Scammers Prey on Authors!

You’ve written a good solid story…a novel that would make a great movie. But without representation….like that’s ever gonna happen!  
Then you get a call.  It goes something like this: 

‘Hi Trisha. My name is James Anderson, and I am calling you on behalf of Tristar Pictures in collaboration with our esteemed investor, HBO Max. We recently had the pleasure of reading your remarkable book “Song of the Yukon”, and we were captivated by its compelling content.

Tristar Pictures, renowned for its excellence in producing world class films, and HBO Max, a global streaming platform with millions of subscribers worldwide, share a strong interest in adapting extraordinary literary works like yours into cinematic masterpieces. After careful evaluation and internal discussions, we are thrilled to extend an official offer to acquire the film rights for your book.

Considering the immense potential of your book to resonate with audiences of all ages, HBO has proposed an initial offer of $300,000 to secure the exclusive film rights. This offer signifies our genuine admiration for your creative talent and is a testament to the immense value we see in bringing your book to the silver screen.

We envision a grand production, backed by Tristar Pictures extensive experience in film making and HBO’s vast global reach, ensuring that your story reaches audiences far and wide, leaving a lasting impact on cinema enthusiasts worldwide. The combined efforts of Tristar and HBO will provide your story with the attention, resources, and expertise it truly deserves.

Rest assured, we value your creative input and vision for the adaptation, and we will work diligently to ensure that the film stays true to the essence of your book. Your involvement in the project as a consultant or collaborator, if you wish, would be highly appreciated.

Should you choose to move forward with this exciting opportunity, we will be more than delighted to initiate the necessary legal procedures promptly. We are open to further negotiations if you have any additional requests or suggestions.

As we embark on this creative journey together, we assure you that your book will be in the hands of passionate and talented professionals who will treat your work with the utmost respect and dedication.

To move forward with the acquisition process, our team and HBO require the following materials from you:

Film Pitch Deck – is a visual presentation that provides an overview of a film project to potential investors, producers, distributors, or other stakeholders…

Marketing Evaluation – is a sales tool for our company to use; it helps our marketing team figure out which country your film is most likely to be watched in. In this way, we could take advantage of your film`s royalty flow…

Cinematic Trailer – is a short film review, it acts as a powerful tool to generate buzz, build excitement, and ensure that the project stands out in a competitive market…

These materials will be used as a reference for our company once we get to the film production phase and will help our investors at HBO visualize how much the actual worth of your story. Once all the necessary materials are met, we can proceed with finalizing your acquisition offer and schedule the signing of your contract to hand over your acquisition payment.’

And  finally he revealed the ‘price’. $2,000. payable to James which he will pay to create these materials. Uh-huh. 

These scammers are so brazen!  They fraudulently used the Tristar logo on the email and the HBO trademark on the draft of the committment contract.  

 It’s their job to create a contract with compensation for the rights to a film, or the book, (etc.,) and then they take a percentage of the income THEY have GENERATED for YOU!! 

But, when in doubt (you want so badly for it to be true this time. Yep! It’s not my first rodeo.) I googled it, (keyword: Tristar HBO scams) and low and behold there was a  list of scams that were almost word-for-word the same pitch they used on me. 

I have some experience with Scammers so I began asking questions.
“How much do you want me to invest?” I asked.
It took several minutes to get to the end of his pitch, but he finally described the marketing package that I would have to pay for.
There were also ‘tip-offs’ in his pitch:
1. A legitimate agent would never open with the acquistion dollar offer that a film production company, or publisher, etc., would be offering.  (That comes later.)
2. Phrases in the email were suspicious:
“We envision a grand production”
too many flowery adjectives were used:
“our genuine admiration”
3. When I asked him  to refer me to some companies that produce
such marketing tools, he couldn’t do it.  And the one name he gave me
was fake, including a website for them. 

To receive my weekly posts, sign up   On the home page. Enter your email address. Watch for more interviews with authors.  





How To Format A Screenplay

TS.  ‘ACTION drives a screenplay, that and plot.  DIALOGUE drives a stage play so it better be damn good. In my opinion, if your action is good in a screenplay, the dialogue can be mediocre and often is in blockbusters. If your dialogue is crisp and interesting and helps drive the story, you’ve done a better job than most in Hollywood.’ 

While you can buy books and software to do the job for you it’s always good to have a grasp of the general spacing standards. The top, bottom and right margins of a screenplay are 1″. The left margin is 1.5″. The extra half-inch of white space to the left of a script page allows for binding with brads, yet still imparts a feeling of vertical balance of the text on the page. The entire document should be single-spaced.

The very first item on the first page should be the words FADE IN:. Note: the first page is never numbered. Subsequent page numbers appear in the upper right hand corner, 0.5″ from the top of the page, flush right to the margin.

