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BurOak
08-15-2009, 01:59 PM
Has anyone had any dealings with CEM (based in Marina Del Rey) or Matthew King-Ringo. They responded favorably to a query I sent out within a matter of hours, and Matthew even called me on the phone to talk.

But some of the things that were said during the conversation raised some serious red flags. Does anyone here know if these guys are legit or simply scammers?

SoCalScribe
08-16-2009, 11:43 AM
I've never had any personal dealings with them... but what kind of things did they say that raised red flags? Maybe we can at least help by telling you if what they're saying sounds legit or shady. :)

BurOak
08-17-2009, 02:04 PM
I've never had any personal dealings with them... but what kind of things did they say that raised red flags? Maybe we can at least help by telling you if what they're saying sounds legit or shady. :)

They said that they required a budget prepared by a line producer (at my expense) in order to evaluate a script or even a treatment. If I didn't have a line producer handy, they had one they could recommend who charges $4000 per script (of which "they'd pay half [wink, wink]"). If I did have one handy, and they didn't think the budget seemed"professional enough" they'd reject the project in toto.

Sounds like fee-based scammers to me.

iwritetoo
08-17-2009, 02:34 PM
They said that they required a budget prepared by a line producer (at my expense) in order to evaluate a script or even a treatment. If I didn't have a line producer handy, they had one they could recommend who charges $4000 per script (of which "they'd pay half [wink, wink]"). If I did have one handy, and they didn't think the budget seemed"professional enough" they'd reject the project in toto.

Sounds like fee-based scammers to me.

Whoa! Yeah, man...sounds like a scam! I would forget about them and move on with quering "real" producers.

And by the way, I'm from Chicago too. I'm now out in SoCal. But the Chi will always be my home.

SoCalScribe
08-17-2009, 02:55 PM
They said that they required a budget prepared by a line producer (at my expense) in order to evaluate a script or even a treatment. If I didn't have a line producer handy, they had one they could recommend who charges $4000 per script (of which "they'd pay half [wink, wink]"). If I did have one handy, and they didn't think the budget seemed"professional enough" they'd reject the project in toto.

Sounds like fee-based scammers to me.

I can't remember the name of the other thread, but this very situation was discussed at length just about a month ago or so. My opinion was, and still is, that while a budget can help make a more appealing package to investors... it is not the writer's responsibility to generate one, either as their own work product or the financial backing for someone else's. I would be more inclined to believe that they're legit if the budget were an optional component... but since the budget is required in order for them to even consider reading a screenplay... and it seems that they've positioned themselves so that you basically have to use their guy or risk outright rejection... to me those are the makings of a scam. Or at least a very shady place to do business.

BurOak
08-17-2009, 03:10 PM
I can't remember the name of the other thread, but this very situation was discussed at length just about a month ago or so. My opinion was, and still is, that while a budget can help make a more appealing package to investors... it is not the writer's responsibility to generate one, either as their own work product or the financial backing for someone else's. I would be more inclined to believe that they're legit if the budget were an optional component... but since the budget is required in order for them to even consider reading a screenplay... and it seems that they've positioned themselves so that you basically have to use their guy or risk outright rejection... to me those are the makings of a scam. Or at least a very shady place to do business.

Thanks! That's what I was thinking, too. Especially after they claimed to be able to bypass development departments and go straight to top execs...especially since the company itself seems to have no credits.

BurOak
08-17-2009, 03:17 PM
Whoa! Yeah, man...sounds like a scam! I would forget about them and move on with quering "real" producers.

And by the way, I'm from Chicago too. I'm now out in SoCal. But the Chi will always be my home.

Actually, I can hardly wait to leave. This city has become so corrupt with taxes and tickets and fees and fines that it's bleeding me dry.

That and my Powerbook G4 was taken on a mugging on July 5.

strawberrygirl
07-14-2010, 12:13 AM
Totally sounds like a scam

MargoChanning
07-15-2010, 04:00 PM
I seem to remember having dealings with this guy. You're right to be wary.

