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Old 02-07-2018, 04:00 AM   #31
SundownInRetreat
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

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Originally Posted by nguyensquared View Post
Carol Dweck spoke about this psychology in her book Mindset......But unless you also scrutinize the A and understand why you got that A, you won't be able to willfully repeat it.
Fair enough. Just question it in context of what I posited.

Once you stop hanging onto QF'ing amateur competitions you'll experience greater clarity. If you don't then, that's telling in itself.
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Old 02-07-2018, 12:12 PM   #32
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

I definitely agree with you on your points. I've read for contests and do feedback in writer's critique groups and some form of this argument inevitably comes up: "My script got this high score here and got a lower score there. So what's wrong with the reader who gave me a lower score?, when a high score on the Black List could be just as facetious as a low score. Yet few would question the higher score and just take it at face value.

It's human psychology when given two polarizing opinions to just agree with the one we already agreed with. Arguably one of the hardest parts of becoming a better writer for all of us is to overcome this inherent reaction in favor of becoming more compelling story tellers.

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Fair enough. Just question it in context of what I posited.

Once you stop hanging onto QF'ing amateur competitions you'll experience greater clarity. If you don't then, that's telling in itself.
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Old 02-07-2018, 03:19 PM   #33
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

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It looks like you over value competitions. These are amateur dealings not pro. In America, kids get university scholarships for their sporting prowess yet many cannot make the step up to the majors. Nicholl and Austin are looking for the best of amateur writing and if you get right to the zenith, ie: the top 5 scripts, then you may have something pro-level. 'May' being the operative word. But QF? That's top 10% of a competition that regularly gets over 7000 entries.



Commercial or financial (production-wise) viability.



Or your 8 was an outlier that got you DLs your script didn't warrant. That none of the DLs led to a six-figure cheque should tell you something.

Of course, disparate scores can affect your average. That's not TB going against their 'do no harm' mantra but maths and common sense. You can't bend 'do no harm' to mean being placed in a protective bubble where you can't get low marks.



At the end of the day, whether the 4 was deserved or not, you were stung by the score and think your script deserved better. Like we all do. You gladly accept the 8 but not the 4. No offence, truly, but this is just the standard reaction of a writer not prepared to accept his writing isn't of a high calibre. Your most compelling reasoning being you were made the top several hundred of amateur competitions.

You gladly take the 8 and the 7 and you make special mention of the 7's compliments but don't mention how it was ultimately deemed not good enough. Or that it matched a pre-rewrite score (ie: no improvement) and was in the ballpark of another pre-write score - the 6. I get it, I really do, but all you're doing is taking the good and ignoring the not so good. As much as you feel robbed, an equally fair conclusion is there's been marginal, (or no) improvement post rewrite; that out of 6 evaluations only 1 has made the grade; that your script in both the competitions and TBL have been competent but not great; and that one pre-rewrite score was a 5 thus a 4 is not out of the ordinary considering the highest pre & post-rewrite scores are within 1 point of each other.

No one ever takes that line of thinking even though it's amply backed up by the facts. I'm not saying you're not good enough now nor never will be, I'm just saying that people hear what they like and discard what they don't. And just some food for thought, you got 5 or 6 downloads in a week when you scored your 8, right? When I scored an 8 I got 49 downloads in a week and offers of representation. Maybe, despite the 8 from the reader, no one else thought it was good enough to deserve that 8 from those who did. I'm not saying that's the case - merely pointing out a wholly possible scenario that I bet you haven't considered.

But more than anything, how can you gripe about the aggregate scoring when you knew how TBL worked before you paid up?
I don't over or under value competitions. On the contrary, I look at them as neutral testing sites that will give me a fair evaluation for the quality of my script. Nicholl and Austin are the two top competitions around, and to finish in the Top 5% of both indicates at least some quality, because both contests employ pro readers as well. Certainly, Nicholl and Austin have had as many success stories in selling scripts as does the BL. (Not apples-to-apples, I know, since both contests have been around a lot longer.)

