My Black List Experience

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  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • finalact4
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bono
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • figment
    replied
    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%$#.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeNYC
    replied
    Originally posted by sc111 View Post

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

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeNYC
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    Originally posted by Bono View Post
    Some writers ask for permission to succeed, other writers just go for it. I find more pros fall into the latter. Contests are fine when you're starting out. 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. The rest is just window dressing.

    Believe in your writing ability and go after managers not doing well in contest.
    Agree 100%.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    Your "20%" calculation makes no sense to me, Joe. There are other factors you're totally ignoring in addition to assuming the quality of your competition's scripts is exactly the same in every contest.

    I've read several accounts where writers hit that 20% one year. Then entered the same script in the same contest the following year and failed to make the first cut.

    How could this happen?

    Readers are extremely subjective -- two, three, six different readers can rate the same script with a wide range of scores. We've seen this with BL which, in my opinion, is simply a perpetual contest at its core.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bono
    replied
    Some writers ask for permission to succeed, other writers just go for it. I find more pros fall into the latter. Contests are fine when you're starting out. 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. The rest is just window dressing.

    Believe in your writing ability and go after managers not doing well in contest.

    Leave a comment:


  • JoeNYC
    replied
    Originally posted by figment View Post

    Where are you getting this from? I think this is a overgeneralization. ... its often the luck of the draw on getting the right readers that will connect with your script. ... It's just the luck of the draw, reader-wise. So to say if something is "good" it should advance in 1 out of 3 contests makes no sense to me ... Nicholl QF are the top 5 percent out of like 8k or so. I don't think a "7 score" is the equivalent of that in the BL
    I'm going by my own practical experience. I've entered broad comedies, romantic dramas, etc. into contests and they advanced in at least 1 out of every 3 contests. My action adventure advanced in 2 out of 4 contests last year and the feedback readers that I used said it wasn't ready.

    Yes, judging a screenplay is subjective, but if you're an experience writer, where your feedback eventually says your script is strong, then how many different contest readers, not a Hollywood production company, does it take before the writing resonates with someone?

    For the majority of contests, the QF's percentage is not the top 5 percent like the Nicholl. It's the top 15 to 20 percent. From the Austin competition: "Second Round (Top 15-20%)."

    If an experience writer can't make at least the top 20% in 1 out of 3 contests, then he may not be ready to join the professional ranks.
    Last edited by JoeNYC; 01-24-2021, 02:05 PM.

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  • figment
    replied
    Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

    If a writer is a strong and experienced writer, then he should advance in at least 1 out of every 3 contests, no matter if the screenplay is low or high concept.
    Where are you getting this from? I think this is a overgeneralization.

    As someone who's entered multiple scripts in previous contests, I really feel that after a certain level of skill, its often the luck of the draw on getting the right readers that will connect with your script. That's why you'll get a 8 and a 5 for the same script on the BL (happened to me).

    Or, one of my favorite examples from a script I entered in the Nicholl:

    One reader said: "Everything about this script was stellar... X is an exceptional protaganist … Each line of important dialogue really sings... I'd read a spin-off movie of almost every character in this script..."

    Another reader said: "The main character isn't especially unique, neither are the villains or the story."

    Those are WILDLY differing assessments. So, who is right and who is wrong? They're both right, because its just their opinion, and they clearly have different tastes. I think this happens all the time. It's just the luck of the draw, reader-wise. So to say if something is "good" it should advance in 1 out of 3 contests makes no sense to me -- "good" according to whom?


    Originally posted by JoeNYC View Post

    This is why I paid for 3 Black List readers. One out of the 3 gave me some 7s, which is the equivalent to a Quarterfinalist in a contest (8 semifinalist, 9 finalist, 10 winner)
    Nicholl QF ae the top 5 percent out of like 8k or so. I don't think a "7 score" is the equivalent of that in the BL -- there are too many "7's: An 8, maybe?.

    Leave a comment:

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