Yesterday The Black List announced another opportunity for writers via a partnership with TNT and TBS. Here is their press release. Scroll down for my thoughts:
TNT and TBS are partnering with The Black List on an initiative to promote
diversity in the industry by identifying talented writers to develop scripts and
concepts for the networks. TNT and TBS are the first television networks to
team up with the Black List following the site's expansion into episodic content.
The networks will be looking for writers from diverse backgrounds for possible
blind script deals and staffing consideration on TBS and TNT series, with the
goal of signing script deals with particularly strong writers in the half-hour
comedy and hour-long drama genres.
The Black List is an online community where video content creators find scripts to make and writers to write them
and where writers find producers, studios and networks to make their scripts and employ them. Since its launch in
October 2012, the Black List has hosted more than 10,000 screenplays and teleplays and has completed more
than 13,000 script evaluations. More than 40 writers have found representation at major agencies and
management companies, while more than 20 writers have sold their scripts as a direct result of introductions
made via the site. At any given moment, more than 2,000 screenplays and teleplays are being actively hosted on
the site for perusal by over 2,300 film industry professionals, ranging from agency assistants to studio chairs and
As part of its program with TNT and TBS, the Black List will solicit teleplays to be evaluated via the Black List
website by its community of industry professionals and readers. The Black List will then provide TNT and TBS
with a short list of five finalists in each genre. The finalists will be chosen based on criteria the networks provide
and on the evaluations received. The networks will then have the option to offer blind script deals. The list of
finalists may also be shared with TBS and TNT's current showrunners, who will have the option to offer staff
"As we continue to expand the original programming lineups for TNT and TBS, it's important that we forge
partnerships not only with established producers but also with fresh talent," said Michael Wright, president,
head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). "We're confident that through this
initiative with the Black List, we're going to find an abundance of exciting, highly creative work from a wide array of
In addition to TNT and TBS, the Black List is currently partnered with the Writers Guild of America, East; the
Writers Guild America, West; the Sundance Institute; and Warner Bros Pictures.
My thoughts: First off, I asked Franklin Leonard via Twitter how they defined "diverse writers," and he told me, "We use the WGA West Writers Report as a guide on the question of diversity." So essentially that boils down to women, minorities and older writers of both genders. (I believe that "older writers" is the age 41 and above bracket, but I could be mistaken and they're drawing from age 51 and above.)
Also, a writer cannot have earned more than $250,000 total for their writing work over the last ten years. Further submission requirements can be found here.
Even though I'm not eligible under any of those requirements, I think it's exciting that aspiring writers have yet another avenue to break into the business. The best part is that for writers already using the Black List, this is a competition available to them at no extra cost. And if they weren't already on the Black List, the rules say they need only host the script on the site for one week during the submission period in order to opt in. That costs a mere $25.
This is also a good time to bring up a number of other great programs for breaking into TV and their associated entry fees.:
Disney/ABC Television Writing Program -NO FEE.
The Warner Bros. Writers' Workshop - $30/script.
Nickelodeon Writing Program - NO FEE
NBC Writers on the Verge - NO FEE
CBS Writers Mentoring Program - NO FEE
New York Television Festival - $30 early fee; $50 regular submission fee; $100 late deadline fee.
And as the Black List press release notes, the site has a number of other partnerships as well and the cost to opt-in for any of those opportunities is free if you're hosting a script on the submission period. I'm very impressed with how the Black List site is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for a variety of programs and fellowships, including the Warner Bros two-step blind script deal and the Sundance Diversity Workshop, as well as the Cassian Elwes Screenwriting Fellowship.
I don't really see a downside here to submitting - especially if you've already put your wares on the website. The participation of the Turner networks is impressive on it's own, but I also am very intrigued that showrunners may be given a list of the finalists, meaning there's the possibility that someone not selected as a recipient of a blind script deal could be hired on one of the TNT or TBS shows, provided their sample is strong enough.
I recommend the same introspection that I advise when it comes to entering any contest or fellowship, but from where I sit, this is just one more way for writers to break in.
I haven't followed the TV pilots side of the Black List as closely as I did the feature side. Thus far we haven't gotten a full data-drop with regard to the number of pilots uploaded. To my eye, it appears that the TV submissions are lower than the screenplay submissions were when they launched but that is TOTAL supposition. That could be good for writers looking to submit because there may be less competition.
Also, in this Done Deal Pro thread, Franklin says he's heard of at least three instances of writers being signed with representation off of their pilot submissions. None of the writers have been identified or announced officially though. Hopefully a more formal announcement will be forthcoming, provided the writers wish to be identified. (A number of reps find it advantageous NOT to make these sorts of announcements until the proper time.)