Black List Website Postmortem

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  • #16
    Re: Black List Website Postmortem

    Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
    I'm skeptical that industry folks view it as a great way to find new writers/material. As I've said elsewhere, the fact that 9-10 overall ratings are unicorns and that a 7 won't necessarily do much for you means you're basically in an "8-or-bust" situation.
    Which is exactly how the 'real world' works. As has been discussed ad nauseum, an 8 is the equivalent of a reader saying to their boss 'this is a contender, read it'. That doesn't happen with 7s - those are 'pass' or, at best, 'pass with reservations'.

    If anything, the BL works in your favour because of the overall rating (which is what gets everyone's attention) and feedback - including individual category rating. Give me that, something I can work with (even market with) over 'thanks for submitting your script but it's not what we're looking for' at best and at, worst, dead silence.


    It still beats doing nothing and if you have the money to spend then it probably can't hurt, but for me the primary value is to get feedback on my work from semi-professional people for a not too crazy price.
    Which is a step lower than the BL.


    If I were really looking to get some heat, I'd either try to contact people directly or spam every contest and try to use a high placement as a springboard.
    Which leads you back to how it was pre-BL: polite rejection letters or dead air.

    Ultimately, it's each to their own but what I got from the BL was worth every penny.

    Comment


    • #17
      Re: Black List Website Postmortem

      Originally posted by Friday View Post
      I've never used Blacklist before, but just curious, if you need at least an 8 to get any traction? What happens to all those scores...say, a writer gets 7, 6, 8, 7, 6.... are people just looking at the total, or do they count the scores less than 8 against you?
      When a writer has a script hosted (with reviews) they can choose to display a graph on their script page representing the range of scores that they got.

      It doesn't really matter how many scores you have. You are not going to connect with every reader. As long as you have a healthy percentage (maybe 40%?) of scores of 7 or above, no one will care about the 4's and 5's. Everyone knows you can't please everyone.

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Black List Website Postmortem

        Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
        If I were really looking to get some heat, I'd either try to contact people directly or spam every contest and try to use a high placement as a springboard.
        I've been doing this a long, long time, and I have never entered a contest before. I always felt like the entrance fees were way too high for the value / potential payoff.

        It just seems super likely that a good script could easily slip right through the front line readers, who probably have dozens of scripts to read and couldn't possibly give every script 100% of their attention in order to vet it properly.

        But this year I entered my script into both the Tracking Board and the TB Launchpad contests (I took advantage of the reduced rate entrance fee promotions they usually have around summer holidays), because I wanted to get as many eyeballs on this one as possible.

        I don't care about 'winning' anything, I just wanted to see if I could advance past the front line readers (with a script that's already been vetted by many other people) to kind of confirm or disprove my suspicions about them. I hope I'm wrong. I think the results come out later this month, so we'll see.

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        • #19
          Re: Black List Website Postmortem

          I didn't mean to say that the BL is a bad tool, but even a great script might not get an 8 after the first 3-4 readers. If that seems controversial, just consider that even on the actual Black List itself there are scripts in the top 10 that got less than 25% of all possible votes. So like kinterboy said, you're never going to please everyone. You may need to run through 7-8 readers to find someone who really connects with your material and that's a fairly big outlay of cash on the BL, albeit well worth the price if launches your career.

          I feel like the Nicholl Fellowship is where an aspiring writer should put most of his or her contest eggs. If you get into the quarters, you can almost certainly leverage that into some reads. I've never managed to crack the quarters of the Nicholl and that's been disappointing, but I've had four completely different scripts make the top 10-15%, which is at least a small sign to say, 'Well, maybe I'm not completely shite at this.'

          You get three bullets in the Nicholl every year and all it probably takes is one reader loving your script and maybe 2 decent reviews to prop you up into the top 5%. I feel like it's doable if you're a good writer. More often than not I've only entered one script, but this year I'm going to enter my best three (one of which is a new idea I'm working on) and pray for the breakthrough.

