My Black List Experience

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Bono View Post

    I get sad when writers of 10 plus year experience are still entering Nicholl or any contest over and over again... I just don't think that's the way in. I think the way in is simply write a great screenplay and enter the real contest -- finding a rep/selling a script.
    Oh my, sc111 agrees with Bono 100%, so I know my following opinion is gonna be crap, but I'll say it anyway.

    First, there’s that damn “just write a great script” mantra again. I hate how this sounds so simple. Write a great script and you'll get representation. How many times did "Splash" get rejected? "Witness"? "To Kill A Mocking Bird"? "Back To The Future"? Etc. Etc. Etc. Advancing in the Nicholl adds heat to a script, which helps in making up the mind of an Industry professional to represent you.

    Bono, you do realize about all the non-pro writers who have used the Nicholl route to become successful professional writers, don’t you?

    Mike Rich: winning script “Finding Forester.”
    Doug Atchison: winning script “Akeelah and the Bee.”
    Ehren Kruger: winning script “Arlington Road.”
    Max Adams: winning script “Excess Baggage.”
    Susannah Grant won a fellowship and went on to write “Erin Brockovich.”
    Andrew Marlowe is another fellowship winner and he went on to write “Air Force One.”
    And many others...

    Maybe you’re just talking about the losers who have been struggling to break in for 10 plus years.

    Done Deal’s Dues, whose name is James V. Simpson, struggled for 10 years before he broke in (2006) with a Nicholl finalist script titled “Armored.” It sold for $400,000. A couple of years earlier, a 2004 script that advanced in the Nicholl obtained him representation.

    From a Q & A with John Robert Marlow:

    James V. Simpson: “when I learned that “Armored” was a Nicholl finalist script, part of our pitch became that “Armored” was going to be a Nicholl Fellowship winner.”

    James and his reps used his ongoing advancement in the 2006 Nicholl to attach heat/juice to his script.

    Contests are just one of many routes for a writer to break in and because of how difficult it is to break in, it’s to a writer’s advantage to use as many routes as possible and not just relying on writing that “great script,” where you and your script would be magically loved by an industry professional.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by sc111 View Post

      Your "20%" calculation makes no sense to me, Joe.
      sc111, you're entitled to your opinion.

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

        sc111, you're entitled to your opinion.
        How generous of you. FYI: To Kill A Mockingbird was an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee. Far from a spec.

        It won the Pulitzer in 1961 and released as a film in 1962. That's no where near years of rejection.

        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


        • #64
          Originally posted by Bono View Post

          Believe in your writing ability and go after managers not doing well in contest.
          It's hard to get manager reads, imo. So, while I agree that the real test is getting repped/sold, at times it's also nice to have some feedback, even if it's through a contest, while you are also sending queries into the ether, to managers who don't know who you are and don't give a s%$#.

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by figment View Post

            It's hard to get manager reads, imo. So, while I agree that the real test is getting repped/sold, at times it's also nice to have some feedback, even if it's through a contest, while you are also sending queries into the ether, to managers who don't know who you are and don't give a s%$#.
            For what it's worth, my ex manager made a point to tell me what contests look for in a script and what managers look for have little in common.

            I don't know if that's accurate however it would explain why writers who bombed in the top contests went on to get reps, sell those same scripts and get assignments. And vice versa. It's not like every Nicholl winner went on to have a career.

            We all have to manage our expectations.
            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


            • #66
              Originally posted by sc111 View Post

              FYI: To Kill A Mockingbird was an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee. Far from a spec.
              I addressed this a couple of years ago in my "rejection" thread titled: "This is a sure-fire way to never having your screenplay rejected."

              In that thread I mentioned that Harper Lee's manuscript was turned down by 10 publishers. My point being then and now is that "great" works of art get rejected all the time.

              I suggest for anyone who hasn't read that thread to type the title into the search box and check it out.

              Comment


              • #67
                Still incorrect.

                The Harper Lee novel that was rejected was titled "Go Set A Watchman" and had the same characters but set 20 years later when Scout was an adult.

                The publisher that did buy the Watchman version in 1958, gave it to an editor who asked Lee to rewrite it as a story with the same characters 20 years younger.

