Wrapal sat down with Inktip founder Jerrol LeBarron to discuss his career, screenwriting, and entrepreneurship in the film industry. Jerrol founded InkTip in 2000 after witnessing the difficulties associates and friends in the industry have had in getting exposure for their works, let alone getting their scripts sold. Since that time, the figure has greatly increased and InkTip.com, by itself, has more than 2000 registered industry members who now have access to writers’ scripts. Check out Inktip HERE!
How did you get into the film industry?
It’s been a long and winding path to get here. I’ve owned and run several businesses. A construction company. A jewelry sales company. Both of which I enjoyed. While doing that I started my Hollywood career with a short-lived stint as an actor, which led me to screenwriting, which led me to create InkTip.
InkTip is pretty similar to Wrapal, both looking to connect people in the industry. How did you come up with the idea for InkTip?
I had written a script that I thought was pretty good and wanted to get it made. But like many screenwriters, I ran into multiple roadblocks and struggled to get it to producers. What I saw was a gate. On the other side of the gate opening were producers, agents, and managers looking for scripts and writers. Trying to squeeze through the gate were writers like me wanting to gain representation, sell their scripts, or get hired for writing gigs. Every now and then a few scripts or writers were able to squeeze through, but most writers, like me, were stuck on the other side. It was a difficult process that wasn’t benefiting either party. Many talented writers weren’t getting their work seen and many producers were missing out on great scripts that were just what they’re looking for.
So, I thought to myself, what if I build a website where writers could post their scripts and where producers and reps could log in and do searches for exactly what they were looking for?
Why does Hollywood need InkTip?
Because it works! Since 2001, over 350 feature films have been produced from scripts and writers found through InkTip. Not to brag, but I really believe we’ve provided an effective platform for some fresh exciting voices to get their big break.
It’s like matchmaking for filmmaking. Producers come to InkTip to find scripts and writers. Writers come to InkTip so they can sell their scripts or get hired by producers. We make it possible for them to access each other to get films made. We average 3-4 script options a week.
How it works is producers let us know what they need and we connect them with writers who have the types of projects they’re looking for through our secure online database. Producers visit InkTip.com and search for scripts and writers. They can search by a variety of categories and criteria and contact writers directly. Producers also put out calls for script submissions in our weekly Preferred Newsletter. We then send this out to our writers so they can pitch their completed scripts to producers, most of which don’t accept unsolicited queries.
Breaking into the industry and getting a film produced is an uphill battle for anyone. InkTip has a done a great job leveling the playing field.
What advice do you have for writers trying to get their scripts noticed by producers?
Be proactive. It’s not enough to have a good script. Don’t wait for someone to come to you. Give your scripts and yourself the attention you deserve and promote them. You’ve gone to the trouble of writing something, don’t let it languish on your hard drive. Market it, tell people about it, network, submit. If producers can’t find you or your work, it’s impossible for them to contact you and for anything to happen. It’s important to promote your work every way you can. InkTip makes it easy to do this. You can list your scripts on InkTip and submit to any call for entries in the Preferred Newsletter that your script is a good fit for. You have to get your scripts out there if they are going to get made.
Secondly, take the time to get your loglines and synopsis right. I can’t stress this enough. Way too many writers will spend months on their scripts, 30 minutes on their synopsis and two minutes on their loglines. But that’s crazy! Producers read loglines and synopses first. You need to showcase your style and story in a way that producers will want to take the next step and read your script. A poorly written synopsis or logline is only shooting yourself in the foot. Write each with the same care you put into writing your script. Once your script is on InkTip, study how producers are responding to your logline and continue to tweak it accordingly. The more you improve your logline, the more producers will read your synopsis and then your script.
Be patient and persistent. Even overnight successes typically take years. It only seems overnight on the outside. Stay committed to writing and promoting your scripts and you can get your films made. I’ve seen it work literally hundreds of times.
What does the future of InkTip look like?
InkTip will continue to connect writers and producers and get films made. We’re always looking for ways to make life easier for writers and producers.
What does your ideal day off look like?
My ideal day off isn’t a day off at all. I love what I do and it really is a labor of love. It’s also very rewarding. I love helping producers find just what they need and helping writers move their careers forward. Every film that gets released because of us is a little bit of validation.
But since it’s my day off, maybe I’d do the work by a pool down in Mexico with a big plate of nachos next to me. Extra jalapenos!
Who is the most influential person in your life?
I don’t know that I have a most influential person. I do however have a most respected political figure in history and that is Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s a man who took part in and lead a movement without it having to end up in civil war. That happens too incredibly rarely. In my book, he’s write up there with the greatest of greats.
What is the strangest script you’ve ever read?
I try and remain impartial about our writers’ scripts. But I will say, I reread my first script that started this all and it did not hold up! I realized I was better suited to help other writers get their scripts sold and produced and that’s what I’ve been focusing on.
Last and most importantly, who’s your favorite Muppet?
It’s gotta be Miss Piggy. She’s a star.