          The other thing that I think is immensely valuable is to have relationships with people in and around the business. If you are an older person and you're rooted in a place far from LA, that may be difficult. If you are young, you can afford to move, and you have a strong desire to work in the business then get on the first plane to LA and do everything in your power to land an internship somewhere in the business.

          That's what I did when I graduated from college. I went down there and off the UTA job list managed to get an internship at a small talent management house. I did coverage for them and did all the typical gopher stuff. From there I got an unpaid internship at a prodco on a major studio lot, which led to more good learning experiences and meeting more people. Then I started doing temp work at the studio and literally within the first week or two I was working a two week assignment on the joint desk of the Director of Production and Director of Development. I had to pinch myself. I worked short assignments for some of the biggest film people at the studio and ended up having the opportunity to interview for permanent jobs (at the time I was about ready to flee LA though, which I did a short while later).

          If that sounds like I'm trying to big up myself or come across as a hot shot, I'm not. I'm a nobody. Even at the time I was only the smallest plankton in the ocean of Hollywood. This was all years and years ago, and very few of those people would remember my name, much less give me the time of day. Still, what I'm trying to demonstrate is that if you are a reasonably competent person and you can wedge your foot into the door anywhere in the business (agency, manager, prodco, studio, casting, really anywhere) then all of a sudden you are a face and a name to some people who surely know other people, and from there you can potentially get eyeballs on your stuff down the road. I've never tried to phone in favors with anyone from back then because I always knew my stuff wasn't good enough, but the day is probably approaching when I'm going to make that Hail Mary play and paint the town.

          So I think if you're formulating a plan then you probably want to try to do everything. Give the BL a spin. Enter the good contests. If at all possible, try to get down to LA and hustle a bit. Not in the predatory "what can you do for me" sort of way where you're just looking for handouts, but moreso in just getting to know people, learn from them, and show them you're serious about the business. The latter is much more viable if you're young, as the doors are a lot more open to young people for internships. I remember the #2 exec at my prodco going through intern applications with her assistant and saying, "Looks great, but he's 25." Yikes.

          And then I think it really all comes down to having something viable, because while I haven't loved every script that I've read that's gotten traction, I feel like a writer ultimately has to be able to deliver something that inspires some people. If you can't do that then entering contests, paying for reads on the BL, and hustling in LA aren't going to do a damn thing for you.

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Black List Website Postmortem

            Originally posted by kintnerboy View Post
            When a writer has a script hosted (with reviews) they can choose to display a graph on their script page representing the range of scores that they got.

            It doesn't really matter how many scores you have. You are not going to connect with every reader. As long as you have a healthy percentage (maybe 40%?) of scores of 7 or above, no one will care about the 4's and 5's. Everyone knows you can't please everyone.
            Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
            From what I understand, an 8 overall will get you into a weekly e-mail aimed at all their subscribers. Lower overall scores with high ratings in specific categories may result in your script being sent out in targeted e-mails that are tailored to specific subscriber preferences (so if someone is looking for an "8" in premise or maybe 6-7 overall ratings in specific genres, they may still be alerted about your script even if your overall is <8).

            I have limited experience with the BL, but have uploaded/hosted the same script twice that has incidentally gotten the same overall scores twice (6 and 7). That means it had a 6.5 average with higher scores in specific categories. That got me a few downloads, but no e-mails or reviews beyond what I paid for.

            That script is currently live and since the average score is higher than the overall BL average, it will show up on the "top scripts" list for its genres. I've gotten a few page views so far, but no downloads.

            Obviously your mileage may vary. Certain loglines and genres may be more likely to get attention. Also, there's just the dumb luck factor. Maybe your script just happens to be in the right place at the right time when someone is browsing with some time to kill. That could be the difference between getting a chance or not.

            I kind of have mixed feelings about the BL. It feels a bit exploitative and I'm skeptical that industry folks view it as a great way to find new writers/material. As I've said elsewhere, the fact that 9-10 overall ratings are unicorns and that a 7 won't necessarily do much for you means you're basically in an "8-or-bust" situation.