And I fail to understand the distinction you make between the contests and the BL -- the BL is also evaluating amateur screenwriters and screenplays, so there is a great deal of crossover. Many BL scripts have done well in contests.

I understand about commercial viability, which is why my script hasn't gotten a lot of requests -- a period piece set in war with a female protagonist (despite the current zeitgeist, it's still harder to sell a script with a female protagonist instead of a male, but hopefully that will change soon.) I've optioned two scripts before, so I know a little about what things sell and what doesn't.

I never said my script should be in a "protective bubble." It got a 7 when I posted it originally, then got an 8 when I rewrote it using notes I got from the BL, Nicholl and Austin readers (most of whom agreed with each other on the strengths and weaknesses.) The new version got the 8. The subsequent reads got a 4 and a 7, so yes, I do feel the 4 is the outlier when compared with a 7, 8 and 7. To me, since I don't know the math formula they use to weigh the scores (it's not on the website, nor does it have to be), then the 4 really did drag it down since the actual average is higher than the weighted one.

You say I don't "accept" the 4, but in context with the evaluation I got and the other scores, no, I don't think it's an accurate representation of the script, and I didn't feel like shelling out more $$ to get another review.

I'm not on here to trash the BL. I have recommended it to many people in the past and will continue to do so, and probably use it again to get a neutral eval of a future script, just like I do with Nicholl and Austin. But this one experience has been very frustrating to me, and since this is a thread about BL experiences, I thought I'd share it.
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:26 AM   #34
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

By no means am I picking you out - I'm merely making an observation from the other Black List threads on the forum. I apologize if it came off sounding that way. I'd love to read a period piece set in war about a female protagonist. I'm actually writing one myself! (minus the war)

The distinction I'd make between the Black List and the Nicholl and Austin is:

1) The latter two, by design, must have winners whereas the former does not. Even if all the 7K+ Nicholl entries were sub-par by professional standards, there still must be 5 fellows awarded. On the Black List, it wouldn't matter if there were 70K+ entries that don't make the professional cut - there's no quota of 8s, 9s, or 10s.
2) The latter two make the writer a priority whereas the former makes the agents/producers/etc who are looking for material the priority. There are certainly cross-overs, but their agendas are different.

I haven't read your script so I can't say first hand if the 4, 7, 8 or any score is really the more valid score, though it certainly seems like the 7 and 8 are more likely to be accurate (congratulations by the way, I hear the 8s are in the top 2.5%). Truthfully, without a sampling of at least 20, it's hard to really tell. Ultimately, the law of averages will determine where the script truly lies.

I'm merely stating that as a whole, it's valuable to scrutinize the good scores with the bad (maybe even more so) because if you can understand why you scored the 7 and 8 and have a means of replicating it, you're well on your way to making the law of averages work in your favor. But I understand your point in that the Black List really isn't helpful in this manner as its notes were really meant for the agents/producers/etc and not for the writer.

Best of luck!

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Originally Posted by glantern2814 View Post
I don't over or under value competitions. On the contrary, I look at them as neutral testing sites that will give me a fair evaluation for the quality of my script. Nicholl and Austin are the two top competitions around, and to finish in the Top 5% of both indicates at least some quality, because both contests employ pro readers as well. Certainly, Nicholl and Austin have had as many success stories in selling scripts as does the BL. (Not apples-to-apples, I know, since both contests have been around a lot longer.)

And I fail to understand the distinction you make between the contests and the BL -- the BL is also evaluating amateur screenwriters and screenplays, so there is a great deal of crossover. Many BL scripts have done well in contests.

I understand about commercial viability, which is why my script hasn't gotten a lot of requests -- a period piece set in war with a female protagonist (despite the current zeitgeist, it's still harder to sell a script with a female protagonist instead of a male, but hopefully that will change soon.) I've optioned two scripts before, so I know a little about what things sell and what doesn't.

