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An Interesting Approach to Turning One's Stories into Film

Someone sent me this today and I started reading it. Not a lot we don't already know but the writer says it all pretty well and that, in itself, can be helpful because it's clarifying:

"Never before in human history have there been so many methods for people to succeed using their own drive and ambition. The book self-publishing industry, YouTube, crowdfunding, Airbnb – all are reflective of this new ethos of ‘taking matters into our own hands.’ Smart people no longer wait for others to do the work for them or for the systems to change.. Instead, they see the limitations of the system … and they figure out a way to make it happen on their own. The old Hollywood centralized model may be one of the last to fall, but it is falling. I assure you! So your job in this new world order is to take ownership of your future and the future of your project – be in the business of ‘making it happen!’ "



https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/voyagevalt/FREEGUIDE_TheProvenWaytoBringYourStorytotheScreen.pdf?inf_contact_key=7c92cfe3335a855abce6f721dc2994133107eab92e35e56fb2c8ba454aa5b091
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Comments

  • I have a phone call scheduled with them later this month, they seem a little sketchy since they won't come right out and say how much they want to charge, But they assured me up to the phonecall point I owe nothing. So I figured just talking with them can't hurt, maybe I'll learn something.  
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited November 16
    Frankly, this thing sounds far too much like the Author Academy we were discussing a few weeks ago.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 16
    I sent it to a friend seeking to access the film making business after I saw it. He looked at it and sent it back, urging me to fill out the questionnaire they provide at their site. There seems to be no cost involved so I did.

    Since I don't have my current book ready to go I decided to take a flyer with an earlier one. If they ask for money, of course, it's a non-starter. But if they're serious about providing a forum for storytellers to "meet" film makers then it's an interesting model and worth a try. How they make their money (since obviously they are in it to make money) remains to be seen. If I am reading them right (and I may not be) they seem to be looking to carve out a new kind of agenting niche so I expect that, if they accept a writer (which they indicate is contingent on their review of the completed questionnaire), there will be some arrangement where they take a cut of any rights sale for the purpose of film production.

    That seems fine to me. Everyone's got to make money or they will have no reason to act. If the point is to create a new agenting model, I can only applaud it.

    How would such a model work? I am assuming, and it's just assumption at this point, that they are looking to use a website as a platform for making the kinds of connections agents have heretofore been uniquely positioned to do. So I'll see what happens. No guarantee they'll like my answers or the book I am proposing to offer for production purposes.

    But just for the record, for those here who have followed earlier discussions, this kind of initiative is in line with some of the proposals I have made previously, namely to find ways to leverage the Internet platform as a means of creating new models. While the specifics of my proposal were that writers find ways to work together here to help each other create more polished, professional looking products, this is just another wrinkle on that idea of using the Internet and the community capabilities it engenders, to create new models to replace the old.

    In this case, it looks to me like this guy (or group, not sure which) is looking to leverage Internet technology to circumvent the old fashioned system of agents as middle men (and, presumably, to cash in on it in the process).
  • Off the record, there was a publishing/motivational system mentioned in the forum a while back, and a couple of us set up email accounts and submitted stinkers of proposals. I mean, absolute crackpot wack-job proposals that were antithetical to the stated ethos of the system.

    We each got us a form letter encouraging us to invest in the system and to attend motivational classes, etc.

    This smells the same. Odds on money says that they will propose helping you to make a film, using your own money but their contacts, and that they will propose a crowdfunding campaign to make it happen. They will also propose that you borrow from friends and family, mortgage the house, and otherwise incur debt to raise capital.

    After all, your dreams are important, and if you don't make them a priority, you'll never succeed. Say yes to yourself. Say yes to your dreams... Etc.

    I recommend very highly against.

  • My original post included a very large number of errors, misleading statements and, frankly, questionable references. I will repost these tomorrow.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    It's just the old idea of making something sound easy in order to take money from them.

    I lost interest at the mention of AirBnB. What's that got to do with it? It's just centralised Bed & Breakfast booking, a trade that is hardly new or hard to achieve.

  • It's just the old idea of making something sound easy in order to take money from them.

    I lost interest at the mention of AirBnB. What's that got to do with it? It's just centralised Bed & Breakfast booking, a trade that is hardly new or hard to achieve.