            It still beats doing nothing and if you have the money to spend then it probably can't hurt, but for me the primary value is to get feedback on my work from semi-professional people for a not too crazy price. If I were really looking to get some heat, I'd either try to contact people directly or spam every contest and try to use a high placement as a springboard.

            Thanks guys. I was just curious, since there's a wide variance with readers....I noticed that even with contests, you can have a script barely get to the quarters in one and then go really far in others....or sometimes none at all. Getting an 8 seems kind of lofty even for contest winners...it's basically either get an 8 or it's not as effective for you. Since that's the case, I'd prefer that Blacklist just be a notes business....if you happen to hit the magical number of an 8 on one of the rewrites than they pass it along... otherwise, you don't get dinged for getting anything less than. Dalt, with your 7 score, maybe, you might just be luckier in one of these big contests and win or finalist in one of them.

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Black List Website Postmortem

              Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
              but even a great script might not get an 8 after the first 3-4 readers. If that seems controversial, just consider that even on the actual Black List itself there are scripts in the top 10 that got less than 25% of all possible votes. So like kinterboy said, you're never going to please everyone. You may need to run through 7-8 readers to find someone who really connects with your material and that's a fairly big outlay of cash on the BL, albeit well worth the price if launches your career.
              Look at the bold - the same applies to standard solicitation (which is what you suggested). You send your script out into the world and no one may respond to it at all - let alone the 7-8 readers you mention. Whether you go TBL or old-school, you have to write a script of requisite quality and connect with a reader. The process is the same. The latter is not better than the former. The inverse is true because at least with TBL you get something back: feedback, a rating to see where you stand, visibility whereby others can find your work (unlike a rejection from querying) and networking gold if you score 8+.

              An 8+ is the equivalent of a reader recommending it to his boss so TBL and the old-fashioned networking are one and the same in this respect, hence I don't understand your preference to drop it in favour of self-marketing. After all:

              1) Why self-market blind - when you don't know how good your script is?
              2) Why self-market without a hook to grab their attention (your BL score).


              I feel like the Nicholl Fellowship is where an aspiring writer should put most of his or her contest eggs. If you get into the quarters, you can almost certainly leverage that into some reads.
              And if you score an 8 on TBL you can leverage that into a fuck-ton of reads, too, so again, I don't see your angle. The minute I started canvassing on the back of my BL results, the doors magically opened! Like I said, TBL was worth every penny.

              Most of all, unlike Nicholl, TBL isn't a contest. TBL can hand out as many 8+ scores as they want but only a teeny fraction of Nicholl scripts can get the equivalent kudos, because it's an elimination game.

              The bottom line is that TBL, canvassing and competitions are the same in the respect that you need a very good script that connects in order to get a positive result. If you go out with a mediocre script then you get nowhere. Not via CAA, not via Nicholl. Average and mediocre scripts die in the ether just as much as they do in the unseen annals of TBL.


              all it probably takes is one reader loving your script and maybe 2 decent reviews to prop you up into the top 5%. I feel like it's doable if you're a good writer.
              And the same goes for TBL. If you're a good writer.

              Like I said, how you choose to do things is up to you. I have no affiliation with TBL nor special loyalty to it. I just feel that a good score is a great marketing tool, the feedback gives perspective, and you get 30 days of people flocking to read you (or stumble across you) as opposed to 2 reads in a comp or query. As a result, I just don't see the logic in choosing the two forms you mentioned over TBL. TBL gives you a feedback, visibility (a few DDP'ers have had success with lower-ranked scripts) and if you hit that 8, you get a magic door opener.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                As a result, I just don't see the logic in choosing the two forms you mentioned over TBL.
                Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
                I
                So I think if you're formulating a plan then you probably want to try to do everything. Give the BL a spin. Enter the good contests. If at all possible, try to get down to LA and hustle a bit.
                That being said...

                I think the main drawback for the BL would be the price. $25 to host and $75 per evaluation. If you want to buy 5-6 evaluations to give yourself a fair sample size of ratings, you've spent hundreds of dollars. If you have more than one script to peddle, that can creep into the thousands.

                That's a cheap price if it gets you access and well worth it if your material is good enough, but not every aspiring writer can afford to plop down that kind of money on something that isn't an immediate living expense.