                A brilliant note in my opinion.

                It took Lee two years to write what we know as "To Kill A Mockingbird." It was published in 1960. Won a Pulitzer in 1961. Hit the screen in 1962.

                So it was the inferior novel that was rejected 10 times.

                The superior novel was successful rather quickly.

                Harper Lee's career is more a tale in the value of rewriting rather than the point you're making.

                I learned of the evolution of "Mockingbird" back in college. Here's a source to confirm:

                https://www.businessinsider.com/harp...history-2016-2
                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


                • #68
                  Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

                  Oh my, sc111 agrees with Bono 100%, so I know my following opinion is gonna be crap, but I'll say it anyway.

                  First, there’s that damn “just write a great script” mantra again. I hate how this sounds so simple. Write a great script and you'll get representation. How many times did "Splash" get rejected? "Witness"? "To Kill A Mocking Bird"? "Back To The Future"? Etc. Etc. Etc. Advancing in the Nicholl adds heat to a script, which helps in making up the mind of an Industry professional to represent you.

                  Bono, you do realize about all the non-pro writers who have used the Nicholl route to become successful professional writers, don’t you?

                  Mike Rich: winning script “Finding Forester.”
                  Doug Atchison: winning script “Akeelah and the Bee.”
                  Ehren Kruger: winning script “Arlington Road.”
                  Max Adams: winning script “Excess Baggage.”
                  Susannah Grant won a fellowship and went on to write “Erin Brockovich.”
                  Andrew Marlowe is another fellowship winner and he went on to write “Air Force One.”
                  And many others...

                  Maybe you’re just talking about the losers who have been struggling to break in for 10 plus years.

                  Done Deal’s Dues, whose name is James V. Simpson, struggled for 10 years before he broke in (2006) with a Nicholl finalist script titled “Armored.” It sold for $400,000. A couple of years earlier, a 2004 script that advanced in the Nicholl obtained him representation.

                  From a Q & A with John Robert Marlow:

                  James V. Simpson: “when I learned that “Armored” was a Nicholl finalist script, part of our pitch became that “Armored” was going to be a Nicholl Fellowship winner.”

                  James and his reps used his ongoing advancement in the 2006 Nicholl to attach heat/juice to his script.

                  Contests are just one of many routes for a writer to break in and because of how difficult it is to break in, it’s to a writer’s advantage to use as many routes as possible and not just relying on writing that “great script,” where you and your script would be magically loved by an industry professional.
                  You're hearing me wrong, Joe. I know some people have made it by contests. But most people haven't made it by contests. They made it by getting someone in Hollywood to read their spec not a reader in a contest. Simple as that.

                  And yes, I think at some point, if you're only entering contests, you're doing yourself a disservice.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Here's the thing.... (after a glass or two of wine, no food, and working all afternoon and evening)

                    Contests are a legit way into the industry.

                    If you can afford to throw money at it without it hurting you or your family-- go for it, IF you think it can do well--> talking top ten here. That's just my opinion. Not saying it's right or wrong.

                    There are a thousands ways into the industry and a million qualified people whose writing is worthy and they never get the heat they deserve.

                    I knew a woman, we wrote a spec together. She is, by far, the most creative writer I have ever known. I mean, world building is astronomical. She was with a rep here on DDP. And it's so disheartening that she never got her big break. She is phenomenal. As a writer. As a human being. She would ask me to read her specs and I was always amazed. If her films were made, I would watch them over and over. She even named a character after my daughter. I love her writing.

                    The reality is, there are extremely talented writers that never make it, let alone make it big. We never see their amazing creative worlds that could blow us away, because someone dictates "what" is worth making. Yes, it's a business. Yes, it's competitive. But there's some amazing **** that we will never see.

                    That kind of makes me sad. (that could be the wine talking ,who knows... i haven't worked 70 hours week since I was in my 20s). Ugh.

                    Don't give up people. We all have the right to pursue greatness. Just... try to be honest with yourself. Understand where you are in the big scheme of things. It'll help you endure.
                    "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Bono View Post

                      I think at some point, if you're only entering contests, you're doing yourself a disservice.
                      Who talked about ONLY entering contests when trying to break in?