I never said my script should be in a "protective bubble." It got a 7 when I posted it originally, then got an 8 when I rewrote it using notes I got from the BL, Nicholl and Austin readers (most of whom agreed with each other on the strengths and weaknesses.) The new version got the 8. The subsequent reads got a 4 and a 7, so yes, I do feel the 4 is the outlier when compared with a 7, 8 and 7. To me, since I don't know the math formula they use to weigh the scores (it's not on the website, nor does it have to be), then the 4 really did drag it down since the actual average is higher than the weighted one.

You say I don't "accept" the 4, but in context with the evaluation I got and the other scores, no, I don't think it's an accurate representation of the script, and I didn't feel like shelling out more $$ to get another review.

I'm not on here to trash the BL. I have recommended it to many people in the past and will continue to do so, and probably use it again to get a neutral eval of a future script, just like I do with Nicholl and Austin. But this one experience has been very frustrating to me, and since this is a thread about BL experiences, I thought I'd share it.

Last edited by nguyensquared : 02-08-2018 at 10:27 AM. Reason: Additional information
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Old 02-08-2018, 06:44 AM   #35
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

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The distinction I'd make between the Black List and the Nicholl and Austin is: ... 2) The latter two make the writer a priority whereas the former makes the agents/producers/etc...
You said it. I still don't understand why the agents/managers aren't the revenue source for this and similar businesses. But I guess as long as writers are so desperate to get the validation of being 'listed', that is how it'll work.

Me? I've just never had the money so have been spared the decision.

On the matter of opinions, I'll repeat the trope of 'Reading is a subjective thing'. Very important lesson to learn. Of course, it could also be applied to 'viewing films'.

I'm reminded of 'Hamster Factor and Other Tales of 12 Monkeys', my favorite 'making of' documentary. (It's there on YouTube in whole or in part.)

There are lots of great behind-the-scenes elements, including when they put the film before test audiences. The scores ranged from disappointing to bad - David Peoples, the co-writer, also has a great story about the preview scores for 'Airplane'. But the filmmakers decided to release the thing with few changes. They simply had that gut feeling - 'faith' - that their movie was great, and that it'd be well-received by regular audiences who were seeking something a bit more thought-provoking than the usual fare.

That is, 'regular audiences' vs. those who've been hired as 'preview audiences'. Even nice regular folks go a bit funny when they're called upon to be critics or experts.

In the end, you must have faith in your story, with the physical law of displacement maybe resulting in a bit more skepticism about those whose opinions are not accompanied by the $ to actually make the darned movie. It's what has had me doing all of my pitching directly to producers over the past few years, with managers down to nil and agents down to about once per year.
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:40 AM   #36
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My guess is that the Black List had to weigh between the best of the following scenarios given the skewed ratio of writers, readers, agents/producers/etc., and the Black List itself as a business entity:

1) Charge the writer for reviewing their material, and if it's good enough, recommend it to agents/producers/etc. who are in search of material to represent/sell

2) Charge the agents/producers a monthly fee and charge the writers nothing to submit and review their scripts

3) Split the cost between writers and agents/producers/etc. - charge both the writers AND charge the agents/producers a monthly fee

#2 is hard to justify financially unless the membership fee is very high to offset the number of reader's they'd need to sift through the mountain of submissions they already get.

#3 is doable, and a possibility. It would also certainly weed out any agents/producers who are just dabbling or phishing. People usually feel they have more a stake in things when there's money involved.

#1 makes the most sense given the Black List's mission at the moment: to find worthy material for agents/producers, which is where I suspect the confusion lays. Writers pay money, yet feel "cheated" when they get a lower score coupled with what appear to be contradictory notes, or when the reader seems to have missed details - because the Black List is primarily reviewing the material in a way that makes sense to agents/producers. That's why it's not a good place to get coverage; rather, you should get coverage elsewhere for more useful notes and then submit to the Black List.

Regardless, it's undeniable that the Black List has opened doors that weren't previously available. That being said, the Black List is good for some things and not good for other things such as helping the writer improve (though the same could be said of competitions). And as Leonard himself has reiterated, if it's not getting you the results you want, you'd do well to allocate your resources elsewhere.

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You said it. I still don't understand why the agents/managers aren't the revenue source for this and similar businesses. But I guess as long as writers are so desperate to get the validation of being 'listed', that is how it'll work.

