In an effort to get Hollywood’s desperate screenwriters excited about the growing trend of pitching sweepstakes, where scribes battle against each other for elusive writing assignments, Hollywood producers and studio executives have begun using giant cardboard checks as an incentive. For decades the cardboard check has been a useful marketing tool in getting people enthusiastic about entering sweepstakes such as Publisher’s Clearing House, and Hollywood believes it should also work for them.
“Hopefully, when desperate screenwriters come into my office, they’ll be so distracted by the massive check sitting behind me, that they won’t think about their actual odds of getting the job,” Sony Pictures executive Matt Dunning told Hollywood & Swine. “Besides, after reading the forty or so treatments I’ll get screenwriters to do on spec, I’ll just steal the best ideas and then spend the money hiring Oscar-winner Chris Terrio.”
The Writer’s Guild of America immediately sent out an email blast to all of its members, warning them not to be seduced by the giant cardboard check, which producers and studio executives have begun giving out to writers in exchange for them writing free detailed outlines, treatments, and sometimes even having screenwriters act out their entire movie take with action figures.
“As tough as pitching sweepstakes are on screenwriters, they even tougher for producers,” said one producer. “At least they don’t have to keep a straight face when telling a writer that their take is most exciting one yet.”
Inspired by Publisher’s Clearing House, producers have also begun trying to encourage screenwriters to purchase magazine subscriptions off them, suggesting it will improve the writer’s odds of winning a pitching sweepstakes. The money earned by selling magazine subscriptions to desperate screenwriters, will help producers offset the tough economic conditions in Hollywood.