First off, Nicholl operates at a hefty loss, as Greg has posted many, many times. They pay their readers well, and scripts get multiple reads.
That said, I don't fault for profit operations.
And, to be honest, if I were trying to break in, I probably would take a shot at this. A script that gets one or two great reviews will absolutely get quality reads, especially in the beginning. (I say in the beginning, because I think these services get caught in a pickle: more recommendations equals better business, but more recommendations means that people will be less likely to read the scripts.)
But I am certain that WRITER A who posts his script on Blacklist has a better chance of getting discovered by someone in Hollywood than WRITER B who writes his script and does nothing.
Yes. But are those really the two paths? Are your options writing a script and putting it in a drawer, or paying Black List 3.0 to list it?
You can't query or enter a legit contest?
Because if that's the case, then this new service is definitely a godsend.
My problem with this is the philosophical one. I don't think Hollywood is hopelessly broken. I think managers, agents, producers and studios are constantly looking for new material and writers, and they have a voracious appetite.
But these services play on the feeling that the above isn't true - you're being unfairly kept out! We're going to get you by the gatekeepers, for a fee!
In my opinion, it's getting you to the gatekeepers, and it's getting you exactly what you could get with a great script and a great query letter.
I also - and this is personal - am uncomfortable about services that will help 1% of their customers, and know it. There've been plenty of stories here from readers for companies that are reading mostly scripts from professional writers - and they talk about how few "recommends" they give out.
And I go back to Amazon - ten thousand scripts from amateur writers, and the "winners" all were basically picked for concept and then underwent page one rewrites. Black List 3.0 isn't going to break twenty people a month - if it breaks one a month, I'd say it's a wild success.
Again, if I were starting out, I'd probably give this a shot. I get the allure. And if you look it as paying 75-125 bucks (with two reads) to roll the dice, instead of (or to augment) querying... why not?
I just don't see anything revolutionary. It's Script Shark with a better pedigree. (Which absolutely counts for something!)