                      There's contests, The Black List, queries, referrals, connections, relationships, seminars, etc.
                      Last edited by JoeNYC; 01-25-2021, 05:18 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by sc111 View Post

                        Still incorrect.

                        The Harper Lee novel that was rejected was titled "Go Set A Watchman" and had the same characters but set 20 years later when Scout was an adult. The publisher that did buy the Watchman version in 1958, gave it to an editor who asked Lee to rewrite it as a story with the same characters 20 years younger.
                        Are you denying that “To Kill A Mockingbird” was rejected by 10 publishers because the 11th publisher that bought the manuscript decided to change its title, so technically it wasn’t THE “To Kill A Mockingbird”? In my “rejection” thread, I addressed the work with the editor and the rewrites.

                        From two years ago:

                        “’To Kill A Mockingbird’s’ manuscript by Harper Lee was turned down by 10 publishers until an editor at J.B. Lippincott Company, Therese von Hohoff Torrey, saw promise in the writer’s voice, where she said in an interview: ‘The spark of the true writer flashed in every line.’ After a lot of work with the editor, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ went on to be a best seller and win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Horton Foote won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.”

                        sc111, why are you arguing about these details? The point was about the mantra “write a great script” and about the fact that a great script is not immune to rejection. A writer still needs to market it in as many routes as possible to increase the odds of crossing paths with an industry person that it would resonate with, such as for Harper Lee it was Ms. Torrey at J.B. Lippincott Company.

                        Maybe you didn’t like my “To Kill A Mockingbird” example. Fine, how about the following:

                        Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie,” received 30 rejections.
                        J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Porter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” 12 rejections.
                        John Grisham’s “A Time To Kill,” 28 rejections.
                        James Joyce’s first book "Dubliners" took 9 years and 18 rejections.

                        Think about how many great works of art, novels or screenplays, that never found a way to get past all the rejections.
                        Last edited by JoeNYC; 01-25-2021, 05:12 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Did you read the article I linked? Of course not.

                          It doesn't matter. Because the novels you cite don't disprove Bono's point. They actually support his point.

                          These authors didn't enter their work in contests for 10 years. Which was Bono's point to you.

                          They all submitted their work to publishers for consideration.

                          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


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post

                            The reality is, there are extremely talented writers that never make it, let alone make it big. We never see their amazing creative worlds that could blow us away, because someone dictates "what" is worth making. Yes, it's a business. Yes, it's competitive. But there's some amazing **** that we will never see.


                            .
                            True. At least writers of prose fiction can self publish online, market themselves and gain even a small following. Perhaps even catch the eye of a publisher if you're skilled at social media marketing.

                            But contests as a way of breaking in? Thousands and thousands of scripts entered year after year. And only a small percentage of the winners ever get any traction. Of those, a smaller percentage become working writers.

                            The Nicholl has been around since -- what?-- the 80s?

                            When I look at the list of Nicholl winners who went on to forge careers, it's amazingly short.

                            It's a testimony to how competitive the industry is.

                            Bono's point is solid: if you're only entering contests for 10 years -- and never winning -- at some point you have to put yourself out directly to the industry gatekeepers by querying. Now that's risking rejection, IMO.

                            Losing a contest isn't rejection in my opinion.

                            It is sad that far too many awesome writers never get past the gatekeepers.

                            What I find even sadder is the thousands of far less than awesome (bad) scripts clogging up the pipeline. And contests encourage this tsunami in my opinion.

                            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


                            • #74
                              I did really well in a contest. Same script got me a rep BEFORE contest results were posted. So I proved that literally a "great" script will find a home if you try. But yes, it would have worked out if I only entered that contest to make you feel better Joe. However, that's not the norm.

                              Some people ONLY enter contests and NEVER try to find a rep. So to me that's a very slim margin to break in.

                              Contests to prove you can write. Then once you prove you can, query.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Bono View Post

                                Contests to prove you can write. Then once you prove you can, query.
                                Hmmm. I disagree. We've discussed at length how subjective contests are generating widely divergent opinions on the quality of the same script.

                                Winning a contest may help prove you can write. But bombing out of a contest doesn't mean you can't write. That's something one must determine for themselves with objectivity and self assessment.


                                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.-

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