Today I catch up with Uri Singer, CEO of TaleFlick, a relatively new service looking to get writers connected with the entertainment industry.
Thanks to Uri for taking time out and providing some great answers and insights.
Q: First up, how about a little bit of background on the team behind TaleFlick, how did you get into the industry?
A: My passion for watching movies led me to producing them. I got very lucky, the first feature film I produced was I was working with Ted Melfi, who nowadays is known for Hidden Figures. Not many people get to start their careers with such a collaborative, talented filmmaker. That experience, and others like it, made me want to pursue not only working with amazing storytellers but finding great original content as well.
Q: How would you describe TaleFlick to a new writer or producer?
A: TaleFlick is a platform that connects the entertainment industry directly to your work. If you know your story should and could be told on the screen, but don’t know how to get it there or haven’t been able to get any traction doing it on your own, that’s where we come in.
Once you submit your book or screenplay, we curate it and then incorporate it into our searchable library where studio executives, production companies and producers are able to access it to find the original content that best suits their needs.
Q: And what prompted you to develop and launch TaleFlick?
A: I found the need to find just that – original content. The top best selling books are always going directly to the studios and the screenplays written by name writers are usually already spoken for, so producers like myself have to source stories on their own, which is a significant problem.
Q: There are plenty of players in the market these days, what do you think differentiates TaleFlick?
A: TaleFlick is the first platform to combine AI and humans for its process. Our algorithm allows the curation process to improve from day one, learning from each title, and its path. Human readers, who are all professional industry writers, ensure that a good story has its chance to be told and can be seen in the best light.
Q: A general consensus amongst screenwriters is that Producers are already inundated with scripts, why would they come to TaleFlick to look for material?
A: This is very true. I receive an immense amount of unsolicited material on a daily basis, which I cannot and will not go through. What TaleFlick has done is not only cut down the time it would take to go through so many submissions but also make it easy to find what one is looking for, and it is already curated for my specifications. This is an elevated way to find original content.
Q: You have three tiers of pricing for writers to list their scripts, starting at $99 and going up to $499, what does the writer get for their money?
A: The STANDARD plan costs $99. They receive a dedicated story profile (with cover and information about the story), an analysis by the algorithm, as well as a review by our curation team. The writer also has their title listed in our searchable marketplace library with space to include their own pitch to producers.
The PLUS plan, $199, offers all those things, plus development notes by our analysts. A professional screenwriter will evaluate your story based on structure, characterization, commerciality, originality, and how ready it is for production, among other key factors. It is a detailed assessment, complete with possible paths for improvement, and a guide for next steps to take.
The PREMIUM plan, $499, offers everything the previous plans do, and a TaleFlick Pitch Page. This is a pitchable one-page sheet that summarizes the story in Film/TV industry-standard format. It maximizes the story’s screen potential by highlighting its strong points, which again is done by active industry screenwriters.
Q: Is anything else charged for, to the writer or producer?
A: The writer can upgrade their plan if they wish, but other than the initial fee, there are no additional charges as we do not take a commission from the deal they make with producers.
Q: Are prospective producers vetted before they are allowed access?
A: Absolutely. Every producer that has access to the TaleFlick library has been screened and confirmed active in the entertainment industry.
Q: Have you had much interest from producers/industry?
A: Yes. We have over 600 active producers and development executives and have sent numerous stories directly to studio executives throughout this last year. It’s a process, and we ask our subscribers for patience, but the books and screenplays are getting great exposure.
Q: Once a story is submitted you have an algorithm that analyses and ranks the piece, how does that work and what’s the output?
A: Upon submission, our algorithm analyzes each story across multiple categories and data points, then ranks them according to their strengths and weaknesses (based on structure, formatting, use of vocabulary). After that, if the story is selected by our curation (or if it’s a PLUS subscription), readers step in. The algorithm won’t dismiss any books; it’s just a guide for the actual human side of the work.
Q: And after that some material is curated? How are curated works chosen and what happens next for them?
A: We have a talented team of experienced screenwriters to weigh in. If a story is deemed extraordinarily original, we direct it to be fully assessed and get development notes – regardless of the subscription plan.
