Blacklist Experience #1239932

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  • Blacklist Experience #1239932

    I know there are a number of these "my blacklist experience- posts but I found them helpful when I was thinking about posting to the site. So here's mine.

    The process of uploading everything was easy. It was surprisingly detailed. It asks you to choose tags. There are at least a hundred (or it feels that way). The tags include everything from projected budget, content rating, race of the protag or if the protag's race is left undefined, which specific animals are featured, if there's hand to hand combat or political content. It's really thorough.

    When you choose your genre you can choose two main genres. This is where it got a little tricky. I have a comedic fantasy adventure movie. The comedy is a major component of the screenplay. There are a lot of bits where you can only get away with that kind of thing in a comedy. So after some reflection, I changed the genre from fantasy/adventure (those were my original two) to fantasy/comedy. I don't know if it means I'll get reviews that are a better reflection of the project but I feel like people who like to read comedy might judge it in that light as opposed to some action/adventure reader hoping she's about to read the next Lord of the Rings or Avatar.

    I paid for 1 evaluation and then about two-ish weeks later, the review came. It took about a week to get the review after the reader "downloaded- it.

    The review made me depressed. Not gonna lie. I wanted those 8s+ so bad. I, like every other writer, works hard, does research, rewrites, rewrites. Then some stranger gives what feel like cursory remarks, rates it low, and now my project is deep in Blacklist-water without any oars.

    The funny thing about the evaluation is that it said I did well in the areas where I thought I would surely get nicked but in areas where I thought I would be okay, I got hit.

    The most confusing comment the evaluator made was in regards to its budget. I don't have any special effects, most of the scenes take place in the woods. I honestly don't know how to come up with a projected budget for a screenplay (I would love to read a good how-to) but it was surprising to read that the evaluator thought my screenplay would be on the more expensive side.

    Oh! And the setting score. I'm not sure what "setting- means. How do you score high or low in setting? This is where I think I need to swap scripts with someone, get some actionable advice or impressions on all these elements. My story is about a guy chasing down a forest creature. The setting - the forest. Was my forest not foresty enough? Was it too generic? Did I miss opportunities?

    From here, I think I'm going to pay for one more evaluation. I might get an even lower score but I would love to get at least one 8 in any category (c'mon setting!) and show up in some shopper's search results.

    I think I would feel better about all this if the blacklist website didn't make it so difficult to become visible. My impression is that when a shopper is searching for material it's a bit like google. Only 8s and up are going to be on the first 20 pages of search results. Everything after that is going to come with a MALWARE warning or present a yes/no popup box asking if the shopper truly intended to look at that result.


    Here's my review:

    ******************************************

    REVIEW


    Overall Rating 6
    Premise 6
    Plot 7
    Character 6
    Dialogue 6
    Setting 6

    Era:
    Modern

    Locations:
    Wedding / Fantasy World / Rural

    Budgets:
    Medium

    Genre:
    Action & Adventure, Action Comedy, Mystery & Suspense, Sci-Fi Thriller

    Logline (the evaluator comes up with their own):
    A timid groom is taken to a magical port and must escape it by teaming up with a rag tag group of new friends and looking for a mythological Keeper of the Forest in an attempt to get out.

    Strengths:
    This is a fun fantasy adventure script with a unique premise, world and set of characters. The project does a great job of paying attention to detail with providing foreshadowing and interwoven themes throughout. An example of this would be when Jackie gets captured and is talking to Dusty, and Dusty delivers the line about never being too old to fight for the ones you love. The plight that Jackie goes on is funny, and that is due mostly in part to his interactions with Merle and Rudy. They're a hilarious trio, and their personalities are all wildly different. It works very well to have Jackie be so timid, early on. This sets his arc up for clear growth, and his set up gives some strong comedic relief. An example of this would be when he seems apprehensive to first take Rudy up on looking for the Keeper of the Forest, because it seems too dangerous. It's a fast paced script, with snappy action blocking. The story is told in an efficient and ever intriguing way, and presents a consistent tone across the board. One of the most impressive elements to the script is how it almost parodies the idea of someone being in a fantasy world and trying to get out. There's some very polished sarcasm in the dialogue from the main characters.

    Weaknesses
    We need to get a bit more development from Eleanor early on. Much of the plight revolves around Jackie trying to get out of the Port, obviously for his own life, but also to get back to Eleanor. It's funny that he's reluctant to actually care about her, but at the end of the day, the audience just needs to get a better idea for what her personality is like. Maybe this could come out of Jackie coming across more reasons to want to get back to her. All in all, the finale, when she shows up and then gets hit with the dart, will be much more impactful and strong if we get to know her more in the first act (at least). The dialogue is funny, but Gregory's and Mayor Moe's voices are pretty on the nose. Try to go in and give Gregory a more defined personality. His goals are clear, and the twist that comes out when he kills the bear/Keeper, and it ends up being his father, is interesting. With that in mind, the audience doesn't really get enough to connect with on Gregory's subplot, because he feels too one-dimensional, and lacking a fleshed out voice. Mayor Moe comes off as more of a filler character, and going in and developing his motivations could improve the story. Bring him back around more in the second half of act 2 as well so that we get full development before he comes back into the story in the third act.

