Franklin Leonard

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  • sc111
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    FA4:

    PS: I just clicked the Reditt link you provided and found this in the comments section which sort of confirms mu suspicions:

    I know a few readers at the Black List and unfortunately... this insight gives me a great indication of the sort of feedback you're gonna get. It's mainly assistants and film students who need the extra $30 that fill up the majority of the regular readers, and they don't really know what they're talking about most of the time. Some of them are at least competent and should know what they are talking about, but for the most, they don't care about it and just pump out the same dribble each and every time. It's about speed for them so they just repeat, repeat and repeat. ... (mind you, they got 7's all around because the sight doesn't really like to give away free months)
    If that last sentence is true it could explain why 8s and 9s are rare.

    EDITED TO ADD: Here's another comment in the Reditt thread that had me laugh aloud:

    The anonymity of the service reminds me of phone sex operators: not as good as the real thing, and given by people who haven't had much sex in their actual lives.
    Last edited by sc111; 09-12-2019, 02:03 PM.

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  • sc111
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    FA4:

    I seem to remember reading somewhere, perhaps here, that the readers at BL are paid $25 per script. I now see that the rate writers pay for a feature script read has been raised to $75. I have no idea if BL readers also got a raise or if their pay is still a flat $25. As someone who is solidly in the gig economy, that's dirt cheap pay, IMO.

    I understand your point when you say: "we're paying for their professional ability to give as objective a review as possible." However, I have to question what level of professionalism can be expected when the readers get only $25 a pop.

    A likely scenario -- the better readers, the more professional readers, move into higher-paid gigs after putting the Blacklist on their resumes and what's left are the not-very-professional readers. This can possibly be the reason why your more recent experiences with the Blacklist are not living up to the positive experiences you had a couple years ago.

    With that said, if the BL criteria is solely:

    "It really is very simple: the number represents how likely a reader would be to recommend your script to a peer or superior in the industry. Crazy enthusiastic recommend = 10; I would never recommend this under any circumstance = 1."

    Expecting true objectivity is a big ask. Especially from readers who may not have ever been in a job where they were recommending scripts to superiors in the industry. We have to take FL at his word that the readers have solid industry experience but with a pay rate of $25 per script I sincerely doubt they do.

    I know when I read scripts for fellow writers -- the read itself takes a minimum of an hour (I've always been a fast reader) and the notes take me another hour plus, sometimes more. That's an average of $10-$12 an hour and I have to wonder how much objectivity I can expect for that kind of pay.

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  • finalact4
    Member

  • finalact4
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    FA4, you got two option offers and two representation offers from having used the Blacklist. You are a walking advertisement for it. There's no such thing as an objective analysis of art, so there's always going to be variation. It would be like saying "critics should agree on whether The Last Jedi was good."

    (Full disclosure: I ran an experiment years ago where I got two reviews from The Blacklist. One was a glowing 9, the other a very harsh 6. Which... is probably the reaction the script would have gotten if it were made.)

    I think Bono's got it right - this isn't the only way in, it's not even a major way in, but it is a way in. If someone has the cash to take a shot with it, it can produce results, with a little luck of getting the right readers who appreciate your material.
    absolutely correct, the black list helped me a couple of years ago and i'm both grateful and i have always given them full credit for that, and still do. i have also supported the site by hosting 2 scripts for over two years. and paid for several evaluations.

    but that doesn't mean they don't have a problem that needs addressing. as a paying customer i have a right to voice my opinion of their services. there shouldn't be that much disparity.

    i well remember your experience. as i recall it was a pilot about the porn industry and the reviewer didn't like the way you depicted female characters, or something along those lines. the difference between a 6 and a 9 is a big difference, but not as bad as difference between a 9 and a 3.

    if there is even a 2 rating difference, TBL will offer you a discounted rate for an additional review. and i'm not talking about a 2 point spread, i'm talking about a 5 point difference.

    a service can be both good and bad, if you're paying for the service you shouldn't have to "suck it up," because sometimes they do it right. when you pay for the service, you should be able to expect the same quality.