    Agreed! 

    By the way, it was enlightening to look up the name of the founder of Voyage as well as those of his three testimonials in the Internet Movie Data Base.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Indecently, between you and me, I have the map to a secret and long-lost Bolivian gold mine. I am cutting my own throat here, but to you, just $500!!
  • Indecently, between you and me, I have the map to a secret and long-lost Bolivian gold mine. I am cutting my own throat here, but to you, just $500!!


    Will you take $500 worth of Carbon Absolution?

    Ego te absolvo a tuas Carbonum.

  • the sad experiences he had made with
  • Well you folks may be right about this one. I had barely completed and filed my "application," which the site said would be reviewed and a decision made on whether they wanted to work with me, when I received an email informing me that my next step  was to schedule an interview with them -- which went directly against the clear implication that first they would assess my application and then decide if my proposal was worthwhile. I expect that such an interview would be the occasion to hit me up for money. So I'm not sure I even want to proceed with this since I'm not in the mood for a sales pitch these days. Like you guys, been there, done that!
  • I gave up listing all of the misleading statements in the pdf prospectus after the first two pages.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Here are just a few of the random thoughts and questions I had while reading the prospectus...

    This is Nat Mundel's complete list of credits in the Internet Movie Data Base:
    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1112543/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

    "...it’s important you realize that agents aren’t looking to work with you or to help you out." This is misleading. Of course agents are in the business to earn a living. But since the more you make the more they do, it is in their own best interest to see that you do as well as possible.

    "The primary thing an agent does for a writer is to connect them with producers." Again, this is misleading. An agent also works to protect the rights of the writer as well as to get them the best contract possible.

    "A producer, on the other hand, is looking for their next great project. And frankly, they don’t care where it comes from as long as it’s great!" This is not entirely true. You will find few if any producers who will even open the envelope of an unsolicited submission. This is due entirely due to self-protection. While an independent producer may be a little less cautious, by the same token they can less easily afford someone suing them because they think an unsolicited idea had been stolen.

    Using The Martian as an example is misleading. Although it is true that Weir decided to self-publish after becoming frustrated with traditional channels we don't know two things: the quality of what he had been trying to sell and how hard he tried before giving up on trying to find an agent or publisher. After all, as a counter-example, J.K. Rowling persevered even after dozens of rejections and look where she is.

    "Voyage’s very own ALIVE DAY (now a $50 million studio feature in development with Oscar-nominated producer Mike Medavoy and A-list Director Philip Noyce) started similarly." Alive Day is not listed among Mundel's projects at IMDB, nor among Medavoy's or Noyce's forthcoming or in-development projects. Perhaps it has had a title change?

    "EXAMPLES OF STORIES VOYAGE AND ITS TEAM MEMBERS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY BROUGHT TO MARKET" is followed by a large collection of posters of highly successful movies. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. The implication is that "Voyage" had some direction connection with these films. None of these "team members" are mentioned by name.

    "MAKING AMENDS IN BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, now being turned into a motion picture with producer Brian Young." There is at least no film by that name listed as being in any stage of production by IMDB. There is no mention of this title in Brian Young's listing, either. 

    I can find no listing of any kind for "Joe Bebo." The best I can dig up is a self-published Kindle book by a "Joseph Bebo."

    At least My Daddy Is In Heaven is a real film, though released under the title My Daddy's In Heaven (2017). Interestingly, author Rebecca Crownover is listed nowhere in the credits. Not only was the film not very well reviewed, it didn't even get listed by Rotten Tomatoes. Evidently it went straight to DVD and streaming.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Such things work on the "what the hell" principle. They lead you in and in, then start ask for small amounts of money, then more, and more, until you get to the point that if you eventually back out, you have wasted a lot of money, so maybe you do not back out ...
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    BTW, anyone with a decent smartphone and some cheap software can make a movie nowadays, and many do.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 19
    So now have received a follow-up from them asking why I haven't scheduled my "interview" to complete my application. I decided to try to see where this goes. So I scheduled it and received a follow up email with instructions for how I should sign in on the day and time of the "interview." Apparently it's to be a kind of conference call. Presumably a group of us will sign on to hear a pitch and some happy talk about how we can break into the movie business with our stories if we work with them. I expect that a pitch for "investment" will come in somewhere as well in the course of such an "interview." Real interviews, of course, are one on one affairs. If they were serious THAT's what I would expect of them. But this doesn't feel like that.

