Kevin of Cincinnati saw a listing like this on Craigslist:
Can you do it better than
the films you see?
Do you have the next SIXTH SENSE
or WEDDING CRASHERS?
Now’s your chance to prove it.
Award winning Hollywood producer/manager
Looking for motion picture scripts.
All genres. Send synopsis
plus contact info. Cinn.
What would you make of a posting like this; is it to be trusted? Is there any difference between a synopsis and an idea? Can a synopsis be legally more protected than an idea?
There are some legitimate managers who solicit via the Internet. However, a legitimate manager will share his or her identity and credentials, usually on a website, and these credentials will be easily verifiable. Also, usually, a legitimate manager will make the writer sign a release before submitting material.
I am not saying the person above is not legitimate. I am saying you probably want to learn more about the manager before sending in your material. Email him (or her, who knows?) and ask for the manager’s background.
Aside from the lack of disclosure about the identity and credentials, the fact that the manager is in Cincinnati is also a red flag, or at least a yellow flag. Managers must be in regular discourse with producers and other dealmakers. Most of these contacts are in Los Angeles (at least, for the American market) and, naturally, so are most successful working managers. (There are also a good number in New York.) While it may not be impossible to function as a legitimate manager from Cincinnati, knowing the manager’s credentials is even more important.
As for the last part of your question, I assume it means, “Do I have to worry about my idea being ripped off?” Any time you share an idea with an anonymous source, you have to worry about being ripped off. Irrespective of the legalities of intellectual property law, you normally would not send ideas or synopsis to an anonymous email address. You should always keep a submission log and know exactly where and when you submitted material, always submit material with a cover letter or email (of which you keep a copy), and always follow up in writing if you hear no response.
The bottom line on listings like the above: before sending in your material, inquire of the person’s identity and credentials in order to make an informed decision.