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Old 05-26-2017, 10:47 AM   #1
Ryan Rodriguez
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Default Blacklist Experience #1239932

I know there are a number of these ďmy blacklist experienceĒ posts but I found them helpful when I was thinking about posting to the site. So here's mine.

The process of uploading everything was easy. It was surprisingly detailed. It asks you to choose tags. There are at least a hundred (or it feels that way). The tags include everything from projected budget, content rating, race of the protag or if the protagís race is left undefined, which specific animals are featured, if there's hand to hand combat or political content. It's really thorough.

When you choose your genre you can choose two main genres. This is where it got a little tricky. I have a comedic fantasy adventure movie. The comedy is a major component of the screenplay. There are a lot of bits where you can only get away with that kind of thing in a comedy. So after some reflection, I changed the genre from fantasy/adventure (those were my original two) to fantasy/comedy. I donít know if it means Iíll get reviews that are a better reflection of the project but I feel like people who like to read comedy might judge it in that light as opposed to some action/adventure reader hoping sheís about to read the next Lord of the Rings or Avatar.

I paid for 1 evaluation and then about two-ish weeks later, the review came. It took about a week to get the review after the reader ďdownloadedĒ it.

The review made me depressed. Not gonna lie. I wanted those 8s+ so bad. I, like every other writer, works hard, does research, rewrites, rewrites. Then some stranger gives what feel like cursory remarks, rates it low, and now my project is deep in Blacklist-water without any oars.

The funny thing about the evaluation is that it said I did well in the areas where I thought I would surely get nicked but in areas where I thought I would be okay, I got hit.

The most confusing comment the evaluator made was in regards to its budget. I donít have any special effects, most of the scenes take place in the woods. I honestly donít know how to come up with a projected budget for a screenplay (I would love to read a good how-to) but it was surprising to read that the evaluator thought my screenplay would be on the more expensive side.

Oh! And the setting score. Iím not sure what ďsettingĒ means. How do you score high or low in setting? This is where I think I need to swap scripts with someone, get some actionable advice or impressions on all these elements. My story is about a guy chasing down a forest creature. The setting - the forest. Was my forest not foresty enough? Was it too generic? Did I miss opportunities?

From here, I think Iím going to pay for one more evaluation. I might get an even lower score but I would love to get at least one 8 in any category (címon setting!) and show up in some shopperís search results.

I think I would feel better about all this if the blacklist website didnít make it so difficult to become visible. My impression is that when a shopper is searching for material itís a bit like google. Only 8s and up are going to be on the first 20 pages of search results. Everything after that is going to come with a MALWARE warning or present a yes/no popup box asking if the shopper truly intended to look at that result.


Hereís my review:

******************************************

REVIEW


Overall Rating 6
Premise 6
Plot 7
Character 6
Dialogue 6
Setting 6

Era:
Modern

Locations:
Wedding / Fantasy World / Rural

Budgets:
Medium

Genre:
Action & Adventure, Action Comedy, Mystery & Suspense, Sci-Fi Thriller

Logline (the evaluator comes up with their own):
A timid groom is taken to a magical port and must escape it by teaming up with a rag tag group of new friends and looking for a mythological Keeper of the Forest in an attempt to get out.

Strengths:
This is a fun fantasy adventure script with a unique premise, world and set of characters. The project does a great job of paying attention to detail with providing foreshadowing and interwoven themes throughout. An example of this would be when Jackie gets captured and is talking to Dusty, and Dusty delivers the line about never being too old to fight for the ones you love. The plight that Jackie goes on is funny, and that is due mostly in part to his interactions with Merle and Rudy. They're a hilarious trio, and their personalities are all wildly different. It works very well to have Jackie be so timid, early on. This sets his arc up for clear growth, and his set up gives some strong comedic relief. An example of this would be when he seems apprehensive to first take Rudy up on looking for the Keeper of the Forest, because it seems too dangerous. It's a fast paced script, with snappy action blocking. The story is told in an efficient and ever intriguing way, and presents a consistent tone across the board. One of the most impressive elements to the script is how it almost parodies the idea of someone being in a fantasy world and trying to get out. There's some very polished sarcasm in the dialogue from the main characters.

Weaknesses
We need to get a bit more development from Eleanor early on. Much of the plight revolves around Jackie trying to get out of the Port, obviously for his own life, but also to get back to Eleanor. It's funny that he's reluctant to actually care about her, but at the end of the day, the audience just needs to get a better idea for what her personality is like. Maybe this could come out of Jackie coming across more reasons to want to get back to her. All in all, the finale, when she shows up and then gets hit with the dart, will be much more impactful and strong if we get to know her more in the first act (at least). The dialogue is funny, but Gregory's and Mayor Moe's voices are pretty on the nose. Try to go in and give Gregory a more defined personality. His goals are clear, and the twist that comes out when he kills the bear/Keeper, and it ends up being his father, is interesting. With that in mind, the audience doesn't really get enough to connect with on Gregory's subplot, because he feels too one-dimensional, and lacking a fleshed out voice. Mayor Moe comes off as more of a filler character, and going in and developing his motivations could improve the story. Bring him back around more in the second half of act 2 as well so that we get full development before he comes back into the story in the third act.

