Log in to schmooze

Industryites find opportunity, info online

Some new players are reshaping the Industry shmooze scene for a wired world.

From well-coiffed execs to lowly production assistants, Hollywood’s young climbers are using a slew of new Web sites launched over the past three months to network with peers, seek jobs and discover talent.

Hungry for scripts, recently launched ScriptShark.com is using the ‘Net to identify unrepped scribes with promising talent.

For $100, aspiring writers can send in scripts for coverage by a professional reader. If it receives a “consider,” the script’s coverage is posted for industry members. If it garners a “recommend,” ScriptShark attempts to set up the writer with a manager or agent.

Edwin Kashiba, story editor at Scott Free Prods. (Tony and Ridley Scott’s production banner), co-founded the site in August.

Seeking ‘new talent’

“The purpose is to try to find new material, new talent,” Kashiba said. “There are quite a few projects that are worth consideration that aren’t being seen. We’re giving everybody the chance to break into the business.”

The site’s steering committee gets first look on scripts. Members include Bel-Air’s Brad Follmer; DreamWorks creative exec Mark Sourian; Mande-ville Films’ Todd Lieberman; Mark Morgan, production exec at Destination Films; and Greg Silverman, a producer at Artisan.

The site has yet to discover its first success story, “but it’s still early,” Kashiba said. More than 100 aspiring writers have submitted scripts so far.

“A couple ‘considers’ have come in,” Kashiba said. “We’re starting to see that there’s actually some good stuff out there. It’s basically a yearlong screenplay competition. Finding one project per year would be great.”

Online opportunities

Similarly, Warner Bros.-based Warren Zide, producer and co-founder of management firm Zide/Perry Entertainment, has launched InZide.com to attract new writers and offer resources to helm them pen and sell scripts.

Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope and lit agency Broder Kurland Webb & Uffner have both been accepting scripts for some time through their Web sites.

Roy Lee, head of production at fledgling management outfit Bender-Spink, launched FilmShark.com in May with Glen Gregory and Digital Boardwalk’s Jared Ravich to offer invited industryites a place to view script tracking boards, peruse job lists and utilize other development services.

Brad Krevoy and Netcaster iFilm Network are each holding talks to buy the site, which has lured nearly 900 Hollywood players from every major production company and studio and is growing by 50 members per week.

Fulfilling a need

“Something like this just wasn’t available,” Lee said. “Everyone needed it. It’s all about finding the right scripts as fast as you can. In this business, it’s all about saving time. People want to find out what’s hot and close the deal.”

A glance at the site’s 30 invitation-only tracking boards found members discussing the latest scripts to hit the market. Titles that generate more comments sell first.

Many agents and managers, who are barred from the tracking boards, hate the site, fearing that negative buzz on a board could kill a client’s sale.

But FilmShark has added what it calls Sharktrack, a service specifically for agents and managers that enables them to announce new spec material, correct false rumors and draw attention to writers and projects. The site’s creators plan to offer other services as well.

Netcaster iFilm.net hopes to buddy up with Hollywood, developing film-friendly tools with reps from Steven Reuther’s Bel-Air Entertainment.

The site, which has focused on broadcasting shorts, is readying to launch iFilmpro, a service that includes tracking boards, instant messaging, production schedules, e-mail and personal contact lists, among others. It will launch in October.

“An important part of our target audience is production communities around the world,” said iFilm CEO Rodger Raderman.

On the thesp side, casting directors have been using sites, including CastNet, founded by former U prexy Thom Mount, to discover new faces.

Tracking the film markets

Film Finders launched a service through ShowbizData.com at the Toronto Film Festival which allows buyers and sellers to find out what pics are available at major film markets.

Assistants trying to work their way up Hollywood’s corporate ladder have turned to IntheBiz.net to seek advice, make new contacts, network using its searchable database of assistants, scour its job database and join discussion groups.

Like most e-commerce Web sites, none of the new Hollywood shmooze sites are profitable, yet as they generate money from ads or sponsorships.

ScriptShark.com collects a $100 fee per script, but $55 goes to the script’s reader and the rest is funneled to legal fees and site upkeep. Generating profits isn’t the main objective. “FilmShark was never supposed to create profits,” Lee said.

Hollywood’s ‘Net efforts are only expected to increase, with entrepreneurs from Phoenix Pictures and New Regency expressing interest in launching their own efforts.

“Everybody has e-mail,” said Steve Cook, who created IntheBiz.net. “Everybody uses the Internet. It’s only logical that Hollywood will use the ‘Net to do business.”

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