySpace…?” I thought. I hadn’t been on MySpace for a while. But she still didn’t get to the point so I talked her through it by asking questions like, “Are you asking me to delete it? Is that what you want?” She was like, “If you would or else we’d have to send you a letter.” I’m like, “Fuck if I care. I’m a big boy.” She sent me the URL to a post I posted in my forum.
Then she goes on to tell me that they’ve been in business for 15 years. “Look at all the people we’ve helped,” she said. I was like, “Uh… what people? There’s no proof of that.” No response. She continued to talk to me about defamation and all sorts of silly things. Just a diversionary tactic to get me off the subject of my question, I assume. Or she didn’t want to get into it. The call ended cordially.
Now, what was going on in my head was a certain key phrase. “We’ve been in business for 15 years.” “A business,” I kept thinking. Why a business? Why not, “We’ve been holding this contest for 15 years?” A Freudian slip maybe? I mean, after all, they do make lot of money off of us spec writers. But that’s the nature of the contest circuit. Every writer expects to lose something for the chance for something bigger. It’s almost like winning the lottery in that sense. It’s why we do this. So, fuck it. I go ahead and delete the post anyway, but it wouldn’t take right away. If you know those MySpace forums like I do, you know they can get glitchy. Which is one of the main reasons why I phased out of MySpace in the past months—tired of the glitches and spam. Fucking spam. But anyway, it looked like I deleted it so, I wrote this. Forgive me for having you read the whole thing, but I want this to be as fair and honest as possible.
I see what you're saying now. You're talking about the groups. At first I wasn't sure what you meant by just "MySpace". Anyway, I tried to delete it a few times, but it wouldn't take. You may wanna double check to make sure though. MySpace has several glitches in the forums and many other things which is why I've pretty much abandoned the site.
But just so you know, MySpace isn't the place you need to worry about seeing the mass exodus to Facebook. You need to worry about the private offices at American Zoetrope, The Writer's Building and Triggerstreet. That's where those articles get around. It may not show up on Google, but that's where the spec screenwriter core gather to get their news on things like this.
Her response… Hi Philip
Thanks for checking back. You may want to contact MySpace directly then. Keep me posted.
Now, I was already getting annoyed by having to do extra work for her. The way I saw it, I did her a solid by posting her response to The Wrap’s article which incidentally was only privy to her email newsletter as far as I know. And that newsletter goes out to all the entrants of the Fade In Awards which I was. I wondered, “why wasn’t this on The Wrap’s article’s several comments?” It woulda been best served there, not hidden to all the skeptics. It’s like it was only designed to service the people that paid into the contest. Not saying that’s the case, but it certainly felt like it. So, annoyed, I responded back with…
That seems to be a bit much for me to delete an article which I didn’t even write that’s on a public forum. If it didn't work then so be it. MySpace is all yours.
Okay, I’m gonna have to paraphrase here because in her latest email to me said this at the bottom… “Information contained in this e-mail transmission is privileged, confidential and covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. Sections 2510-2521.” None of her other emails had this, but this one does. Why is this suddenly private? But the gist of it was that she was disappointed by my annoyance of our correspondence and she was threatening me with legal action. The email was much longer, but that was pretty much what it was.
I was at the point where this was actually starting to feel like harassment. I told her in a previous email that all she had to do was double check to make sure the post was deleted. She didn’t want to get off her lazy ass to check. By fuck, dude! What’s the deal here? So, does this mean she’s gonna take my word for it? “Hey, person, I deleted the post. Take my word for it. I promise.” And she’s NOT gonna follow up? Come on. Enough with the bullshit. No. This couldn’t stay where it was—an empty thread. It had to be an exchange of harassing threats for a post that no longer exists because someone was too lazy to check.
Scams. Okay, I’ve been dealing a lot with scams in the past couple months. Yes, times are tough. In fact, I’m back in LA because times are indeed tough. And that means people will lie, cheat and steal just to get some food in their bellies. But this also brings up a lot of things that have been in both the news and going on in my personal life lately. Not that I was in the news mind you, but situations that I’ve seen unfold and some things the news covered.
Just recently, KCAL 9 did an undercover report where they busted a company that was promising government jobs to prospective job seekers. But you had to pay an outrageous fee. Something like $400. Don’t quote me on the price, but it was something ridiculous like that.
Just recently, I was going to a job interview for a law enforcement affiliation in the Valley and they wanted $300 to take a test. And if I paid and passed the test, I’d get to work within the week. Then something as recent as last week, a friend and myself answered an ad in a local paper and as we arrived, we found that the joint was empty. We guessed that the place was shut down after grabbing everyone’s cash. Had we been there a day earlier, we most likely woulda been taken as well.
And should I get on the whole Sherry Fine/Screenplay Agency fiasco again? Maybe next time. But recently, I had just gotten out of a weird contract with a very shady development company that wasn’t scamming me out of money, but out of intellectual property… and then eventually money if the movie was made. I can’t go into that because I signed a disclosure agreement not to post anything negative about them. But if you wanna know, email me.
This segues into situations like the Fade In Awards. I’m not saying that they’re scam artists and have been getting away with it for 15 years, but you wonder, what have they done to help out all these people? The spec writing community is pretty small. We all know each other if not personally, electronically at least by name and the posts we post in the few screenwriting forums that are out there. And that includes a few of the winners of the Fade In Awards. Unfortunately, it does not bode well for the Fade In contest. I’m not saying that they’re deliberately scamming, but their prize-giving efforts seem to be begrudging—at least with the couple of the winners that I’ve talked with. This could be due to a couple of things. Maybe they’re so busy with other things such as the grand prize winner that they don’t pay much attention to the runner-ups or the category winners who also fall by the wayside. It seems that you do get paid if you ask or make a stink. Again, not saying that this is always true or fact in every case, but it seems that these allegations come up enough to warrant further investigation. It’s not just Fade In’s reputation that’s on the line, but our money. Money that should be going to bills, not to mention, paper, brads, ink cartridges and printer repairs.
The problem with a lot of these contests is that you’re never sure if you’re stuff is even read. There’s no verification process like Triggerstreet where you have to answer questions to prove that it was read or at least skimmed. And there’s no critical feedback as some contests offer. So, even if you lose, you can say, “Ah, that’s why I lost. My characters weren’t fleshed out. My story dropped the ball on page 43.” Etcetera. But hey, that’s not what Fade In does. You send your script and money and they cash your check. Fine. That’s how it is. No big. We as spec writers have grown to accept that. But we don’t expect to be harassed and threatened with legal action. For what? Curiosity of the truth? Being fair and open? Arguing about a post that doesn’t exist? It’s our money that’s being paid out to the grand prize winner. At the very least, we should get some proof that these contests are legit. And we will not take Audrey Kelly’s word for it anymore… but I might believe KCAL 9. KCAL 9, you up for the challenge?