What's Next for InkTip: Q&A with Jerrol LeBaron
Q&A with InkTip’s Jerrol LeBaron
InkTip was founded in 2000 before anyone turned to the Internet to find scripts or writers. With over 250 films made from scripts and writers found through the site, InkTip remains the number one place to go online for your next project. Find out what’s to come from InkTip’s innovator, Jerrol LeBaron, in this exclusive interview.
Why do producers need InkTip?
Jerrol LeBaron: Producers and reps are bombarded with scripts from everybody and their brother. Often times they are reading parts of scripts or pitches that really have nothing to do with what they are looking for. With InkTip, you only read scripts that are in your wheelhouse because you narrowed down your criteria to exactly what you want.
How does InkTip work?
Jerrol LeBaron: For qualified producers, managers or reps, it couldn’t be simpler to find that ideal writer or script. They simply log in and select what they are looking for. First, they see the logline, and for the ones that interest them, they can click on the synopsis and script links and begin reading then and there!
What was your goal when you first started InkTip?
Jerrol LeBaron: Having recently written a poor script (not having had any training), I was trying to sell it. No one was able to tell me I needed to learn the craft. The reason why? I couldn’t get the script into anyone’s hands! What I saw was a gate. Outside the gate opening were producers, agents and managers looking for scripts and writers. Trying to squeeze through the gate opening were writers wanting to gain representation or sell their scripts, or even get hired. But getting the producers and reps to figure out which writers and scripts to let through the gate was maddening. Every now and then a few scripts or writers were able to squeeze through. It’s been tough on both sides. It’s not as easy as you’d think for a producer or rep to find the right script or writer that fits their needs. So, I thought to myself, what if I build a website, where writers could post their scripts and where producers and reps could log in and do searches for exactly what they were looking for?
Now what is your goal?
Jerrol LeBaron: Well, every year we count a couple of hundred more scripts sold/optioned, writers hired or writers gaining representation, along with about 30 more movies made from writers and scripts found through InkTip. My goal is not just 30 but 100 movies made every year. I’d love to be able to say that 2 movies are made every week from writers and scripts found through us.
What is next for InkTip?
Jerrol LeBaron: There are a few things we are working on, but I did want to comment on a few things we have already done. First, in case anyone doesn’t know, we are not a coverage service. We also don’t critique or write loglines and synopses for writers. The reason for that is that we want producers and reps to get a feel for the writer’s voice and not a feel for the “mentor’s,” so to speak.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t educate writers and others on how to write a logline. So, we developed what we call the “logline lab.” Through years and years of analyzing literally thousands of loglines, we discovered the basic elements or structure of a good logline from which a person can then build upon. What we found was fascinating. At the same time, creating a sound logline is simpler than most people expect it to be. This lab is a free service provided to any writer who is a member of InkTip, and there is no fee to become a member.
The next service we are unveiling is an additional system where writers can share their scripts. A comparison would be the way YouTube does it. As you know, when you see a video on YouTube that you like, you click the “share” button to get a link that you can copy/paste into an email that you send.
Well, we are about to launch something just like that, where a writer has a script on our site (let’s say, the writer is having dialogue with a producer and the producer asks for the script) and is able to send a link to a producer that can take them directly to that script listing on our site to download the script. So let’s say in one instance, a writer sends an email query to a producer. Normally, that producer will reply back to the writer and have to wait for the writer to send that script. Instead of forcing both parties to go back and forth to receive the script attachment, the producer can click the link they received in the first email and read and download the script without delay. This saves every one time.
Another area where writers often share their scripts is when sending scripts to their colleagues or writing partners. Writers want assurance when their scripts were not only received, but read. By checking out the history of your shared scripts, you can see notifications when someone has received and read your scripts. So sharing scripts through InkTip saves time and provides assurance.
When you capture someone’s attention with your pitch, the best opportunity for them to read or download your script is right then and there. The great thing about this new way of sharing scripts through InkTip is that you strike while the iron is hot. And, you don’t need to upload and send an attachment, which no one likes.
This is another free service we are offering to our writers to help them along with their careers. Oh, and one of the cool things about this besides being able to track how many people are reading your scripts is that you keep your own email addresses for the contacts you know. All you are doing when you use the shared script service is generating a safe link that you can use without ever having to disclose contact information for your important contacts. These simple things put just a little bit of extra protection there for both producers and writers.