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                • #23
                  Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                  Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
                  I think the main drawback for the BL would be the price. $25 to host and $75 per evaluation. If you want to buy 5-6 evaluations to give yourself a fair sample size of ratings, you've spent hundreds of dollars. If you have more than one script to peddle, that can creep into the thousands.
                  Oh absolutely. I paid for two reads and got my 8s and then that was it - no more spending. I got a ton of DL and enquiries through TBL during my month's hosting and then I reached out via email.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                    Just curious as far as Black List disparities go: why did you question the validity of the 4 instead of the validity of the 8?

                    Originally posted by glantern2814 View Post
                    Thanks for sharing your experience. I'll share my most recent one.

                    My script, a high-budget biopic, got a 7-6-5 when I first submitted a couple of years ago. After some rewrites, the script did very well in competitions (won a competition in the UK, Nicholl QF, Austin QF twice). I decided to pay for another read and scored an 8.

                    The BL then offered me two free months of hosting if I took two more free reads from their folks. OK, I figured. With the 8, I got five or six downloads in a week from industry types and was on the trending list.

                    Then, the first of the free reads came back -- a 4. There was such a disparity from the 8 that I got an email offering me another read at a reduced rate, which I passed. The second free read came back a few days later with a 7 and very complimentary with the comments.

                    I argued with the BL folks about the merits of the 4 (for example, I got a 4/10 in setting, even though it's a factual historical biopic -- it takes place where it actually took place -- so why is that a 4?) Because of the way they do weighted averages, even though the average of the three scripts is 6.3 -- above the standard of 6.02 set by the BL to get on the top lists -- the weighted average (formula unknown) is apparently less. Since I got the 4, I haven't had a download since. So, essentially, the script will be hosted for free over the next six weeks with apparently no purpose.

                    I'm a little irritated because one score sank the script, which has a good pedigree. I realize contests aren't the be-all, end-all, but to do well in three high-profile contests, and get an 8 from a BL reader suggests to me it's a good script beyond my own ego.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                      That's a fair question as to why I think the 8 is more valid than the 4. Since my own judgement is obviously going to be biased, I'll point out:
                      --The script was a QF in both the Nicholl and Austin last year, and won a contest in the UK the year before. (It was also a QF in Austin the year before and finished in the Top 10% with Nicholl two other times). So, in blind, independent judging, the script can be considered to be pretty good, especially since my other two BL scores were 8 and 7.
                      --The script is a biopic, yet the judge who gave me a 4 gave me a 4/10 in setting, for example. I set it where it took place -- how can I lose points for setting?
                      --The BL says its standard is "Do No Harm." When I got the 8, I got several DLs, but after the 4, they all stopped instantly. The 7 wasn't enough to pull it up to the required weighted average of 6.1, even though the overall average of scores is 6.25. So that one 4 sank the whole thing.
                      --And remember, the 8 came first. The subsequent reads were free ones I earned from that. Obviously, if I thought that there was a chance the script would do so poorly, I wouldn't have accepted them. As it was, the BL offered me another discounted read because of the disparity.
                      I guess my gripe is that when there is such a disparity, one score shouldn't tank a script that had two very good other scores.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                        I've heard of score disparities on the Black List and with such a difference it can be hard to know which is right. Congratulations on the 8 regardless.

                        Originally posted by glantern2814 View Post
                        That's a fair question as to why I think the 8 is more valid than the 4. Since my own judgement is obviously going to be biased, I'll point out:
                        --The script was a QF in both the Nicholl and Austin last year, and won a contest in the UK the year before. (It was also a QF in Austin the year before and finished in the Top 10% with Nicholl two other times). So, in blind, independent judging, the script can be considered to be pretty good, especially since my other two BL scores were 8 and 7.
                        --The script is a biopic, yet the judge who gave me a 4 gave me a 4/10 in setting, for example. I set it where it took place -- how can I lose points for setting?
                        --The BL says its standard is "Do No Harm." When I got the 8, I got several DLs, but after the 4, they all stopped instantly. The 7 wasn't enough to pull it up to the required weighted average of 6.1, even though the overall average of scores is 6.25. So that one 4 sank the whole thing.
                        --And remember, the 8 came first. The subsequent reads were free ones I earned from that. Obviously, if I thought that there was a chance the script would do so poorly, I wouldn't have accepted them. As it was, the BL offered me another discounted read because of the disparity.
                        I guess my gripe is that when there is such a disparity, one score shouldn't tank a script that had two very good other scores.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                          Originally posted by kintnerboy View Post
                          I've been doing this a long, long time, and I have never entered a contest before. I always felt like the entrance fees were way too high for the value / potential payoff.