    when there are huge variances like that, it's a cue to take a look at the one that is the outlier. and to be honest, the readers are supposed to be as objective as possible-- that's what professionals do. we're paying for their professional ability to give as objective a review as possible. it's not the same as asking them to base their review on personal preference; that's not what anyone is paying for.

    and it would be nice if we actually knew who the readers were and what their experience is. other paid services give you the names and complete bios of the readers. professional writers are seeing problems, too. it's not just those still trying to break in.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Screenwriti..._is_a_failure/

    it's a good read. the writer sent it to several paid services and he provides the results.
    finalact4
    Member
    Last edited by finalact4; 09-12-2019, 01:18 PM.

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  • sc111
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    You are demanding objectivity about a subjective act, the judging of art. It will never happen. And if someone tells you that they've figured out a way to do it, they are lying to you to get your money.
    I agree with this 100%. A good example is your BL experiment. I have no doubt that the 6 score was solely because the reader was offended by the subject matter and was incapable of being objective about the quality of the writing or its potential.

    Yet this is a reality of the industry, isn't it? Scripts getting tossed out of consideration for any number of totally subjective reasons.

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  • jroger
    New User

  • jroger
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    Yes. I have no reason to question his integrity. Do you?
    I question that number because it is several years old. Maybe that was true when they were first getting off the ground, but in my experience, the quality of the evaluations has degraded severely in the past few years, the number of wildly divergent scores I've received has increased dramatically, and I've heard more and more stories of other writers who have experienced the same.

    Perhaps part of the reason why Franklin never shows his face anymore is because the current statistics are so ugly and he knows it.

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  • UpandComing
    Member

  • UpandComing
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    You are demanding objectivity about a subjective act, the judging of art. It will never happen. And if someone tells you that they've figured out a way to do it, they are lying to you to get your money.
    Art is subjective, but there must be some kind of objective standard applied when you are charging people to evaluate it. Otherwise it's hard to take a service seriously.

    All I'm asking is for a tangible set of criteria for scoring that is made public. If Nicholl and PAGE can do it, so can the Black List:

    https://www.oscars.org/nicholl/about (see "Judging Criteria")

    https://pageawards.com/the-contest/judging-procedure/

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  • JeffLowell
    Member

  • JeffLowell
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    You are demanding objectivity about a subjective act, the judging of art. It will never happen. And if someone tells you that they've figured out a way to do it, they are lying to you to get your money.

    Leave a comment:

  • UpandComing
    Member

  • UpandComing
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by Bono View Post
    I'm just using logic and math to try to "solve" this scoring system that is simple and just like real Hollywood where you can get 100 worst script ever and then Sony can buy the same script a minute later. It never makes any sense. That's always been my main point -- it's relative and the only explanation is human opinion.

    That's why personally I never used it because I didn't see the benefit of it vs other avenues.

    What I don't get is why people who have used it and dislike it continue to use the service and complain. Then again I keep going to my local Target that has issues, but I go back because I'm too lazy to drive to the further away Target that's better.

    However, this is all online, so if you tried it, didn't have success you wanted or did, I would suggest you try other services!
    Sure, the realities of Hollywood don't make sense. But again, this is not trying to pitch your script to different companies, which is a free activity. This is a paid service, meaning it should be held to a certain standard. And applying such a standard is not hard to do! Just ask Nicholl and PAGE.

    As for why I continue to use it, it's just like I just told Jeff. Screenwriting is one of the most competitive industries out there. It's not like saying, "I don't like the service at this CVS, so from now on I'm shopping at Rite-Aid." There are a ton of convenience store chains out there selling the same thing. There are only a few avenues out there where you can realistically get your script in front of reps in Hollywood. For better or worse, that includes a handful of contests that are taken seriously, and the Black list.

    I don't hate the service. I think it has helped a lot of writers; I just think that the way it is designed it is also hurting many.
    UpandComing
    Member
    Last edited by UpandComing; 09-12-2019, 11:33 AM.

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  • UpandComing
    Member

  • UpandComing
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    Yes. I have no reason to question his integrity. Do you?
    I think that Franklin genuinely cares about helping screenwriters. I think that he genuinely thinks that his service can be used to help screenwriters.