    Prospects:
    This is a fun adventure story, with a timid protagonist that goes through a lot of clear growth over the course of the script. It's a unique premise, that would take a medium sized budget to pull off (at least). It's not an overly high concept, and it can be even more difficult to bring original fantasy stories (without built in audiences) to life in Hollywood, but that shouldn't be a deterrent for going after this project. There is room to make the dialogue a bit more personalized to the voices of some of the supporting characters, and although exposition plays into the humor of the story, it comes off a bit heavy handed, especially when Jackie is first getting assimilated into the Port and talking with Merle. It's a fast paced read, that at the very least is well on its way to being a strong writing sample.

  • #2
    Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

    Everybody likes to be associated with a winner. So just write a snappy, brilliant script that's ***CHEAP*** to shoot, and it's instant tens, baby. Easy

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

      This is my problem with Blacklist reviews. You read the strengths and the reviewer uses words like: Hilarious, Fun, Unique, Detailed. The way they talk about the script makes you think it should be passed up the chain immediately. Then they score it a 6, which makes it an average script in their mind. A C/C+ grade. I think they over sell the strengths big time. They know that unless writers hear good things about their work that the chances of them being repeat customers is slim to none.

      The tags are interesting. Gives you insight as to how managers, producers, agents search for scripts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

        I recall wondering the same thing re. "setting."

        It did sound like they rather enjoyed the read, so that's gotta be encouraging.

        Did you feel that what they suggested were "weaknesses" were possibly true, or things others had told you (or you had thought yourself at some level?)

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

          Originally posted by SBdeb View Post
          I recall wondering the same thing re. "setting."

          It did sound like they rather enjoyed the read, so that's gotta be encouraging.

          Did you feel that what they suggested were "weaknesses" were possibly true, or things others had told you (or you had thought yourself at some level?)

          This evaluation is the only feedback I've had on the script. It's difficult to weigh it. I need to get more eyes on it, see what comments represent the norm, which are outliers.

          Some of the weaknesses led me to question other things. The evaluator wanted more development of Eleanor's character earlier on. However, I don't show her at all until the end. I didn't want to show her because I thought audiences would then expect to see Jackie and her reunited and I wanted them to actually consider that he might not ever see her. They might never see her. So I can't tell if that worked or what.

          The strange thing is that I really thought I would get hit on the arc. Little weird to disagree with a strength.

          Easy to agree with things like, dialogue that's on the nose.

          A detailed explanation of each screenplay element would be nice, a rough rubric. So the meaning of a six would be more concrete.


          Proposed Blacklist rubric:

          1. Learn the basics.
          2. You got some of the format right but learn the basics.
          3. Well, you got the format right.
          4. This is your first script, isn't it.
          5. Can write, but isn't salable.
          6. If you stand on this box you can see the horizon.
          7. You're standing on the box.
          8. You look beautiful in this light.
          9. Are you single?
          10. Let me put some lotion on those shoulders.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

            Originally posted by Ryan Rodriguez View Post

            From here, I think I'm going to pay for one more evaluation.
            Not sure from your post if you were looking for feedback in order to rewrite or to simply try and get an "8," but if it's actual feedback you want, I wouldn't waste money on the BL.

            Titan Creed on this board will give you awesome notes that are actionable and useful, so you have clear, concrete feedback and can go from there doing a rewrite to work out the kinks.

            http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=78768

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

              Notes on setting usually mean you did not make you case effectively as to why this story should be set in this location. You have to make a case for you setting in your story, if you don't then it's just 'there' and has no significance to the story.

              Or it means the dramatic setting of the story needs amplification. The dramatic setting is that 'thing' you are analyzing in your script.

              In Liar, Liar the dramatic setting is a Lawyer who cannot lie. Within that oxymoron are situations ripe for conflict. Did you really take advantage of the dramatic setting of your script.

              The Dramatic Setting of Silence Of The Lambs is a rookie FBI agent must do psychological battle with a cunning, sarcastic, deranged cannibalistic serial killer. Within that dramatic setting are many opportunities for conflict and thematic undertones.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                Originally posted by figment View Post
                Not sure from your post if you were looking for feedback in order to rewrite or to simply try and get an "8," but if it's actual feedback you want, I wouldn't waste money on the BL.

                Titan Creed on this board will give you awesome notes that are actionable and useful, so you have clear, concrete feedback and can go from there doing a rewrite to work out the kinks.

                http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/...ad.php?t=78768
                Yeah, not using BL for the notes. I knew that much going in. Thank you so much for the recommendation. I saw the sticky and the reviews/his site looks great. Going to give him a try.

                *searches couch for loose change

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                  Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
                  Notes on setting usually mean you did not make you case effectively as to why this story should be set in this location. You have to make a case for you setting in your story, if you don't then it's just 'there' and has no significance to the story.

                  Or it means the dramatic setting of the story needs amplification. The dramatic setting is that 'thing' you are analyzing in your script.

