Three Common Questions InkTip Writers Ask
I’ve fielded a number of questions over the past year or so, and think it’s time to address some of the most common ones that have come my way. None of these are complex enough to warrant their own article, so let’s start with these three:
Q: Why do you tell writers to put contest wins, accolades, and coverage notes at the top of their synopses and not in their resumes?
A: Actually, I don’t tell people not to put their accolades in their resume. What I do recommend is that they put a brief summarization of their accolades in a place where they’ll be seen by the right producers, by which I mean producers who are looking for stories.
Put yourself in the producers’ shoes for a minute and consider your actual needs: are you looking for a story that will impact audiences, or a pedigree that will influence investors? If you’re looking for a story, you know that each script you download will take a couple hours to read, which is why you’re going to check out the synopsis first to get an overview of the story beats, characters, and major set pieces. If you need a ‘name writer,’ on the other hand, you don’t have the luxury of looking for a story you like, and you’re probably not going to like many of the stories you come across anyway. You know, as you scan over name after name, that if they were name writers, you’d already know their name. You also know that, if you could afford a ‘name writer,’ you’d be too busy entertaining anxious agents to actually read anything. Which is why, if you’re looking through resumes for ‘name writers,’ you’re pretty much screwed. Because ‘name writers’ don’t write resumes.
So while accolades do indeed belong in resumes, a brief summary – no more than one or two sentences – belongs at the top of the synopsis. This is worth emphasizing: the whole point and purpose here is to affect the producers’ mindset as they look at an overview of your story. So it should be very brief, no more than a sentence or two, i.e. something like “Winner or runner up in x-number of contests, see resume for the list.” Or “This story received recommend coverage from so-and-so, see my website for details.” Or “From a produced writer, see my IMDb link for more.” You don’t want to put too much information before your story, just enough to let them know that their peers appreciated your work so they should too.
Q: Why don’t producers like to send pass messages when rejecting pitches?
A: I can think of a half dozen reasons off the top of my head – they don’t have time, they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or they’re afraid of being harassed are a few such reasons I’ve heard in the past – but let’s touch on the one that no one ever likes to own up to, which is hedging.
Let’s say they pass on your script, only to later learn that an A-list actor is interested in the project. The value of your script has just gone up exponentially, possibly more than they’ll be able to afford if you’re the type of writer who takes rejection personally. Not knowing you personally, they can’t predict how you will have reacted to a polite pass message. It’s much easier to pretend they never saw your pitch in the first place than it is to say “you know how I said no before, well hah hah, I was kidding, I’d really like to discuss the possibility of an option here…”
Bear in mind the sort of producer who looks for scripts with name talent is more or less the same sort who looks for scripts by name writers. I don’t ever hold against this against them, I just try to remind them as gently and as often as possible that InkTip was deliberately designed to make sending a pass message as easy as keeping one’s inbox organized. Every time a producer deletes a pitch, a pass message is automatically generated and sent from an InkTip email address so that writers can know their pitch has been seen – and so they can reply directly to InkTip if they have any questions. That way, producers can focus on finding the right script for their needs while writers can focus on improving their pitching.
Q: How do you vet producers?
A: The question we always ask is whether they have the wherewithal to option a feature script and either make it or get it into the right hands so that it can get made. That second point is critical, because very few films ever get produced by a single producer. And the ones that do don’t tend to further the careers of the writers and actors involved.
So we look at not just credits but also references from new registrants. Credits are pretty straightforward; we generally want to see that they’ve produced a feature-length film before, preferably within the last five years or so, although this is more a rule of thumb than a rule. And this rule of thumb can be broken depending on the number of short films they’ve produced and the strength of the references they’re able to provide with their registration.
If you’re a writer and if you have any questions about any producers who viewed your scripts on InkTip, email jerrol at inktip.com to inquire. Every question you send to that email address will get answered within a business day, and I guarantee you’ll get a better answer from us than from the producer, who will probably just forward your email to us.
And if you’re a producer, register! And of course, if you have any questions or need assistance, you can also email us at jerrol at inktip.com
Jared Wynn has interviewed thousands of producers, agents and managers about what they're looking for in a script or writer, and he knows a lot about how to successfully market a screenplay.