Screenplay Elements

Below is a list of items (with definitions) that make up the screenplay format, along with indenting information. Again, screenplay software will automatically format all these elements, but a screenwriter must have a working knowledge of the definitions to know when to use each one.

Scene Heading
Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A scene heading is a one-line description of the location and time of day of a scene, also known as a “slugline.” It should always be in CAPS.

Example: EXT. WRITERS STORE – DAY reveals that the action takes place outside The Writers Store during the daytime.

Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

When a new scene heading is not necessary, but some distinction needs to be made in the action, you can use a subheader. But be sure to use these sparingly, as a script full of subheaders is generally frowned upon. A good example is when there are a series of quick cuts between two locations, you would use the term INTERCUT and the scene locations.

Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

The narrative description of the events of a scene, written in the present tense. Also less commonly known as direction, visual exposition, blackstuff, description or scene direction.

Remember – only things that can be seen and heard should be included in the action.

Indent: Left: 2.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 4.0″

When a character is introduced, his name should be capitalized within the action. For example: The door opens and in walks LIAM, a thirty-something hipster with attitude to spare.

A character’s name is CAPPED and always listed above his lines of dialogue. Minor characters may be listed without names, for example “TAXI DRIVER” or “CUSTOMER.”

Indent: Left: 1.0″ Right: 1.5″ Width: 3.5″

Lines of speech for each character. Dialogue format is used anytime a character is heard speaking, even for off-screen and voice-overs. Normal upper and lower case is used.

Indent: Left: 1.5″ Right: 2.0″ Width: 2.5″

A parenthetical is direction for the character, that is either attitude or action-oriented. With roots in the playwriting genre, today, parentheticals are used very rarely, and only if absolutely necessary. Why? Two reasons. First, if you need to use a parenthetical to convey what’s going on with your dialogue, then it probably just needs a good re-write. Second, it’s the director’s job to instruct an actor on how to deliver a line, and everyone knows not to encroach on the director’s turf!

Placed after the character’s name, in parentheses

An abbreviated technical note placed after the character’s name to indicate how the voice will be heard onscreen, for example, if the character is speaking as a voice-over, it would appear as LIAM (V.O.).

Indent: Left: 4.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 2.0″

Transitions are film editing instructions, and generally only appear in a shooting script. Transition verbiage includes:

  • CUT TO:
  • FADE TO:

As a spec script writer, you should avoid using a transition unless there is no other way to indicate a story element. For example, you might need to use DISSOLVE TO: to indicate that a large amount of time has passed.

Indent: Left: 0.0″ Right: 0.0″ Width: 6.0″

A shot tells the reader the focal point within a scene has changed. Like a transition, there’s rarely a time when a spec screenwriter should insert shot directions. Once again, that’s the director’s job. 

Sample of what your page should look like:  [Source: The Writer’s Digest]




other related posts by this blogger:

Available now!

How To Write a Play

How To Format a Play
How To Format a Novel



MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

To Purchase




Who is that Actor? The Not-so-Famous, Obscure Actors..

‘I love that actor!  Wasn’t he on Boston Legal?  What’s his name?  Didn’t she used to have her own show? Can you name him/her?  (Answers below if you get stumped.)

Just last week he had a guest appearance in the wildly popular “Manhattan” (Manhattan Project was the code word for the development of the A-bomb)  In 1999, He appeared in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Bad Girls” as a morbidly obese demon named Balthazar. He wore a large padded suit and extensive make-up for the role, and the character’s repulsive, villainous nature contradicted many of his earlier roles.  Recently, He has become known for his role as Jerry “Hands” Espenson on the television series Boston Legal. For playing Espenson, he won an Emmy Award for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2006 and was nominated for the same award in 2007. He remained with the series through to its finale in 2008.  In 2009, He joined CSI: Miami as the new medical examiner, Dr. Tom Loman. He appeared throughout the show’s eighth, ninth and tenth seasons as a recurring character. 2013, also he appeared as guest star in Harry’s Law.  Answer: (nosnemelC, naitsirhC) Continue reading “Who is that Actor? The Not-so-Famous, Obscure Actors..”

That’s a Wrap! The Final Exit…Robin Williams

RobinWhat’s with you middle-aged men who give up?  Just when the door of freedom is opening.  Free to do what you want and ignore the rest, freedom from putting up with a–holes, freedom to NOT set the alarm clock.  Freedom to start on your bucket list.

