Hi, SEers John with you again. Here we are in Mid-December with only ten more days until Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I have not finished my shopping yet, so I better get cracking.
So, as you can see by the headline, I’m going to talk about one of the latest scams we all need to avoid.
It all started with an e-mail. It seemed to be an innocent inquiry regarding my interest in joining a team of folks who have a desire to make movies out of books. Before we start, I have to add that a club I belong to advised us that they had a conversation with an agent looking for books to make into a film. So, I had it in the back of my mind that this could be a result of that contact since I did express interest at the time.
The e-mail was from a person working for a recognized studio. Of course, I was skeptical, so I searched on the agent’s name and got a hit on IMDb (The entertainment database) and found he was currently a producer or co-producer of five movies in pre-production. He also had an article written about him in what looked like a real entertainment magazine.
I placed a call to one of two numbers listed in the e-mail. The first number, a toll call, went to an automated voice mail. The second was a toll-free call, and the guy picked up on the first ring. I identified myself, and he seemed to know who I was. This made me feel okay since he would have never made the connection if he had sent a mass mailing.
After a few minutes of talking, two things started to become apparent. The first was this guy not very articulate. At least not the kind of command of the language that one would think needed to do high-level Hollywood negotiating. It sounded like his dentures were slipping. The second item was the level of conversation in the background. Again, there was a boiler room noise level, with other discussions heard in the background.
These two items immediately put me on alert, even though the discussion was about things needed to turn My GRL into a movie. We talked at length about such requirements as:
A resume, the manuscript, an author video, a literary endorsement, social media presence, pitch deck.
The guy finally said if I would supply all the items we discussed, he would work on the pitch deck. Once that was complete, he would take the project to his production people to pitch a possible movie.
This is all pretty exciting stuff, but I still had my antennae up. He asked if I had any questions, and I said I did not. He then said, “Well, get me all the stuff we need and a payment of $1500.00, and we’ll be on our way.”
I said something like, no problem with the money, just take it out of my option advance.
He said the money was an upfront payment.
I said goodbye.
What is the learning here?
1 Agents don’t call you
2 Agents don’t collect fees for doing their job.
3 Sophisticated scams have big setups. This one had the best. A big-name entertainment house, IMDb listing, A review in what appeared to be a legitimate magazine. Since then, I found the magazine is no longer available. The toll number listed in the e-mail belongs to an agent, just not the guy talking to me. The toll-free number is no longer the same people. The media company never heard of the guy I talked to either.
All this says to be careful and remember you should never pay for any kind of representation.
How about you? Have you been approached by someone wanting to make a movie out of your book? Tell us what happened in the comments section.