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Thread: Screenplay Scam

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Screenplay Scam

    As one of the thousands of authors who have been screwed by Publish America, I am very suspicious and cautious nowadays. This post has to do with a friend of mine.

    This friend wrote a story which is still non published. A man named Harvey told him it should be made into a screenplay. He told my friend he had to put up the money to hire a screenwriter to make the screenplay. I found this to be very odd. Harvey told my friend that they would try to get certain screenwriters, including one that has one Academy awards.

    Well, it turns out that my friend has paid a lot of money, including all of his savings, borrowed money from his parents and took out a loan to pay the screenwriter. I hadn't known this until recently and the moment I heard it, my mind screamed "SCAM!"

    Well, I think my friend got mad at me today because he told me he would be getting the 'expanded' treatment of his story today. It took three months to do this. So far, this is about six months of writing and his screenplay writer has not even written a word of the screenplay yet. These 'treatments' are basically scene summaries.

    Call me crazy, but it should not take six months to simply outline a screenplay. I asked my friend "Has he been writing only one sentence a day?" My friend got angry with me and told me that writing a screenplay was not like writing a book. Well, obviously, I know this.

    Well, I checked out the Internet Movie Database and I was not surprised to NOT see his screenwriter (supposedly nominated for an Oscar) listed anywhere.

    I feel bad and think I might lose his friendship for this, but I think it was my responsibility to let this guy know he was being scammed.

    The reason I am posting this is because I would like to know if any of you have heard of this before? It seems like a simple way of doing it, but I am surprised anyone would fall for it. Then again, I can't really say that because I fell for Publish America's scam (I got my book published by them, but NEVER paid for a single copy).

    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Tilly's Avatar
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    Your poor friend! And that's a horrible situation for you to be in.

    I seem to remember something like this coming up on the PA board recently. I'll try and track it down, it would be interesting to see if it's the same person.

    As a friend you did the right thing by trying to warn him. I'm sure he'll realise that when the penny drops.

  3. #3
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I think your friendship is indeed at risk, depending on how you react to what I take to be a pretty obvious scam. I have little--no?--doubt your friend has been duped a second time, since he clearly didn't learn from the first one to check everything out before committing himself in any way.

    I've got a friend like that, making financial decisions and life choices that will end badly without any doubt. I don't think that friends have to support foolish decisions, nor that they should. What true friends do is show support and sympathy when things come to a crashing, financially crushing finale, as this surely will.

    Maybe the most supportive thing you can do now is to urge your friend to spend nothing more on this enterprise until they are able to show some results from what he has spent already. Help him for a plan for repayment of those loans based on his present financial situation, not on any income from the movie that will never be.

    Promise yourself there will be no "I told you so"-ing when he realizes that he's been duped. Offer sympathy and a place to vent. When he's calmed a bit, help him figure out how he can keep this from ever happening again.

    Oh, and don't lend him any money.

    Maryn, sorry to see you in this bind
    "I've never had to fake sarcasm."

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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Tilly's Avatar
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    I can't find the thread I was looking for on the PA board, but a PA author having a screenplay written from their book is mentioned in this thread:

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=30328
    It's probably unrelated to your friend's experience, though.

    ETA: Here is the PA thread on the topic, provided by someone who, unlike me, has search skills :

    http://bb.publishamerica.com/viewtopic.php?t=12565&postdays=0&postorder=asc&sta rt=15
    Last edited by Tilly; 05-03-2006 at 12:08 PM. Reason: 'cause I found a spare comma to put in. It's happy now.

  5. #5
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Where did Harvey come from?

  6. #6
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Your friend desperately needs help, and doesn't want it.

    Talk to your friend's parents.

    Talk to someone in the professional theatre and movie community.

    Talk to the police.

    Collect as much information about Harvey as you can get hold of.
    Winner of the Best Drycleaner on the Block Award.

  7. #7
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi
    Collect as much information about Harvey as you can get hold of.
    And please share it with Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors. This person is preying on writers, and we definitely want to know about it.

    - Victoria

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