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Old 12-29-2014, 04:31 PM   #1
Phoenixman78
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Default My Black List Experience

Hi everyone,

First time poster here. After reading various forum posts about Black List experiences I'd like to let people know about mine.

I uploaded a horror/supernatural thriller script of mine I think roughly 18 months ago onto the Black List. I got a 3 and at the time I was a bit disheartened but on reflection I don't think I was too surprised. Flash forward to now and I've worked hard at it in my spare time, uploaded it to Zoetrope twice, paid for coverage and notes and now in my opinion and others have a much superior script on my hands thanks to the twenty plus people who gave me paid and free opinions.

So, I uploaded it to the Black List paid for two evaluations. I waited for three weeks and neither were past the reader assigned stage so true to their word they offered a months free hosting. Sweet. So anyways a few days later the first reader downloaded the script and fairly swiftly submitted their evaluation, the next day I got my email notification, I logged on and......I got a 4.

So after a week of letting the Evaluation soak in I re-read it again and found factual inaccuracies in the weaknesses column. A pointed out that the reader stated there was a certain plot point that happened years before the current story being told which made things that were happening arbitrary. I pointed out on page XX that it's clearly stated by the main character that the plot point referred to happened only months earlier and not years. There were more points that I made but I won't bother going into it at this stage.

So after I sent that email the second evaluation came back before I got a response. It was 3's across the board. So I took a deep breath and read it. Yet again with factual errors and something that annoyed me more, opinion.
When I say opinion I mean someone who didn't like the content of the story, not how it was told or how it was written but the content. It read to me like it left a foul taste in their mouth and because of that my script was given poor marks.

I received back an email in regards to the first evaluation where they offered to wipe it based on one factual error I pointed out and also give me a free month of hosting. Sweet. So I sent them another email and pointed out yet another factual error in the second evaluation, amongst other things, and long story short they offered to wipe both evaluations, replace the evaluations and give me the free month of hosting. So all up I have two evaluations I'm now waiting on and all up two months of free hosting.

I'm not here to bash the Black List but to let you know of my experience so far. I haven't got the new evaluations yet and will have to see how they go but what did disappoint me was the readers weren't really reading the script, more glancing over it in my opinion and that showed in their evaluations. One "suggestion" the reader offered was already in the script and 3 pages long. I really hope this is a poor coincidence because I like the concept of the Black List just so far, not the execution. Time will tell.
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:49 PM   #2
UnequalProductions
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenixman78 View Post
So after I sent that email the second evaluation came back before I got a response. It was 3's across the board. So I took a deep breath and read it. Yet again with factual errors and something that annoyed me more, opinion.
At some point, you need to stop blaming the readers and just take responsibility.

You know what might have kept them from skimming and not catching all the details? Writing a great script. I'm sorry, but that's just the truth. Often when I'm reading a poor script, I just start to drift off. Things become muddled. Honestly, I just stop caring. Never had that happen to me when reading something with compelling characters, a detailed world, and tight scripting.

Seeing a 3 rating, your first instinct is going to be "what did they miss" or "what didn't they catch," but if they did miss or not catch something 90% of the time it's because it wasn't written as clearly as you thought it was.

I'm not trying to give Blacklist (or any other) readers a blanket pass. But executives who read your script aren't going to come back and tell you what they didn't understand. They'll just say "Pass."
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

5/10 of my evaluations had to be wiped. One of them was probably the most factually inaccurate evaluation ever on the Black List. The reader couldn't even get the stories setting correct. I should've gotten a full YEAR of hosting for how bad it was.
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:05 PM   #4
Phoenixman78
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

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Originally Posted by UnequalProductions View Post
At some point, you need to stop blaming the readers and just take responsibility.

You know what might have kept them from skimming and not catching all the details? Writing a great script. I'm sorry, but that's just the truth. Often when I'm reading a poor script, I just start to drift off. Things become muddled. Honestly, I just stop caring. Never had that happen to me when reading something with compelling characters, a detailed world, and tight scripting.

Seeing a 3 rating, your first instinct is going to be "what did they miss" or "what didn't they catch," but if they did miss or not catch something 90% of the time it's because it wasn't written as clearly as you thought it was.

