Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Exclusive! Black List user Matt Bolish gets signed at Resolution!

The Black List 3.0 has done it again, playing a part in yet another user securing representation from a prominent agency.

Some of you may remember my friend Matt Bolish from my earlier posts detailing the scripts he had put up on the Black List website. In February, Matt posted his script ALICE OF OZ to the site, and within a few weeks, it was evaluated by one of their readers, giving it an overall rating of 8/10, and very strong marks in other categories.

Matt enjoyed several weeks of prominent placement on the Top Uploaded Scripts list, having garnered several other user reviews that were high enough to ensure the work was spotlit. Over the next several weeks, Matt was in communication with multiple agents and managers and after considering his options, finally signed this week with Resolution.

There's no doubt that ALICE OF OZ would not have found its way to Resolution without the Black List making it available. Congrats again to Matt!


  1. After reading scripts at TBL, I'm afraid I have to go against the hype current here and say that I have serious doubts about the usefulness of the site and the service.

    The highly-rated tend to be extremely formulaic, if not outright cliched. Competently written as far as spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting goes, but so much like every other successful screenplay, I have to wonder if it's due to writers who are afraid to be different, or readers who are afraid of anything different.

    Then there are the low raters. Sure, many deserve it, seemingly written by people with zero schooling in anything. Riddled with bad grammar and glaring typos; Stories that would embarrass the hackiest hacks; Obvious rip-offs of the last best thing. But some of the low end were strikingly good -- better than many of the highest rated screenplays on the site.

    Two in particular -- no titles or names, lest I be accused of favoritism, or self-promotion -- were brilliant, with dazzlingly original stories and plots, and fascinating and engaging characters. Everything about them -- the aforementioned stories and characters, the dialogue, pacing, you name it -- was as good as anything I've read, real winners, and definitely better than any top rated TBL script I've ever seen. Yet they were tossed into the pits.

    Is being original or different now that much of a sin in this business that anything good is automatically dumped like a radioactive turd, while the tried and true and hackneyed all to Hell is worshiped as a Sure Fire Hit?

    Oh well, I guess it's time to head down to the local cineplex and try to choose between Twilight 14, Avengers 9, Transformers: Money Money Money, and The Dark Knight: Won't Go The Hell Away.

  2. @Screenplayed Out

    Good to know, I was terribly depressed about the "4s" I got from TBL on both my scripts.

    And I possibly deserved them every step of the way, but my biggest problem with readers is that there's no chance for dialogue. And my scripts will always be about women (it's that darn X-chromosome thing) in more than romantic situations (we work! we have friends! we are 3 dimensional! who knew?)

    And I feel a sense of mission to take what I saw in the Texas Medical Center to translate medical "progress" into human terms---to start a conversation about existential meaning v. grasping at straws for anything to survive. (Very interesting how the late, great Christopher Hitchens loudly proclaimed his atheism, but died at M.D. Anderon Cancer Center hoping for a miracle till the end---which leads doctors to joke that they are the new "priests" that grant eternal life...)

    Anyway, I'm a great resource for medical info, if anyone needs a consultant like that! I went all over as a video writer/producer and saw almost everything (you don't even want to know about percutaneous gastrostomy) can find me on Linkedin, etc.

    And I did want to totally walk away from scriptwriting, but it does seem to be self-satisfying, even if they never make it to anyone's reading pile, but still need to figure out how to make some money at the same time. Think that probably takes in all of us!

    Thanks, Screenplayed's always good to hear an open discussion!

  3. I'll just counter that Screenplayed's experience is pretty much the opposite of mine and the many pros I know who use the site. I'll further point out that only industry professionals like agents, high-level execs, development execs, managers and a few professional witers are granted access. Take a hard look at those comments, particularly the tone in the last two paragraphs. Does that sound like the voice of someone working in the biz?

  4. @ Bonnie...

    A Black List reader gave my script a 3 star rating. Just about every aspect of it was panned. I would have been devastated were it not for the fact the reader was obviously somebody's 16 year old niece.

    Her assessment was entirely in lower case and included txt spk. The rest of the spelling and punctuation was equally dyslexic. "It's" was used when "its" was required and vice versa. Same with "their" for "there" and "they're" and lots more fun stuff like it. And the icing on the cake? Not only did the reader get the names of my characters wrong, but the title of my script as well! Did she even read it? The many other ridiculous errors made by the reader are too numerous to list here.

