My third Blacklist review...

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  • My third Blacklist review...

    After my third review I find my self at a crossroad...

    My first two reviews were constructive and although they were rated 6 overall they were positive and individual ratings where going up after each revision. Both of those rating I gave a 5 (not that it matters).

    With this third review I got an overall 7. The problem is that everything the other reviewers were crazy about, this reviewer missed and I quote:

    The script needs to kickstart the plot sooner, because sixty pages of prep and fifty pages of execution make the story feel disproportioned. Still, the script demonstrates a confident voice, and absolutely has potential for a tightly-wound, medium-budget, filmmaker-driven thriller (there’s a bit of ZODIAC and GONE BABY GONE to it).

    It goes against what my first two reviewers described as fast paced and propulsive and I quote:
    1st review:
    This action thriller has some terrific set pieces and the author maintains a high level of tension throughout the script. The propulsive pace and strong action would please genre fans, effectively serving a sizable international audience.

    2nd review:
    The script is fast in pace, with professional level action writing, although there are some areas that could be fleshed out even more, and the page space to do so.

    I think what struck me the most is the claim that there are 60 pages of prep that I find to be totally incorrect, and comparison to GONE BABY GONE didn't help. Edit. A HUGE APOLOGIE for lashing out on GONE BABY GONE. I had it confused with GONE GIRL. I just watched it again and I could see what the reviewer was referring to.

    In my first two reviews there were suggestions how to make the script better, but in this review reviewer just points out to things that happen and the things he points out indicate to me that he didn't get the story as the first two did.

    Now I don't know what to do. I feel that the script is finished and I don't want to settle for anything bellow the rating of 8 . I'm going to pay for a new evaluation, but I don't know if I should delete this rating, or is there a value of keeping the review which you think is wrong just because it's rated 7?


    Any suggestion is appreciated...
    Last edited by M.J.; 07-01-2018, 07:59 AM.

  • #2
    Re: My third Blacklist review...

    Paying for additional reviews on a script in the hope of hitting an 8 is gambling.

    I had a script score an 8 with the first review. Paid for another one got a 6. Made revisions based on both sets of feedback and got a 7. It's just throwing good money after bad.

    I'd take a punt as a one off probably on my next script, though I don't know why, since there's a huge amount of subjectivity and you don't know what kind of reviewer you're gonna get, what their frame of mind is, what their personal taste is etc etc.

    But as someone who can't really go to LA it might be worth a punt but I wouldn't keep paying in the hope of finding that elusive 8.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: My third Blacklist review...

      I have no means of getting to LA or the US for that matter, so the Black List is all I got...

      Anyway, I paid for another evaluation. I kept the 7 because I read somewhere that certain genres (Mysteries/Thrillers) have a chance of being downloaded even with a 7 rating.

      After my first review I was angry for 24 hours because I thought I deserved more. It was the first time anyone read my script -- my first review after 10 years of writing it, so what did I know .

      When I calmed down, I really looked at the reviewer's notes and found them to be very helpful. My second review was also very helpful. After two revisions I felt the script was much stronger than at the beginning.

      You could say I was having a love affair with my notes -- I thought we would ride this train all the way to the top.

      I remembered listening on Scriptnotes podcast about writers having problems with their notes and I thought to myself -- Problems? What problems? I love notes.
      And then this dud happened...

      But enough bashing... I really appreciate all the things that the Black List is doing in helping writers break through. I wish them, and our fellow writers nothing but success...
      Last edited by M.J.; 06-28-2018, 03:39 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: My third Blacklist review...

        I haven't used the Black List before and obviously don't have access to all your notes.

        That said it almost looks like that third one "might" be a skimmed review. What I mean is they might have read the first 10 or so pages, thought Zodiac/Gone Baby Gone, then skimmed the rest looking for visual queues of action scenes, dialogue scenes, etc. and just took note of where they occurred, assumed the in between and then provided the review.

        I'm not saying that's what happened, but is there any direct feedback from the middle or end of your screenplay that denotes knowledge of your plots or character arcs, etc? Like a "I didn't find the Protag being this way at the beginning and then evolving through this experience, this action, etc. and becoming this other way at the end believable".

        Again, I've not used Black List so not sure how they protect against skimmed reviews etc. so I may be completely off the mark.
        You know Jill you remind me of my mother. She was the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived. Whoever my father was, for an hour or for a month, he must have been a happy man.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: My third Blacklist review...

          That's just one line from the review. A complete review is one page long and there are three parts to it: -- Strengths -- Weaknesses -- Prospects.

          It's midnight at my place. Tomorrow I'll post a pdf file with a complete review...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: My third Blacklist review...