BurOak
07-18-2010, 03:18 PM
I seem to remember having dealings with this guy. You're right to be wary.

Thanks. What was your experience with him?

gilteed
05-25-2011, 01:25 AM
Has anyone had any dealings with CEM (based in Marina Del Rey) or Matthew King-Ringo. They responded favorably to a query I sent out within a matter of hours, and Matthew even called me on the phone to talk.

But some of the things that were said during the conversation raised some serious red flags. Does anyone here know if these guys are legit or simply scammers?

I was referred to Creative Entertainment & Media/ CEM by a producer friend of mine and for me they delivered what they said they would. As for this posting and others, all dated 1 or 2 years ago, they all objected to paying for services they believed should be given to them. I’m sure now they see how wrong they were. Given that networks and studios no longer take unsolicited scripts, how does an independent without resources, credits or the ability to prepare a business plan supposed to get their projects produced. So if you are not represented by an agency or attached to an accredited production company… the odds are no one will see your project but friends and family.

FYI; I read this other article on line about CEM; be sure to check out the comment by Mike Amber an entertainment attorney it’s about 10 comments down from the top.

http://www.moviebytes.com/messageboard.cfm?action=DisplayMessages&topic=6049&ShowAll=True

gilteed
05-25-2011, 02:03 AM
Has anyone had any dealings with CEM (based in Marina Del Rey) or Matthew King-Ringo. They responded favorably to a query I sent out within a matter of hours, and Matthew even called me on the phone to talk.

But some of the things that were said during the conversation raised some serious red flags. Does anyone here know if these guys are legit or simply scammers?

READ: I found this on that same site about 10 names down...

Author: Mike Amber Posted: 12/01/10 03:26 PM
I find it amazing how folks post these questions which open the door for uneducated responses that can damage a legitimate firm's reputation.

Having said that, let me shed some light (I'm an attorney in the entertainment industry):

That the company told you their policies BEFORE reading your script is standard; they want you to know that -- regardless of how good your script might be -- they have policies that, if you don't agree with, there's no reason to proceed.

The circumvention clause is also standard. As someone correctly pointed out, it is to protect the company from you "circumventing" them at any stage of the production process.

Yes, a lot of these companies will buy up scripts that might otherwise compete with a script they have already SOLD. You're not dealing with that here.

At some point, this co. read a pitch / logline about your script, and saw a potential customer. If you read their site, they have TWO divisions. One division does something entirely different than the other division. The section run by S. Flanagan who is a recognized, award winning professional in the industry, will partner with someone to produce a TV show, for example, and do it at the co's expense, in exchange for a ROI. They won't do this for concepts that they don't fully believe in, that they don't find marketable and have a very serious potential for selling.

If ANY producer tells you -- site unseen -- that they will produce your project, I guarantee you that it will be at your expense. That's fine, nothing wrong with it, but then you have to find a buyer -- and that takes contacts that you likely don't have.

The good guys in the business are pros. They can read a 20-word logline and KNOW if it's a winning project or not. If it is, they'll want to jump on board. If it's not, they might offer to produce it for you at your expense. That's not a scam; it's business.

Mac H.
05-25-2011, 03:14 AM
As for this posting and others, all dated 1 or 2 years ago, they all objected to paying for services they believed should be given to them. I’m sure now they see how wrong they were. Given that networks and studios no longer take unsolicited scripts, how does an independent without resources, credits or the ability to prepare a business plan supposed to get their projects produced.I dunno - that's what a producer does - work this stuff out. Business plans, budgets, etc.

If these guys don't want to do the work of producing ... if they want to get someone else to do it? Fine - that's their choice. They can stop calling themselves 'producers' and call themselves something else. But expecting that writers finance those services is just wrong.

And you are also totally wrong about another thing - 'they all objected to paying for services they believed should be given to them'. That is just misrepresenting the complaint. The real discussion was about the producer wanting the writer to pay for a budget.

