Monday, February 25, 2013

Reader question: Loglines, ratings and assessments on Black List 3.0

Okay, so this is an old email from October that I neglected, in part because it was too long to respond to quickly (take that as a lesson - the more succinct emails are likely to get replies faster.)

Hilary writes:

Aloha Zuul! I actually wrote you an email or two before I headed out to LA a couple of months ago, and if you answered, it got lost in cyberspace. 

[Sidebar: I've checked my email folders and I can't find this earlier email, which makes me worried that the Spam folder might have eaten some legit emails]

In the meantime, I am very glad that the Blacklist has gone live because I uploaded the three screenplays I am networking. And the first review is in, for AETERNITAS. 9/10!

And the reason I am telling you this is not to gloat, but it is in response to your call for the as-yet-unrated Blacklist uploads. Which, unfortunately for me, just closed yesterday.

I have a couple of questions for you, since I do feel that I am behind the learning curve here of shopping projects here in LA and I am not particularly good with loglines. I think mine are serviceable enough, yet the logline that the reviewer wrote isn't quite standard either. I wrote a big beautiful story that I think is mid-budget, but the reviewer states it is a blockbuster that needs more dialogue in order to appeal to large audiences (? I thought the bigger action, sci-fi, fantasies are obviously minimal with their dialogue?). And then there's a bit of confusion between low dialogue/narrow audience, OR right director/large international audiences.

So, how important is their logline at this point? And is the low-dialogue/high-risk assessment an actual turn off for you professional Blacklist members?

Lastly, I'm already hearing from my network, "Congrats! But I've already told you I am busy with projects for the next few years..." So, I really need new people to come forward. Producers and directors who are available and looking. What's the timeline that you have seen with this?

Okay, there's a lot to reply to here:

- As far as the Black List logline, I'd say it's somewhat important, but the logline that I end up reading nine times out of ten is the one that you set as your logline.  That's also the logline that goes out in the email, so that's the most important one.  I looked up your script, and I have to admit, your logline doesn't really tell me much about the story.  It's more like the tagline that one might see on a poster.

The Black List's logline is a little better, but it tells me nothing about the characters who inhabit your world. I don't know anything about the characters who I'm supposed to invest in.  As the pro reviewer struggled with that, it makes me worried that the idea might be TOO epic.  (If I read for people who made epics, that'd be less of an issue, but there's a narrower market for those scripts.)

- The note about the script needing more dialogue puzzles me. I don't often see reviews that go out of their way to point out a dearth of dialogue, so it's telling that it bugged the reviewer.  However, I should point out that the full "Weaknesses" assessment reads:

"The script has the potential to alienate a large audience due to its highly convoluted premise and lack of much dialogue. It is a script for a very specific and narrow audience."

The words "alienate a large audience" and "high convoluted premise" concern me FAR more than a lack of dialogue.  This is especially true when the Prospects section says the script is "big budget, high risk." Maybe there are some people checking out the Black List who will be looking for that kind of material to develop.   My feeling is that most people will take that as a warning to stay away.

On the final points, I get the sense that the waiting period varies for every script.  Now, as this reply is coming months later, it's probably safe to assume that whatever heat you got from the 9 rating has dissipated.  I'd say that the odds of a connection being made go down after the first four weeks of being highlighted in either the emails or the Top Scripts lists.  That's more than enough time for people to download the script, get around to reading it and make their call.

Sure if further reviews and ratings come in, that could help extend the shelf life, but my sense is that most of the people who have been signed weren't waiting around for much more than two months, if that much.

1 comment:

  1. Red flags and a score of 9.
    The good news is somebody likes her writing.