You might say, ‘Trish, you’re being a little harsh.  You don’t know what he was going through.”  YEAH, I DO and I’m harsh because it’s such a damn waste of life and living.  And because my middle-aged man took his own life so I’m an expert on the devastation, guilt and  grief that suicide leaves behind!  I am more than a little pissed off at Robin for leaving us…his fans.  And I know exactly what his wife and family are going through.  The worst being that there are so many unanswered questions.  I was one of the lucky ones who got answers.  Did they make me feel any better,  NO.robin.2

Continue reading “That’s a Wrap! The Final Exit…Robin Williams”

Suicide by Heroin…A Eulogy

Philip_Seymour_Hoffman_2011[1]Philip Seymour Hoffman died last week by his own hand.  Shoving a needle into his arm, one last time and making our world a little more pale and less interesting.  Why do the brilliant feel the need to destroy themselves?  The heroin was just the ‘fix’ (aptly named) dulling the pain, banishing the demons…for a little while.   ‘An accidental overdose’ you say?  What was accidental about him sticking the bloody needle into his arm?  I ask.

And what does that say about the rest of us; living and struggling on, sometimes in quiet, brave desperation.  His actions were pure selfishness and I am royally pissed off at him!

And I earned the right  to be angry with him….being a survivor of suicide and the horror and  confusion that follows.  This man was an inspiration to all artists, actors, directors, writers, painters, dancers….he made us want to be better at our chosen craft …to aspire to his brilliance.   And now he’s gone.
Continue reading “Suicide by Heroin…A Eulogy”

What Inspires You? Michael Douglas as Liberace? No Way!

Michael Douglas, Liberace, movies, great talent            I’m a Michael Douglas fan and also loved his father, actor Kirk Douglas. Going back too far for you?   Liberace on our old black and white TV so many years ago.  So naturally I had to see how Mike Douglas would play Liberace.  Yep!  You heard me right !

MIchael Douglas, Liberace, great movies, great actors
The Great, the One and Only Liberace

…..testosterone laden, sexy, smoldering all-man Michael Douglas playing the incredibly talented, prissy, outrageously gay Liberace in the movie, “Behind the Candelabra”  with Matt Damon as his long time partner/lover, Scott.

I’m writing this pseudo-review because the movie inspired me TO WRITE.  It’s another way to sharpen your writing claws on a daily basis.   Write about things that move you, makes you happy (which this film did on so many levels) makes you sad, angry, passionate.  Keep writing!

ichael Douglas, Liberace, great talent
Michael Douglas as Liberace





But let’s go back, for a moment, to ‘matinée idol’ time…….when men were men and women were glad!     When Kirk Douglas was every young woman’s heart throb and Michael Douglas was not even a twinkle in Kirk’s eye.

Kurt Douglas, Spartacus, great actors, Michael DouglasMy God, he was sex on two legs.  He was a real film hero.  But he wasn’t alone…..Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Kirk, Randolph Scott…the list went on and on.

Kirk Douglas, great actors
Kirk Douglas as Spartacus

  His movies included:  In Harm’s Way, Two Weeks in Another Town, Lonely Are the Brave,  Spartacus,

Paths of Glory, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, kurt.westernLust for Life (Vincent Van Gogh), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Vikings, Man Without a Star, The Indian Fighter, Ulysses, just to name a few.

In those days it would have been the kiss of death to their career if a man  played the role of a ‘faggot or queer or pansy’ which is what gay men were called in those days.  Very offensive words these days.  Actors like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Cliff spent their careers and lives going to great lengths to hide their life style.  Liberace promoted the false rumor that he and Sonja Henie (famous ice skater/movie star)  had a long-standing love affaire to cover his gay life style.

So now let’s look at Michael Douglas’ work…. Wall Street,  Fatal Attraction, (one of my favorites)
MIchael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Basic InstinctBasic Instinct, The Jewel of the Nile, A Chorus Line,


great movies, great actors, MIchael Douglas

Romancing the Stone,  The China Syndrome, Coma, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Again, just picking a few from what  comprised his career.

And now after a stellar career as a leading man, Michael Douglas had the vision, los cajones, the guts, the talent to portray Liberace in this very fine film.

Growing up, wgreat entertainers, Liberace, great movies e watched Liberace every week on TV, at our house,  much to the disgust of my Dad. (a raging homophobe) and when I watched “Behind the Candelabra” I felt that the great entertainer and pianist, Liberace had returned!  Thank you, Michael!

DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!   “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and will feature an interview once a month . These authors have already responded and you can read their interviews by clicking on their name:: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Karen Robards, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Caroline Leavitt, Cathy Lamb, Heidi Jon Schmidt, Walter Mosley, Loretta Chase, Nora Roberts, Raymond Benson and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author with a bonus chat with Cathy Lamb, and September will feature Tasha Alexander. Jeffrey Deaver is October’s author and  slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. Loretta Chase will be featured later this year. Raymond Benson is my January author.


Receive my posts in an email.  Sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page,  enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!