New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

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  • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

    As an observer of all this for several years, I believe that omjs and figment have it right.

    "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

    Comment


    • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

      I believe figment and omjs have it right, too.

      But I'll add:

      I believe these types of outfits "thumbs up" a particular type of script. But I believe that to be dangerous to writers in this way:

      [***disclaimer. I apologize in advance for lumping BL in with Nicholl, but nevertheless]

      I sent a script to Nicholl a few years back. It did exactly zero, zilch, nada. The same script got me general meetings with Plan-B, Scott/Free, Erwin Stoff, Imagine, Di Bonaventura, HBO, etc [15-ish outfits]. The same script got me signed at CAA. One of those companies offered me a job writing a feature. One of those companies wanted me to staff on a show for a well known writer/director. One of those companies asked me to pitch for a taste-maker type feature. The script landed well enough for something they couldn't MAKE. It did for me the most I could ask of a script I knew full well they could not make [too small, dark and violent.]

      So, how could a reader for an organization such as these be so retardedly OFF from what Hollywood wants from a writer?

      I believe the answer is this: I believe they hire readers who assume to know what Hollywood wants, but don't. I believe the readers would make terrible producers and therefore are readers. I believe they are good at spotting the obvious no-brainer, but who amongst us cannot spot those scripts? I believe they are terrible at spotting a fresh voice that is controversial and therefore interesting to Hollywood.

      More supporting evidence: I used to be part of a selective writers group that would share scripts and give notes. It was small. 4 people. Two signed writers. One reader. And me. All of them didn't "love" the script in question. One of them, the READER [for CAA] said it was a page 1 rewrite [btw - I hated his take on what it 'should' be]. The same script got me representation at CAA. Imagine if I had taken Nicholl or the reader's opinion as gospel. I would have flung the script into the garbage. The old adage "keep writing!"

      Thus, I am adding this to the convo: The Black List is probably best served for safe scripts which appear to be no-brainers and/or programers. I find that the lower you go with your script the less willing they are to see risky/divisive material as viable. I find that the higher you go [everything I write is risky/divisive/controversial] the more you will land, as they are willing to take risks on writers that push the limits of what is acceptable -- They may not see the SCRIPT as viable, but they see the VOICE as viable.

      Furthermore -- I think this is true of production companies as well. The more divisive/risky your material, the more you will fail with the lower tier. However, the more you will land with taste-makers and industry leading producers.

      Every one of my scripts has landed that way [5 scripts]. Crickets on the lower tier, fairly well on the top tier. I knew the agent on the submission of the script in question very well [CAA], so they blind CC'd me on some of the responses from prodcos. Bottom tier producer said and I quote "Disaster!!!" top tier and I quote "Fvcking awesome!!!". The top tier guy met with me. Two weeks later called me from on set to offer me a job.

      I'm writing this for that one or two dudes/chicks lurking out there who are failing as fvck with Nicholl and Black List, but have a unique as sh*t voice, and know it. To you I say: GO AROUND THEM! THEY WON'T *GET* YOUR VOICE! BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN TASTE-MAKERS WON'T! [99% of writers who've read my stuff, hate it. And yet.]

      *Someone surely has a different opinion.
      DOPE CITY

      Comment


      • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

        Originally posted by surftatboy View Post
        I believe figment and omjs have it right, too.

        But I'll add:

        I believe these types of outfits "thumbs up" a particular type of script. But I believe that to be dangerous to writers in this way:

        [***disclaimer. I apologize in advance for lumping BL in with Nicholl, but nevertheless]

        I sent a script to Nicholl a few years back. It did exactly zero, zilch, nada. The same script got me general meetings with Plan-B, Scott/Free, Erwin Stoff, Imagine, Di Bonaventura, HBO, etc [15-ish outfits]. The same script got me signed at CAA. One of those companies offered me a job writing a feature. One of those companies wanted me to staff on a show for a well known writer/director. One of those companies asked me to pitch for a taste-maker type feature. The script landed well enough for something they couldn't MAKE. It did for me the most I could ask of a script I knew full well they could not make [too small, dark and violent.]

        So, how could a reader for an organization such as these be so retardedly OFF from what Hollywood wants from a writer?