Prospects:
This is a fun adventure story, with a timid protagonist that goes through a lot of clear growth over the course of the script. It's a unique premise, that would take a medium sized budget to pull off (at least). It's not an overly high concept, and it can be even more difficult to bring original fantasy stories (without built in audiences) to life in Hollywood, but that shouldn't be a deterrent for going after this project. There is room to make the dialogue a bit more personalized to the voices of some of the supporting characters, and although exposition plays into the humor of the story, it comes off a bit heavy handed, especially when Jackie is first getting assimilated into the Port and talking with Merle. It's a fast paced read, that at the very least is well on its way to being a strong writing sample.
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Old 05-26-2017, 02:41 PM   #2
nativeson
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Everybody likes to be associated with a winner. So just write a snappy, brilliant script that's ***CHEAP*** to shoot, and it's instant tens, baby. Easy
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:54 PM   #3
Cyfress
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

This is my problem with Blacklist reviews. You read the strengths and the reviewer uses words like: Hilarious, Fun, Unique, Detailed. The way they talk about the script makes you think it should be passed up the chain immediately. Then they score it a 6, which makes it an average script in their mind. A C/C+ grade. I think they over sell the strengths big time. They know that unless writers hear good things about their work that the chances of them being repeat customers is slim to none.

The tags are interesting. Gives you insight as to how managers, producers, agents search for scripts.
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Old 05-26-2017, 09:31 PM   #4
SBdeb
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

I recall wondering the same thing re. "setting."

It did sound like they rather enjoyed the read, so that's gotta be encouraging.

Did you feel that what they suggested were "weaknesses" were possibly true, or things others had told you (or you had thought yourself at some level?)
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Old 05-26-2017, 11:04 PM   #5
Ryan Rodriguez
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Quote:
Originally Posted by SBdeb View Post
I recall wondering the same thing re. "setting."

It did sound like they rather enjoyed the read, so that's gotta be encouraging.

Did you feel that what they suggested were "weaknesses" were possibly true, or things others had told you (or you had thought yourself at some level?)

This evaluation is the only feedback Iíve had on the script. Itís difficult to weigh it. I need to get more eyes on it, see what comments represent the norm, which are outliers.

Some of the weaknesses led me to question other things. The evaluator wanted more development of Eleanorís character earlier on. However, I donít show her at all until the end. I didnít want to show her because I thought audiences would then expect to see Jackie and her reunited and I wanted them to actually consider that he might not ever see her. They might never see her. So I canít tell if that worked or what.

The strange thing is that I really thought I would get hit on the arc. Little weird to disagree with a strength.

Easy to agree with things like, dialogue thatís on the nose.

A detailed explanation of each screenplay element would be nice, a rough rubric. So the meaning of a six would be more concrete.


Proposed Blacklist rubric:

1. Learn the basics.
2. You got some of the format right but learn the basics.
3. Well, you got the format right.
4. This is your first script, isnít it.
5. Can write, but isnít salable.
6. If you stand on this box you can see the horizon.
7. Youíre standing on the box.
8. You look beautiful in this light.
9. Are you single?
10. Let me put some lotion on those shoulders.
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Old 05-27-2017, 06:34 AM   #6
figment
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Rodriguez View Post

From here, I think Iím going to pay for one more evaluation.
Not sure from your post if you were looking for feedback in order to rewrite or to simply try and get an "8," but if it's actual feedback you want, I wouldn't waste money on the BL.

Titan Creed on this board will give you awesome notes that are actionable and useful, so you have clear, concrete feedback and can go from there doing a rewrite to work out the kinks.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=78768
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Old 05-27-2017, 06:46 AM   #7
Cyfress
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Notes on setting usually mean you did not make you case effectively as to why this story should be set in this location. You have to make a case for you setting in your story, if you don't then it's just 'there' and has no significance to the story.

Or it means the dramatic setting of the story needs amplification. The dramatic setting is that 'thing' you are analyzing in your script.

In Liar, Liar the dramatic setting is a Lawyer who cannot lie. Within that oxymoron are situations ripe for conflict. Did you really take advantage of the dramatic setting of your script.

The Dramatic Setting of Silence Of The Lambs is a rookie FBI agent must do psychological battle with a cunning, sarcastic, deranged cannibalistic serial killer. Within that dramatic setting are many opportunities for conflict and thematic undertones.
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:28 AM   #8
Ryan Rodriguez
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Quote:
Originally Posted by figment View Post
Not sure from your post if you were looking for feedback in order to rewrite or to simply try and get an "8," but if it's actual feedback you want, I wouldn't waste money on the BL.

Titan Creed on this board will give you awesome notes that are actionable and useful, so you have clear, concrete feedback and can go from there doing a rewrite to work out the kinks.

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=78768
Yeah, not using BL for the notes. I knew that much going in. Thank you so much for the recommendation. I saw the sticky and the reviews/his site looks great. Going to give him a try.

*searches couch for loose change
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:39 AM   #9
Ryan Rodriguez
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyfress View Post
Notes on setting usually mean you did not make you case effectively as to why this story should be set in this location. You have to make a case for you setting in your story, if you don't then it's just 'there' and has no significance to the story.

Or it means the dramatic setting of the story needs amplification. The dramatic setting is that 'thing' you are analyzing in your script.

In Liar, Liar the dramatic setting is a Lawyer who cannot lie. Within that oxymoron are situations ripe for conflict. Did you really take advantage of the dramatic setting of your script.

The Dramatic Setting of Silence Of The Lambs is a rookie FBI agent must do psychological battle with a cunning, sarcastic, deranged cannibalistic serial killer. Within that dramatic setting are many opportunities for conflict and thematic undertones.

This certainly could be the case. Often times I won't include thematic niceties because I don't want to confuse anyone or take the push of the story out of the sails with some symbolic - a dewdrop on a rose falls to the sand from a lonely cactus in an ocean of desert - type thing and I can never tell when I'm doing it well or, well, just doing it.

Maybe the 6 is a reward for my lack of risk.
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Old 05-27-2017, 10:56 AM   #10
Cyfress
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Default Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

I agree, the first things that come to mind when injecting thematic components into a scene are often heavy handed and over snobby, but it's your job as the writer to dig deeper, get past sobby and move toward poignant.
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