There has been some recent news with the Black List that I'm sure will be of interest to many readers of this blog.
First, on Tuesday they released their comprehensive stats for the first year. The massive data dump highlights one reason I really have a lot of respect for The Black List - the total transparency. There's no smoke and mirrors here. Here's the data, use it wisely.
Then yesterday, the Black List announced that they are now hosting TV pilots. I know this is a feature that many have been clamoring for all year. There's a thread over on Done Deal Pro where Black List creator Franklin Leonard regularly answered questions about the site and damned if he didn't get asked about TV pilots on every page. In that regard, I can't blame the site for giving the audience what it wants.
On the other hand, I have reservations about how successful this new feature will be. I suppose that it's possible that agents and manager will use these spec pilots as a way of discovering new talent, just as they have with the spec screenplays. However, my gut tells me that we're not going to see many sales off of the site. TV works differently from film and it's incredibly rare for spec TV pilots to sell from first-timers. They're more frequently useful as writing samples.
My advice to those of you thinking of submitting pilots would be to calibrate your expectations accordingly. Your goal should be to get repped. Don't expect to have a network knocking on your door looking to buy it or a show-runner inviting you onto staff based on your spec pilot.
Of course, I will be very happy to be proven wrong.
The press release follows:
BLACK LIST WEBSITE EXPANDS TO TELEVISION AND WEB SERIES
ONLINE SCRIPT DATABASE WELCOMES SERIES PILOTS AND BIBLES
LOS ANGELES – This morning, the Black List’s online script
database (http://www.blcklst.com) launched its long awaited expansion into television
and episodic scripted content.
Beginning today, writers from
around the world will be able to upload their original pilot scripts (and,
optionally, their series bibles) to the script database, request evaluations by
professional script readers, and make their scripts available to the Black
List's growing membership of industry professionals, currently over 2,000
members. Writers will be able to categorize their scripts in a near infinite
number of ways, including but not limited to multi-cam/single-cam,
procedural/serialized, length of season, prospective number of seasons, and
more than 60 genres and over 800 tags.
“Writers and industry
professionals have been asking us about a television version of the site since
we launched our feature script service last year. We’re excited to roll it out
now in a way that can accommodate conventional television, miniseries and web
series scripts,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. “The goal of this
new venture parallels the mandate of the feature film script hosting service:
make it easy for those making episodic content to find great scripts and
writers, and help those with great scripts get them to people who can do
something with them. I’m very optimistic that we can repeat the success we’ve
had since our film launch: more than 13,000 downloads of uploaded scripts, more
than four major agency and management company signings, one two-script blind
deal at a major studio, one produced film, and more than twenty sales for
writers living as far away from Hollywood as Ireland and Sweden.”
As with feature film scripts,
writers will pay $25 per month to host and index each of their pilots (and if
they so choose, the series bible at no additional charge) on the Black List’s
website, accessible only by a closed community of industry professionals (and
by their fellow writers if they choose to make them available.) They can
further pay for evaluations by professional script readers hired by the Black
List. Evaluations for pilots meant to be longer than 30 minutes will cost $50,
just like feature scripts, and those meant to be 30 minutes or less will cost
WGA East and West members
will be able to list their material free of charge (without hosting it), just
as they can with their film scripts.
Also, just like with film
scripts hosted on the site, reminded Leonard, “writers retain all rights to
sell and produce their work and are free to negotiate the best deal they can
get. All we ask is an email letting us know of their success.”
THE BLACK LIST
Since 2005, the Black List
has become one of Hollywood’s primary arbiters of taste in scripted material.
Begun as an annual survey of several dozen executives’ favorite unproduced film
scripts, the 2012 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,” the Black List blog - home of Scott Myers’ “Go Into the Story” and
Xander Bennett’s “Screenwriting Tips… You Hack” - and the Black Board, the free
online discussion community moderated by Shaula Evans.
225 scripts from the annual
Black List have been produced as feature films grossing over $19 billion in
worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 35 Academy awards – including
three of the last five Best Pictures (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, and
ARGO) and seven of the last twelve screenwriting Oscars (JUNO, SLUMDOG
MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE DESCENDANTS, DJANGO
UNCHAINED, and ARGO) – from 175 nominations. It is also solely responsible for
bringing undiscovered writers and new material to the attention of Hollywood
actors, directors, producers and financiers in tens of thousands of
introductions per year. 2013 awards contenders SAVING MR BANKS, PRISONERS, LEE
DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET were all once scripts on the
annual Black List.
Since October 2012, the Black
List’s membership community has generated over 13,000 script downloads, more
than forty major agency and management company signings, more than twenty
script sales, one two-script blind deal at a major studio, and one produced