    The assessment claimed a "page one rewrite" was required, yet that script has since won a regional competition with not a word changed.

    Does the Black List have any actual industry pros on board? I don't know. To me it seems like Black List readers are just a bunch of kids with a copy of Screenwriting by Numbers. What I can say for sure is a lot of writers I know won't be wasting any more time at the Black List until the serious and valid concerns about the quality of its readers is satisfactorily addressed.

  5. Just wanted to jump into this conversation and address some of the concerns that have been raised:

    First off, our readers have all worked professionally (read: as paid employees) for at least a year at a major agency, management company, production company, or studio as a first filter (typically an assistant or reader). Many of them currently work in those jobs simultaneous to working with us. A few of our readers have more than a decade of experience reading for major studios. Fewer than 10% of those who have applied for reader positions have been offered the opportunity. Additionally, demographically, more than 50% of our readers are women.

    They're instructed to rate scripts numerically based on their likelihood of recommending it to their peers or superiors in the industry.

    One more number: our valid complaint rate through 5744 evaluations is about 1.5%. If an evaluation is below our standard, we happily grant the writer a replacement evaluation, free of charge, and a free month of hosting.

    Lastly, I think it's important to remember that art is - and screenplays are - inherently subjective. One industry professional's treasure is another industry professional's trash. Anyone who has worked in the film industry for any period of time knows this to be true.

    We embrace that. It's why we allow writers to request additional evaluations (to better show the range of responses to their script) and why we built a recommendation algorithm. The top lists are not the only way scripts get discovered on our site.

    For further information, I highly recommend, THE WHAT, THE HOW, AND THE WHY OF THE BLACK LIST: THE LONG ANSWER.

    And beyond that, if you have questions or concerns, you can email us at or Tweet at us at @theblcklst. It's rare that we take longer than 12 hours to respond.

  6. Thanks, Franklin!

    I guess one problem that I've always had is that readers are just that---readers.

    We're a film family here in Houston (and barely hanging on with the state subsidies in N. Mexico and Louisiana all around us). We get plenty of low budget scripts at our house, asking for my husband to be a "free" D.P. (yes, we live on air....)

    I had a comment from one of your readers that "this script is not ready for production." Hmmmm...we have a huge stack of shooting scripts upstairs in my husband's office---all of which look like rainbows with all the change insert pages in them (and they aren't low budget...."Friday Night Lights" being one).

    I guess I could have asked for another reader, but I'm wondering how people who read relate to scripts v. people who have been on crews? I never let a script out the door without my camera crew husband looking it over and giving it his OK as "workable".

    And just because there's 50% women readers, doesn't mean they don't have women's sensibilities. I've met plenty of women in the film business who don't think much differently than men. In fact, I had a great deal of fun pretending to be a producer on a set with high profile actors. I slicked back my hair, wore severe makeup and had a "forget-you" look on my face. Everyone parted in my path till I went over to the camera crew and it was obvious I was no one---it's such a strange business....

    Thanks for the discussion....with Houston not cranking out films the way we used to do, the screenwriting community has gotten small to nonexistent! Thanks, guys!

  7. Congratulations to Mr. Bolish! I recall BSR posting about ALICE OF OZ many months ago, so the diligence has paid off. Excellent work!

    Any chance we'll be treated to a puppet interview with Mr. Bolish, as he is a friend of the blogger? I know there have been printed interviews with previous BL successes, but it would be a treat to have a video interview regarding the behind the scenes journey from "Top Upload" to signed-writer.

    Even pros who have been working in the industry 20 years receive rejection on their scripts, sometimes unanimously. It can be brutal, and I think it's key to remember what Franklin posted, especially when emotions run high:

    " is - and screenplays are - inherently subjective. One industry professional's treasure is another industry professional's trash. Anyone who has worked in the film industry for any period of time knows this to be true.

    We embrace that. It's why we allow writers to request additional evaluations (to better show the range of responses to their script) and why we built a recommendation algorithm. The top lists are not the only way scripts get discovered on our site."

    That last sentence is key as well. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that was the case with Richard Cordiner? If THE SHARK IS NOT WORKING was on the Top Uploads list, I don't think it was for very long (but perhaps it was quickly pulled by his new reps for certain reasons).

