Brock Swinson

Ben Cahan on Talentville and Rising to the Top

Ben Cahan on Talentville and Rising to the Top
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Ben Cahan, creator of Final Draft, discusses his online script critiquing platform, Talentville.

By Brock Swinson.

Ben Cahan

Ben Cahan

After the success of screenwriting software Final Draft, creator Ben Cahan shifted gear to create his newest industry innovation, Talentville. Ideally, the program is much like an enhanced version of a University screenwriting course that allows for writers to share, read, network, learn, and potentially find footing in an overcrowded industry while working within an ocean of peer feedback.

“Every now and then, bing-bang-boom happens, but more realistically, users join the site, upload a script, and get them critiqued,” begins Cahan. “Tourist memberships are free but it’s important to get involved.” Within the platform users earn Talent Dollars for reading and critiquing others, which in turn, allows for their scripts to be read by others in a global give-and-take program.

Within the Talentville economy, scripts can be uploaded and critiqued in an ongoing exchange, but there’s much more to the program than fictional currency. Users who read more will undoubtedly learn the ins and outs of story as they learn what works and what doesn’t. “Now if you’re a pretty good writer and you have a well-formed screenplay, you’ll rise higher in the rankings. We advertise top-of-the-week or top-of-the-month and then it’s possible one of our industry folks will come across the screenplay to see if it’s worth taking a look. Write good reviews and get the right eyes on your script. We’re creating a market that doesn’t currently exist online. Like Amazon, one review won’t kill you as long as the overall statistics are working in your favor.”

Talentville Home Page

Talentville Home Page

When it comes down to the fundamentals, Cahan has read hundreds of scripts. “From my perspective, when reading a script, there are dozens of things that tell me whether or not the writer knows what he’s doing. A good story with three-dimensional characters are ideal in concept but presentation is the first wave to wash over the reader. There are visual cues and writing-styles that present themselves immediately. Surprisingly, many people do not get these aspects right the first time.”

“Amateur writers need to be careful when reading production-quality screenplays because experienced professionals have the potential to skip the rules. With amateur screenplays, there are simple things to consider.

For example, avoid over-writing. Keep your writing succinct and visual. Assume that the audience is not full of idiots rather than over-explaining every detail. Most readers are relatively intelligent — we get it. We want to be entertained by the story and the visual. Tell me what’s happening on the screen rather than why the character is doing things.

Frankly, everyone does this. It’s not just amateurs. We want to editorialize. We want the audience to know that the lead character is mad at his brother because his brother short-changed him or lied to him, but that won’t show on the screen. Non-visual works great in books but it’s not for film.

More subtext than text: Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen and Michael V. Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli in The Godfather: Part II

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen and Michael V. Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli in The Godfather: Part II

“If I’m looking at five pages then I want to see precise action rather than editorializing. Give the reader credit for getting it. If a character is upset or mad, maybe he scrunches his face or turns away but don’t tell us what’s going on his head. If the writing is concise, the reader will understand the underlying message and see the visual just from reading the script. That’s what makes reading a screenplay so great. Readers immediately recall whether a screenplay was a breeze to read or a chore.

“The second necessary aspect for me is creativity within dialogue. Writing a natural conversation is perhaps the most difficult part of the process. Amateur writers will explain things that we already know or that the character obviously already knows. A husband will ask his wife, “How did we meet again, dear?” I mean, it’s his wife—they both know how they met.

In order to avoid repeating lines or over-explaining, I always recommend for writers to read their scenes out loud or with a friend. This will determine whether or not it at least sounds halfway natural. If you’re going to provide information within a scene, it needs to be expressed creatively. Be clever.

Avoid the “Um… Hmm… Well,…” that exists in everyday life. If those beats are needed, that will be up to the actor. Figure out the flow and make sure it doesn’t feel like two robots interacting. Natural dialogue takes practice and it takes getting cut-up by other writers and other people who read your scripts. Keep working on it to find your flow.”