No writer presents a script to a production company and expects a budget to be given back to them in return. That's ludicrous. If the company wants to move forward with the project we expect the company to make a budget for themselves - that's fair enough. But asking the writer to produce the seed funding seems to be so wrong.

Yes - it's a business. It's only a scam if they pretend that this is the way producing works. I get worried when I see the slogan on their site "Turning your dreams into Reality". Who is that aimed at? People with dreams. That's the frightening thing.

Mac
(PS: The only address they seem to have is a virtual office. I hate it when companies want your money but don't reveal their true location. Why would they do that?)

Mac H.
05-25-2011, 04:12 AM
Let's look at what films they have produced:

1. Runt (2005): The Writer, Director, Producer, Production Designer *AND* star is the one person.
Trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euslWMFqRDM

2. Catching Dreams (2008 doco - with a $75k budget)

That's it. According to IMDB, that's the complete list of films that they have successfully produced.

What about TV ? Again, let's look at IMDB:

1. Two 2009 reality TV series that weren't picked up.
2. Port City P.D - a podcast series which was shot for $40k in total. The podcast series was fully completed before CEM got involved.

However it looks like CEM did a bit of impressive editing on it. Basically they took the existing podcast of 12 episodes and re-edited them into 9 episodes for satellite TV. That can't have been an easy job to do well - kudos for that. It's akin to how the film 'Cruel Intentions 2' was created by editing together footage from a cancelled spinoff TV series ! I'm always impressed with how people manage to create stuff like this.

Anyway, there's a fan page for it here http://precinct.mevio.com/ .. with zero comments or .. umm ... fans which doesn't bode well.

It's a pretty lo-fi production (see a teaser (ie - the best bits) here: http://vimeo.com/5367586

I dunno - I think it's great they made these guys (before CEM) made a podcast and it's amazing they made it for $40k. And it's great that CEM re-formed it into TV length episodes.

But it's basically low-fi podcast quality, and ended up being shown on a kind of syndicated community access channel (the kind of stuff that's run at 1am to no audience) overseas. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad that there are junk dealers like Global Broadcasting Company to give these tiny projects a shot at a wider audience ... but it's certainly not a production credit they can boast about.

It is shot with a handheld camera that can't seem to hold still. The dialog and acting aren't exactly going to impress. I'd be worried that - as you point out - CEM knew that sinking more money into it wasn't a winning strategy yet they chose it anyway because they were burning through someone else's money. I don't know about you but that doesn't make me want to give them money.

--------------

Whatever our opinions are on the subject, it is clear from their public credits that Creative Entertainment & Media do not have a history of making successful films. They do not have a history of making successful TV. So why should they expect writers to pay them money ?

Not only that - let's look at the final part of your argument:

[They] KNOW if it's a winning project or not. If it is, they'll want to jump on board. If it's not, they might offer to produce it for you at your expense. That's not a scam; it's business.
By your own logic, if Creative Entertainment & Media offer to produce it at the writer's expense then, by definition, they have already determined (as experts) that it is not a winning project.

Surely the logic is 100% clear: If Creative Entertainment & Media wants a writer to provide money then the writer should run the other direction!

(I'm not sure I agree with you on everything, but I'm just following the logic of your own statements. As you seem to know CEM well I'll assume that your summary of their business model is correct)

Mac

Mac H.
05-25-2011, 05:10 AM
FYI; I read this other article on line about CEM; be sure to check out the comment by Mike Amber an entertainment attorney it’s about 10 comments down from the top.BTW - Why on earth would you believe that Mike Amber is an entertainment attorney?

It might be true, of course. But it could also be anyone just spouting nonsense. If it is true he clearly has zero links to CEM because otherwise it would seem to be highly unethical of him to comment on the company without mentioning his connection.

But if he doesn't have any link to this particular company ... doesn't it seem odd ?

It wasn't a current discussion - it was a discussion about a year and eight months old.

Yet he felt that he had to make a comment about this one company, which he conveniently knows the details and qualifications of the people involved.