                          It just seems super likely that a good script could easily slip right through the front line readers, who probably have dozens of scripts to read and couldn't possibly give every script 100% of their attention in order to vet it properly.

                          I entered my script into both the Tracking Board and the TB Launchpad contests (I took advantage of the reduced rate entrance fee promotions they usually have around summer holidays), because I wanted to get as many eyeballs on this one as possible.

                          I don't care about 'winning' anything, I just wanted to see if I could advance past the front line readers (with a script that's already been vetted by many other people) to kind of confirm or disprove my suspicions about them. I hope I'm wrong. I think the results come out later this month, so we'll see.

                          I just wanted to update and say that my script actually did advance to the top 75 of the TB Launchpad Feature contest.

                          It was, tragically, eliminated today when they cut the list down to 50, but I have been proven wrong in my thinking that front line contest readers give the entries a lazy once-over read.

                          The TB Launchpad has my endorsement as a well run contest. Good luck to anybody who's still in it.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                            Originally posted by glantern2814 View Post
                            --The script was a QF in both the Nicholl and Austin last year, and won a contest in the UK the year before. (It was also a QF in Austin the year before and finished in the Top 10% with Nicholl two other times). So, in blind, independent judging, the script can be considered to be pretty good, especially since my other two BL scores were 8 and 7.
                            It looks like you over value competitions. These are amateur dealings not pro. In America, kids get university scholarships for their sporting prowess yet many cannot make the step up to the majors. Nicholl and Austin are looking for the best of amateur writing and if you get right to the zenith, ie: the top 5 scripts, then you may have something pro-level. 'May' being the operative word. But QF? That's top 10% of a competition that regularly gets over 7000 entries.


                            --The script is a biopic, yet the judge who gave me a 4 gave me a 4/10 in setting, for example. I set it where it took place -- how can I lose points for setting?
                            Commercial or financial (production-wise) viability.


                            --The BL says its standard is "Do No Harm." When I got the 8, I got several DLs, but after the 4, they all stopped instantly. The 7 wasn't enough to pull it up to the required weighted average of 6.1, even though the overall average of scores is 6.25. So that one 4 sank the whole thing.
                            Or your 8 was an outlier that got you DLs your script didn't warrant. That none of the DLs led to a six-figure cheque should tell you something.

                            Of course, disparate scores can affect your average. That's not TB going against their 'do no harm' mantra but maths and common sense. You can't bend 'do no harm' to mean being placed in a protective bubble where you can't get low marks.


                            I guess my gripe is that when there is such a disparity, one score shouldn't tank a script that had two very good other scores.
                            At the end of the day, whether the 4 was deserved or not, you were stung by the score and think your script deserved better. Like we all do. You gladly accept the 8 but not the 4. No offence, truly, but this is just the standard reaction of a writer not prepared to accept his writing isn't of a high calibre. Your most compelling reasoning being you were made the top several hundred of amateur competitions.

                            You gladly take the 8 and the 7 and you make special mention of the 7's compliments but don't mention how it was ultimately deemed not good enough. Or that it matched a pre-rewrite score (ie: no improvement) and was in the ballpark of another pre-write score - the 6. I get it, I really do, but all you're doing is taking the good and ignoring the not so good. As much as you feel robbed, an equally fair conclusion is there's been marginal, (or no) improvement post rewrite; that out of 6 evaluations only 1 has made the grade; that your script in both the competitions and TBL have been competent but not great; and that one pre-rewrite score was a 5 thus a 4 is not out of the ordinary considering the highest pre & post-rewrite scores are within 1 point of each other.