Talentville Script Info Page

Talentville Script Info Page

“Another aspect that entices me as a reader are writing pedestrian scenes in a clever manner. A guy knocks on the door and a girl answers the door and she says, ‘Hi, how are you?’ Anyone can come up with that. As a producer, I’m looking for something clever that I haven’t seen before. Tell me some of the sideline action – whether the protagonist is eyeing the other character, looking into the distance, or pulling a flower from the shrubs – anything that can make a scene stand out.

“When I read a screenplay that I’ve just seen played out the same way in thirty other scripts, then there’s nothing enticing me to keep reading. If it’s so ordinary that I could have come up with it, then why would I buy it? I’m looking for memorable lines – the kind of stuff that ends up in the trailer. These are this author’s characters and that author has to know these characters – what they think, what they feel, how they are viewing the scene – and that has to come across to me as the reader. Put time into your script. Mix it up a little. I want to see a scene that is clever and new and different, something I haven’t seen before.”

More going on than just answering the door: Ben Stiller as Ted and Cameron Diaz as Mary in There's Something About Mary

Ben Stiller as Ted and Cameron Diaz as Mary in There’s Something About Mary

On occasion, Cahan finds exactly what he’s look for in a single line of dialogue or an individual character. “For me, I just really need to feel a connection to the characters. They need to be real and they need to have some sort of problem or situation that I can empathize with. Picture a character that is going through a tough time or tragically heroic or just loving to his little brother, those are the kinds of things that pull me into the story and make me root for character. Make your audience care about the character.”

“Ultimately, when you’ve read 110 pages, there are things to consider when moving on to that second act. You’ve set the story up and introduced your character, revealed their background along with what they are up to and set up the inciting incident, but I would rather be entertained than worried about whether or not things are structured correctly with plot points and a climax.

“Bottom line, make sure the presentation looks sharp and show me something that I’ve never seen before. Show me that you know your character.

“A lot of times, a writer will get a critique and change their character to satisfy that critique. That immediately tells me that they didn’t think of their story in the same kind of depth as someone writing a novel. Essentially, they’ve created enough background to satisfy the screenplay, but failed to go deeper. When you understand where a character has been and how they see the world, you will understand who the full character.”

Talentville Script Page

Talentville Script Page

“I read a lot of books and it’s amazing how detailed characterization is in books. Characterization is a tremendous amount of what makes up a book. We know why they act as they do because we know the root cause of the actions. This drives my belief in the characters and I wish more screenwriters spent more time defining the characters and what that character wants and needs. If you write cute dialogue and then go back and change it, then maybe you don’t know your character, because that’s not something they would say.”

Moving away from the craft of screenwriting, Cahan describes how Talentville bottlenecks the best of the best screenplays. “Currently, Talentville is a proving ground. It’s a place where users can find out if they’re in the ball game without having to spend hundreds of dollars. It’s a place to find out that you are two drafts away from being ready,” adds Cahan. “I worked with a writer for three or four months to shape the script I later gave to Todd Harris (The Kids Are All Right, Jeepers Creepers). From a management position, I’m looking for writers who can get to the point where I feel like I can give their script to my connections in the industry. Even with the reputation I built with Final Draft, if I send someone three cruddy scripts they’ll second-guess reading the fourth one.”

Annette Bening as Nic and Julianne Moore as Jules in The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening as Nic and Julianne Moore as Jules in The Kids Are All Right

“In reality, Talentville is about who works the hardest, much like the industry itself. Every screenplay belongs to the writer. It’s their script. They can change it or not. The true question is:  what are they willing to do for it? If they’re trying to build a career or simply sell a single script, they’ll need to understand compromises.

“There isn’t a short cut. Screenwriters are not typically willing to listen, but the guy who joined yesterday is different than the guy who spends time on the site every day for six months. In retrospect, despite my reputation for software, producing is a different game and I have to prove myself with projects I endorse so I’m looking for more feature films.