Me? I've just never had the money so have been spared the decision.

On the matter of opinions, I'll repeat the trope of 'Reading is a subjective thing'. Very important lesson to learn. Of course, it could also be applied to 'viewing films'.

I'm reminded of 'Hamster Factor and Other Tales of 12 Monkeys', my favorite 'making of' documentary. (It's there on YouTube in whole or in part.)

There are lots of great behind-the-scenes elements, including when they put the film before test audiences. The scores ranged from disappointing to bad - David Peoples, the co-writer, also has a great story about the preview scores for 'Airplane'. But the filmmakers decided to release the thing with few changes. They simply had that gut feeling - 'faith' - that their movie was great, and that it'd be well-received by regular audiences who were seeking something a bit more thought-provoking than the usual fare.

That is, 'regular audiences' vs. those who've been hired as 'preview audiences'. Even nice regular folks go a bit funny when they're called upon to be critics or experts.

In the end, you must have faith in your story, with the physical law of displacement maybe resulting in a bit more skepticism about those whose opinions are not accompanied by the $ to actually make the darned movie. It's what has had me doing all of my pitching directly to producers over the past few years, with managers down to nil and agents down to about once per year.

Last edited by nguyensquared : 02-08-2018 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 02-08-2018, 11:01 AM   #37
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I really admire Franklin Leonard, especially for the professionalism he brings to whatever he does. Remember all the time he spent promoting/explaining his service here, and taking the requests/criticism? Epic hundred-page threads.

Going way back, there were hiccups though. Worst I recalled was when somebody had a script show up on the site ... but hadn't uploaded it there! Hmm, well whether or not the script was any good, that's a "blacklisting" that isn't what you want to see. I don't believe he had any rep do it, either.

Anyway, FranklinL was right here, apologizing and checking into it. Whatever it ended up being, I don't know.

Whatever, admiring somebody's entrepreneurism, as I do with FL, doesn't mean I think the enterprise is a perfect execution. That's why it's always open for another entrepreneur or risk-taker. Those who come to the street fight after its first hour may have it easier since some of the best fighters have already been knocked out.

Consider CJ Walley's free SR (http://www.scriptrevolution.com). Check out its feature comparison list right on the HOME page.

I mean, it's free for writers AND visitors (agents/managers/producers), but he's a relative nobody (compared to, say FL and his BL that was well-established before the site came into being), so his (Walley's) biggest problems are of course quality control in the scripts, and getting agents/managers etc. to visit.

All it will take is for one exceptional and profitable piece to be discovered there, and that site will take off - far more than it already has, given it's a home garage effort, but a really well-done, noble one at that.
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Old 02-08-2018, 11:19 AM   #38
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Thanks for the recommendation. I checked out the site and it seems like a great idea, even if CJ's scripts do appear at the top of the "Most Loved" (just a coincidence, I'm sure ;-)

But I can see how his site at the moment won't be able to offer agents/producers/etc. what the Black List can, as the scripts aren't vetted. There's a score (not sure how it's computed) though I suspect it's a community enforced grading system, vetted by other writers on the website.

Kudos regardless.

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I really admire Franklin Leonard, especially for the professionalism he brings to whatever he does. Remember all the time he spent promoting/explaining his service here, and taking the requests/criticism? Epic hundred-page threads.

Going way back, there were hiccups though. Worst I recalled was when somebody had a script show up on the site ... but hadn't uploaded it there! Hmm, well whether or not the script was any good, that's a "blacklisting" that isn't what you want to see. I don't believe he had any rep do it, either.

Anyway, FranklinL was right here, apologizing and checking into it. Whatever it ended up being, I don't know.

Whatever, admiring somebody's entrepreneurism, as I do with FL, doesn't mean I think the enterprise is a perfect execution. That's why it's always open for another entrepreneur or risk-taker. Those who come to the street fight after its first hour may have it easier since some of the best fighters have already been knocked out.

Consider CJ Walley's free SR (http://www.scriptrevolution.com). Check out its feature comparison list right on the HOME page.

