Scam Alert: TransMedia Agency / New Leaf Media LLC Impersonating Major Film Producers

A quick warning about a new impersonation scam.

I’m getting reports from writers who’ve received email solicitations from what appear to be real film companies. Here are a couple of examples:

Note the identical language.

Roth/Kirshenbaum and Bluegrass Films are real enterprises, with real track records. So if the writer–who may be a bit dubious because of the out-of-the-blue contact and the poorly-written text–does a websearch, they’ll learn that these companies actually do exist. There are some odd discrepancies: there’s no “&” in Roth/Kirshenbaum, and Scott Stuber left Bluegrass for Netflix in 2017. Still, the realness of the companies themselves makes it easier for hopeful writers to dismiss any niggling doubts.

Of course, the whole thing is a bait and switch. The clue is the “trusted literary firm” that can “furnish” the screenplay that the writer undoubtedly doesn’t have. After some back and forth, the writer receives this:

“Trusted literary firm” TransMedia Agency*–aka the scammer that’s running the whole scheme–has what’s essentially a placeholder website, providing just enough web presence to deflect the suspicion that might arise if it had no website, but containing virtually no meaningful content. The ungrammatical text and generic, unverifiable “about us” information are both major warning signs.

The writer also receives a “Screenplay Agreement Form” with a lot of legalistic mumbo jumbo about warranties, security, limitation of liability, blah blah blah. It’s all window dressing for this:

So TransMedia is guaranteed to get at least $5,000 even if it never actually delivers the screenplay, and even if the writer smells a rat and doesn’t hand over the installment payments. Not a bad payday for sending out a few emails and a fake contract.

As is the case for many scammers, TransMedia’s Illinois address is a virtual office. Its LLC is registered in the name of Colin Carroll of 1063 Inverness Drive in Antioch, IL; most likely Mr. Carroll is just a beard, and TransMedia is really operating out of the Philippines. I would also guess that Roth/Kirshenbaum and Bluegrass Films aren’t the only real companies that TransMedia is impersonating.

Remember, writers: REPUTABLE FILM COMPANIES DO NOT OPERATE THIS WAY. They don’t contact you out of the blue. They don’t refer you for paid services. You’re safest if you treat ANY unasked-for solicitation as a potential scam.

* Not to be confused with this Transmedia Agency.

UPDATE 9/6/21: TransMedia is also soliciting in the name of Todd Phillips Productions. Much of the language is identical to the two solicitations above; note the addition of some fulsome flattery.

UPDATE 10/26/21: This fake production company solicitation was sent out by New Leaf Media LLC, posing as producer David Ellison. It’s word for word identical to the Todd Phillips one above, sent out by TransMedia Agency. The writer was referred back to New Leaf Media to get their screenplay written, to the tune of several thousand dollars.

UPDATE 1/30/22: This scam is now soliciting as Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment.

UPDATE 2/21/22: Adding Brian Burk of Bad Robot to the list.

UPDATE 5/3/22: The scam is still impersonating film people, and the basic pitch is the same (we love your work and want to collaborate but you have to send us something first, and if you don’t have it we can tell you where to buy it). In this iteration, it’s asking for a “cinematic trailer” rather than a screenplay, but the basic pitch is the same (see the last paragraph). So far I’ve seen identical solicitations from “Mel Gibson at Icon Productions” and “Mike Hopkins at Amazon Studios.”

UPDATE 5/29/22: Additional names used by this scam in emails I’ve seen recently: Atlas Entertainment, Neil Marshall Productions.

7 Comments

  1. Film companies absolutely do not operate this way.

    Anytime an unsolicited email leads to asking for money, it's a scam.

  2. Thanks for the alert. They used the Todd Phillips Organization on me. You have to do the hard week. Send out to literary agents or movie agents. There are no shortcuts.

  3. I received the same "form" email from Todd Phillips Production and after I sent an inquiry response, a James Russell called me. He was very professional and said my book had been sent to them by Balboa Press (who had republished it) and was in their archives and that I was one of 13 out of 800 books they had reviewed. He had done his homework and was even on my website as we spoke referring to some of the features of the website. He asked if I had a screenplay and if I didn't he could refer me to agencies that write screenplays and they would pay half of the fees. I asked him to email me a list. He said he'd see if any were available to fit their time constraints and he'd have them call me. Same day, TMA called me – Laura was very informative, professional and believable – B. Johnson, who she said worked on "The Joker" screenplay would be working with me etc. My half of the $20,000 fee would be $10,000 and payments were possible. I didn't have that kind of money and asked her to email me more information. I did not get an email and when I tried texting the number I also got no response. Calling went to a voice mail.
    I am so glad I found this Scam Alert site and read your information. How do we report them and get people to stop preying on self-published authors like myself who love to write, believe in our books, want our work seen on the big screen and are just trying to make a living as an artist? Thank you for your alert.

  4. Received the sameTodd Phillips Production crap this afternoon. Immediately headed to his blogger.

  5. On 5/26/22, I received the email below from acquisition@21lapsentertainment.com. I sent them a PDF of the script but haven’t heard from them? Is this a scam?
    ———————————————–
    Dear John Likides,

    Greetings!

    21-Laps Entertainment proudly announces that your published material (ATHANASIA: Humanity across the Multiverse) made it to our Preliminary screening stage out of 250 archived selections after a rigorous evaluation process done by our board of evaluators. Bravo!

    You are right on track to move forward to our final screening stage; therefore, we would like to invite you to submit your screenplay. We would like to check your material (script/screenplay) and see if we can work together in creating a film adaptation, TV series or movie series project for the years -2022-2023 based on your published material.

    Here are the guidelines:
    • The screenplay must be written by a distinguished screenwriter
    • Must be completed in 3 months
    • PDF/Word format of your screenplay

    In the event that you don’t have a screenplay available, we would want to show our support by forwarding your information to any of our trusted firms who can meet the guidelines we have set as well as meet the conditions of our timetable as long as we have your approval to share your contact details and book title to them.

    During the final screening stage, our board of evaluators, movie critics and executives will stringently go through each script to assess its praiseworthy aspects and opportunities making sure that there are no biased judgments made. Details about procurement of a contract follows after the final screening stage.

    The work and talent you have put into your material deserve a spot on the silver screen and we have every intention to work with you to see the success of this movie project.

    All the best,
    21-Laps Entertainment
    Acquisitions

    10201 W. Pico Blvd., Bldg. 41, Ste. 400
    Los Angeles, CA 90064
    Email: acquisition@21lapsentertainment.com
    The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in the message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without the written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.
    Powered by cloudHQ

    1. 21 Laps Entertaintment is a real company, but reputable companies don’t solicit out of the blue, and this isn’t how film rights are sold or screenplays are acquired. Given how similar this solicitation is to the ones mentioned in my post, my guess is that this is the same scam, just impersonating a different film company.

Leave a Reply

AUGUST 6, 2021

Scam Alert: Silver Ink Literary Agency / Editors Press and Media / Global Review Press / Best Writers Publishing House

READ
SEPTEMBER 3, 2021

Very Weird Solicitation Alert: Monica Susan Main

READ