“Overall, Talentville is one resource for writers but there’s no replacement for a certain amount of education. Anybody who wants to be taken seriously needs to understand that it’s all right to have a typo or two, but if you have fifty mistakes or mixed tenses, you’re wasting everyone’s time. After reading 120 pages over and over again, writers need a fresh set of eyes and that’s what Talentville can deliver. It gives people a shot, but a weak script will never rise to the top. Overall, the potential is endless and can be a win-win for both parties.

Needing a fresh set of eyes: Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation

Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation

“Like any producer, I need a real reason to read a script a second time. I’ve made mistakes and sent in scripts too early but screenwriters need to be precise. If you’re expecting to receive a check for $500,000 then you need to act like it. Be worth the offer and work hard for it.

“Within the realm of Talentville, the benefit of living in Hollywood is growing smaller. You can be anywhere if you find an advocate. You’ve got to get serious about it and be open to criticism as well as advice. Figure out why others don’t see what you see and make use of the resources available. This is a job to deliver to an audience and Talentville is that first audience.”

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50 Responses to Ben Cahan on Talentville and Rising to the Top

  1. Avatar
    Fred Federngern October 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Don’t be fooled by this article. Yes, some already talented writers who have, or had, scripts on Tville make some noise in the industry, but otherwise script reviews are worst than useless – they’re damaging. Most reviewers are poor writers. Their feedback, if you’re stupid enough to listen, can send you deeply in the wrong direction.

    On the site is a posting “The Five Things you Must Know to Sell your Script” by Gavin Wilding. One of the points is, “Honest Feedback – There is nothing worse than getting
    wrong feedback; your mother, your friends, and especially ‘un-produced
    writers’… they are probably the worst for critical feedback.” It’s hysterical Cahan tries to damage control by adding some yada-yada-yada after that bullet point – on his own site!

    This warning is particular to new writers. Seasoned writers will know better. The reviews bartered online (after one slogs through others really, really bad – in some cases illiterate – scripts) are also rife with the reviewer’s ego and inane ‘suggestions’. There’s also a core of writers who cross-review their work with nothing but hosannas. Unfortunately, this practice does nothing more than create stagnation. (Fairly, there are a few reviewers who give acceptable feedback. Some reviewers might help with grammar and spelling.)

    If you’re really serious about screenwriting, and improving, go elsewhere. Any time or money spent at T’Ville is wasted.

    • Avatar
      Ben Cahan October 29, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      You’re entitled to your opinion, Fred, I just happen to disagree. Feedback, opinions, critiques, they all can be valuable food for thought, I have seen many scripts improved over time from reviews they have gotten at Talentville. It is by no means the only way to get better as a writer, obviously, just one tool a writer can use among many. That, of course, is my opinion.

      • Avatar
        Fred Federngern October 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm

        Feedback, opinions, critiques all can be valuable food for thought –
        from those who know their butts from elbows. Sadly, there a few to none
        who can make that claim on T’Ville. Including you. Who in their right
        mind would give you, an un-produced writer and wannabee Producer, $150
        for a review.

        Oh, yeah. You have a lot of contacts and know some
        writers. Went to a Bar Mitzvah once, don’t make me Jewish.

        I know being a coder is the perfect background for screenplay writing, producing and criticism.

        • Avatar
          Ben Cahan October 29, 2015 at 10:38 pm

          Everyone finds their own pathway to success if they have the talent, Fred, I wish you the best of luck (and skill) in whatever path you choose.

          Talentville is free to join and receive feedback, by the way, nobody is required to buy anything, and in no way does the site rely on my reviews in any form, paid or otherwise, just to be clear on that.

          All the best, Ben

          • Avatar
            Fred Federngern October 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm

            Rumor has it you were shown the door at Final Draft. Care to comment? Makes a difference when your path is thrust upon you. Let’s see, Ben disappears for a year or two to lick his wounds then – Wait! Screenwriting software coder, screenwriter! Now that’s a path.

