Related: Read MCCARTHY on The Black List site!
[UPDATE: 7:40pm PST - see my update below the press release for my reaction to recent developments.]
Well, it happened. About a month after launch, Black List 3.0 has its first success story! Congrats to Justin Kremer. What follows in the Black List's press release.
IN A TWIST, MCCARTHY BLACKLISTING IS SITE'S FIRST CONFIRMED SUCCESS
BLACK LIST WEBSITE DISCOVERY JUSTIN KREMER SIGNS WITH CAA
(November 18, 2012) – Only one month after launching its new online service allowing unrepresented screenwriters to have their work considered by industry professionals, the Black List can announce its first confirmed success story. Last week, screenwriter Justin Kremer signed with Creative Artists Agency. In a twist worthy of a screenplay of its own, Kremer's script chronicles the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist fervor, the same fervor that wrought the Hollywood blacklist that partially inspired the Black List name.
"I submitted MCCARTHY to the Black List site out of sheer curiosity, and entered the process with absolutely no expectations," said Kremer. "The script had been completed for some time and was collecting dust in a drawer. The response I've received has been truly incredible. None of this would have been possible without the Black List site. The avenue it has provided has been invaluable, and one that I expect to breed many success stories."
The script was uploaded to the site on October 19, four days after its launch. Kremer paid for a single read from a Black List reader, and the high score that resulted merited inclusion in the site's weekly member email highlighting its highest rated scripts. After dozens of downloads from Black List industry members and further high ratings from those who read it, it quickly became the highest rated uploaded script on the site.
"We're incredibly happy for Justin and even moreso for everyone who will get to read MCCARTHY and the screenplays that he will have an opportunity to write now that he is represented by a major agency. He's a hell of a writer whose great work simply hadn't been exposed prior to his uploading it to our site. This is, simply put, why we created it," said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. "Beyond that, the coincidence of its content is just remarkable. My personal interest in this period of Hollywood history is no secret. It's part of why the Black List is called what it is. I'd be lying if I said I didn't read the script as soon as the review was completed to be sure someone wasn't playing an elaborate practical joke."
On October 15, the Black List, Hollywood's annual list of most liked screenplays, launched a paid service that allows any screenwriter to upload their script to The Black List's database, have it evaluated by professional script readers, and depending on its evaluation(s), have it read by as many as 1,250 film industry professionals currently a part of its membership site.
Since launch, over 1100 screenplays have been uploaded to the service, from 21 countries and 41 states.
Justin Kremer attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and is a graduate of the Dramatic Writing Conservatory at the State University of New York – Purchase. He formerly worked as an assistant at Teddy Schwarzman's Black Bear Pictures.
Over the last seven years, the Black List has become one of Hollywood's primary arbiters of taste in material. The Black List started as a survey of several dozen executives' favorite unproduced scripts, the 2011 edition surveyed over 300 executives, over 60% of Hollywood's studio system's executive corps.
The Black List, run by founder Franklin Leonard and CTO Dino Sijamic, now includes the annual list of most liked unproduced screenplays, the membership community and "real time Black List," and the Black List blog, home of Scott Myers's "Go Into the Story" and Xander Bennett's "Screenwriting Tips… You Hack," two of the premier and best-trafficked screenwriting blogs online.
Over 200 Black List scripts have been produced as films grossing over $16 billion in worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 25 Academy Awards – including the last two of the last four Best Pictures (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and THE KING'S SPEECH) and five of the last eight screenwriting awards (JUNO, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING'S SPEECH, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and THE DESCENDANTS) – from 148 nominations. It is also solely responsible for tens of thousands of yearly introductions of Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and financiers to new material and writers they were heretofore unaware of.
Other notable Black List scripts include 21, 3:10 TO YUMA, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, ADVENTURELAND, BABEL, BLACK SNAKE MOAN, CEDAR RAPIDS, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY, DUE DATE, EASY A, FANBOYS, FROST/NIXON, HANNA, IN BRUGES, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, INVCITUS, JUNO, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, ORPHAN, RECOUNT, RENDITION, SALT, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, THE SOURCE CODE, STATE OF PLAY, SUPERBAD, THE BLIND SIDE, THE BUCKET LIST, THE FIGHTER, THE HANGOVER, THE IDES OF MARCH, THE KITE RUNNER, THE QUEEN, THE TOWN, THE WRESTLER, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, UP IN THE AIR, WE ARE MARSHALL, and ZOMBIELAND.
Update: As The Site That Shall Not Be Linked has revealed, Justin Kremer had worked for the Black List briefly over the summer as an "intern." Franklin Leonard has issued a statement that reads in part:
"From time to time, we put out calls for individuals to assist us with various tasks like transcribing interviews and alerting us to information about Black List scripts that comes up via the news. In exchange for such occasional assistance, we allow those individuals to call themselves interns though it is an “internship” in the loosest possible sense of the term."
Some people are alleging that this somehow is evidence of unseemly conspiracy. I disagree, for the following reasons.
1) Even if Kremer had been a full-fledged intern, I don't think any of the Black List readers would know who he was. I don't know the names of any of the interns working at the companies I read for. What's more, I don't know the names of most of the READERS there. My bosses like it that way, in fact, because it makes it easy for them to send one of us a script written by another reader and get unbiased comments back.
2) As I write this, MCCARTHY has 25 ratings on the site and has maintained a 7.7 average rating. So even if we discount the Black List reader, that's 24 other ratings that have to be accounted for. On Twitter, someone alleged that they had a lot of friends with access and if they wanted to, it would be easy for them to all rate the script a ten. This overlooks the fact that if Kremer had 20-some friends important enough in the industry to have access, he probably could make use of those connections in better ways than manipulating a ranking algortihm.
Also, Franklin has indicated in the past that the algorithm is designed in ways that make this sort of ballot-stuffing ineffective.
3) Even if somehow Kremer pulled off the biggest con possible and managed to get his script to the top of the list undeservedly, CAA still had to make their own decision to sign him. No agent is going to sign a guy who was a mere INTERN just because of his contacts. Not possible. I know guys who were actually employees of CAA who couldn't get signed there! CAA signed this guy because he wrote a kick-ass script. Period.
I also want to point out that it's not surprising to me that an aspiring writer would sign up to do free work for The Black List, or that such a person would be among the first people to roll the dice on a new service.
And it ain't like The Black List picked ONE script and only one script to single out. The weekly emails generally push at least ten scripts, and the site generally lists the top 15 uploaded scripts on one of its main pages. MCCARTHY was one of fifteen and it kept gaining momentum. If in the face of all of that, someone STILL wants to allege "bullshit," I sincerely doubt it's possible to make an argument that will satisfy them.