        I believe the answer is this: I believe they hire readers who assume to know what Hollywood wants, but don't. I believe the readers would make terrible producers and therefore are readers. I believe they are good at spotting the obvious no-brainer, but who amongst us cannot spot those scripts? I believe they are terrible at spotting a fresh voice that is controversial and therefore interesting to Hollywood.

        More supporting evidence: I used to be part of a selective writers group that would share scripts and give notes. It was small. 4 people. Two signed writers. One reader. And me. All of them didn't "love" the script in question. One of them, the READER [for CAA] said it was a page 1 rewrite [btw - I hated his take on what it 'should' be]. The same script got me representation at CAA. Imagine if I had taken Nicholl or the reader's opinion as gospel. I would have flung the script into the garbage. The old adage "keep writing!"

        Thus, I am adding this to the convo: The Black List is probably best served for safe scripts which appear to be no-brainers and/or programers. I find that the lower you go with your script the less willing they are to see risky/divisive material as viable. I find that the higher you go [everything I write is risky/divisive/controversial] the more you will land, as they are willing to take risks on writers that push the limits of what is acceptable -- They may not see the SCRIPT as viable, but they see the VOICE as viable.

        Furthermore -- I think this is true of production companies as well. The more divisive/risky your material, the more you will fail with the lower tier. However, the more you will land with taste-makers and industry leading producers.

        Every one of my scripts has landed that way [5 scripts]. Crickets on the lower tier, fairly well on the top tier. I knew the agent on the submission of the script in question very well [CAA], so they blind CC'd me on some of the responses from prodcos. Bottom tier producer said and I quote "Disaster!!!" top tier and I quote "Fvcking awesome!!!". The top tier guy met with me. Two weeks later called me from on set to offer me a job.

        I'm writing this for that one or two dudes/chicks lurking out there who are failing as fvck with Nicholl and Black List, but have a unique as sh*t voice, and know it. To you I say: GO AROUND THEM! THEY WON'T *GET* YOUR VOICE! BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN TASTE-MAKERS WON'T! [99% of writers who've read my stuff, hate it. And yet.]

        *Someone surely has a different opinion.

        Thanks for taking the time to write this. I found it very informative.

        Comment


        • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

          Originally posted by surftatboy View Post
          I believe figment and omjs have it right, too.

          But I'll add:

          I believe these types of outfits "thumbs up" a particular type of script. But I believe that to be dangerous to writers in this way:

          [***disclaimer. I apologize in advance for lumping BL in with Nicholl, but nevertheless]

          I sent a script to Nicholl a few years back. It did exactly zero, zilch, nada. The same script got me general meetings with Plan-B, Scott/Free, Erwin Stoff, Imagine, Di Bonaventura, HBO, etc [15-ish outfits]. The same script got me signed at CAA. One of those companies offered me a job writing a feature. One of those companies wanted me to staff on a show for a well known writer/director. One of those companies asked me to pitch for a taste-maker type feature. The script landed well enough for something they couldn't MAKE. It did for me the most I could ask of a script I knew full well they could not make [too small, dark and violent.]

          So, how could a reader for an organization such as these be so retardedly OFF from what Hollywood wants from a writer?

          I believe the answer is this: I believe they hire readers who assume to know what Hollywood wants, but don't. I believe the readers would make terrible producers and therefore are readers. I believe they are good at spotting the obvious no-brainer, but who amongst us cannot spot those scripts? I believe they are terrible at spotting a fresh voice that is controversial and therefore interesting to Hollywood.

          More supporting evidence: I used to be part of a selective writers group that would share scripts and give notes. It was small. 4 people. Two signed writers. One reader. And me. All of them didn't "love" the script in question. One of them, the READER [for CAA] said it was a page 1 rewrite [btw - I hated his take on what it 'should' be]. The same script got me representation at CAA. Imagine if I had taken Nicholl or the reader's opinion as gospel. I would have flung the script into the garbage. The old adage "keep writing!"

          Thus, I am adding this to the convo: The Black List is probably best served for safe scripts which appear to be no-brainers and/or programers. I find that the lower you go with your script the less willing they are to see risky/divisive material as viable. I find that the higher you go [everything I write is risky/divisive/controversial] the more you will land, as they are willing to take risks on writers that push the limits of what is acceptable -- They may not see the SCRIPT as viable, but they see the VOICE as viable.