Think about it - he created a login for the site solely to do revive an old, forgotten, discussion and support a company that he doesn't disclose any links to ... yet somehow knows about.

Doesn't that seem incredibly dubious to you ?

Mac
(BTW - The only Mike Amber (Attorney) I could find with a quick Google is a Henry Michael Amber who lists himself as a Real Estate Lawyer in Florida. I'm assuming that it isn't him !)

Mac H.
05-25-2011, 06:02 AM
Oh gosh. How do you think that CEM Inc look for investors for their high profile film projects?

Go on. Guess.

On craigslist

I wish I was making this up. Wow.

Here's their amazing speil. Let's ignore the blatant ignorance of rules about seeking investors without an SEC filing. (Tip - As a general rule, you can't use the sophisticated investor exemption if you pitch publicly. And a pitch on the internet is pretty public)

PRODUCER SEEKS EQUITY INVESTORS FOR HIGH PROFILE FILM PROJECT (LOS ANGELES)

Date: 2011-05-12, 7:29PM GST
Reply to: serv-gxgtp-2376741954@craigslist.org

<Author Name Redacted> has signed with award winning producers at Creative Entertainment and Media, Inc. of Marina Del Ray, CA, to produce his epic sci-fi thriller based on his contemporary novel with a Southwest Native American theme.

<Project Name Redacted> is slated for theatrical release in Spring 2012, with an estimated budget of $30M. Private investors are being sought for equity funding to participate in this high-profile film project. With a marketing rating of PG-13, it is expected to appeal to a wide demographic. A-list talent is tapped for lead roles, with outstanding Native actors onboard for a stellar cast.

<Author Name Redacted> will be directly involved in production as Writer/Producer, working in conjunction with the principals of Creative Entertainment & Media, Inc., Bidwell C. Tyler II, CEO/Executive Producer and Susan B. Flanagan, Emmy Award Winning Writer and Executive Producer, to create a spectacular, award winning motion picture. <Project Name Redacted> is anticipated to be shot in 3D. Interested parties should contact Bidwell C. Tyler II or respond to this ad to receive a detailed Investment Package. Equity investors are guaranteed a high yield return. We will also consider joint venture, co-producer proposals. Producer Credits can be verified by going to IMDB or the CEM website.
(My emphasis)

I've stopped giving them the benefit of the doubt.

IMHO - This is disgusting. "Equity investors are guaranteed a high yield return". Seriously?

If you want to disagree with me about the quality of their output - fine.
If you want to disagree with me about the virtue of their business model - fine.

But this is simply wrong on so many levels.

This is a message to Creative Entertainment & Media. Sue me if you want. Just stop doing this to people. This guy poured his heart and soul into this project.

And you've taken money from him. You've taken his dream and this is what you are part of ? A craigslist advertisement ? Worst still - a craigslist ad like this?

I'm turning away from the forums before I say something I regret.

Mac
(PS: They are also trading under different names, including 'CEMDevelopment@gmail.com' & 'CEM Consulting Group (CGC)' )

carcar
05-25-2011, 06:57 AM
Aren't we generally leery of a new poster who only appears to defend a company whose ethics are in question?

BurOak
05-25-2011, 09:57 AM
Aren't we generally leery of a new poster who only appears to defend a company whose ethics are in question?

Sounds extremely suspicious to me.

BurOak
05-25-2011, 09:58 AM
BTW - Why on earth would you believe that Mike Amber is an entertainment attorney?

It might be true, of course. But it could also be anyone just spouting nonsense. If it is true he clearly has zero links to CEM because otherwise it would seem to be highly unethical of him to comment on the company without mentioning his connection.

But if he doesn't have any link to this particular company ... doesn't it seem odd ?

It wasn't a current discussion - it was a discussion about a year and eight months old.

Yet he felt that he had to make a comment about this one company, which he conveniently knows the details and qualifications of the people involved.

Think about it - he created a login for the site solely to do revive an old, forgotten, discussion and support a company that he doesn't disclose any links to ... yet somehow knows about.

