Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black List questions and strategy

Jeff asked the following question in the comments of yesterday's Black List post:

I uploaded my screenplay on Oct. 15 and just got my first rating today - a respectable 7 (not great but still just above the community average rating). And while I'm completely satisfied with the feedback I received (you can read it here if you're interested:, I can't help but think, "what now?" I mean, is a rating of 7 high enough to get noticed on the BL? Should I get a second opinion and shell out $50 for another review? Is there anything else I can do to be more proactive about getting my script read by the right people? 

I think it's a little early to make a call if a rating of 7 is high enough to get noticed or not. I know that I've set my preferences to alert me about anything good that gets a 7 or higher, but 8 might be the cutoff for other people. Given what I understand about the site, you can see the number of hits to the script. I'd let it ride for a little and see what kind of traffic you get. At the very least, I urge against making any knee jerk reactions. It's still early in the site's life, so you might want give it some time and let everyone feel out how the site is most effective for them.

Also, I saw that someone else's screenplay got a rating of 9, but in the 'Prospects' section of their review, the reader made the comment that while the script was extremely well done, "it may have difficulty finding a large commercial audience were it to be produced." In the 'Prospects' section of my script's review, the reader said "The script is well done and can find a commercial audience..." So what do you think is more attractive to industry professionals: a script with a high rating but lower commercial appeal, or a script with an average rating but with more commercial potential? Thanks in advance for any response to my questions.

I think that the answer to your question is going to vary depending upon the individual user. It's not going to be a "one size fits all" answer. I will say that if someone gets a lot of 9s and 10s, there's a good chance that they're doing a LOT right. If their only "sin" is that they wrote something that's not marketable, someone might be inclined to give at least the first 10 pages a read and see what it's like.

There's also different degrees of "not marketable," so again, the severity of that detriment might vary script-to-script. Adult dramas and action movies with women in the lead are often considered less marketable, but I could see someone taking a chance on an exemplary one of them. But a Biblical epic, or a three hour movie about Pompeii? Yeah, that's aggressively unmarketable to the degree that the quality of the writing probably won't help as much.

As for writing something of average quality but with commercial appeal - if you've got a brilliant concept, maybe you could get away with it. Just don't forget that Hollywood is filled with scripts that are "average." So if you've got a low concept idea and a so-so write-up, it might not be enough that you're writing in a marketable genre.


  1. I have the same problem. The reader gave my script a rating of 7 and there's something in his review I don't agree with about the commercial appeal of the movie. Do you think it's a wise move not to make the rating and/or the review visible?

    1. Honestly, that's a case-by-case basis kind of thing. It seems to take at least two ratings before your script will show up in some of the "top" lists, though one really high rating will ensure that your script is pushed via their email alerts.

      7 is a borderline case. I personally wouldn't make anything 5 or below visible, but 7 might be good enough to attract attention.