Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What is Inktip and should you use it?

I hate the idea that succeeding as an artist can often be a "pay to play" endeavor, meaning that you have to fork over a fee to get in the game; but unfortunately, the reality is that often times you do have to pay money to get noticed (I'll post in the next few days my list of things I think are worth paying for and my list of scams.)

One website that I've tried in my pursuit of getting noticed as a screenwriter is InkTip. For a fee, the site allows writers to upload their scripts so that production companies, producers, or representatives can browse for scripts that fit their need. When listing, the writer uploads a treatment, logline, information about awards or the writer's resume, and script data such as genre and budget. One session lasts six months and per script the service costs $65. However, if you upload multiple scripts or sign up for an automatic renewal, you will receive a discount.

I was referred to the site years ago by an indie producer I knew. He made a movie for less than $20,000, and I asked him how he found his writer. He told me he looked for scripts through Inktip, and that as a producer, he didn't have to pay a fee.  Learning that the writer pays a fee but not the company made me think that maybe this site would provide some value to me as a writer. There probably wouldn't be a ton of scripts because of the fee, but there were probably a ton of companies, producers, and representatives because the site was free to them and easy to use.

I uploaded the manuscript for my novel Hell's Game; the features scripts for my family drama The Physicist, my USC thesis, Sexual Panda and the Reluctant Hipster, and my thriller Madness; and all the loglines and treatments that the website required. When I saw the price tag, I admit that my eyes bugged out, but I was tired of querying nearly sixty agents or managers with little to no response so I reasoned that uploading to Inktip was like paying a convenience fee.

As each day passed, I was surprised to see that someone was checking out at least one of my listings. Inktip has a fascinatingly addictive system which shows you who looked at your listing and what they looked at. I saw that Hell's Game and Madness were often checked out, but no one ever looked at The Physicist or Sexual Panda and the Reluctant Hipster. Seeing that lack of response was humbling for me. "Okay," I thought. "I really do have to accept that if my script doesn't have a super catchy logline then no one is going to give a shit."

In the course of six months, Hell's Game and Madness moved beyond the logline and treatment phase, and a few companies actually downloaded the entire script. When a company reaches the download phase, Inktip then provides you, the writer, with the company's contact information. They also provide a caveat which paraphrased is "Don't stalk these people."Although I finally had enough of the company's information to contact them, I didn't, but I did Google the names to see who was reading my work. I was actually pretty impressed with those names' credentials, but I also figured that if they weren't contacting me after reading my work, then they were probably not interested.

After my listings expired, I chose not to renew because of the cost, but I was satisfied with the service and if I had new material I would upload again. In my mind, it didn't make sense to keep paying money to advertise something that no one really seemed to want. However, Inktip does have a great free weekly newsletter, which I recommend every screenwriter sign up for. The newsletter obviously is trying to get you to pay for a listing, but it also has a few script requests such as the one below taken from the newsletter blasted out June 26, 2014:
1) Infra-Red Films - Seeking Family-Friendly Animal Scripts
We are looking for completed, feature-length family-friendly comedy or drama scripts with stories involving an animal, especially if it's a dog or a horse. Submissions need be for material that is suitable for a broad television audience.

Budget will not exceed $5million. Only Non-WGA writers should submit.

Our credits include "Border Run," which was shot from a script we discovered through InkTip.

To submit to this lead, please go to:
http://www.inktippro.com/leads/

Enter your email address.

Copy/Paste this code: j2e7rsynkm
After giving a few free leads, the newsletter then lists additional script requests where the submission information is hidden unless you pay a fee for a service they call the preferred newsletter. Additionally, Inktip also offers for a fee a listing in a magazine that they send out to companies. I didn't pay for either service so I can't attest to their value.

If anyone has either paid for the magazine or the preferred newsletter, let me know in the comments below or through social media: www.twitter.com/teresalo_tweets or www.facebook.com/teresalowriter Also if anyone has any other questions about my experience or wants to let me know about theirs, you can find me the same way.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Asian-Americans should not "get over" the yellowface used in The Mikado

I've been following the commentary of  Angry Asian Man, Reappropriate, and 18 Million Rising about the alleged yellowface of the Seattle's Gilbert and Sullivan Society's theater production of "The Mikado." I use the word "alleged" because although one with eyes can clearly see the non-Asian characters are dressed in cringe-worthy Asian costumes, those in charge of the production and many Mikado fans fail to understand that any non-Asian person dressed as Asian caricatures are by definition doing "yellowface."
A photo from Seattle's Gilbert and Sullivan Society's The Mikado. (Photo courtesy of Angry Asian Man)
On July 13, 2014, Sharon Pian Chan of The Seattle Times first drew attention to the yellowface matter in an op-ed piece. She wrote, "All 40 Japanese characters are being played by white actors, including two Latinos. KIRO radio host Dave Ross (the producer of the play) is in the cast. It’s yellowface, in your face."