    I think those things, but you know what I know? He's a businessman. We can dispense with those niceties as much as we want, but at the end of the day, his job is to make a profit, and as much as possible.

    If you don't think it's possible for a businessman to be misleading about his service to make it look better, I'd like to remind you of the Black List's first success story, which was marketed as if it were out of the blue. Except it wasn't. When Justin Kremer was signed by CAA off a script at the BL, he had already previously worked as an intern at the Black List -- a fact that the BL didn't mention in its announcement. In response to the controversy, Franklin said:

    "In a press release this morning announcing Justin Kremer’s recently signing with Creative Artists Agency after submitting his script to the new Black List website, I failed to mention that he had previously volunteered work to the Black List as an “intern.”

    "If there was an error here, it was in my failure to include the information about our previous, tenuous relationship in the press release that announced his great success."
    https://deadline.com/2012/11/black-l...th-caa-374391/

    Franklin is a Harvard University graduate who upon graduating worked at McKinsey. I'm not saying he purposely neglected to provide full disclosure in this case, but I am saying it would be very strange for him to forget to do so.

    If you don't think it's possible for a businessman to introduce a service that has an exploitative angle in order to see if he can make a few extra bucks off his customers, I'd like to remind you about Scriptbook -- a Black List service that came out just two years ago, in 2017. It charged $100 for a computer to "analyze" the words in writers' scripts and tell them what the genre was and the main feelings their characters had. $100. The backlash didn't just come from us lowly, amateur writers -- it also came from industry pros like Brian Koppelman, Craig Mazin, John August, and Keith Calder:
    https://nofilmschool.com/2017/04/scr...g-ai-algorithm

    Acknowledging it, the Black List abandoned it within a week.

    We can laud Franklin for his championing of screenwriters, while at the same time recognizing that as a businessman, his main goal is profit, and that goal can sometimes blind people to the flaws in their practices.

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    There is a meaning that Franklin's shared multiple times. "It really is very simple: the number represents how likely a reader would be to recommend your script to a peer or superior in the industry. Crazy enthusiastic recommend = 10; I would never recommend this under any circumstance = 1."

    It's not hidden, it's not secret, you may disagree with it... but that's it. If you hate it, don't use the service - but you can't say there's no meaning.

    (Amusingly, that quote I pulled is in a post addressed to you.)

    When I said that there is "no meaning," I really meant that it is not tangible enough as a scoring criteria. That may not matter to someone like you who is actively working in the industry, but it does matter to many writers for whom $100+ is no chump change.

    "If you hate it, don't use the service." I would love to have that luxury, but the screenwriting game is hard enough to get into as it is. That means I will use as many options as necessary to try to break in -- from queries to contests to the BL. At the same time, as a paying customer I have every right to register complaints I have with the service. I'm not a big fan of people telling me I should just quietly accept it or leave.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by UpandComing View Post
    The problem is that's just an assumption you're making. We have no idea if this is how the BL approaches scoring because it has never provided an explanation other than "it's how the reader feels about passing it up." If I'm paying $75 per evaluation and $30 to host (which often becomes $60 because it takes 2-3 weeks to get an evaluation), I want more clarity and definitiveness on how scoring is approached. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

    You've never paid to use the service, so I can understand why the complaints on here don't register that much.
    I'm just using logic and math to try to "solve" this scoring system that is simple and just like real Hollywood where you can get 100 worst script ever and then Sony can buy the same script a minute later. It never makes any sense. That's always been my main point -- it's relative and the only explanation is human opinion.

    That's why personally I never used it because I didn't see the benefit of it vs other avenues.

    What I don't get is why people who have used it and dislike it continue to use the service and complain. Then again I keep going to my local Target that has issues, but I go back because I'm too lazy to drive to the further away Target that's better.

    However, this is all online, so if you tried it, didn't have success you wanted or did, I would suggest you try other services!