          Furthermore -- I think this is true of production companies as well. The more divisive/risky your material, the more you will fail with the lower tier. However, the more you will land with taste-makers and industry leading producers.

          Every one of my scripts has landed that way [5 scripts]. Crickets on the lower tier, fairly well on the top tier. I knew the agent on the submission of the script in question very well [CAA], so they blind CC'd me on some of the responses from prodcos. Bottom tier producer said and I quote "Disaster!!!" top tier and I quote "Fvcking awesome!!!". The top tier guy met with me. Two weeks later called me from on set to offer me a job.

          I'm writing this for that one or two dudes/chicks lurking out there who are failing as fvck with Nicholl and Black List, but have a unique as sh*t voice, and know it. To you I say: GO AROUND THEM! THEY WON'T *GET* YOUR VOICE! BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN TASTE-MAKERS WON'T! [99% of writers who've read my stuff, hate it. And yet.]

          *Someone surely has a different opinion.
          I think you make some valid observations. Especially when it comes to contests and possibly low level readers, but I had a different experience with the Black List, at least from a review and scoring point of view on one review. This spec is dark, violent, fast paced and well written. It's risky. The reviewer gave me 8s and 9s and a fantastic review. I'd be happy to post it if anyone's interested, but I think this particular reader got me, my voice and my intention.

          Since landing a manager, I've rewritten it and it went out to several studios, all loved the writing and wanted to see more. So in my case, getting it to the high level execs was definitely the key. It's a high concept, high budget piece, and it got me noticed as a writer. I think it's going to take a visionary director to attach in order to get it made, and as I understand it, this kind of violence doesn't travel well-- and that's important to know.

          I sent this out for paid notes and one such place literally told me it had no chance and that I might be better off writing it as a series of novels and self-publish them. Imagine that? They were basically saying, "give it up, it's never going to be worth anything."

          Thankfully, I had enough confidence not to listen to that bullshit. I mean this piece got me my manager, it has studios willing to read my work. It's completely irresponsible, especially from a *paid* service. A less confident writer might give up all together with a review like that and that's terrible. Yes, they have a right to their opinion. Yes, they may hate your work. I fully understand that some will love it and some will hate it, that's the game you get when you step into the arena, but to basically say, pfft, it's better to self-publish? Bullocks! You expect them to have better insights and abilities. You pay them to help you improve your work. At least I do.

          And that's what I hate about some of the opinions that we receive from some readers, right? (whether from a paid service or other sources) readers sometimes can't get past "this is how I would write it." And I believe it comes from a reader who is not aligning with the writer's intention or vision for the piece. They don't understand their voice or their POV. As you read other writer's work, it's important to offer comments with that writer's intention in mind, and offering an opinion on why this is not working and this is how you might fix it.

          Ok so I've ranted enough.

          Separate Black List question:
          If you change your title, you can still use the same reviews and such that are already up on Black List, right? Would you just note somewhere on the information page "formerly titled TRACKER? And still pay for new reviews if you want them?
          Last edited by finalact4; 03-19-2016, 07:42 AM.
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

          Comment


          • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
            I think you make some valid observations.

            Since landing a manager, I've rewritten it and it went out to several studios, all loved the writing and wanted to see more. So in my case, getting it to the high level execs was definitely the key. It's a high concept, high budget piece, and it got me noticed as a writer. I think it's going to take a visionary director to attach in order to get it made, and as I understand it, this kind of violence doesn't travel well-- and that's important to know.
            I went to your listed website and read about the script you mentioned. I would totally see this!!! Right off the bat, before I came back here and re-read your post about needing a visionary director, I thought this would be right up David Fincher's alley. Good luck with this.

            And you know, I think sometimes people label something as "high budget" and it might not be. Just because they don't understand some of the tech stuff needed doesn't mean it would be hard or even expensive for someone in that field to accomplish this script's tech needs -- just my thoughts. Also, again, violence could be toned down or certain shots done specifically to give the shock you need without gore (or whatever) which also speaks to a director that knows what he's doing, far more than your writing being somehow "too" violent.

