Mar 17, 2013

Is TV Writers Vault A Scam? | Legitimate Facts

The Internet is an easy place for any frustrated client or competitor to bash, and even slander a legitimate company. Being at the epicenter of TV development within the industry, and providing the general public with a direct link to Producers does generate a healthy amount of debate and scrutiny. But within that sits a handful of anonymous posters bent on publishing libelous statements about the TV Writers Vault being a "Scam", "Not Legitimate", a "Fraud" or other fun words.

New Writers are faced with the hard reality that an overwhelming number of Production Companies do not take unsolicited pitches. Agents are perhaps even more difficult to land because they're only interested in managing careers or representing a project that has some specific market value (Person, Brand, or Property).  So what's a new writer to do? They come to the TV Writers Vault where we provide an online marketplace that is used by top Producers and Network Executives scouting new concepts for TV from anyone with an original idea. The companies not only actively search the database reviewing and requesting contact for projects they're interested in, but they're each in agreement of our Non-Disclosure Terms of Service. All activities by Producers are tracked and recorded in the database, providing the Writer "proof of review" for their project. This is something you don't get in the traditional world of pitching.

The TV industry comes to the TV Writers Vault because its an efficient and direct sourcing tool for discovering new ideas for TV shows that they desperately need from Creators they would have no other avenue of meeting. Paul Gilbert, Sr. VP of International Formats for CBS Studios International said in an interview, "Your service [tv writers vault] is a very valuable asset for anyone involved in programming and production. Keep up the good work, Scott!". Producers at every level understand the necessity to reach beyond the rolodex in today's TV development world, because the competition to find new ideas and formats for programming is too challenging. In a sense, the playing field has been leveled.

The commitment by Producers to scout new TV show ideas at the TV Writers Vault has paid dividends to new Writers pitching projects at the site. In just the past few years we've connected hundreds of new Writers and Creators with Producers, resulting in dozens of deals made. This past year also saw two original "ideas" from two of our members get produced and broadcast globally. "Saw Dogs" aired on OLN and Velocity, before being picked up for primetime on Discovery Channel. "Deals From The Darkside" aired on A&E Australia, UKTV, and SyFy Channel in both the U.S. and UK. We also have another project in development at Lifetime, and a pilot order at A&E. You can read stories from others finding success through the TV Writers Vault here.

Writers who found success weren't lucky, and weren't special. But they became lucky, and became special because they overcame the odds by believing in their concepts and working hard to constantly create new concepts so that one may eventually connect with the right Producer at the right time. It only takes one right concept, but often its a long road to get there. Frustration and disappointment is like breathing air to the experienced Writer. But not all can handle the hard road. Some won't accept rejection, and feel there shouldn't be a cost for the opportunity and service we provide. Somehow they feel our service should be provided for free. They think that its ok to pay for using the service in the first hand, but when they don't sell their project, its suddenly a "rip off" or "scam". Recently a former client posted his rant in multiple forums, claiming we ripped him off of his annual membership fee after using our service almost daily, and receiving reviews of his project by Producers who ultimately didn't buy it. A few others who didn't cancel their monthly subscription (even when given instructions and a direct link to PayPal to cancel anytime), have done the same. We've refunded several, even when we didn't have to. But in the case of the former client mentioned- he was more satisfied in publishing libelous statements and personal insults against us. And when his chargeback came through, we simply handed over all of the account records from out database to his bank. His own bank denied his claim and settled it in our favor. And with that, he of course continued posting his rants in the forums online.

So lets look at the value of the TV Writers Vault to those working to sell a project. To the benefit of Writers who sell their shows through the TV Writers Vault, we take no financial participation in any deal. The deal is 100% the Writer's. We charge a nominal fee to post projects in our marketplace to support the ordinary business costs involved in managing, marketing, and developing our service. When you look at the costs that any Writer faces with networking, mailing, calling, travel, social events, and other practical and impractical methods to connect with a Producer with hope of getting to pitch their idea... We're a pretty darn good value. We save time and money.

One added value that I enjoy freely providing members when they're being contacted by Producers and negotiating a deal on their project, is my own personal advice and guidance. If you've never spoken to a Producer, and never negotiated a contract for a TV show, it can be a bit nerve wracking. I've helped Writers understand what to expect, how to handle specific circumstances or deal points, and often how to get a better deal. An Attorney is always recommended for negotiating and closing any deal, but its a tremendous help for a Writer when they know how to lay the groundwork for a good deal before handing the contract over to an Attorney for fine-tuning. For a new Writer to be able to let a Producer know "they know", its a glass of cold water in the face of the Producer (or their business affairs dept.), and helps them get down to real business more quickly. Its good for all involved.

There are countless web forums for writing, with a spectrum of negative and positive views on the TV industry, and even more disdain toward TV's ugly step-child "Reality TV", which is the bulk of our business, and is reflective of programming today. There are also those who don't believe that Producers actually scout projects from anyone online.  There are those who think Network Executives would never order a series from an "idea" that was posted in a database by a guy from across the country. But they did, and they do.

The first project ever picked up from the TV Writers Vault was done so by none other than the Senior Vice President of Alternative Programming for Fox TV Studios (At the time, David Martin). It was an idea submitted to the site by a guy in Chicago. So when a Senior Network Executive turns to the Internet and happens to find the TV Writers Vault, uses it,  and makes a deal with a no-name guy from outside the industry, it tells us that the old notions of Hollywood being a closed door with restricted protocol for discovering projects just isn't so anymore. We've moved into a different time, and we're all adjusting to the new technology that causes us to redefine our own methods of doing business. We're proud to have cut the path to connect the outside world with the buyers inside the TV Industry, and we're fine taking the lumps that go with it.

It would be great if everyone could sell a show, and everyone could land deals. But that's not "reality". This industry is the most competitive in the world. Finding success takes talent, time, and tenacity. We're fortunate to see what the TV Writers Vault is capable of delivering for the person who dreams of becoming a TV Producer and breaking into the business. I often think back to my days running Development for Merv Griffin Entertainment, when we had sold an "idea" to Disney's Buena Vista TV on our first pitch. Two chief executives for Disney came to our offices for one of the early project meetings, and when leaving, we walked down the long hallway connecting the Griffin Group offices to the public area of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. As we did, one of the Network Execs said, "So how did you guys come up with this idea?". To which my Producer responded, "We bought it from a guy in Florida who called up and pitched the idea to Scott". The Network Executives response? Without missing a beat, she said- "I love when that happens".

The TV Writers Vault a scam? Nope. Just a new link in the new entertainment world that was destined to be.


1 comment:

  1. I truly enjoyed reading this, Mr Manville.

    I have researched the "how to's" to death and I keep coming back to believing what you say and write. I have read negative things about you, but I don't buy it. Everything you have expressed, in your writings and interviews, appears to be trustworthy.

    The entertainment industry is a mighty competitive one, (filled with amazingly talented and creative people), it only makes sense connecting with someone like you and your company. Especially if the artist is located in Small Town, USA.

    Plus, I may be partial now, but I personally wrote to you and you responded the NEXT day! Who in your position does that? I was very impressed with you taking the time. . .and even more surprised that you left it open to more communication. Now it becomes astounding!

    I will finish by saying, I spent 20 years in the entertainment industry and I was honest, sincere and truly loved what I did. There are many of us out there.

    I am now free to pursue my dream again and that is why I'm trying to open that door once more.

    Now I have to go figure out what I am going to say in my next email to you. I never expected an answer. lol

    Thank you, Debra Barrington


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