            @UneducatedFan

            I've posted links to my reviews as there is no way to attach them in a post.

            https://drive.google.com/open?id=1FF...m6sDwv_HB-0Hf0
            https://drive.google.com/open?id=16u...5tVjH0XucYN0SE
            https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Lh...r3XcNrMJSvn03_

            I've blacked-out the final twist in reviews just in case anyone is bored and wants to read my script and give me a point or two for improvement.

            Here's the link to script on Black List. Just send me the request there or PM me on DD and I'll send you my script. I would appreciate a fresh look...

            https://blcklst.com/members/scripts/view/68854

            PS: Just to avoid possible confusion in reviews. Some of the characters names were changed during revision so Mike is later Jake, Jonas changed to Vincent and Matthias to Richard.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: My third Blacklist review...

              At the very least, you get to ponder a variety of loglines in the reviews.

              Just looking at the three of them, it shows once again how "Reading is a subjective thing"

              By the way, all three logs have merit, in my view, depending on what one is looking for. That three such different logs are tolerated in this BL evaluation environment suggests there's a lot of room for different interpretations ie. regarding length, detail, "reveals", etc., as opposed to one-size-fits-all.

              I don't have access to BL, so I found this all very interesting. Thanks for this.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: My third Blacklist review...

                Thanks for providing those. I was way off in my thought that the third was a skimmed review.

                They were interesting to read and as I've never used Black List, I wasn't sure how detailed the notes were.

                To echo catcon, there are things that I would consider helpful from all three. I looked for common themes and these kind of popped out to me.

                Review 1: "He lacks
                goals and objectives outside of solving this case, with his only real backstory being the vague mystery
                around what led him to be assigned to a detail filled with misfits and outcasts."

                Review 2: "Where the action and plot thrives, there are some areas to bolster up the characters."

                Review 3: "The script’s protagonists lack weight: Jake and the
                agents are a means to an end, performing their investigative duties but making little impact – they’re
                utilitarian plot devices, not rich characters. But the script first needs to address its two biggest issues: the lacking
                cohesion and lopsided balance of its plot, and the thinness of its characters."

                Positives.
                Review 1: "This action thriller has some terrific set pieces and the author maintains a high level of tension
                throughout the script."

                Review 2: "This is an action packed thriller with a unique premise. The twist is outstanding. This is something that really gives the project an original edge within the genre."

                Review 3: "The script has a straightforward, dramatic premise to pursue and – as the conspiracy is revealed – a
                sprawling, emotional conflict to explore, overhauling the story with a clever and organic third act
                twist."

                My ignorant take away from all three?

                You are on the edge of "nailed it". It looks like all the pieces are there and that for the most part they are well executed. There's a common theme of character improvement/strengthening being needed. Not having read the script I wonder if there's a common issue with characters that seem to be almost impossible to avoid in this specific genre. Characters who are acted upon (plot drives, defines them) vs. active characters (their decisions actually affect the plot and drive the story forward). Again, in the thriller/murder mystery/detective genre it's standard and the "who dunnit" be the initial propellant but the challenge becomes not having the characters be fish on a hook being pulled along towards an end (unless that's the plot of the story and many times it's a main plot arc, the killer attempting to pull them along and the protags trying to get off the hook but follow the line to where it comes from).

                As an example that wasn't genre defining/breaking, I liked the film "Insomnia" (both original foreign and Nolan's American adaptation). There was a ton going on with the protags themself besides the "catch the killer".

                If you'd like me to read your script, let me know. I've got a couple others I promised to read lined up but I promise I will get to it if you think I could provide any beneficial insights.
                You know Jill you remind me of my mother. She was the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived. Whoever my father was, for an hour or for a month, he must have been a happy man.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: My third Blacklist review...

                  Sorry for replying late. Yesterday was a hangover day for me.

                  Let me start by making A HUGE APOLOGIE for lashing out on GONE BABY GONE. I had it confused with GONE GIRL. I guess senility does strike in late 30's as I just now realized my mistake. GONE BABY GONE is one of the best mystery movies and I feel so stupid for the mix up. If you have not seen it you should definitely do so. I just watched it again and I could see what the reviewer was referring to. I will edit my first post to reflect that.

                  @UneducatedFan

                  You hit it on the nail my friend.

                  Character development, or the lack of it, was in part a conscious decision on my part. If I can't get them to come to life on their own with the story, I usually just leave them as they are.

                  After my second review I managed to bolster antagonists' character through dialogue in just two scenes, and I must say I am very pleased how it turned out, and even the third reviewer had no problems with them.

                  I never had problems with Lauren's character (lead female), as it came on its own with the story. That leaves me with Jake (lead male character). I just don't know what to do with him at the moment because the plot does drives him heavily.

                  I always hated writing dialogue and a 4 in the first review really woke me up. More importantly I've never read dialogue without reading the action lines. Oh boy was that a mistake. A month later, after 2 revisions (about 40 in real world) I managed to get it to 7 in the third review.
                  I always thought of dialogue as my greatest weakness as a wannabe writer, but it turns out to be character development. I don't know, maybe it's because of this story and the plot. I'll have to wait and see with my next project.

