The New Black List

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  • Re: The New Black List

    Originally posted by Joe Unidos View Post
    Echoing Knaight, the disconnect for me comes with the idea that anyone in the industry who looks for scripts as a function of their job would basically work for free by scouring an amateur database. They already have a HUGE backlog of material vetted by managers and agents. Too much to get to, in most cases.

    It feels somewhat disenguious to me to sell this to credit card-clutching newbies as a place that execs (and that is the inference being made) will be using as part of their pipeline.

    It isn't and they won't.
    For the most part, I'm sure you're right. However, I expect that there will be a success story or two that comes out of the New Blacklist. The Blacklist brand is strong enough that there will probably be a little bit of spillover into the New Blacklist, and a top script or two will end up selling and launching a career. It will be the exception, and not the rule, but it'll keep new writers excited enough to keep their scripts listed.

    From a business perspective, I actually have a lot of respect for this idea. It's smart, and will likely be successful. I can only assume that the gym membership effect will take place, and people will cancel their listings anywhere from 3-6 months after they originally intended to. (I have to imagine that the listings will function on automatic credit card renewal, correct?)

    I would guess that there are about 10,000 screenwriters who regularly invest $50-100 in contests each year. The New Blacklist will be successful even if they can penetrate 15-25% of that. If you have a revolving catalogue of 1,500 scripts per month, that's $37.5k in income per month, from listing fees alone. Add in reading fees, and the fact that your clientele are consistently generating new material to be uploaded, and...

    Yep, this thing's going to make money.

    As a writer, it worries me a little. For the exact reasons that Joe Unidos pointed out, I have trouble believing that it will even be as successful as the more reputable contests in breaking new writers, and most of those contests offer cash prizes. Again, due to the gym membership effect, I could see writers easily forking over $150 before they're done listing a particular script.

    I will say, I don't think it's the worst investment a writer can make. Writers can easily waste money on sub-par books, seminars, pitchfests, and consultants. This certainly isn't in the same ballpark as some people and companies that use ill-earned hype to prey on writers (HI, SCRIPTSHADOW!!!), but I'm not convinced that it will break enough writers to be worth the money for most people.

    Time will tell. I'll be watching, because I think the business model is fascinating and I'm interested to see what happens. I certainly hope for the best to everyone who takes part, including Franklin and company. The Blacklist has been a pretty cool thing, and hopefully this effort will serve to strengthen the brand rather than cheapen it. We'll see.
    QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

    Comment


    • Re: The New Black List

      Originally posted by Joe Unidos View Post
      Echoing Knaight, the disconnect for me comes with the idea that anyone in the industry who looks for scripts as a function of their job would basically work for free by scouring an amateur database. They already have a HUGE backlog of material vetted by managers and agents. Too much to get to, in most cases.

      It feels somewhat disenguious to me to sell this to credit card-clutching newbies as a place that execs (and that is the inference being made) will be using as part of their pipeline.

      It isn't and they won't.
      Of course they will, why go through thousands of scripts while they can easily go to Black Site and see the highest rated scripts for themselves.

      It's like using IMDB before picking a film to watch.

      Comment


      • Re: The New Black List

        Originally posted by Chief View Post
        Of course they will, why go through thousands of scripts while they can easily go to Black Site and see the highest rated scripts for themselves.

        It's like using IMDB before picking a film to watch.
        I think you missed the part where Joe mentioned that their backlog of scripts is vetted by managers and agents. Presumably, managers and agents that they have a working relationship with. This encourages to read those scripts on two levels: First, they need to maintain those relationships and keep those reps happy. Second, at least from certain reps, they can expect those scripts to at least reach some degree of quality.
        QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

        Comment


        • Re: The New Black List

          Originally posted by sc111 View Post
          What is the likelihood these people (or their assistants?) will actually scour this new, monetized section of the website looking for scripts, on a regular basis?