    I have seen this sort of stuff before but I must admit I am disappointed. I rather thought that this fellow was sincere in his idea of using the Internet as a platform from which to leap over the old line system of agents as middle men. But, of course, film producers, even more than publishers, need a middle man to curate the many entries and provide a reliable screen to protect them from charges of idea theft, plagiarism and the like. Surmounting or replacing the agenting system where Hollywood or the big new production venues (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple) are concerned may eventually happen, but it's not likely to be easy.

    So I'm disappointed that this seems to have been a bust. But better to see the failures and thus avoid them in order to put one's energies into other projects and efforts.  Still I can't help thinking that, just as Amazon changed retailing and companies like Lulu have changed publishing, somewhere down the road someone will figure out a way to change the access modalities to the film and cable production venues. (On the other hand, maybe this is the one venue where individuals qua agents really are indispensable because of the need for a vetting filter between creators and filmmakers!)

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Such things are often run by people with the skill to sell snow to eskimos, and it's best to avoid listening to them.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    somewhere down the road someone will figure out a way to change the access modalities to the film and cable production venues

    There's no comparison whatsoever. But with new technology film-making is in the hands of the independents also.

  • somewhere down the road someone will figure out a way to change the access modalities to the film and cable production venues

    There's no comparison whatsoever. But with new technology film-making is in the hands of the independents also.

    Indeed!

    There have been independent film makers from the first days of motion pictures, though their numbers are increasing exponentially as technology makes it less expensive to create a film.

    That being said, even independent film makers have to be careful about their source material. Unless they are creating a film based on material they have written themselves, they are just as vulnerable as a major studio to a copyright infraction complaint. Perhaps even more vulnerable since they would likely not have the resources to defend themselves.

    A student film was made here recently and even though it was strictly a project made for a class assignment, the student film maker was meticulous about things such as obtaining permits, releases, etc.

    One of two possible---and very real dangers---from among many might be someone showing a story or script to a producer which is rejected. If a film is later made that even remotely resembles the story, a lawsuit might result. Another possibility is someone presenting a story or script that does not in fact belong to them. For these and many other reasons, any film maker---independent or otherwise---has to be careful about the sources of their material.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 20
    An independent film maker could certainly be at a disadvantage defending him or herself against suits charging plagiarism, idea theft and the like. Resources count in such matters including both access to legal staff or providers for screening what is proposed and for defending against adverse actions. But the idea that an internet based platform connecting with major production venues would be disadvantaged in this way seems slight.

    While the current system of agents acting as curators of story ideas and scripts seems pretty well entrenched, because agents serve a useful vetting purpose for film makers, I am not sure that an internet based system (with appropriate safeguards for film makers) which replaces or supplements the existing agent system, could not be devised. Yes, there would be some obstacles (the openness of the Internet makes vetting for exclusivity and originality, and protecting the end users, i.e., film makers from adverse events arising from charges of theft and plagiarism more difficult), but I don't see why these would have to be insurmountable.

    One problem with such a development, of course, is scope. Amazon and Lulu grew because they commoditzed the services they offer (for which broad demand clearly existed). But an internet-based open "agent" for creative ideas offered to film makers does not have the huge demand side that Amazon discovered for online selling of merchandise -- and services supporting such sales -- and which Lulu and other POD publishing services found for those services). In the case of POD, of course, the demand is actually from authors not buyers, i.e., potential readers, who must still be found where Amazon and other online book sellers find them.

    But I must admit I am not clear on how a platform seeking to do for authors what agents can do for them vis a vis story ideas and scripts would actually work. In truth, the agent concept still seems to me to have traction in the film making industry. But I am curious to see if this Voyage company has got an approach that could work. (There seem to be some others by the way. Along with Voyage, a few others have recently been popping up on my Facebook page, suggesting that I must have clicked on something somewhere that made my FB account a target for companies like this. Didn't used to see them on FB and now they're ubiquitous, at least on my "wall.")
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    One of two possible---and very real dangers---from among many might be someone showing a story or script to a producer which is rejected. If a film is later made that even remotely resembles the story, a lawsuit might result. Another possibility is someone presenting a story or script that does not in fact belong to them. For these and many other reasons, any film maker---independent or otherwise---has to be careful about the sources of their material.