                  I also loved Insomnia and have read the script for it as I was learning how to write. My story is not of the same type, but I don't want to reveal anything else because I do want to take you on your offer. I'll contact you through PM.

                  @ catcon
                  No problem. I'm glad it helped.

                  @ Klazart
                  I forgot to ask, did you get any industry downloads after getting an 8?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: My third Blacklist review...

                    While there are clear differences in the comments - which can reflect personal preferences and tastes, the thing that struck me was the consistency of the ratings. All three felt the premise was stronger than the plot or the characters, meaning in all three of their opinions the execution is not living up to the concept at this juncture.

                    All three felt the plot was only a six out of ten which is in the range of average and the characters were a five or six (also average). If the characters are just average, the dialogue is probably not the only problem with them.

                    Character development is about getting characters "to come to life on their own with the story". You develop character through their goals, actions, reactions, decisions, choices, flaws etc. How they navigate through and drive your plot.

                    I really don't know how much you can glean from one short paragraph of feedback about what the real problems are under the hood, but that's not really what coverage is designed to do.
                    Last edited by Screenplay Savant; 07-01-2018, 11:30 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: My third Blacklist review...

                      @Screenplay Savant

                      By their own stats premise and setting usually get higher grades.

                      As I said in my previous post I'm aware of my lead character's problems. As for the plot I have no concerns. With the right reader I'm sure it can jump to at least an 8, or even higher.

                      I really don't know how much you can glean from one short paragraph of feedback about what the real problems are under the hood, but that's not really what coverage is designed to do.
                      Quite a lot actually.
                      From my 1st review.
                      A lack of clarity is an issue with many of the story choices. Fixed all of them.
                      Dave’s taped confession. Fixed. I knew it was silly as I wrote it, but I was lazy. Deleted it and found a new plot device.
                      Dramatic opportunities offered by having Mike and Lauren discover who they’re up against, even if the ending reveals that there is more to the story. Fixed
                      From my 2nd review.
                      Heavy handed interrogation between Lauren and Jake. Fixed. Again, I saw it, but was lazy to fix until pointed out.
                      Matthias is too underutilized in this world. Jonas isn't coming across as an exciting or interesting enough antagonist. Fixed both of them.
                      Jake's coworkers are all strong, the guys (outside of Lester) could have more fleshed out subplots. Fixed. Added three scenes.

                      And the most important one.
                      Ending reveals that there is more to the story.
                      This makes the finale with him less impactful (although it opens things up for a sequel).
                      I never intended it to be two part movie, but both, first and second reviewer's notes made me think about that and they were right of course. I realized that I already have enough material for the second script. And those side stories that the 3rd reviewer hated, that payed off at the end of the script will also have a role in the sequel. And the best of all, there wouldn't be any plot restrictions that restrain characters currently.

                      I know I'm going too far ahead of myself, but you got to have dreams...
                      Last edited by M.J.; 07-01-2018, 12:30 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: My third Blacklist review...

                        Originally posted by M.J. View Post
                        @Screenplay Savant

                        By their own stats premise and setting usually get higher grades.

                        As I said in my previous post I'm aware of my lead character's problems. As for the plot I have no concerns. With the right reader I'm sure it can jump to at least an 8, or even higher.

                        Quite a lot actually.
                        From my 1st review.
                        A lack of clarity is an issue with many of the story choices. Fixed all of them.
                        Dave's taped confession. Fixed. I knew it was silly as I wrote it, but I was lazy. Deleted it and found a new plot device.
                        Dramatic opportunities offered by having Mike and Lauren discover who they're up against, even if the ending reveals that there is more to the story. Fixed
                        From my 2nd review.
                        Heavy handed interrogation between Lauren and Jake. Fixed. Again, I saw it, but was lazy to fix until pointed out.
                        Matthias is too underutilized in this world. Jonas isn't coming across as an exciting or interesting enough antagonist. Fixed both of them.
                        Jake's coworkers are all strong, the guys (outside of Lester) could have more fleshed out subplots. Fixed. Added three scenes.

                        And the most important one.
                        Ending reveals that there is more to the story.
                        This makes the finale with him less impactful (although it opens things up for a sequel).
                        I never intended it to be two part movie, but both, first and second reviewer's notes made me think about that and they were right of course. I realized that I already have enough material for the second script. And those side stories that the 3rd reviewer hated, that payed off at the end of the script will also have a role in the sequel. And the best of all, there wouldn't be any plot restrictions that restrain characters currently.

                        I know I'm going too far ahead of myself, but you got to have dreams...
                        When you mention "fixed", do you mean it was fixed according to you, or fixed according to an objective third reader?

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