                  In Liar, Liar the dramatic setting is a Lawyer who cannot lie. Within that oxymoron are situations ripe for conflict. Did you really take advantage of the dramatic setting of your script.

                  The Dramatic Setting of Silence Of The Lambs is a rookie FBI agent must do psychological battle with a cunning, sarcastic, deranged cannibalistic serial killer. Within that dramatic setting are many opportunities for conflict and thematic undertones.

                  This certainly could be the case. Often times I won't include thematic niceties because I don't want to confuse anyone or take the push of the story out of the sails with some symbolic - a dewdrop on a rose falls to the sand from a lonely cactus in an ocean of desert - type thing and I can never tell when I'm doing it well or, well, just doing it.

                  Maybe the 6 is a reward for my lack of risk.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                    I agree, the first things that come to mind when injecting thematic components into a scene are often heavy handed and over snobby, but it's your job as the writer to dig deeper, get past sobby and move toward poignant.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                      Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
                      Notes on setting usually mean you did not make you case effectively as to why this story should be set in this location. You have to make a case for you setting in your story, if you don't then it's just 'there' and has no significance to the story.
                      Personally, I think a forest creature living in the forest is probably a strong enough case for a forest setting. I guess you could go for irony and have the forest creature live in the desert. But, seriously, I have no clue why you would have to "make a case for the setting." Aren't fantasy stories usually set in the forest? This just sounds like something for the reviewer to say so he can make his review a little longer -- kind of like busy work.

                      Actually, to me, by what little I've seen of these reviews and gleaned by reading the comments, it looks like the Blacklist "game" is to say enough positive to keep you coming back, but enough negative to justify not giving a high score. It would be interesting to read this specific script in light of the comments and compare them with my own views. I'm guessing there would be drastic differences.
                      Last edited by Centos; 05-27-2017, 08:40 PM. Reason: Added comments
                      STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                        The creature isn't the main character. It's a player in the setting. The main character is the groom. So the question is why does this character's story belong in a forest setting?

                        The mythical beast does not have to be a forest creature. This could be set on the ocean and it can be an ocean creature, or set in the mountains and be a mountain creature.

                        I don't think the writer is making a strong enough case for this character's story to be told in this setting. What does the forest represent? Is it a metaphor for something in the character's life? Is it a representation of how the character feels inside? There is absolutely no reason to pick a physical location and not work it into the story. It makes your story that much stronger, gives it another ah-ha moment for the reader. The more ah-ha moments you can compile in a script, the better.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                          I honestly believe there isn't a Blacklist "game-. There's no conspiracy to feed on the dreams of wannabe screenwriters. However, I'm torn about the Blacklist.

                          I think it's similar to studios in that it has a reader-mote. An aspiring screenwriter has to impress a reader in order to get a chance to entertain the royal court.

                          However, the difference between querying a studio and participating in the Blacklist is that the writer is paying a gatekeeper for the chance to entertain the reader.

                          Now, I think in any given studio, there's some kid reading scripts, maybe doesn't get what they're reading or they just heard their cousin has been hit by a bus or whatever. They aren't going to allow the screenplay to swim upstream.

                          What I find appealing about the blacklist is that I, an unrepresented writer, has the chance to entertain a royal court who only accepts solicited material, provided I can get past the reader.

                          So my only hope for the blacklist (like any other competition) is that I earn a golden score so that just one shopper might be introduced to my story and decide they want to put it in their pageant.

                          The problem I have with the Blacklist is that if I fail to entertain the first dreaded reader, I'm out the cost of admission and gain nothing. The comments are too cursory. Like all readers, it's difficult to trust if the screenplay was actually read or was subjected to a heavy skim.

                          It doesn't offer anything a competition doesn't.

                          If I place in the semis (8+), it can go in a query letter, at the least. But if it doesn't, I'm out the cost of admission.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                            Originally posted by Ryan Rodriguez View Post
                            What I find appealing about the blacklist is that I, an unrepresented writer, has the chance to entertain a royal court who only accepts solicited material, provided I can get past the reader.
                            Well, at least that's the illusion Blacklist wants to project. I sometimes wonder if you're only getting to the court jester.
                            Last edited by StoryWriter; 05-28-2017, 09:37 AM.
                            "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Blacklist Experience #1239932

                              Ryan, rid yourself of the thought that the Hollywood gatekeeper is a college kid with ADD. It does nothing for you except give your pride some relief from rejection. People reading scripts in LA know what they are doing. They've had hundreds, thousands of good movies pass through their hands and they know what one looks like.

                              How does the blacklist work exactly? The writer pays to host a script, what if they do not pay for reads? Does anyone read the script and give it a score? Or do you just have an unscored script in the databank. When someone looking for material searches the blacklist for lets say a comedy with a small budget, do the scripts pop up in order of score with the higher scored scripts at the top?

                              Seems like paying for a review is a double edged sword, if you get an 8 or a 9 then your script will get 'some' attention? If you get a low score there's a good chance no one will look at it?

                              Comment

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