    One thing that people pointing cameras at everything and everyone do not realise, is that a Filming In Progress sign often has to be put up so people can avoid it, or people have to be directly asked if they don't mind appearing in the background, or whatever, hence why some faces are often pixelated out.

    I would assume it only applies to commercial endeavours though, because with everyone carrying a movie and still cam around in their pockets for personal use (smartphones) warnings and asking people if they mind being in the background, would be impractical now!

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    An independent film maker could certainly be at a disadvantage defending him or herself against suits charging plagiarism, idea theft and the like. Resources count in such matters including both access to legal staff or providers for screening what is proposed and for defending against adverse actions.

    Often the winner in legal fights are the ones with the best lawyers, not the person with the actual legitimate gripe.

     But the idea that an internet based platform connecting with major production venues would be disadvantaged in this way seems slight.

    Laws apply even on line.

    While the current system of agents acting as curators of story ideas and scripts seems pretty well entrenched, because agents serve a useful vetting purpose for film makers, I am not sure that an internet based system (with appropriate safeguards for film makers) which replaces or supplements the existing agent system, could not be devised.

    But they are acting as agents, or having to deal with them. What do you think they are doing? Or pretending to.

     Yes, there would be some obstacles (the openness of the Internet makes vetting for exclusivity and originality, and protecting the end users, i.e., film makers from adverse events arising from charges of theft and plagiarism more difficult),

    It does not, it just makes infringements harder to find.

     but I don't see why these would have to be insurmountable.

    To what? Are you thinking of setting up an agency?

    One problem with such a development, of course, is scope. Amazon and Lulu grew because they commoditzed the services they offer (for which broad demand clearly existed). But an internet-based open "agent" for creative ideas offered to film makers does not have the huge demand side that Amazon discovered for online selling of merchandise -- and services supporting such sales -- and which Lulu and other POD publishing services found for those services). In the case of POD, of course, the demand is actually from authors not buyers, i.e., potential readers, who must still be found where Amazon and other online book sellers find them.

    Only the actual cost of using POD is relevant to that. Potential buyers on Amazon, etc., have no idea if a book is POD created or not.

    But I must admit I am not clear on how a platform seeking to do for authors what agents can do for them vis a vis story ideas and scripts would actually work. In truth, the agent concept still seems to me to have traction in the film making industry.

    Where there is any commodity, there have always been middlemen who know who wants/needs the product, they have contacts, and it's been like that for many 1000s of years.

    But I am curious to see if this Voyage company has got an approach that could work.

    Have we not already said it has all the hallmarks of a scam?!

     (There seem to be some others by the way. Along with Voyage, a few others have recently been popping up on my Facebook page, suggesting that I must have clicked on something somewhere that made my FB account a target for companies like this. Didn't used to see them on FB and now they're ubiquitous, at least on my "wall.")

    Indeed, that's all the internet exists for. To capture your details and then try to sell you stuff.

    So now you are going to say I don't get your point ...

  • Kevin is right. Anyone acting as an intermediary between the author and the producer is, in effect, an agent...no matter what they may call themselves.

    I should probably point out that an agent representing an author to a producer is no different than one representing the author to a publisher---in fact, many literary agents do both as a matter of course---and that there are never any upfront charges made to the author. The agent only earns their fee when the author makes money.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 20
    Kevin is right about what? Seems to me that, as usual, Kevin misses the points I was making and just devolves to naysaying, as is his wont.

    Just to reiterate, the last post I offered addressed the possibility of finding ways, using the Internet, to replace or alter the existing model of agents as middlemen. It doesn't follow that there will be no middlemen if such an approach succeeds or that the concept of being an agent won't persist in some changed form.

    What I was addressing is the current model of looking for agents and depending entirely on them to make useful connections with the film making industry. I'm not sure if the Internet could be leveraged in a way that replaces the current agent as middleman model but that doesn't mean it's not worth looking for ways to do that. 