                            No one ever takes that line of thinking even though it's amply backed up by the facts. I'm not saying you're not good enough now nor never will be, I'm just saying that people hear what they like and discard what they don't. And just some food for thought, you got 5 or 6 downloads in a week when you scored your 8, right? When I scored an 8 I got 49 downloads in a week and offers of representation. Maybe, despite the 8 from the reader, no one else thought it was good enough to deserve that 8 from those who did. I'm not saying that's the case - merely pointing out a wholly possible scenario that I bet you haven't considered.

                            But more than anything, how can you gripe about the aggregate scoring when you knew how TBL worked before you paid up?
                            Last edited by SundownInRetreat; 02-06-2018, 06:24 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                              Originally posted by kintnerboy View Post
                              I just wanted to update and say that my script actually did advance to the top 75 of the TB Launchpad Feature contest.

                              It was, tragically, eliminated today when they cut the list down to 50, but I have been proven wrong in my thinking that front line contest readers give the entries a lazy once-over read.

                              The TB Launchpad has my endorsement as a well run contest. Good luck to anybody who's still in it.
                              You should be able to open a lot of doors with that. Even if a script gets low scores, once you've hit the heights you can canvass on the back of that for a loooong time.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: Black List Website Postmortem

                                Carol Dweck spoke about this psychology in her book Mindset. Almost all students will question an F (positively or negatively) but very few, if any, will every question an A. True, you have to understand your faults in order to improve at anything. But unless you also scrutinize the A and understand why you got that A, you won't be able to willfully repeat it.

                                Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                                It looks like you over value competitions. These are amateur dealings not pro. In America, kids get university scholarships for their sporting prowess yet many cannot make the step up to the majors. Nicholl and Austin are looking for the best of amateur writing and if you get right to the zenith, ie: the top 5 scripts, then you may have something pro-level. 'May' being the operative word. But QF? That's top 10% of a competition that regularly gets over 7000 entries.



                                Commercial or financial (production-wise) viability.



                                Or your 8 was an outlier that got you DLs your script didn't warrant. That none of the DLs led to a six-figure cheque should tell you something.

                                Of course, disparate scores can affect your average. That's not TB going against their 'do no harm' mantra but maths and common sense. You can't bend 'do no harm' to mean being placed in a protective bubble where you can't get low marks.



                                At the end of the day, whether the 4 was deserved or not, you were stung by the score and think your script deserved better. Like we all do. You gladly accept the 8 but not the 4. No offence, truly, but this is just the standard reaction of a writer not prepared to accept his writing isn't of a high calibre. Your most compelling reasoning being you were made the top several hundred of amateur competitions.

                                You gladly take the 8 and the 7 and you make special mention of the 7's compliments but don't mention how it was ultimately deemed not good enough. Or that it matched a pre-rewrite score (ie: no improvement) and was in the ballpark of another pre-write score - the 6. I get it, I really do, but all you're doing is taking the good and ignoring the not so good. As much as you feel robbed, an equally fair conclusion is there's been marginal, (or no) improvement post rewrite; that out of 6 evaluations only 1 has made the grade; that your script in both the competitions and TBL have been competent but not great; and that one pre-rewrite score was a 5 thus a 4 is not out of the ordinary considering the highest pre & post-rewrite scores are within 1 point of each other.

                                No one ever takes that line of thinking even though it's amply backed up by the facts. I'm not saying you're not good enough now nor never will be, I'm just saying that people hear what they like and discard what they don't. And just some food for thought, you got 5 or 6 downloads in a week when you scored your 8, right? When I scored an 8 I got 49 downloads in a week and offers of representation. Maybe, despite the 8 from the reader, no one else thought it was good enough to deserve that 8 from those who did. I'm not saying that's the case - merely pointing out a wholly possible scenario that I bet you haven't considered.

                                But more than anything, how can you gripe about the aggregate scoring when you knew how TBL worked before you paid up?

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