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Thread: American Screenwriters Association

  1. #1
    A woman said to write like a man. Plot Device's Avatar
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    American Screenwriters Association

    I want an agent for my movie scripts. And the WGA web site has a list of agents that are mostly literary agents, and I can't discern if any of them are movie script/film agents. So I found this OTHER web site, and I'm a little suspicious.

    The American Screenwriters Association or the ASA.

    http://www.goasa.com


    I tried searching the index here at AW, but the ASA isn't in there.

    The ASA web site has spelling and gramatical errors. And when I clicked on the link for "agents," a pop up box came up asking me to ponder if I really need an agent. And it said information about agents is available in the members section.

    This all sounds really screwy.

    Then it says I can join for free. So I did. I filled out the free application and joined and they asked me for no information of any real importance (just name and e-mail and street address). No SS# no credit cards.

    And then I went to the members area to see about any listings for agents. And the hyperlink in that section sent me to a totally different web site where I have to pay a fee for a listing of agents.

    So what gives here?????



    Some more red flags: they have on the front/home page of the site the promotional/huckster language: "As seen on CNN, Fox, Larry King Live, & ABC Disney.com"

    Anybody??????????????????

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    What's the agent website?

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    A woman said to write like a man. Plot Device's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    What's the agent website?

    - Victoria
    Gimmie a minute and I'll log back into the ASA web site with the user name and password I got today via my new and totally free memebrship, and I'll click through all those annoyingly inefficient screen before I finally get to that dumb agent web site.



    And thank you so much for responding so quickly to my inquiry. (You replied in less than an hour! I'da been happy if it'd been less than a day!).

  4. #4
    A woman said to write like a man. Plot Device's Avatar
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  5. #5
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Yup, I'm in Amherst, the PC capital of the world. We moved here about seven years ago, and really love the area.

    I don't know anything about the ASA. Reputable people appear to be involved in its Board of Directors, but there's much about the site that makes me uneasy, including its endorsement of iffy services such as MovieBytes, and the fact that it appears to be more about putting on an annual conference and competition than about advocacy or training (its "scholarship program" is not for education, but to cover conference fees). I'm wondering if it's the film industry equivalent of the National Writers' Association, which also has an impressive Board of Directors but is not really a professional writers' group.

    The agent list (from the MovieBytes website) is a prime example of why it's not a good idea to rely on online agent listings. The list, which is viewable for free, includes a number of disreputable agents (fee-charging, editorial referrals, no or minimal track records), and is way out of date--it lists agencies that are out of business (in some cases for years) or that have merged with other agencies under new names. I'm sure the info you have to pay for is just as suspect.

    The ASA website also recommends a service called ProtectRite for manuscript registration. This is one of those useless datestamp services that's really an expensive online version of poor man's copyright (I recently did a blog entry on these kinds of services). Not only are they a waste of money, they're not a subsititute for WGA registration (which is necessary if you're submitting a script) or official US copyright registration (which isn't necessary for unpublished or unproduced material).

    - Victoria

  6. #6
    A woman said to write like a man. Plot Device's Avatar
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    Thanks, Victoria.

    I also discerned a few things you did (the legitimate people on the board of directors, and yet the push for pricey conferences). The other stuff you mentioned I never would have known or guessd at. So I appreciate your enlightening me here.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    American Screenwriters Association

    Dear Victoria and Plot Device:

    I was made aware of your thread here at AW and I'm glad to see you taking the time to ask questions. That puts you far and ahead of where a lot of writers are who don't ask and then get taken advantage of by someone.

    Permit me to address the myriad of items you brought up in your thread, in no particular order.

    1. It always continues to amaze us when there are spelling errors on our web site because we strive to make it as accurate as possible, but when we find them, or someone brings it to our attention, we make the necessary corrections. Despite spell check and several people looking the pages over, some things are going to slip through.

    2. I'm surprised you couldn't find anything about us on AW. We've done several interviews with them over the years but perhaps they are no longer active. We'll look into it.

    3. The 'free' area of our web site (for Associate members) was actually started this past year because in the past we only had the paid members area and people asked us for something else. We created the free area so people could get some general information and learn more about ASA, and if they so chose, they could join. We are constantly updating and tweaking this area as we go along and get more feedback from members and non-members.

    4. I would agree our web site is in need or upgrading. Some of those screens you have to go through are part of a first generation password area and we recently got a grant to upgrade our web site, which we are currently doing and look forward to having a new version available later this year.

    5. You wrote, "they have on the front/home page of the site the promotional/huckster language: "As seen on CNN, Fox, Larry King Live, & ABC Disney.com". Actually, this statement is all true (and then some). We were on CNN as part of a panel talking about racism in Hollywood. Fox covered us live when we presented a special award to John Walsh (America's Most Wanted and he created the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of whom we are a partner). Larry King did talk about us with Mary Tyler Moore on his show one night. And ABC Disney.com and more than a 1,000 other web sites around the world list us a resource for screenwriters.

    6. Our Board is quite reputable, unless you consider people like Ellen Sandler (Producer/Writer, Everybody Love Raymond) and Diane Cairns (former VP ICM and Universal Studios) not reputable.

