Franklin Leonard

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  • Re: Franklin Leonard

    Originally posted by UpandComing View Post
    Sure, and I'm happy for her. And I'm sure you could pull out several other examples. But as I said, identifying high-profile examples of success doesn't negate inherent flaws in the system and lack of transparency.
    but what's the success rate for newbies breaking in outside of the Black List site? hardly higher from everything i've seen in my time. what "transparency" is there from an agency, management company, or production company that reads a script off a blind query? if they give it to some pimple-faced (unpaid) college intern to cover over the weekend, along with 10 other specs from the slush pile, is the writer ever going to know that? other than a pass, soft or hard, what does the writer even know about how their work is being evaluated by the gatekeepers?

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    • Re: Franklin Leonard

      Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
      but what's the success rate for newbies breaking in outside of the Black List site? hardly higher from everything i've seen in my time.
      I'm not sure why you keep going back to the topic of success rate. I said that my main concern is not how many successes there are, but how fundamental aspects of the system are run.

      Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
      what "transparency" is there from an agency, management company, or production company that reads a script off a blind query? if they give it to some pimple-faced (unpaid) college intern to cover over the weekend, along with 10 other specs from the slush pile, is the writer ever going to know that? other than a pass, soft or hard, what does the writer even know about how their work is being evaluated by the gatekeepers?
      It doesn't cost money to send a blind query. It does cost money to use the BL. When you pay money for a service, transparency in how it operates is desired.
      "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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      • Re: Franklin Leonard

        Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
        but what's the success rate for newbies breaking in outside of the Black List site? hardly higher from everything i've seen in my time. what "transparency" is there from an agency, management company, or production company that reads a script off a blind query?
        The transparency is that the writer knows who is reading their script. And they can research that manager/company's taste/other produced work.

        The BL -- by design -- hurts the writer, because you have no clue who is downloading or reading your script.

        --It hurts you after the fact, when you're querying that script and you have no idea who has already seen it/read it.

        --That in turn hurts your ability to feel like the script is actually fresh and new, because again, were those 5 or 10 or 15 reads you got from a bored intern or were they from a powerful creative exec from a huge prodco? Was it read or did they just download it because the title sounded cool? Were they looking for your action thriller or did it simply remind them of their own in-progress screenplay and they wanted to check out the competition? You have no clue.

        --And you're out a bunch of money.

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        • Re: Franklin Leonard

          Name all the writers you love. 99% of them made it not using this service or any service. We all can break in in different ways. But if you got the money sure try anything if you want. This would be near the bottom of my list for options. I’ve never used it myself. I did try other things some worked. Some didn’t. It’s all personal experience.

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          • Re: Franklin Leonard

            Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
            look, this isn't a "bitter writer" scenario, i've already got my 8s on my scripts, so i'm good. i didn't say it doesn't or can't work, nor did i say ALL their readers are ****.

            what i'm saying is some readers are incompetent and shouldn't be reading, and that's always been the case, it's just worse now than ever before. one script shouldn't get 8s and a 3, that's just crazy. when you're paying close to $150 in one month for a script is shouldn't be a CRAP SHOOT.

            and as a paying customer i have a right to hold them accountable to what they promise, to their actual claims.

            readers have different agendas:
            and let's look at the reality. a reader's objective at an agency is different than a reader at a production company, and different than a reader for a studio and different for a reader at a management company, they are have different criteria, needs, and agendas.

            so you can't have readers rating reviews based only on what their experience is. you should have a set of standards, criteria, and guidelines that ensure there is a consistent approach to rating scripts. i mean, c'mon, FL has been in the industry long enough that he could easily establish this. it's his site, it's his reputation.

            the Black List worked fine for me, too, until the past two weeks. i received two options offers because of my high scores on the Black List. i also got two offers for representation because i referred to my ratings on the site.

            a site that carries the weight of brand recognition and the expectation of "quality" should care about consistency, it only helps them to be more consistent because they'll sell more reviews when people can trust their readers are all of similar caliber.

            i've received some amazing reviews a couple of years ago.

            i'm really happy for this writer, any writer that finds a way to break in.


            Originally Posted by JoeBanks View Post
            but what's the success rate for newbies breaking in outside of the Black List site? hardly higher from everything i've seen in my time. what "transparency" is there from an agency, management company, or production company that reads a script off a blind query
            the difference is writers are paying for a service that the industry uses for free because of the writer's hosting and evaluation fees. the industry doesn't pay anything. and WGA writers get a discount. so the bulk of the fees are coming from the thousands trying to break in. you don't send your script to an agent and PAY THEM, huge difference.

            if you pay for a service and they tout that they have experienced readers on their payroll and you can prove that they don't, then their services should sure as ****, be questioned. some sites include bios on their readers, so you have some modicum of trust in handing over your hard earned bank for their services.

            if a reader can't construct a proper sentence or craft a basic logline, there's a problem. if a reader makes several statements in the strengths and then directly contradicts themselves in the next paragraph four times, they aren't a qualified reader.

            besides that, you never know who is reading your script. you don't need to have a person's name or company, but what's the harm in letting the writer know if it was an executive at a production company vs an actor or agent or manager or an intern.

            and there are good managers and prodco people who know their unpaid intern's judgement on a script isn't going to be as good as theirs. good ones allow their readers to be the first line of defense and then may read some just to verify whether they agree.
            "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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            • Re: Franklin Leonard

              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.

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              • Re: Franklin Leonard

                My teacher used to tell us to write our name on the back of our papers, so he'd read it, then grade it, then flip it over to see who wrote so he would be more objective. Thinking that may be what Jeff was hinting at...

                I used to joke, if this famous writer didn't become famous, would we be reading his other terrible work at school? It's funny how that works.

                Side note my favorite part of Jeff's post is when he agreed with me.

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                • 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.)

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                  • 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.
                    "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                    • 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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                      • 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.
                        "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                        • 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.)

                          Comment


                          • 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!

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                            • 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.
                              "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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                              • 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.
                                Last edited by UpandComing; 09-12-2019, 12:33 PM.
                                "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.-- Peter De Vries

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