Not too long ago, we set up a directory on our site where producers and writers alike can check out contests and festivals. One unique thing about this service is that if a contest is on our website, it means this contest actually does something for the writer. We directly ask each contest what they do for the finalists and winning writers. If the benefits aren’t enough, we don’t allow that contest to post on our website. So we like contests that can help the writers in tangible ways, especially promoting the winners to their producer and rep contacts. If a contest is selecting the winning scripts and boasting about them to their producer and rep contacts, they aren’t going to just let any script be a winner or finalist. To me, this is also an indication that the people at the contest reading the scripts are probably a cut above as well. This contest and festival service is free to members and non-members alike.
We are also launching an events portal. This is where writing groups can post their next meetings, film festivals can post their screenings, producer groups can post their workshops, the WGA, DGA, PGA, etc., can post any events they have going on, and so forth. There is always something going on in just about any part of the world that relates to filmmaking, and so these are events that one can attend to get to know other people in the industry, learn new things, stay connected, and get a little networking done. This is also a free service for members and non-members. Of course, we have just opened this portal, so maybe you won’t find much, but you can post your events now. And this will grow and grow and grow!
On the horizon is another exciting development regarding industry pros bookmarking their favorite scripts on InkTip. When an industry pro does this, the site will check to see if the script listing is getting close to the end of its listing period on InkTip. If so, we will send that industry pro a quick reminder that they should read or download the script before it’s no longer available.
One of the things we are also working on is alerting producers when a script has been posted on our site that matches the criteria they like.
What has changed in the industry over the past 15 years?
Jerrol LeBaron: Fifteen years ago, the idea that producers and reps should be able to find good scripts and writers on the Internet was something no one thought was possible. And in fact, probably no more than a hundred or so producers and reps were even open to it back then. Now, everyone uses the Internet to find scripts and writers. So since our inception, thousands and thousands of producers and reps have registered for access to InkTip to find the writers and scripts they want without the hassles of having to reach out to dozens or more people to ask if they even have something they are looking for. The Internet is now the norm for people looking for writers and scripts. There are a lot of other changes relating to the film market, distribution and such, but that is not my area of expertise.
InkTip cares about all produced films made through InkTip and continues to promote and help after a film has been made. Can you talk about how that works?
Jerrol LeBaron: Once a script or writer has been found, we want to do everything we can to:
1) Help the writer take advantage of this momentum
2) Help the producer with any kind of promotion for this project that we can to assist in the success of the project for the benefit of both the writer and producer.
3) Often times we’ll feature the film on our magazine cover. We’ll mention the progress of the project as it goes through its various phases all the way through production and screenings. We’ll post it on our website, in our newsletters, etc.
What’s the catch?
Jerrol LeBaron: Well, I guess the only catch is that a producer or rep has to qualify for access. Writers pay InkTip a fee to have their scripts listed on our site, and they trust that we perform due diligence. So for example, a person who has only PA credits and not working for an established company will not qualify.
What’s the difference between InkTip and other script services?
Jerrol LeBaron: You know, I have never been a proponent of explaining the differences between our services and others’. It just seems like in order to do that, one has to put down other services in order to make one look good. I will tell you that the only things we are interested in are results. We get a few hundred scripts sold, optioned, writers hired, writers gaining representation and so on, every single year. And most importantly we average somewhere around 30 feature-length movies made every year from writers and scripts that were found through InkTip.
We do this year in and year out. We have writers who make their living as full time writers, and it was in no small measure due to them using InkTip so that producers and reps could find them.
Though keeping our site and IMDb page updated can become time-consuming, most of our successes that we are directly responsible for are listed.
For whichever service or company you are considering, disregard the hype and the hot air. Look for actual results - find the list of the movies made, the scripts sold, the writers hired, etc., as a result of others using that company’s services. If no such list exists, well then…
What other benefits are there to using InkTip?
Jerrol LeBaron: As I have always said, it is fast and easy for producers to find exactly what they are looking for. There have been numerous occasions where we get a producer set up on InkTip, and literally 10 minutes to an hour later, that producer found the exact script he or she was looking for! It was my goal to make InkTip a place where everyone goes for scripts and writers, and I believe that is truer with each new day.
For more information about InkTip, please email us at Jerrol@InkTip.com
Chris Cookson has been with InkTip for over a decade heading up the writers department after managing the producers department. She has interviewed numerous producers, directors, and screenwriters for the InkTip magazine. You can read more of her work on her blog Novel2Screen where she reviews adaptations to the silver and small screen as well as interviews with writers, actors, and more. Follow her on Twitter at: ACCooksonWriter