    7. Our screenwriting conference is the longest running such event in the world. It is about training professional writers because the workshops focus on the art and craft of writing, as well as how to market and sell your script including 4 hours of pitching time with producers. And whereas some events pile people into ballrooms to maximize profit, we have always kept our event at a low attendance and we barely break even) so there is personal time with our faculty and staff. Our screenplay competition is another important part of our what we offer and if you read what we say about the competition, you can see we mean it.


    The ASA International Screenplay Competition, co-sponsored by Gotham Writers' Workshop, is an industry leading competition because it was designed and is maintained first and foremost with you the screenwriter in mind.
    We pride ourselves on offering a competition that is only one of eight to be awarded an A+ grade by Creative Screenwriting, a structured judging program, and a notification system to let every entrant know where they stand and how the competition is doing. We know you have a choice of screenplay competitions to enter and we want the ASA International Screenplay Competition to be your choice.
    Thank you for considering our competition. We look forward to reading your screenplay!
    Our prizes are geared towards:
    • significant financial reward - our winner receives $10,000 plus all finalists receive a cash award as well.
    • industry recognition - we promote the winners in a number of ways including an ad in the Hollywood Reporter; an international press release; direct mailings to more than 6,500 studios and production companies; and the presentation of awards at the ASA Screenwriting Hall of Fame Awards during the San Diego Film Festival / ASA International Screenwriters Conference
    • writer development - finalists receive a full script consultation or script critique from a top Hollywood consultant; the winner receives a script development trip to Hollywood; and we get the winning scripts into the hands of Hollywood decision makers from studios to production companies, and agents to managers. Every Quarterfinalist receives a professional script critique.
    • student support - for all full-time students entering our competition, we offer a discounted entry fee AND in addition to having your script considered in the regular competition, we will also have your script judged in a special side competition (at no extra cost) where your script competes against other student entries. The winning student entry receives $500 cash!
    8. Our scholarships are currently earmarked for the conference to help college students afford the event. If someone donates money to us to offer college scholarships towards college we would certainly offer that as well.

    9. I would disagree with your assessment of Moviebytes. It is the only web site dedicated solely to screenplay competitions and it offers a variety of services as well including who's buying what in Hollywood so you can tell which studios and prod co might be interested in your genre. They also have a section on rating competitions, which by the way is there because ASA insisted they add it as we were always getting complaints about other competitions and wanted Moviebytes to provide a forum for people to evaluate all the competitions out there. That isn't the kind of behavior you see from hucksters.

    10. I would also disagree with your assessment of ProtectRite. Their service is exactly the same as the WGA's in every form offering the same registration service as the WGA. The WGA has been around a lot longer and is more well known. Their script registration service is perfectly fine as well. We like the WGA, they just negotiated a better deal for writers in areas of new media.

    11. Here are some other facts you may be interested in...

    We currently have more than 40,000 members in 42 countries, the WGA has 8,500 members.

    We offer a number of low cost services such as our script critique service and script consultant discounts.

    We've worked with a number of high profile industry people like Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Big, Dave, Pleasantville), Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, An American President, A Few Good Men, Sports Night), Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout),[Redacted--JDM] , Syd Field, Linda Seger, Michael Hauge, Lew Hunter, Richard Walter and too many more to name.

    ASA is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization which means we not only had to justify to the IRS why we should exist, but each year we have to continue to demonstrate how we are fulfilling our mission. Believe me, that's no small task.

    Finally, I hope this has been helpful in clearing up your understanding about our organization. If you have any other questions don't hesitate to email me.

    Sincerely,

    John E. Johnson
    Executive Director
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 05-14-2009 at 09:42 AM.

  8. #8
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Both sites linked to ASA (goasa.com and asascreenwriters.com) are gone, and the 2008 Screenplay Competition w/Gotham Writers was the last.
    ICAO
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    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello Cao,

    Unfortunately, the organization no longer exists because Mr. Johnson, the executive director, passed away in November of 2008. The organization was disbanded shortly after his death. He left behind a wife and two very small children.

    Regards,

    Matt Hader

    PS - Here's a link to an AW article/interview with John. http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenw...hn_johnson.htm
    Last edited by mhader; 08-09-2010 at 08:09 AM. Reason: Link added

  10. #10
    Your thoughts are not real... mario_c's Avatar
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    I entered the ASA contest a few years back, which got me on the Gotham Writers list and subsequently led me to AW. So there's some use to those contests.
    As for moviebytes.com I was a paying member for awhile - one of the useful services it provides is the listing of recent sales including First Time Writers. And it costs a lot less than a tracking board (though something like trackingB has it's own perks for the Sold And Optioned Club). It also grades contests including user grading, and provides discounts for members.
    Finished my first novel. Buy it here.
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  11. #11
    Comic guy Bartholomew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhader View Post
    Hello Cao,

    Unfortunately, the organization no longer exists because Mr. Johnson, the executive director, passed away in November of 2008. The organization was disbanded shortly after his death. He left behind a wife and two very small children.

    Regards,

    Matt Hader

    PS - Here's a link to an AW article/interview with John. http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenw...hn_johnson.htm
    Very sorry to hear that.

  12. #12
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Rebooted early this year. Now at: http://www.americanscreenwriters.com/
    ICAO
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    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

    II 2016: 2017:

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