            Comment


            • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

              Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
              I sent this out for paid notes and one such place literally told me it had no chance and that I might be better off writing it as a series of novels and self-publish them. Imagine that? They were basically saying, "give it up, it's never going to be worth anything."

              Thankfully, I had enough confidence not to listen to that bullshit. I mean this piece got me my manager, it has studios willing to read my work. It's completely irresponsible, especially from a *paid* service. A less confident writer might give up all together with a review like that and that's terrible. Yes, they have a right to their opinion. Yes, they may hate your work. I fully understand that some will love it and some will hate it, that's the game you get when you step into the arena, but to basically say, pfft, it's better to self-publish? Bullocks! You expect them to have better insights and abilities. You pay them to help you improve your work. At least I do.
              Nice rant. Yes, exactly that. Good on you for going around nonsense notes and making headway with a viable piece of material.
              DOPE CITY

              Comment


              • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                Advice is advice. "Beware of all advice, even this." - Carl Sandburg.

                You asked their opinion, they tried to give one. I'm surprised the concept of self-publishing is what was so very offensive to you. It's not a bad way to get your story out there just the way you want it and then you still own it and can do whatever you want with it later. Not a bad deal, really.

                I've had readers say there's no way anyone would be interested in the script that someone is actually quite interested in. I've had people tell me it's too expensive when someone in a similar genre tells me how relatively inexpensive their particular show is because of X, Y and Z. Nobody knows 100% because it's just a reader doing their best. They don't hold all the cards. (Also, if the person was THAT interested, we wouldn't be sending our scripts to paid readers, now, would we? Lol...)

                What gets me about the Black List these past two months is that LITERALLY every review I've had since January on two different scripts comes with a $25 off offer because the score varies so wildly from the previous score. I think that means there's something weird going on, or else I have two scripts that both are extremely divisive. That seems kind of unlikely. I understand that the final score means how likely they are to pass it up to their boss and someone at Focus (RIP) is going to have a very different opinion than someone at Marvel or whatever, but it's just strange. And really, if someone works for Marvel and they're reading BlackList scripts that have zero to do with superheroes, adventure or action then maybe they should re-consider who reads what or re-consider what the final score means. You know? I mean say I'm a reader who works for someone like Terrance Malick. I could read a great horror script that I love, but if I work for Terrance Malick, I'm probably not real likely to pass it up to him, right?

                But it's ultimately just an opinion. So I guess shrug it off and move on.

                Comment


                • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                  Has anyone ever gotten a 10 rating? (I mean an overall 10. Not for a component like character or dialogue.)

                  Comment


                  • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                    Originally posted by Terri View Post
                    Has anyone ever gotten a 10 rating? (I mean an overall 10. Not for a component like character or dialogue.)
                    I know of at least one.

                    Comment


                    • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                      Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
                      I know of at least one.
                      Do you recall the title?
                      and whatever happened w/ the script?

                      Comment


                      • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                        Originally posted by Terri View Post
                        Do you recall the title?
                        and whatever happened w/ the script?
                        The script was called Tumbleweed. I don't know what happened to it since the Black List score.

                        Comment


                        • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                          Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
                          The script was called Tumbleweed. I don't know what happened to it since the Black List score.
                          Yes, but did it get a 10 on 'Setting'? Because there is nothing more rare in the entire universe than a script getting a 10 on Setting. This according to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

                          Comment


                          • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                            Originally posted by Giffin View Post
                            Yes, but did it get a 10 on 'Setting'? Because there is nothing more rare in the entire universe than a script getting a 10 on Setting. This according to Neil deGrasse Tyson.
                            no, it was an overall 10 (and the only element rating less than 10 was 9/10 for Plot, at least for the review i saw the scores for)

                            Comment


                            • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                              Originally posted by JoeBanks View Post
                              no, it was an overall 10 (and the only element rating less than 10 was 9/10 for Plot, at least for the review i saw the scores for)
                              Wow!

                              Comment


                              • Re: New Black List Thread - Franklin Leonard answers your questions

                                I just got my first blacklist review back. It was an 8. Wondering if I should opt in for the free evaluation. Blacklist customer service was ambiguous in their reply but suggested more high scores would garner more attention. I've also read about users who have received highly variant scores for the same screenplay. Just wondering what my best play is here. Any advice is much appreciated.

                                Comment

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