            People do buy your reviews. At $150. It’s like a big deal among the anointed who speak in hushed tones, “Oh, Ben is going to review me.” In fact, one of your un-produced writer reviews was recently offered as a big prize in some contest. By being clear, do you mean there’s enough revenue from the suckers who pay for subscriptions.

            There’s also a suspicion you write the reviews as the Talentville “professional coverage staff” (who work for some of the biggest production companies and talent agencies in Hollywood). Really? Which companies?

            Untrue re: free. While $ might not be required (though the basic membership is minimal and fairly useless), to get the perks a paid subscription is required (and constantly forced down user’s throats). Besides, there’s no free lunch. To get a review a user must read a number of reviews. Cost: time and effort – more valuable than $.

          • Avatar
            IAmTheProgram October 30, 2015 at 1:58 pm

            Hello Fred,

            It appears from your comments that you’re the guy that gave up. I can’t fully speculate with the anti-ignorant potency I want, because as you can tell… “I Am The Program” isn’t my real name either. So there… that’s out of the way.

            However, I can tell you the following with 99.9% accuracy…

            You’ve obviously trolled this site and its article for one reason. You are a writer. Or were. And apparently not a very good one.

            With that being said, screenwriting is a torturous endeavor on many levels, to include receiving and accepting feedback from any and every soul that volunteers spending time slogging through your stuff. And it’s obvious that you’ve been jaded by that feedback.

            Keep in mind, we can all name countless, Oscar-winning scripts/movies/directors, etc. that some critics still loathe and have a problem with to this day. Do you wanna know why? Yes, you do, Fred. Because everyone’s entitled to their opinion and considering the extremely subjective nature of artistic expression, one fact remains… no matter how much time, effort, money, talent, or response to feedback (not to mention God-given patience and perseverance that may exist within any one writer)… those who are willing to dedicate their LIFE to be heard and leave their mark… WILL REMAIN… successful or not.

            We don’t care… because that’s PASSION.

            Those who vomit a few words together to write one draft thinking it’ll be their mark or payday… WILL NOT.

            Ben Cahan has given writers a testing ground in Talentville that nurtures not only script development and a community of like-minded people who are equally passionate about their craft, but also a platform for writers to be judged and critiqued by others… instantly. Not by Mommy or Daddy whom I’m sure loved your stuff before the not-so-unconditional got their hands on it.

            Ever heard the term “all publicity, is good publicity?” The same rings true for peer reviews and feedback (see Mike’s comment above which you’ve already read ten times in your hate-induced, wine-drunk stupor).

            I’d rather have the opinion of some hack writer who’s a movie fanboy who actually sat down and hammered out a scripted story, versus a pat on the back from Mom or Dad.

            All feedback is food for thought. Period. And the “serious writer” will certainly be able to decide what feedback is legitimate and what feedback is hogwash. Regardless, they become stronger for having sorted through it all.

            I can personally tell you, if you can’t handle a review from a fellow writer (amateur or not), you certainly won’t be able to handle being a successful, working writer. Because it only gets harder when the people with the money set expectations for you and your career that would melt anyone else to the bone.

            So my advice to you, Fred, is to find something in life that you enjoy. Like therapy. Because I think it’s vastly apparent, writing isn’t one of them. But so you know, those of us who bleed, sweat, and cry on a daily basis on Talentville, while doctoring our own scripts simultaneously, appreciate your trolling and ignorant hatred that’s ironically positioned under an article posted by a screenwriting magazine.

            Your surrender to the craft and obvious mental failure only leaves more room for the rest of us in an industry that’s already hemorrhaging and showing no signs of stopping.

            So for that… we thank you.

            As well as that extra layer of skin.

            All my best,
            The Program

          • Avatar
            Fred Federngern October 30, 2015 at 2:08 pm

            I’m whatever your fantasy allows. But I’m not wrong.

          • Avatar
            Ben Cahan October 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm

            It might help the discussion if Fred came out and just said who he really is, it is always possible that I did a poor job reviewing one of Fred’s scripts or that he got neophyte reviewers assigned to one of his scripts which subsequently gave him a jaded view of peer reviews.