Doesn't that seem incredibly dubious to you ?

Mac
(BTW - The only Mike Amber (Attorney) I could find with a quick Google is a Henry Michael Amber who lists himself as a Real Estate Lawyer in Florida. I'm assuming that it isn't him !)

Absolutely incredibly dubious, to say the least.

BurOak
05-25-2011, 10:01 AM
I was referred to Creative Entertainment & Media/ CEM by a producer friend of mine and for me they delivered what they said they would. As for this posting and others, all dated 1 or 2 years ago, they all objected to paying for services they believed should be given to them. Im sure now they see how wrong they were.
http://www.moviebytes.com/messageboard.cfm?action=DisplayMessages&topic=6049&ShowAll=True

Not really. :eek:

MargoChanning
05-25-2011, 02:50 PM
BTW - Why on earth would you believe that Mike Amber is an entertainment attorney?

It might be true, of course. But it could also be anyone just spouting nonsense. If it is true he clearly has zero links to CEM because otherwise it would seem to be highly unethical of him to comment on the company without mentioning his connection.

But if he doesn't have any link to this particular company ... doesn't it seem odd ?

It wasn't a current discussion - it was a discussion about a year and eight months old.

Yet he felt that he had to make a comment about this one company, which he conveniently knows the details and qualifications of the people involved.

Think about it - he created a login for the site solely to do revive an old, forgotten, discussion and support a company that he doesn't disclose any links to ... yet somehow knows about.

Doesn't that seem incredibly dubious to you ?

Mac
(BTW - The only Mike Amber (Attorney) I could find with a quick Google is a Henry Michael Amber who lists himself as a Real Estate Lawyer in Florida. I'm assuming that it isn't him !)

Mac and everyone, check this out. If this is THE Mike Amber, this dude is no attorney:

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-mike/4/796/a93

CthulhuRises
05-25-2011, 03:53 PM
CEM is the epitome of a scam. I had a friend that was involved with them...the things I could tell you...just wow. I would bet my bank account the guy who bumped this is on their payroll.

Joe Unidos
05-25-2011, 04:08 PM
Just follow the golden rule: Money flows to the writer. If you want to be a producer or an investor, that's fine --but different. In your capacity as a screenwriter, you don't put out money. Period. End of discussion. Walk away. Good night, nurse.


Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise it trying to snowjob you.

Racoon
05-25-2011, 06:07 PM
You didn't say if he had even read your script yet. I get scammers callling just from a logline I sent them. I immediatly become suspcious. So I take my phone number off my email querys and only give it them if they ask for script or synopsis?

racoon

BurOak
05-26-2011, 12:52 PM
You didn't say if he had even read your script yet. I get scammers callling just from a logline I sent them. I immediatly become suspcious. So I take my phone number off my email querys and only give it them if they ask for script or synopsis?

racoon

It was from a logline.

Racoon
05-26-2011, 09:23 PM
Yes, Bur, from my loglines. I get quite good remarks about them, so I guess that is my gift, if only I could get the script to work as well.

Racoon

BurOak
05-26-2011, 09:58 PM
Yes, Bur, from my loglines. I get quite good remarks about them, so I guess that is my gift, if only I could get the script to work as well.

Racoon

I was actually referring to my own experience with CEM.

Racoon
05-26-2011, 10:44 PM
Sorry for misunderstanding but I think we all have similar experiences. These people sound like people we should stear clear of.

Raccoon

gilteed
03-07-2012, 09:39 PM
Norman C. Berns There's been lots of back and forth here, lots of "I have a wonderful script and I need money" posts. Folks, so sorry to say it, but it doesn't work that way.

Filmmaking is a business. Show Business. Your script is the show part, but without the business end of things, it's like a one-legged tripod. (Marketing is the other leg.)

I know it's hard to accept, but most investors will never read your script. Oh, maybe their third assistant will give them coverage, but that's not what they really want to know. They need to know how they'll make their money back. What's their ROI....?