I mean, it's free for writers AND visitors (agents/managers/producers), but he's a relative nobody (compared to, say FL and his BL that was well-established before the site came into being), so his (Walley's) biggest problems are of course quality control in the scripts, and getting agents/managers etc. to visit.

All it will take is for one exceptional and profitable piece to be discovered there, and that site will take off - far more than it already has, given it's a home garage effort, but a really well-done, noble one at that.
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:02 PM   #39
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Default Re: Black List Website Postmortem

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...top of the "Most Loved" (just a coincidence, I'm sure ;-)
No doubt it's some sort of "algorithm". These tech-savvy guys love that word! FL did, too.
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:11 PM   #40
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I don't over or under value competitions. On the contrary.....to finish in the Top 5% of both indicates at least some quality
Indicates otherwise. Also, you said they are the top 2 competitions around but you forgot the disclaimer of amateur. Even if they have pro-writers reading. With these competitions, someone has to win but with the Black List, the readers are judging to pro standards and every one can be given a crap score and tossed on the scrapheap.


Quote:
Certainly, Nicholl and Austin have had as many success stories in selling scripts as does the BL.
This also tells me you rate competitions higher than you should because you're trying to validate them with comparisons to BL in regards to their success stories. Most importantly, TBL isn't a competition. They can kick back every single submission if they wanted to.


Quote:
And I fail to understand the distinction you make between the contests and the BL -- the BL is also evaluating amateur screenwriters and screenplays, so there is a great deal of crossover. Many BL scripts have done well in contests.
I can't say it any other way than I already have: TBL judges to pro standards. If you get an 8+ then that's deemed to be pro-level and a script that a reader would insist their boss reads asap. Competitions are a last man standing affair. Quality is irrelevant and you only have to be the best of the bunch. Sure, I'd expect there to be some level of quality in 7000 entries but there's no guarantee of that.

The simple fact is many Nicholl winners and finalists have been rejected for not being good enough writers to make it in the big league. Like I said, it's the difference between being good enough to win a university scholarship and good enough to play in the NFL.


Quote:
I never said my script should be in a "protective bubble."
You whined that the aggregate scoring structure - which you were well aware before signing up - caused your decent-scoring script to look decidedly average.


Quote:
It got a 7 when I posted it originally, then got an 8 when I rewrote it using notes I got from the BL, Nicholl and Austin readers
It also got a 5 originally, then a 7 post-rewrite (which matched the pre-rewrite 7).


Quote:
The new version got the 8. The subsequent reads got a 4 and a 7, so yes, I do feel the 4 is the outlier when compared with a 7, 8 and 7.
Talk about being selective! You compare its lowest score to its highest but if you want to be fair you'd compare it to it's lowest pre-rewrite score: which is 5; a difference of one point. The same difference as between your highest pre and post-rewrite scores. That's consistency not an outlier.

In fact, your lowest pre & post-rewrite scores are 5 and 4 whilst your highest pre and post-rewrite scores are 7 and 8. Like I said, consistency not an outlier.

Or to put it another way:
Your pre-rewrite scores were 5, 6, 7, 7 = an average of 6.25
Your post-rewrite scores were 4, 7, 8 = an average of 6.33

Just because you rewrite doesn't mean you automatically make it better.

Even if we raised your 4 to the 5 to match your lowest pre-rewrite score, your average would still only be 6.66


Quote:
To me, since I don't know the math formula they use to weigh the scores (it's not on the website, nor does it have to be), then the 4 really did drag it down since the actual average is higher than the weighted one.
See above.


Quote:
You say I don't "accept" the 4, but in context with the evaluation I got and the other scores, no, I don't think it's an accurate representation of the script
Yes, it is, see above.

None of this is written to kick you whilst you're down - only to demonstrate a) you're emotionally attached - as most of us are
b) you can't compare amateur to pro. In any discipline. Sometimes the best are good enough to make the leap but in the overwhelming number of cases, they're not.
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Last edited by SundownInRetreat : 02-12-2018 at 03:10 PM.
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