And based solely on this picture, I have to agree with Chan. I mean, come on. Anyone who defends the play because they have a soft heart for the history of it or they love the songs or they believe in freedom of theater still has to see how these costumes and make up are not respectful to Japanese people. This disrespect is where the offense is seeded, and Chan choosing to share her feelings should have opened up a discourse about race. Instead, The Mikado's supporters chose to attack Chan personally and any "complainers" who didn't see the "fun" of the show.

For instance, Daisybtoes wrote in the comment sections of Chan's piece:
"I am so sick and tired of PC advocates attacking this adorable classic of British comedy.  They need to get a life and remember that this story first appeared in 1885, when Japan may as well have been on Mars.  Gilbert & Sullivan didn't even try, they just gave us a charming story with memorable characters.  I'll bet these same complainers forget that in 1941, there was an attempt to ban this play for other reasons entirely.  Most people love The Mikado, and the complainers can just get over it."


Dave Ross, the producer of the production, has conducted interviews to defend his work, and he genuinely seemed surprised that anyone would be offended by the play. After all "The Mikado" is in fact a theater classic, and it has been performed around the world since 1885. I feel sympathy towards him for being the first person to receive negative heat for something that people have been performing for decades, but at the same time, the moment someone shares their feelings of hurt should not negate the fact that those feelings were always there.
A vintage poster of The Mikado (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
 The Mikado was written in a time where people didn't know much about Japan, and now it's "Oriental" characteristics are just dated. A smart artistic choice would have been to change the setting or modernize the setting, but The Mikado defenders wish to preserve the integrity of the original. This is a mistake. After all, for instance, if someone were to make a remake of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" should they do it with another Mr. Yunioshia (Mickey Rooney) just to preserve the film's integrity? "Birth of a Nation" is ranked as one of the best films of all time and is heralded for it's pioneering film techniques. However, it is also a pro-KKK film. Should it be recreated? Should the Bugs Bunny cartoons that promote slavery still be allowed on television for our children to watch?
This was in Breakfast at Tiffany's, a beloved movie classic (Wikipedia)
The point is that art is reflective of our times, and The Mikado is no longer modern.
Yellowface has no place in theater, and no person, nor a community, should ever be silenced for expressing how they feel. 

Pro-life nurse sues to work at family planning clinic

Sara Hellwege is pro-life. Fair enough.

But Sarah Hellwege is not like any other pro-lifer. Hellwege is a nurse who refuses to prescribe birth control but still applied for a job at family planning clinic in Tampa, Florida.  After Tampa Family Health Centers interviewd Hellwege and learned she would not prescribe birth control because she believed it caused abortions, the clinic did not offer her a position because she would not do the tasks that the job required her to do.

So of course, she sued them.

According to Patheos.com, Hellwege's attorney, Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. released the following statement, "Willingness to commit an abortion cannot be a litmus test for employment."

Um, it can be if you're applying to work at an abortion clinic, right?

So not only does she want to work for a company whose purpose is against her beliefs, but she feels that she has a right to a job with functions that she morally refuses to do. Huh?

The whole thing is so confusing that you'll get a headache is you try to find the logic in it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Michelle Phan fights back!

Welp, there's new developments in the Michelle Phan/Ultra Records case. According to TMZ, Phan's lawyer stated she did have the rights to use Ultra Records music in her Youtube videos, and Kaskade has taken to Twitter to defend Phan's honor.

So who's going to win this war?

If Phan really did get the rights, I wonder why Ultra would file a case in the first place. There is too much to this story that doesn't make any damn sense.

Lesson learned people, pray that you never become rich and famous. 

Michelle Phan (courtesy of Huffington Post)

I secretly want Paula Patton to take back Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke has become the ultimate cautionary tale of how one who soared can so quickly fall. A former geeky hippie and son of a famous actor, Thicke changed himself over the years to gain commercial success. This evolution seemed to signal a willingness to do anything to achieve fame and fortune. When his music career finally blew up in 2013, the nearly middle-aged Thicke sacrificed his dignity to appear young and hip, and he succumbed to the "Hollywood" lifestyle by partying in trendy clubs and cheating on his wife with young fame seekers. This behavior resulted in his wife and mother of his child, Paula Patton, leaving him; earned him the reputation of a "creep" from the public; and caused him to become 2014's biggest laughingstock when it came to album sales.
Robin Thicke cheated on his wife with some model in Paris in 2013. (Photo courtesy of MTV)
I have to admit that I was disgusted by Thicke's juvenile behavior over the year, and I felt satisfaction when his latest album "Paula," a plea to win back his separated wife, tanked. When artists like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus act wild, it's excusable because they are 20 or 21, and everyone knows that at that age, rebellion is in the blood. However, Thicke is in his late thirties, married, and is a dad. Watching him party and acting like a fool was just gross, and although his personal life is his business, I don't know many people who want to support a cheater and deadbeat dad, especially one who didn't have the decency to not do his cheating in public. Even the cast of Jersey Shore shed their partying ways to be loving parents. Think about that, Robin.