    Leave a comment:

  • JeffLowell
    Member

  • JeffLowell
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by UpandComing View Post
    I remember that 4% figure, and I thought it sounded unrealistically low back then. Are we really supposed to believe that with thousands of submissions and with no specific criteria attached to the numbers in the scoring system, that the divergence level was that small?
    Yes. I have no reason to question his integrity. Do you?

    Regardless of whether that stat is true or not, it doesn't really change the fact that there is no meaning attached to the numbers, which bakes significantly more subjectivity into scoring than would be normal for a screenplay evaluation operation. At least with other paid services like Nicholl and PAGE, you get a sense that they aim for some consistency with their scoring systems.
    There is a meaning that Franklin's shared multiple times. "It really is very simple: the number represents how likely a reader would be to recommend your script to a peer or superior in the industry. Crazy enthusiastic recommend = 10; I would never recommend this under any circumstance = 1."

    It's not hidden, it's not secret, you may disagree with it... but that's it. If you hate it, don't use the service - but you can't say there's no meaning.

    (Amusingly, that quote I pulled is in a post addressed to you.)

    Leave a comment:

  • UpandComing
    Member

  • UpandComing
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by Bono View Post
    I would suggest that if they are PAID reviewers they have some idea of what is good or bad, so if you start with all scripts get a 5 before you read it, the 2 points either way is not that remarkable. I think it's just math.
    The problem is that's just an assumption you're making. We have no idea if this is how the BL approaches scoring because it has never provided an explanation other than "it's how the reader feels about passing it up." If I'm paying $75 per evaluation and $30 to host (which often becomes $60 because it takes 2-3 weeks to get an evaluation), I want more clarity and definitiveness on how scoring is approached. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

    You've never paid to use the service, so I can understand why the complaints on here don't register that much.

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  • Bono
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    So I'm assuming the numbers are 1-10 and the system doesn't go to 11... So how many scripts get a 1 or a 10? Say zero. And I'm also assuming people pay for average of 2 reviews per script right?

    that leaves 8 numbers. 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

    So one person gives a script a 2, the other a 4. works. a bad script probably won't get a random 7. But the mean judge gives it a 4 and the nice judge gives it a 6.

    It's great, it gets a 9. Or a 7.

    So what I'm saying is you paid for 2 reviews and first person gives you a 5, the next script review can get a 3 or a 7 and still fall into the 4% stat. So the range is even great than 2.

    I would suggest that if they are PAID reviewers they have some idea of what is good or bad, so if you start with all scripts get a 5 before you read it, the 2 points either way is not that remarkable. I think it's just math.

    It's like a magic trick or those stats they throw up at games.

    This QB has never thrown an INT on Monday night football. And you realize he's only played 1 game on Monday Night Football in his career, but the stat doesn't tell you that part...

    Or when they have 2 people running for president against each other -- one of them has to win -- and they give the % of how likely they are to win and I'm thinking it's always 50%.

    Or what's the chance of rain today? It's always 100%. IT COULD RAIN. Not likely too rain is different...

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  • UpandComing
    Member

  • UpandComing
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by JeffLowell View Post
    I went back and read about the experiment I ran - Franklin said that scores from paid reviews that diverged by more than 2 points only accounted for 4% of submissions. That's actually pretty remarkable. (No idea where that stat stands now.)
    I remember that 4% figure, and I thought it sounded unrealistically low back then. Are we really supposed to believe that with thousands of submissions and with no specific criteria attached to the numbers in the scoring system, that the divergence level was that small?

    Regardless of whether that stat is true or not, it doesn't really change the fact that there is no meaning attached to the numbers, which bakes significantly more subjectivity into scoring than would be normal for a screenplay evaluation operation. At least with other paid services like Nicholl and PAGE, you get a sense that they aim for some consistency with their scoring systems.

    Leave a comment:

  • JeffLowell
    Member

  • JeffLowell
    replied
    Re: Franklin Leonard

    I went back and read about the experiment I ran - Franklin said that scores from paid reviews that diverged by more than 2 points only accounted for 4% of submissions. That's actually pretty remarkable. (No idea where that stat stands now.)

    Leave a comment:

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