            I will grant the Fred is entitled to his opinion, that’s fine and fair, I happen to post as myself without hiding behind a screen name, I just can’t figure out the rationale behind his vehemence unless in this or some other life I somehow wronged him.

          • Avatar
            Fred Federngern October 30, 2015 at 8:06 pm

            It might help you, but who I am is irrelevant. Since you want it so much, and insult my intelligence with obvious bait, no. I’m Fred Federngern.

            Good for you re: real name. Duh. The article is about you.

            Haven’t you read ‘who in their right mind would pay you $150 for one of your reviews’. I’m in my right mind.

            Too bad you can’t figure it out. And that’s the issue. Why not take a good long look about the site you’ve created to check whether it’s really serving the purpose you intend, or say you intend. Right now it’s an inbred mess with extremely dubious effectiveness.

            If you have enough courage, have a disinterested party create an anonymous, well thought out survey. Surveymonkey has free ones. Then make it available to all users. Find out what’s really happening rather than listening to a coterie of fawning sycophants who you encourage in their sometimes sickening devotion to you.

            Right now the site comes off as a hobby and worse – ego masturbation.

            Keep the basic structure but level the playing field.

            A simple certification process regarding review basics with a test users must pass before being able to review, and get reviewed. And everyone starts from scratch. Watch most of your pals bolt when this happens.

            Standardized form for reviews with stringent requirements; numerical measures and minimal amount of text – say 500 words minimum, max 750 words. The latter allowing for the reviewer’s individual voice. This curbs the reviewers who blather on-and-on about themselves – who cares, how does this help a writer, and those who write nothing.

            Those who don’t read scripts and post a one paragraph review still get the same Talent $ as those spending hours on reviews. This is inherently wrong, and you’re wrong for allowing it under the guise of a low reviewer score being a bane on the site. They might have a low reviewer score but they’re still allowed to review, and get $. Someone recently complained bitterly, and rightfully, about this in News Feed. Maybe you read it before they were shouted down, shamed and minimized by your posse.

            Get rid of a reward system for those who review the most. Who cares, and for what, free months – ridiculous! This is inherently unfair as some have more time than others to post reviews.

            While you’re at it get rid of review ratings. They’d be unnecessary if all reviews were standardized, and again – who cares.

            Post bios of the Talentville Coverage Staff and let those who wish to use the service chose who they want based on the reviewer’s basic expertise and background in the genre they’re writing in.

            And there’s the source of vehemence; a site that’s unfair, petty, ill-advised, hypocritical and a shrine to the wonderfulness that is you. The fish stinks from the head down, so it’s your fault. Do something about it if you really care about nurturing talent instead of stifling it. Otherwise STFU.

          • Avatar
            One Who Knows January 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm

            Caleb Yeaton.

          • Avatar
            IAmTheProgram October 30, 2015 at 6:26 pm

            We’re all entitled to an opinion “Tony AKA Tony.”

            You should trade in some of that jedi-like intuition for elbow grease. I can promise you, your next draft will be all the better for it.

            Back to work now.

            Mazeltov.

          • Avatar
            Fred Federngern January 8, 2016 at 5:50 pm

            ?

          • Avatar
            Lord Haw-Haw December 16, 2015 at 11:40 pm

            But your reviews are the ne plus ultra, are they not?

        • Avatar
          Ben Cahan October 29, 2015 at 11:45 pm

          This isn’t really the proper forum for a long-winded Q&A, Fred, like anyone else you are allowed to have and express your personal opinion. All the best…

  2. Avatar
    Michael Brown October 30, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Great article! I am a Talentville user and have been very happy with the site. Before I found it, I was hitting up friends and relatives to review my scripts, and while they’re generally smart and kind folks there are obviously limitations with that process. The bartering system on Talentville allows you to get value (get quality reviews of your work) if you put in value (review others’ work and do the work to do a good job). Like any niche community, the aptitudes and credentials of people differ. But hey, these are scripts (i.e. movies-to-be) at issue, and ultimately the test is whether a script and its story “work” for a wide audience of people with diverse knowledge bases and aptitudes.

