What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

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  • #16
    Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

    Originally posted by ghostofhem View Post
    Pros can write whatever length they want because they've proved they're good writers.

    Amateurs don't have that advantage. You write over 120 pages the assumption from any reader is going to be you don't know how to tell a screen story efficiently.

    May be unfair, but that's how it is.

    If you just like to write and don't care about selling, then go for it.
    Oh, good. A new one!

    There are no different rules for pros. It is fair, and that is how it is, even if you care about selling.

    Last time this exact topic came up, someone went through and pulled 120+ scripts from new writers that made the black list. There were a bunch.

    Should one aim to keep the script between 90-120? Sure. But if a story demands more and it works, there's no penalty.

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    • #17
      Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

      Actually, for new and unknown writers--there can be a penalty. Your script, if it is too long and/or doesn't conform to industry standards--may not get read.

      As a former reader for a major studio, I can tell you that 99.9% of scripts that I read over 120 pages showed extremely amateur writing (we're talking obvious first drafts, possibly even the first script the writer had ever written) and a lack of understanding of the craft of screenwriting. Most could have EASILY cut 20-30 pages without losing anything. More often than not, they needed MAJOR revisions. Those scripts were just NOT ready.

      I've actually met a number of agents and even more agent assistants who say they've been directed to toss out any script over 120 pages--unless it's a black list script, Nicholl fellowship recipient or finalist, or has won another major and respected screenplay competition (ex. Samuel Goldwyn, Sloan, etc.). Why? Because those longer scripts have already gotten a vouch-for. Someone already weeded through the 99.9% of long scripts that don't work and said "these are long--but they're great."

      Frankly, though, you should take an honest evaluation of the script. Is it too long because the story NEEDS that number of pages to tell the story? Or is it too long because it's just not ready? You should never send anything out before it's been rewritten and tightened. Screenwriting is an economy of words. Sending out material before it's ready is the easiest way to end your career before it starts.

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      • #18
        Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

        But you didn't toss out any scripts because of page length - you covered them all. So already, the idea that studios won't consider longer scripts is out the window.

        And are you telling me that if an agent tells his assistant to cover a script, the assistant then checks the pages and has the freedom to toss it if it's 121? I don't buy it - it just doesn't make sense.

        And if someone who does have the freedom to toss a script is so captivated by a logline that they request it, they will trash it if it breaks the 120 page limit? Again, I don't buy it - if they read 10 or 30 pages and it has all the problems you point out, they'll toss it then - but they'd do the same thing to a script that's 95 pages.

        Again, most scripts should fall in the 90-120 range. But if you've got the type of script that's longer, you shouldn't cut for the sake of cutting. (Nor should you pad for the sake of padding if it's an amazing 87 page contained thriller.)

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        • #19
          Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

          I've told this story. I'll say it again. I have a script that is a 137 pages. It got read all over town and got me tons of meetings with all the big producers. And up for assignments etc. No one complained. I have another script with a producer that is 132 pages. I haven't sold a script yet. If it's good, no one cares.

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          • #20
            Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

            Yes, I covered them all--but only when I was reading for the studio's screenplay competition and we were instructed to cover all of them, regardless of length. When I read for the studio outside the competition, that was absolutely NOT the case. The edict was totally different. As a writer myself, I tried to give each script a fair shake. However, there were DEFINITELY long scripts that I saw get passed over without a read from my colleagues--or that only got 10 pages and then ended up in the round file.

            I can also tell you that not one of the scripts over 120 pages won or advanced to past the quarterfinals in that contest...
            Last edited by celticbeauty; 09-23-2013, 09:01 PM.

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            • #21
              Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

              So a studio would send a script to a reader for coverage, and if it was over 120, the reader had the freedom to toss it in the trash, or just read the first 10 pages? Would you and your colleagues get your fee even though no coverage came back?

              I might not be understanding something, but in my experience (and I've been doing this for too long), when a studio pays their reader for coverage, they get coverage of the entire script.

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              • #22
                Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

                Most scripts being sent are going to be trash regardless of length.

                As stated by others the scope of the story dictates the length.

                If somebody didn't believe in their story enough to do it the way it's meant to I'd question why they would bother in the first place.

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                • #23
                  Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

                  My colleagues and I worked in-house, in development. We didn't get paid per script. Reading and finding great scripts was just part of our job--but it was a BIG part of it.

                  My concern is that because people here keep citing the exceptions--the few long scripts that sell (and most of those were written by guys like Tarantino, not a new writer with no credits)--as the rule, amateur writers on here are going to use it as justification for sending out their 180 page script without revising it. That's NOT what writing is. Writing is rewriting. It's an economy of words. If this is actually a community that nurtures and encourages new writers, we should be encouraging them to be realistic and pointing out the importance of rewriting and distilling their story into the tightest, and most well-written version possible.

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                  • #24
                    Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

                    No one's encouraging writers to send out 180 page scripts that should be 110 page scripts without revising them.

                    We're saying that absolutist statements about how no one sells/gets attention with 120+ page scripts aren't true.

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                    • #25
                      Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

                      I print double sided, on legal sized paper. Cuts way down on the page count.
                      If you really like it you can have the rights
                      It could make a million for you overnight

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                      • #26
                        Re: What is the longest script that ever made the Black List?

                        I've seen writers make some terrible decisions to keep within arbitrary page limits - the worst is sacrificing white space in order to keep the script below 120 pages.

                        A 110 page script full of ten line paragraphs is more of a slog for me than a 130 page script with plenty of line breaks.

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