          Surely these are busy folks already fielding material sent to them via other channels, including the good old cold query.
          Franklin can likely provide a better explanation, but one of the key benefits of The Black List is that it uses an algorithm to connect industry professionals with scripts that they would be interested in based on the review criteria: genre, budget, etc.

          Instead of development executives having to "scour" the database for good scripts, they are actively updated when there is a script that meets their preferences. Moreover, the recommendation system gets better the more that people use it.

          So, if you're one of those few people who can actually write a good script, and it gets good reviews from the readers (who have all previously worked for major studios, production companies, agencies, or management companies), then The Black List recommendation engine can help get you in front of development executives quickly and easily.

          FYI - if anyone is interested, I interviewed Franklin about the new Black List for ScreenRant.com.

          http://screenrant.com/franklin-leona...ation-service/

          Comment


          • Re: The New Black List

            From an advertising and marketing perspective, it's brilliant because it's being launched on the pre-existing brand cachet of The (yearly) Black List. What aspiring screenwriter doesn't want to be associated with that brand name? So I give Franklin a thumbs up for a savvy marketing approach. I do wonder though if the yearly Black List will start to lose some brand integrity over time.

            For the sake of discussion, let's rename it for a second. Let's call it Script Depot. And then analyze the benefits as stated for the writers. Is it really that different than similar paid services like Ink Tip, etc.?

            Okay -- we have the claim of making the material available to the 1000+ industry decision makers who are already members of the site. The question remains -- do they really need to look to "Script Depot" for new amateur material?

            Amateur material is accessible everywhere -- in their inboxes, on semi/quarter finalist contest lists, on pre-existing blaster-type service sites, in slush piles of every manager and agent and production company in the industry.

            The problem isn't the availability of amateur material, the problem is sorting through the tsunami of amateur scripts to find quality material. So this is addressed by $50 coverage. Fair enough.

            But you know what would be really awesome? What would really set this enterprise apart from all others of the same ilk? If Franklin would say:

            "If your script coverage doesn't garner a minimum of 9 out of 10, you can't list your scripts here."

            Otherwise, it's just another service trading on the dreams of people who likely don't have the right stuff to go pro. Of course, this is just my opinion.
            Last edited by sc111; 10-16-2012, 12:42 PM. Reason: editing blip
            Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

            Comment


            • Re: The New Black List

              Originally posted by Chief View Post
              Of course they will, why go through thousands of scripts while they can easily go to Black Site and see the highest rated scripts for themselves.

              It's like using IMDB before picking a film to watch.
              Sorry, Charlie.

              Actual legit executives are not going to be looking through this thing. FL got a lot of people to sign up for free based on the BL cache and the BL2.0 database. That in no way means that there is any likelihood that these same people will use the BL3.0 at all. Why? Because they don't have to. The industry is build on successive lines of vetting. It's not a coincidence nor is it an unfortunate side effect. it is a time-honored and trusted filtering system. The "executives" to whom access is being sold will not be using this. They are already happy but overwhemled with the glut of material that has already gone through management readers, managers, agency readers, agents, prodco readers, CEs, DODs, D-girls, trusted juniors, and Harvard B-School grad assistants.

              As mentioned, it's Inktip with a fancier pedigree.

              Comment


              • Re: The New Black List

                I'd encourage all of you to read what's at the below link in full.

                Thank you to all of you for asking questions yesterday. As there are more that I haven't directly addressed here or at this link, I'll respond to clear things up.

                The What, How, and Why of the Black List: The Long Answer by Franklin Leonard

                http://blog.blcklst.com/2012/10/the-...nklin-leonard/

                Comment


                • Re: The New Black List

                  Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                  But you know what would be really awesome? What would really set this enterprise apart from all others of the same ilk? If Franklin would say:

                  "If your script coverage doesn't garner a minimum of 9 out of 10, you can't list your scripts here."

                  Otherwise, it's just another service trading on the dreams of people who likely don't have the right stuff to go pro. Of course, this is just my opinion.
                  I totally understand the impulse to protect writers, especially if they're unknowingly participating in some type of scam.