    And I should add, the average participant on Talentville is someone who has done more of the following than have my family- and friend- reviewers: watched more movies, read more screenwriting books and resources, written multiple scripts and analyzed a ton of scripts. In other words, most Talentville reviewers have developed some important skill sets the typical person has not developed, and are able to give at least some valuable feedback when reviewing others’ scripts. Also worth note that Talentville’s community includes writers who have been optioned, have placed highly in well-regarded screenwriting contests and–perhaps most importantly– many are smart people who are passionate about movies, story and screenwriting and who genuinely want to help others. Ben Cahan personally puts tremendous value into the site. He is diligent with everything: tech-side stuff, reviews, networking, promotion of writers’ work. He listens to member requests and is very responsive. I purchased a review from Ben and it was very insightful and helpful, well worth the money. For those who don’t want to buy ANYTHING, Talentville still offers great value through the basic bartering process (which any user can participate in for free, if they join as a member). I really get value from Talentville; as has been said, it’s a tool, and while it can’t do or be everything, it’s certainly helped me and my writing.

    • Avatar
      Fred Federngern October 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      Are you optioned?

      • Avatar
        TP November 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        Are you an idiot, Fred? (Note the question mark, found at the bottom left of the keyboard.) I think you’ve made some valid points in your critique of the site, but then come up with something like this response. He certainly didn’t have to post anything, protecting himself from his “painful admission.” Instead, he posted his positive experience for others to evaluate for themselves.

        • Avatar
          Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

          Are you a skulking lackey, TP?

  3. Creative Screenwriting
    Creative Screenwriting October 30, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    In my experience, writers who are trying to get better can learn a lot from the comments of peers.

    All notes, whether from peers or from a screenwriting expert, require you to think over whether the note is the best advice for your particular work. And learning when to listen and when to ignore is a crucial part of learning to edit.

    • Avatar
      Fred Federngern October 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Bad advice for new screenwriters.

      Someone at the same or lower level giving advice is not advantageous. When new, the mechanism “to think over whether the note is the best advice” is not in place. A blind person placing a hand in another blind person’s hand with the intent to cross a street is a disaster in the making.

      And there are too many trying to make money from neophytes with a smile, hand in their pocket and “Peer review is the best” on their crooked lips.

      • Avatar
        R. Crumb's Biggest Girl October 30, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        As someone who has three screenplays produced and a novel published, I couldn’t disagree with you more.

        I’ve had professionals and non-professionals read my scripts. Some of the best notes I’ve received are from people who aren’t writers and aren’t in the industry. Ignoring the opinion of “Joe Public” just because he or she hasn’t written a screenplay before is a bad idea. After all, Joe Public is the face of the thousands (millions?) of people who you are trying to attract to a theater.

        I don’t know if Talentville is the best forum (I don’t know much about it, personally), but to dismiss people at “the same or lower level” as the blind leading the blind is silly.

        For the record, I think the best note I ever received on my work was from my father, who hasn’t written fiction since grammar school.

        • Avatar
          Fred Federngern October 30, 2015 at 2:44 pm

          Mazeltov.

      • Creative Screenwriting
        Creative Screenwriting October 30, 2015 at 5:58 pm

        I agree with you. The best thing a new screenwriter can do is buy one of the famous books on screenwriting or (ahem) possibly buy one of the Creative Screenwriting tuition DVDs.

        Peer review becomes more valuable once a writer has written one or more scripts and is trying to get better and better. At that point, didactic tuition can deliver less than exploratory, hands-on learning.

        My post was about “writers who are trying to get better”, not new writers.

        • Avatar
          Fred Federngern November 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

          By definition “writers who are trying to get better” are of any length, including new. In fact, mostly new screenwriters “are trying to get better.”

          It’s not advantageous to get reviews from those who just read the same books and have the same limited experience. Evidently, you haven’t visited this site. The peer reviews are mostly illiterate.

