Does anybody have experience with The Black List?

I have written a screenplay.  Hurrah! Ring the church bells and crack the champagne. Or not?

The next problem is I don’t have any contacts in the film industry. Well, not in Hollywood, anyway. And the internet is trying very  hard to convince me that sending out an unsolicited script is about as effective as trying to yell at a passing airplane.

So, I’m considering to have my script evaluated by The Black List.

That’s not a free service though. I did some research on it, and quite a few blogs recommend The Black List. Some even rave about it. However, my evil journalist mind suspects posts like these of being cleverly disguised advertising. This way I’m hoping to get some feedback from people who have actually tried it.

Pwetty pwetty pwease?

26 thoughts on “Does anybody have experience with The Black List?

  1. “The next problem is I don’t have any contacts in the film industry.”
    This is not the next problem. The next problems are: How do I make it better? What do I write next? My suggestion is to not use the Black List until you are ready as a Screenwriter. Screenwriting is vastly different from any other kind of writing, such as, *cough* … novels. In my humble opinion, writing novels and writing screenplays is like being a car mechanic and a boat painter – they both involve fixing up some form of transportation in some sort of way, but the similarities pretty much end there.

    • I don’t agree. Actually, I find them to have a lot in common. It is a totally different medium, but a lot of the most important aspects of writing remain the same: developing strong characters, establishing their goals, come up with a decent story… That’s where both most aspiring writers and screenwriters go wrong. And yes, you express your story following the three act structure, while a novel’s structure has (a bit) more freedom. And you have to think a lot more visually, I’ll give you that.

      But I do agree that it’s very difficult for a newbee screenwriter like me to make sure I’m on the right track here.

      So… Imagine I actually have a decent script. 🙂 Would you recommend The Black List or not? Or would you recommend some other way to find out whether my script is ready or not?

  2. The Black List is a legitimate pathway if you’re ready for it, but like many legitimate pathways it can be detrimental if you’re not ready for it.

    Also, I don’t follow three act structure.

    Of course they have similarities, but the end result of screenwriting is a moving image, whereas the end result of most other writing is “words on paper.” That transition from words on paper to moving image is often foreign to writers of other realms, and for good reason.

    Have you thought about posting one page of it here?

    • I have thought about that. But I get the feeling that would not provide me with more professional feedback than my friends and family would be able to give me. I do have a few modest contacts in the European movie and tv business. I was planning on getting some feedback there, and if they think it looks like a real screenplay, to try to get it out there.
      I didn’t know about the three act structure before I started writing, but funny enough, after I finished my first draft and learnt about the theory, it turned out to follow it exactly! Almost to the minute! Pure coincidence though. 😀

  3. The new Black List site is a legit way to reach out to Hollywood and ‘test the waters’. So far it has a solid track record when compared to other sites that promise to list your script and pass it along to ‘the industry’. There is a lot of hype with all these different places.

    However, if you’re looking for feedback, that’s not what the Black List is really about. You get a score sheet from their readers, not notes. High scores (at least an 8 out of 10 from what I hear) will gain your script some attention, so you might be able to takeaway something from that. The score sheet has some comments, but they’re limited. I’ve seen one from a friend who tried out the Black List. Coincidentally, that friend did receive high scores, then a number of reads, some meetings, and landed a manager from his experience. However, he has yet to make a sale of any kind with his scripts (although I think he’ll get there).

    Also, I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss how much an experienced script reader or writer can learn from a single page of your script. Look at what John August and Craig Mazin pull from the three page challenge entries on the Scriptnotes podcast (for those not aware, this is worth looking up).

  4. The late Oscar-winning (North By Northwest) Ernie Lehman once told me, “If the writing is good and you put it out there, it will always find a home, sooner or later.” The best way to get out of non-existence is to find as many communications lines as you need to be on, get on them and communicate.

      • of course. You are the arbiter of when it is done. I never put out my work until I am satisfied with every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter. However, that is for that unit of time, since I can come back to a work later and see flaws because I changed or grew. When satisfaction in a unit of present time happens, call it a done and then move on. There’s always the next story to write.

      • Yeah, that’s true. At some point I also get really fed up with a story, or with my characters. After at least fifty times of reading the same word over and over again, it’s like I hit a saturation point. 🙂

      • Ah, yes! I know that feeling! Stephen King recommends that when you feel you are done or at that point, you go away from the work and do something entirely different than writing for a few weeks. I tried this when writing my biography of the late Chef Tell. It worked well, because when I came back for a final draft effort I easily saw not only the flaws but the good stuff, and the final draft went “like buttah.”

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