                  But the notion of protecting writers from themselves is odd to me. If they're not good, they're going to have to figure it out eventually, right?

                  As Franklin writes:
                  "The first bad read should be a wake up call. If the writer chooses to get a second read, and it is reviewed similarly, it is unlikely that our site will draw attention to their screenplay and therefore unlikely that someone will find it, love it, and contact them unless they find one of those more creative ways to get read."
                  The vast majority of writers won't make it because they lack talent, not because they don't have access to Hollywood. However, for the small percentage of writers that do have talent, this is one more way to get their foot in the door (and seemingly one that is much more efficient than other services).

                  Comment


                  • Re: The New Black List

                    Originally posted by Frap View Post
                    The vast majority of writers won't make it because they lack talent, not because they don't have access to Hollywood. However, for the small percentage of writers that do have talent, this is one more way to get their foot in the door (and seemingly one that is much more efficient than other services).
                    While I agree that people do need to find out that they're bad, that doesn't mean that they won't become good. Talent can be compensated for with an assload of hard work.
                    QUESTICLES -- It's about balls on a mission.

                    Comment


                    • Re: The New Black List

                      Originally posted by Knaight View Post
                      While I agree that people do need to find out that they're bad, that doesn't mean that they won't become good. Talent can be compensated for with an assload of hard work.
                      I totally agree. If you get a bad review or a rejection, that doesn't mean your career is over. Through hard work, you can get better.

                      However, too many people think access is their problem, not the quality of their script, or as Amanda Pendolino explains:
                      "I have always maintained that the path to being a professional film or TV writer is simple (though not easy): 1. write a great script, and 2. find someone important who likes it - and in my experience, most writers think that #2 is their problem when it's actually #1."
                      To me, the Black List service sounds like a good and relatively affordable way for aspiring screenwriters to get quality feedback on their script while also gaining easier access to Hollywood decision makers.

                      Comment


                      • Re: The New Black List

                        So if there's 3,000 scripts up, at $25 a month, that's raking in $75,000 a month or $900,000 year. And that doesn't include whatever's made off the $50 dollar coverage fees (might be self-funding).

                        I don't know enough to know what all that means. I'm sure there's a lot of costs and hey, if it works to get good scripts out there, great. There's always a fine line in helping people out and taking advantage of people.

                        Comment


                        • Re: The New Black List

                          Originally posted by Frap View Post
                          I totally understand the impulse to protect writers, especially if they're unknowingly participating in some type of scam.

                          But the notion of protecting writers from themselves is odd to me. If they're not good, they're going to have to figure it out eventually, right?

                          As Franklin writes:
                          "The first bad read should be a wake up call. If the writer chooses to get a second read, and it is reviewed similarly, it is unlikely that our site will draw attention to their screenplay and therefore unlikely that someone will find it, love it, and contact them unless they find one of those more creative ways to get read."
                          The vast majority of writers won't make it because they lack talent, not because they don't have access to Hollywood. However, for the small percentage of writers that do have talent, this is one more way to get their foot in the door (and seemingly one that is much more efficient than other services).

                          I'm not looking to protect writers, I'm challenging Franklin's claim that this is distinctively different and better than Inktip, et al. Nothing in the blog you just quoted convinces me it is different and better.

                          He is promoting a service to customers: aspiring screenwriters. I'm a potential customer. And he is making a number of overt and covert promises and claims.

                          And he does it quite persuasively. Actually, I'd say he's an excellent writer who knows how to strike the right chord in the right tone to appeal to his market: amateur screenwriters.

                          However, he should expect these claims to be challenged by potential customers like me.

                          For example, here's the opening line of the same blog you've quoted:

                          Yesterday morning, the Black List announced what we hope will be the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way screenplays are discovered by people who make movies.
                          Really? So this is an experiment laced with the "hope" it will change the way screenplays are discovered. In an industry that hasn't changed the way they find scripts in the last - what - 50 years? (See last post by Joe Unidos.)

                          Wait -- didn't Amazon Studios talk about a paradigm shift, too? Hmmm.