If the story gets a “Consider” by the analyst, it becomes a TaleFlick Pick, complete with a searchable badge. If it receives a “Recommend,” it becomes a Top Pick. And if it is labeled a “Work in Progress,” it doesn’t mean we don’t like it – we’ll give suggested tips for improvement. It will still be available on the platform, and directed to producers if they look for that particular search criteria.
Our goal is to work alongside the author and screenwriters to improve their chances, always.
Q: You accept more submission types than a straight screenwriting site, how did that come about?
A: We like to think of everything as a story rather than a format. The keyword for us is “adaptation”. If we show how a story can be adapted, we will. It doesn’t have to be 100% ready for production, and that makes us more attractive than the average coverage website.
Q: What are you finding is the split in submission types?
A: We started out accepting books, and only after we perfected our curation process for that format we opened the process to scripts, which turned out to be very successful as well.
Q: Another unique feature is TaleFlick Discovery, how does this work and does a work already need to be registered on the site/in the system?
A: It is a weekly contest that allows fans to vote for the stories they would like to see as a TV show or film. For three days, forty great stories are equally displayed on the site which helps give them exposure and a fanbase. Authors don’t have to subscribe to be considered for Discovery – they can submit their work through a form on the contest’s page. We do find that participants usually turn into subscribers once they learn more about TaleFlick.
Q: You seem to have had a number of successes with stories optioned, any produced or close to production that we should be looking out for?
A: We can’t really control the decisions of third parties, and how they carry on their development process, but I can tell you that all of them were very excited with their acquisitions. Fortune Films, for example, recently optioned Jayson Sutcliffe’s autobiography, “Rolaboi,” and the pilot script he wrote. They couldn’t be happier with the material.
We are a new company, only open 18 months, so there are no actual productions yet, but there are many in the process who will soon credit TaleFlick.
Q: There are a lot of people competing for aspiring screenwriter’s limited money, from guru’s, through coverage services, and a plethora of competitions. What makes TaleFlick a good investment of money and time?
A: We focus on the steps involved in developing your story for the screen and standby it throughout the duration of the subscription. We never stop trying to get your story exposed and optioned. Most websites present a “win or nothing” situation – we accompany the writer the whole way through.
Q: Once a producer finds a story or script or a writer… what happens next?
A: TaleFlick acts as an intermediary between the writer and the interested party, but the deal and terms are up to the writer (or whoever owns the rights) to negotiate and accept. We do everything in our power to facilitate the deal, and make it as simple and pleasant as possible.
Q: You have an initiative to give back to the community, how did you get involved in that?
A: We believe that giving back while nurturing the very same world that allows new writers to thrive. This is why we created the ‘One Million Books for One Million Children’ campaign that delivers literary classics to low-income families and underprivileged areas, who do not have access otherwise.
Q: Service providers can also register on the site, for example a screenwriter offering their writing services, what’s the idea behind this?
A: Through our Marketplace, we are becoming a dependable source for everything a writer needs. You can connect with vetted service providers to commission book covers, illustrations, storyboards, translation, pitch decks, etc. The idea is to join the platform with a book or screenplay and be able to leave with a full-fledged marketing package.
Q: What future developments are in the pipeline for TaleFlick?
A: We’ve launched TaleFlick Productions, and will choose four books or scripts from our library to develop into a feature film or series.
All stories with an active subscription are eligible until April 1st, 2020, for this year’s selections. Our goal is to begin production on the first one by October 2020. Going forward, we hope to put one new project into production every quarter.
Q: Any advice in general for the aspiring screenwriters in terms of breaking in?
A: Be patient. Learn to take criticism and be open to suggestions. Work with people, not against them. And put yourself out there – people may find you, but you can’t just wait.
Okay, now for some getting to know Uri questions…
Q: Fave movie?
A: Cinema Paradiso.
Q: Fave script?
Q: Best and worst screenwriting advice you’ve heard.
Best: Cut 10pages.
Worst: Make it more commercial.
Q: Fave food?
Q: Fave drink?
A: Macallan (type of Whiskey).
Q: Fave sport and team if applicable?
Q: Fave thing to do outside of managing TaleFlick?
A: Making movies happen.
Q: Any final words of advice to the aspiring writers out there?
A: Go for it. Believe!!!!!
Once again, thanks to Uri for a great interview.