    Thanks for your explanation of what an agent does, of course. As to upfront charges, we are in agreement. At this point I cannot foresee any circumstance in which I would be comfortable with an online platform acting as middleman if it involved having to pay up front. Period. Of course there might be some way that could make sense, say as a membership fee to enable participation on such a platform. But the platform would have to prove itself a viable one first before that would seem justifiable to me.

    But certainly an arrangement between the platform hosts and the author-users which provides a fixed portion of any successful sale (just as with standard agents) would be reasonable. But, as with traditional agents, there would have to be clear cut rules and protections for both sides, i.e., some form of contract.

    Why are you two always so quick with the no's, the "it can't be done's"? Maybe a more positive attitude would make change more likely? 
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Kevin is right about what? Seems to me that, as usual, Kevin misses the points I was making and just devolves to naysaying, as is his wont.

    What did I say?! ("So now you are going to say I don't get your point ..." ) :) swmirsky, that you say that just means you do not understand the replies to you.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Why are you two always so quick with the no's,

    Because we ALL obviously know more than you do.

  •  :* 
  • For example:

    I wrote: An independent film maker could certainly be at a disadvantage defending him or herself against suits charging plagiarism, idea theft and the like. Resources count in such matters including both access to legal staff or providers for screening what is proposed and for defending against adverse actions.

    Kevin replies: Often the winner in legal fights are the ones with the best lawyers, not the person with the actual legitimate gripe.

    What has the response to do with my statement??? I already said above that resources (i.e., the ability to hire and retain good lawyers) are the issue!

    I wrote: But the idea that an internet based platform connecting with major production venues would be disadvantaged in this way seems slight.

    Kevin replies: Laws apply even on line.

    Who said otherwise???

    I wrote: While the current system of agents acting as curators of story ideas and scripts seems pretty well entrenched, because agents serve a useful vetting purpose for film makers, I am not sure that an internet based system (with appropriate safeguards for film makers) which replaces or supplements the existing agent system, could not be devised.

    Kevin replied: But they are acting as agents, or having to deal with them. What do you think they are doing? Or pretending to.

    Again, who said otherwise???

    And so on . . . 


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I don't know why I bother when you do not understand the replies, but >>

    I wrote: An independent film maker could certainly be at a disadvantage defending him or herself against suits charging plagiarism, idea theft and the like. Resources count in such matters including both access to legal staff or providers for screening what is proposed and for defending against adverse actions.

    Kevin replies: Often the winner in legal fights are the ones with the best lawyers, not the person with the actual legitimate gripe.

    What has the response to do with my statement??? I already said above that resources (i.e., the ability to hire and retain good lawyers) are the issue!

    No, that's not what you said. Can't you see what you said? You even pasted it back in here.

    I wrote: But the idea that an internet based platform connecting with major production venues would be disadvantaged in this way seems slight.

    Kevin replies: Laws apply even on line.

    Who said otherwise???

    You did ...

    I wrote: While the current system of agents acting as curators of story ideas and scripts seems pretty well entrenched, because agents serve a useful vetting purpose for film makers, I am not sure that an internet based system (with appropriate safeguards for film makers) which replaces or supplements the existing agent system, could not be devised.

    Kevin replied: But they are acting as agents, or having to deal with them. What do you think they are doing? Or pretending to.

    Again, who said otherwise???

    You keep saying so.

    And so on . . . 

  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 20
    Kevin, your first response is a non-sequitor because it doesn't address what I said.

    I said, choosing the text YOU decided to highlight: "Resources count in such matters including both access to legal staff or providers"

    To which you responded: "Often the winner in legal fights are the ones with the best lawyers, not the person with the actual legitimate gripe."

    So okay, the best as in being able to afford them! Note, also, that I wasn't talking about who may sometimes, or often win, but about the importance of having access to legal staff to 1) preclude being hauled into court over such matters and/or 2) be able to defend effectively against such claims should they be brought.

    Small independents lack the resources and hence the ability to deal with such problems which are more likely to arise without the intermediation of competent and trustworthy agents. Hence my point, that what Ron describes would be a problem for small fry but would not necessarily be so for the bigger fish in that particular pond

    And so on . . . 
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