                          So let's call it for what it is -- a chance to participate in an experiment to pay $75 up front for the first month, and $25 per month thereafter, in an effort to discover if Hollywood has any inclination to change the way they find scripts. I believe Hollywood will politely decline.
                          Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                          Comment


                          • Re: The New Black List

                            One major difference is that Amazon Studios was run by people who didn't know **** about screenwriting or the movie business and were largely trying to change it on their own from the outside.

                            Franklin's smart enough that he won't duplicate their mistakes.

                            Comment


                            • Re: The New Black List

                              I guess for me the largest question (and one that can only be answered by the test of time) is what leads anyone to think that an industry professional at a level to pull the trigger on a a script will use this service instead of their normal pipeline. The true test of good faith would be reporting metrics about the pro users based on their position and designation in a month or six months, and at regular intervals.

                              I don't doubt Franklin's intentions, but I do find it very convenient that the people who took 2 minutes to sign up for BL2.0 (the pro database) are now having their participation there being used to sell BL3.0 to unwitting amateurs.

                              I suspect the "10000s of Industry Professionals" list would be much, much smaller if those professionals knew/were asked to register for an amateur screenplay database.

                              Comment


                              • Re: The New Black List

                                Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                                I'm not looking to protect writers, I'm challenging Franklin's claim that this is distinctively different and better than Inktip, et al. Nothing in the blog you just quoted convinces me it is different and better.

                                He is promoting a service to customers: aspiring screenwriters. I'm a potential customer. And he is making a number of overt and covert promises and claims.

                                And he does it quite persuasively. Actually, I'd say he's an excellent writer who knows how to strike the right chord in the right tone to appeal to his market: amateur screenwriters.

                                However, he should expect these claims to be challenged by potential customers like me.

                                For example, here's the opening line of the same blog you've quoted:



                                Really? So this is an experiment laced with the "hope" it will change the way screenplays are discovered. In an industry that hasn't changed the way they find scripts in the last - what - 50 years? (See last post by Joe Unidos.)

                                Wait -- didn't Amazon Studios talk about a paradigm shift, too? Hmmm.

                                So let's call it for what it is -- a chance to participate in an experiment to pay $75 up front for the first month, and $25 per month thereafter, in an effort to discover if Hollywood has any inclination to change the way they find scripts. I believe Hollywood will politely decline.
                                There are a couple of things here that I want to respond to.

                                DISCLAIMER*****I'm not involved with this venture in any fashion, I have nothing invested in its success or failure.

                                First, it's different than any other "service" out there because it evolves its recommendations based on user feedback. I'm pretty sure Inktip doesn't have anything remotely like this, I've used it, and it just has a search function. The interactive tailoring to the user's taste is the core of what makes the BL idea different. So, yeah, in terms of ANY non-traditional method for finding material, i.e., outside the agency/referral this is worlds beyond eblasts, listings, and Pitchfests. It is specific to the buyer/reps tastes as they are tracked across a lot of projects. So, yeah, it's completely new because it weeds out 90% of the material that is caught in the net, and actively funnels likely matches to the user.

                                Second, Franklin knows more about how the machine of acquisition and development work than anyone who has ever tried to do this sort of thing. Personally, I trust his experience and intelligence enough to give it time to get off the ground and see how it works.

                                Third, the industry has widened the net on finding material over the last fifty years, and that has been driven by the internet. Fifty years ago, an unknown screenwriter in Boston, or France had no shot at selling a spec, modern communications have changed that. This is a logical evolutionary offshoot of that trend.

                                Fourth, don't get caught up in nitpicking language. It's meaningless. Of course they hope it will change the way business is done. I happen to think that he believes that could happen if they get enough buy in from users (buyers and reps).

                                Fifth, of course it's an experiment. Calling it that isn't a revelation.

                                Finally, I think that it may be worth a shot, at a price point of 150.00 or so to get a couple of reads that rate the material and then have it up long enough to filter out of the crowd...if it's good.

                                And ultimately, that's what really matters...if it's good.

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