Yet, although he disgusted me, there is a part of me that wants to dig deeper and figure out what the fuck went wrong. Maybe we should start at the beginning.

ROBIN THICKE OR THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS "THICKE"
In Thicke's early years, he was known as "Thicke," and he had long hair and kind of looked like a hippie. He released an album called "A Beautiful World," which had moderate success, but he was still nowhere near being a household name.
#TBT. Robin Thicke wasn't always a Hollywood Douchebag. (Courtesy of Twicsy)
In the mid-2000s, Thicke changed his appearance and musical styling, and in 2007, he gained his first major commercial success with his aptly named album, "Evolution of Robin Thicke." This album featured the hit "Lost Without You." The video featured him and his wife Patton, and the song was named People Magazine's sexiest song of 2007. People fell in love with his sultry eyes and the fact that he was so in love with Patton, whom he had known since he was 14.

In 2007, Thicke gave up the hippie look to become chic and sexy. (Courtesy of Youtube)
The success of "Evolution of Robin Thicke" helped Thicke sustain a successful but modest music career which consisted of him touring with Jennifer Hudson, performing songs on television, and charting on the Billboard 200. Although he wasn't a superstar like Justin Timberlake, it really seemed as if he was living the dream. He was making a living as a musician, and he had a loving family.

THICKE'S CAREER EXPLODES IN 2013
Life changed for Thicke when he teamed up with Pharrell Williams and T.I. and released "Blurred Lines" in 2013. The song catapulted the former geek into superstar status. "Blurred Lines" was everywhere, and as of today, the sexy video has racked up over 328 million views. This video featured random nude models in stupid situations, and the models seemed to be nothing but objects that the middle-aged Thicke could play with.This video was vastly different in sentiment to "Lost Without U." While "Lost Without You" seemed to be an ode to loving Patton, "Blurred Lines" seemed to be a big "fuck you" to the institution of marriage.

Worse, the song featured lines such as "I know you want it," which was accused of promoting misogyny and rape culture. Perhaps Thicke was unaware of the new douche image he was creating or he was just too excited about his newfound fame to care. Unfortunately for him, he didn't realize that fame is a double edged sword. Millions of people can love you, but millions of people can also hate you too.
Still from "Blurred Lines" that accurately chronicled the beginning of Thicke's douche makeover (courtesy of SuperZoo)
After the video release, the 37-year-old didn't make things any better when he performed "Blurred Lines" with 21-year-old Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMA Awards. Cyrus, in a teeny peach bikini, and Thicke, dressed as Beetlejuice, horrified the nation with their duet that included her twerking on his genitals. Rumors began to emerge that Patton was livid by the performance, and the public began to turn on him more. While Cyrus received most of the initial heat, people later began to question the judgment of Thicke who was nearly double her age, who was a father and husband, and who just should have known better.
Thick and Miley Cyrus at the 2013 VMA (Courtesy of Phoenix Times)
However, a video and a live performance may have irked some people, but those items were performances and audiences can forgive bad choices in art. Unfortunately for Thicke, people are not forgiving when they believe those choices are linked to being a bad human being. When photos of Thicke cheating surfaced, the perception that he was a gross, creepy Hollywood douche were seemingly confirmed, and his goodwill was obliterated.
Thicke at the 2013 VMA after party being a great husband and loving mirrors. (Courtesy of Huffington Post)
THICKE LOSES EVERYTHING
In February of 2014, Thicke and Patton announced in a joint statement in People Magazine that they were divorcing. This surprised no one, except maybe Thicke who decided to self-fund and produce a new album devoted to winning Patton back. To promote the album, "Paula," Thicke did an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Vh1's Twitter, and the Twitterverse fought back, asking him questions about his misogyny and his "creepy" behavior towards Patton.

Even after the AMA, the delusional Thicke seemed to remain hopeful that he still had fans and could possibly get back his wife, but when his 2014 album dropped the first week of July, he was met with ridiculously low record sales. According to NY Daily News, in the US, "Paula" sold less than 25,000 copies. In comparison, “Blurred Lines,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart, selling 177,000 copies in its first week.

Through social media and lack of sales, the public has sent a clear message to Thicke and other artists that douchebag behavior won't be tolerated. After all, the majority of people value caring about and providing for their loved ones and doing things that are positive for the world. Reaching fame through negative actions may garner infamy, but ask the Octomoms, Farrah Abrahams, or Chris Browns of the world...infamy doesn't sustain a career or bring any true personal happiness.

In the end, I'm sure Thicke has seen the error of his ways, and I hate to admit this but I actually secretly hope that Paula does take him back. Maybe I am  delusional here, but from watching his story play out, he appears to me to be a desperate person who wanted his dream of fame and success to happen so badly that he lost sight of what was important, the people in his life. After succumbing to temptation and realizing the fruit was rancid, something tells me that he's not going to act like a fool again.

But will the understandably upset Patton be able to forgive? That's her decision. Will audiences return? Only if Thicke is able to go back to being the nice guy he once was, and as Jon Gosselin can tell you, that's really not so easy.