I'm not trying to give Blacklist (or any other) readers a blanket pass. But executives who read your script aren't going to come back and tell you what they didn't understand. They'll just say "Pass."
Easy for you to say but as I said I've had a lot of people read this script from other writers to paid coverage/notes etc so this isn't my first ball game. They had factual errors plain and simple and I don't care if you're paying $50 or $500 you deserve to at least have your coverage factually correct when someones critiquing it. As I said previously a "suggestion" was made on my story by the reader which was already in it and 3 pages long. I've had people give me pretty harsh coverage before and I've gone "Yep. You're right." I can handle criticism just not when it's based on wrong information.

I'm waiting on the other evaluations and I'll see how it goes from there.
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by FoxHound View Post
5/10 of my evaluations had to be wiped. One of them was probably the most factually inaccurate evaluation ever on the Black List. The reader couldn't even get the stories setting correct. I should've gotten a full YEAR of hosting for how bad it was.
50% of your evaluations had to be wiped?? Were they all on the same script or different ones?
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Old 12-29-2014, 08:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

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Originally Posted by Phoenixman78 View Post
50% of your evaluations had to be wiped?? Were they all on the same script or different ones?
4 out of 8 were on one script. 1 out of 2 on the other.
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Old 12-29-2014, 08:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

Forest for the trees. Without reading your script, but based on my experience, I suspect you've missed the important point here. The fact that there were factual inaccuracies may be a product of the writing and not the fault of the reader.

Take a close look at the areas that were missed. It's very possible you're responsible for the inaccuracies in a few different of ways. 1) the writing may not be clear, and 2) the writing may be difficult to absorb because of the style.

If you can honestly rule that out then consider whether those inaccuracies had anything to do with the low score. The script and the writing might be just as problematic even if the reader"got" that part. If that's the case yank it from the Blacklist, rewrite it and make it better.

Bottom line -- if your BL readers keep making errors it's probably traceable to your errors and studio readers will have the same issues. So correct that now.

* For the record, I've found BL readers to be remarkably consistent. In roughly ten reviews all of my scores have been within a narrow range (7s and 8s.) I did contact them about one review because of a factual error, but the overall number was still in that range. Still, 9 out of 10 have been truly excellent reviews that have been very valuable to me.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

also, a 3 and a 4 (to me, without having seen the reviews) indicates that there are bigger problems the readers had with it than whatever "factual errors" the writer may have identified.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:33 PM   #9
Phoenixman78
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Centurio View Post
Forest for the trees. Without reading your script, but based on my experience, I suspect you've missed the important point here. The fact that there were factual inaccuracies may be a product of the writing and not the fault of the reader.

Take a close look at the areas that were missed. It's very possible you're responsible for the inaccuracies in a few different of ways. 1) the writing may not be clear, and 2) the writing may be difficult to absorb because of the style.

If you can honestly rule that out then consider whether those inaccuracies had anything to do with the low score. The script and the writing might be just as problematic even if the reader"got" that part. If that's the case yank it from the Blacklist, rewrite it and make it better.

Bottom line -- if your BL readers keep making errors it's probably traceable to your errors and studio readers will have the same issues. So correct that now.

* For the record, I've found BL readers to be remarkably consistent. In roughly ten reviews all of my scores have been within a narrow range (7s and 8s.) I did contact them about one review because of a factual error, but the overall number was still in that range. Still, 9 out of 10 have been truly excellent reviews that have been very valuable to me.
I know where you're coming from but wouldn't the Black List argue with me if the writing was the problem here? Don't they check these things so they don't constantly hand out free reads to people?

At no point did either reader state the "writing" was an issue. I pointed out the issues, one of which as I said earlier was something that was three pages long that the reader missed. How do you miss three pages? You don't read them at all is how.

How do you explain FoxHound? Five out of ten of his evaluations were taken down. I have zero issues when someone tells me there's something wrong with a script I've written even when I don't agree with their view BUT when you can't even get a simple fact right that kills 80% of your criticism then I have a problem. These things weren't hidden in the subtext and I'm not writing in ancient Aramaic, last time I checked anyway.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:50 PM   #10
bmcthomas
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Default Re: My Black List Experience

No, they don't argue. The BL is very customer-service focused. Free reads and extra months of hosting are passed out like candy on Halloween.
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