In bygone days, even newbies could wave their scripts in front of Hollywood and get a buy. Wave bye-bye. Those days are long gone and it's now YOUR job to explain exactly how much your film will cost and how it can turn a profit. That brings us full circle to my original post....

If you hope to attract a producer, a director or that most elusive of all, a investor, you have to understand the business end of your script. The schedule, the budget, a plan for the business and a well crafted blueprint for marketing & promotion. I know it's not fair, I know you want to think of yourself as an artist, but art now has to make it's living in a DIY world.

You taught yourself (or someone taught you) how to craft a script. You know all about character arcs and story arcs, scenes and acts and building tension. Now it's time to learn the business end of things. It's just as important.

I teach that stuff. Others here do, too. There are books available. If you want to take one of my courses, let me know. If you want me to refer someone else, let me know. If you'd like a book on it, I'll be happy to suggest a few.

But please, please don't tell me about your script. Not until you can tell me how I'll make my money back. And who will see it. And how you'll get it to them....

Levenger
03-07-2012, 10:42 PM
Dude. No. People sell scripts as scripts. You never hear about "a new scribe who put together a great budget plan for the script and managed to get Warners interested."

Just leave. If you can dupe retards into paying your company, good for you, but you're a piece of **** and you should know that full well every time you look in a mirror. Peace out seacrest.

CthulhuRises
03-07-2012, 10:45 PM
Seriously, if I were the mods I'd ban that "gilteed" guy, who is in fact one of CEM's lackeys. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, this company is the epitome of a scam.

BurOak
03-07-2012, 11:27 PM
Seriously, if I were the mods I'd ban that "gilteed" guy, who is in fact one of CEM's lackeys. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, this company is the epitome of a scam.

Concur.

pjc
03-11-2012, 11:21 PM
I'm glad this topic came up,

I'm writing a killer new budget for my next script, but can't decide how much to allocate for "craft services". Any thoughts????

Maybe the pros on here could start an advanced budgeting forum.

Levenger
03-11-2012, 11:47 PM
That's a tough one I opted for the Thai Tiki Vegan


...but the twist is it was all cooked in meat sauce. The execs just about **** and were pulling from their discretionary before the day was over.

NikeeGoddess
03-12-2012, 08:53 AM
I'm glad this topic came up,

I'm writing a killer new budget for my next script, but can't decide how much to allocate for "craft services". Any thoughts????

Maybe the pros on here could start an advanced budgeting forum.why did you post this question here? it has nothing to do with the topic.

anyway --
figure out the average number of cast and crew for each day of production.
allocate the amount of money you want to spend for each. ie - $15
number of cast & crew X $15 X number of days of production = craft services budget

Mac H.
03-12-2012, 06:52 PM
Nikee - I suspect it was sarcasm.

CEM's business model involves telling writers that they need CEM to create a business plan & budget for their films.

PJC's response was a comment about the absurdity of a writer needing a budget for the film laid out.

Mac
(I've never seen any of CEM's budgets - but I've seen one of their business plans/pitch documents. It was - quiet frankly - embarrassingly amateurish. I really felt bad for the person who had paid for it)

BurOak
03-13-2012, 10:25 PM
Nikee - I suspect it was sarcasm.

CEM's business model involves telling writers that they need CEM to create a business plan & budget for their films.

PJC's response was a comment about the absurdity of a writer needing a budget for the film laid out.

Mac
(I've never seen any of CEM's budgets - but I've seen one of their business plans/pitch documents. It was - quiet frankly - embarrassingly amateurish. I really felt bad for the person who had paid for it)


Back when they called me, the going rate was about $4-7k, IIRC. :eek:

NikeeGoddess
03-14-2012, 07:00 AM
oh! <<hee, hee!>> :shifty:

BurOak
10-13-2013, 01:31 PM
Whoa! Yeah, man...sounds like a scam! I would forget about them and move on with quering "real" producers.

And by the way, I'm from Chicago too. I'm now out in SoCal. But the Chi will always be my home.

I still have a very warm place in my heart for the Chi.