  4. Avatar
    Blake Andrew October 31, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Okay, I need to chime in here. Not to defend anyone, but to represent myself and say that I am a happy Tville customer who has received exactly what I needed out of the site: tough ass-kickings by reviewers – and by reviewers, I’m not talking about some imaginary caste system put forth by Fred. These people have made me a better writer, regardless of experience or “credentials”. I don’t care who they are – I respect anyone’s opinion about my script and have the mindfulness to filter the useful criticism from the rest. But according to Fred, you must only be “credentialed” to have a qualified opinion about a script, which is obviously a silly statement in our trade. Fred’s unfortunate generalizations are a point of view based on some disaffection with his craft, or that’s at least how they’re presented. As for the sycophant comment – couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t know Ben from Jerry. He probably doesn’t know who I am, and that’s fine. So how could I be a sycophant? How could I be garnering favor by enjoying and patronizing Ben’s site? It’s a silly comment that sounds childish at best. The other thing I wanted to point out is how proud Fred must feel for anonymously taking a shot at Tville in the comments section of a well-written interview about someone trying to make their way in the world; someone who created a product that is useful to hundreds of people and financially productive. I know people have their opinions, but this is simply spiteful. You state “Why not take a good long look about the site you’ve created to check whether it’s really serving the purpose you intend, or say you intend. Right now it’s an inbred mess with extremely dubious effectiveness.” Again, another sharp criticism, but along with all your other comments about the “dubious effectiveness”, why don’t you sally forth and create your own site, which is better than Ben’s so that we can all flock to it? You can’t? Only accepting “credentialed” folks? Good luck with that. Stay in the peanut gallery because hundreds of us “sycophants” are getting great benefit from Tville. BTW – what are your credentials, since it’s so important in your caste system? I’ll see you at the finish line.

    • Avatar
      IAmTheProgram November 1, 2015 at 6:00 am

      “… I’ll see you at the finish line … ” Nicely done, sir.

      • Avatar
        Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        Said the chipper little butt kisser.

        • Avatar
          Blake Andrew November 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm

          Ask yourself, “Fred”, why would this anonymous person need to kiss MY butt? I’m a lowly aspiring screenwriter who, according to you, is wayward on my path. Also ask yourself whether you take criticism or any feedback well at all. Based on what your writing tells us here, you don’t. Which would lead us to believe that you would have a really bad experience on TVille. So, as I stated before, why don’t you step out of the peanut gallery and start your own site? Then you can have a whole army of your very own sycophants, which I think you secretly desire. Oh and I’ll ask again – what are your credentials?

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            Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 9:28 pm

            Huh?

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      Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Letters, words, sentences, paragraphs.

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        Blake Andrew November 10, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Well said! That tells me that you didn’t even read what I wrote, which pretty much nullifies your position as a critic of anything.

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          Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm

          Huh??

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      Lord Haw-Haw December 16, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Here’s a genius who will give you feedback. Brilliant, aren’t they?

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    Lilith November 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I was a member on the site and it was really terrible. I was more confused after getting feedback there and finally just got professional coverage which did help. Half the site feedback was only a few useless paragraphs which i traded for hours of my own work. I got the idea some reviewers didn’t even read my script.The rest was just as useless that didn’t critque the work but rewrote it. I complained to ben about short reviews and never got a response. Stay away from this site. It’s a waste of time.

    PS One thing i did notice right away was it’s an ol’ boys club just as posted. I wasn’t going to write here until reading some of the defender’s comments.

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    Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    I can no longer do this. I’ve been sworn to secrecy and will not disclose the agenda that’s been loosed here but this is has all been lies and they are not of my making.

    I am well known on the site, and I’m sorry for bowing to the pressure placed on me. I apologize, but all should realize there is a force steering my actions. That’s all I can say.

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      Ben Cahan November 10, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      I wish you only the best, Fred, with all your writing, it would be great if most of our screenwriters would put in as much energy into their scripts as you put into trying to convince others not to join Talentville. I have no idea what dog you even have in this fight, but you’re a trooper in not giving up the ghost.