    1. I haven't broached the subject of an interview with Matt, but I'm thinking to put that on hold until he perhaps sells a script or gets work off of this writing sample. Right now I don't know if there'd be much benefit to doing an interview. Getting signed is just the first step to a very long journey.

      With regard to THE SHARK IS NOT WORKING, I suspect that it was pulled at the request of his reps. It disappeared from the list VERY fast. (which I totally get, by the way. Once the writer is repped, it's to their advantage to have the script not be easily attainable. Heck, I even considered deleting my mini-review of ALICE OF OZ in the event a little mystery would benefit Matt.)

  8. @ Mr. Franklin of The Black List:

    You did not address Eldred's specific and valid complaint about the terrible reader who made numerous errors when evaluating Eldred's script.

    I find this very disappointing.

    Kindly respond.

    1. Reread Franklin's comment, where he very specifically invited Eldred to email him. Considering Eldred provided neither his full name nor the name of the script, I'm perplexed that you would expect more in the way of a public response.

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  10. First off: my apologies for getting Mr. Leonard's last name wrong the first time around.

    I still believe he should have addressed Eldred's specific complaint and valid concern: it was his chance to do some damage control in a public forum. In my view, the Black List has lost some cred at this point.

    I like the BSR site btw, but there is no need to be defensive on behalf on Mr. Leonard.

    1. How can he be specific when responding to a vague allegation like this? He got an anonymous complaint about a nameless script. Without any identifying details of the script or the author, it would be an uninformed response.

      Instead he directly responded to the complainant, explained their policies regarding hiring the readers and invited the complainant to contact him directly, promising to respond promptly. That seems more than satisfactory to me.

      If Eldred had posted his full name and the coverage in its entirely, perhaps then it would have been appropriate for Franklin to respond to that publicly, as he could then check the Black List's own records and assess the veracity of that claim.

      But given the flimsy allegation made here, I think Franklin handled it well.

      If I sound defensive, it's because I don't take kindly to people hurling accusations and patronizing demands at guests to this site, particularly guests who represented themselves honorably and cordially.

  11. I agree! As scriptwriters, we want our names on big screens---so being anonymous doesn't further our careers or the conversation. (I would add my middle initial when I get that onscreen credit, but otherwise, this would be the name I would use!)

    I sent Franklin an email about possibly developing a "rubric" or framework to further our craft via his website. I think that would be invaluable to everyone.

    Good luck to all of us!

  12. I understand the subjectivity of a screenplay review, mostly when the readers can’t help but look at the stories that inevitably takes them to a place full of ‘I would rather see, it felt to me like’ statements. What I cannot understand is the contradictions within the same review. I recently posted three of my screenplays on TBL website, and paid for the evaluation service. Here’s what the reader had to say about my screenplay:

    "This quirky character drama offers heartfelt moments as it depicts the bond that grows between selfish businessman PATRICK and double amputee THOMAS. Precocious Thomas is a delightfully complex character wise beyond his years who is independent and yet vulnerable in search of love. More great introductions acquaint the audience with a diverse and dynamic cast of characters who surround Thomas and PATRICK: feisty and fiercely loving elderly MRS. BETH, Patrick’s get-rich-quick scheme devotee and caring sister PAMELA, adoring yet protective amputee MARTA, and the devoted and maternal assistant ADELE. The script does a great job of delving deeper through dialogue, revelation and plot events, like Patrick being fired or Thomas meeting Marta, to show each of the leads is infinitely more complicated than the first impression offered. The film strikes a nice balance between addressing the struggles and discrimination faced by amputees while also noting adaptability, independence and resilience. It is refreshing to have a film realistically offer views to dating, friendships and physical limitations of an amputee much as THE INTOUCHABLES did for those dealing with paralysis. Further, the writing admirably presents well-rounded female characters that are caring but also quite capable."

    All the reviews I had on that screenplay, concur on two things: My strength as a writer are Characters and Dialogues, which I totally agree with. I generally write Dramas and Drama/Comedies, and knowing that my characters are well received, provides me with immense satisfaction. Now, after that review, do you want to know the rating my characters received from the same reader? 5/10

    I laughed a little. Enough said.