      • Avatar
        Fred Federngern November 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm

        As if you don’t know.

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        Lord Haw-Haw December 16, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        Perhaps they care more about the users than you.

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    Lord Haw-Haw December 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    A mate asked me about the site and whether joining would be helpful to his career. I’m a working Brit writer and wanted to see the site. Then I got wind of this posting and was fascinated. I borrowed his credentials and spent a little time at ‘Tville’.

    OP is radically correct. Talentville isn’t a site where you write work and others review. It’s a site where writers with no confidence post drafts and others help them write finished drafts. It’s also full of fawning ass-kissers who post treacle so sweet it hurts the tooth. I was half expecting Ben Cahan to post, “I took a squirt today,” and have his zombie followers say how wonderfully yellow it is.

    Writers who have made a name are not the ones doing the reviewing. They’ve gone on. The users writing the reviews are, as posted, illiterates without an inkling. Sure, they’re people who have an opinion but it’s not a learned. Might as well get Auntie to tell you what she thinks.

    The writers who do get repped are for the most part writing bargain bin DTV genre beaters.

    Some of the core are from the defunct triggerstreet. I was on that site a long time ago and recognize one name; a woman who for years has been writing the same autobiographical scripts with minor twists. How sad.

    The awards are risible. This month’s big “Bronze Winning Script of the Month” was terribly reviewed by alleged Pro Coverage Staff. Reading the initial ten pages I see why. It’s dreadful yet it’s a prize winner here. This says it all.

    This site is a shell game meant to generate numbers of reviews and income. Nothing wrong with making money but not to the detriment of others. And that’s what this site is, a detriment to writing well and improving. I was aghast at some of what passes for feedback there.

    Do yourself a favor. Stay away.

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    Ben Cahan December 17, 2015 at 12:11 am

    What is interesting to me is not the folks who comment negatively, I am fine with folks who are critical, of me or my site (free speech and all), but that universally those folks always hide behind usernames, never standing up and being willing to comment under their real name.

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      Lord Haw-Haw December 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Is that the best you have. Who is fooled.

      You’re speaking from both sides of your mouth. At once celebrating free speech but dunning it for not meeting your criteria of free speech. Very 1984 doublespeak, slick and fascistic. The level these honest posts stick in your craw is most evident.

      Ignore the messenger, listen to the message, for whomever we are the facts are correct, and we have stood up.

      Reading the posts a few of your sycophants are posting anonymously. They’ve been uncovered. Spank them, daddy.

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        One Who Knows May 27, 2016 at 12:12 am

        What’s most interesting is getting people to work for free – or a three month subscription – to get possible films made that never will by a wannabee Producer.

        Don’t fall into this trap.

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      One Who Knows January 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      It’s Caleb Yeaton.

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    Scott Vasey February 12, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Don’t Feed the Trolls, people. They’re always hungry

    • Avatar
      Fred Federngern May 20, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Like your constant, inane and pitiful News Feed articles everyone ignores?

    • Avatar
      One Who Knows May 26, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      So clueless they don’t know users make fun behind his back. Note that no one responds to the lame News Feed postings.

  10. Avatar
    Scott Vasey February 12, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Also. “Never argue with an idiot or he will lower you to his level and beat you with experience.” – some wise man

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      Fred Federngern May 20, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Some wise man also said watch out for limp-wristed, wuss, codependent suckups with nothing to say and who are the butt of behind the scenes derision. And they never caught on!

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      One Who Knows May 26, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Pithy, for a wuss, codependent loser.

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    Fred Federngern May 20, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Here’s the truth about Talentville.com. Ben, the wannabee producer who is yet to produce anything, doesn’t want to pay for script coverage so he gets all the idiots who scramble like caffeinated squirrels to be ‘Top Reviewer’ to do it for him – for free. The top prize, a free three months so you can read more for him.

    Run squirrel, run.

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