Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A call for questions for a Q and A with The Black List's Franklin Leonard

We're coming up on two years since the launch of the Black List website and so I thought it would be a good time to reach out to its founder Franklin Leonard about doing another interview. This time, I'd love to open the floor up to you guys to ask questions.

There's something you should know about Franklin - he doesn't shrink from confrontation or hard questions. The first time I interviewed him, he indicated a desire for an interview "to come at me." So consider this a no-holds barred interview. If you ask a question about the Black List, I will pass it to him, even if it's a hard question.

The only ones I will be filtering for will be the sort of trolling "are you still beating your wife" type of questions. You guys are better than that and I know that anyone with a legitimate question won't squander this opportunity. If you have a question or a concern about the Black List, leave it in comments or email me at zuulthereader@gmail.com.


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  2. (Sorry, messed up first comment!)

    Two questions for Franklin would be:

    1. What advice would you give to a newbie submitting their first script to the Black List?

    2. What impact do you think the Black List has had on the way new screenwriters can break into the business?


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  4. I'd like to ask Franklin if TBL site was planning on ever showing us who is looking at our scripts. Right now it's like a black hole. You can see someone downloaded it but you don't know who. There are other sites that show you exactly who's looking and reading and it's great.

  5. Knowing they like to crunching numbers there, I'd want to know things such as:
    What percentage of uploaded scripts are rated 8 or higher?

    What percentage of 5 rated (6 rated, 7 rated, 8 rated etc) scripts are downloaded by pros? My guess would % gets higher with higher score. I'd also be curious if ANY scripts rated less than 8 get downloaded by pros.


  6. I've got the following question:

    How does the BL account for subjectivity when it comes to comedy? I had comments on a script that stated that the characters were "too broad" and "over-the-top", which is exactly the feel I was going for (something in the vein of a Will Ferrell or Jim Carrey comedy). It feels a bit unfair that a script whose fundamentals are strong (at least, as indicated through the "Consider" it got from a respected script consultant) would be punished because the reader has a bias toward comedy that is more grounded in tone.

    One more:

    Does the BL have any strategy prepared in case someone makes an accusation that his/her idea was stolen through the site? I know idea theft from newbies is rare in Hollywood, but the ability to anonymously download other people's entire works makes this scenario within the realm of possibility.

  7. 1) How much money and/or profit has TBL made from aspiring screenwriters?

    With the joining fee and reading charges it must be a lot.

    2) Echoing others, who are your readers and how are they selected.

    I ask this after seeing some of the semi-literate notes from TBL's readers.

    This is not a bitter case of "Z0mG ju di'nt gimme me a 10!!!!!!!!"

    I mean I have seen some very cruddy TBL notes that seem like they were written by a 15 year old, and not an intelligent one.

    Thanks, Seth.

    1. I don't really consider the first question here a legitimate question. I'll forward it on to Franklin if he has a response, but that's a question that borders on trolling. Everyone else, take notice.

      The second question would be much stronger if you could provide a specific example of a sub-par review so that Franklin could respond to it. Could you find a few? You could email them to me if you'd rather not post them here.

  8. In your opinion, should a person write a safe text book script as a sample to get screenwriting gigs or write a risky spec script? I feel every screenwriter hits this crossroad and decides upon one of the two. The obvious answer would be a professional combination of the two, but I'd love to read your thoughts on the subject.

  9. 1) We hear a lot about the success of the film side of the Blacklist however, how has the TV fared? Has anything been sold?

  10. My question.....

    "How do you feel about all the many schemes such as screenwriting competitions that seem to be designed to offer nothing in return for taking money from wannabe screenwriters?"

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  12. Would it be possible to see data on types of films that receive high/low/mediocre rating? Genre, protagonists race/age/gender
    adaptation vs original story, etc. I know it wouldnt take into account over "quality" of writing, but it would still be interesting to get a whole look at what is being submitted

  13. Two questions:

    1. Will The Black List ever show unique downloads? It would be nice to have that along with the non-unique data for those of us curious if it's the same person downloading repeatedly or multiple users.

    2. Regarding paid readers, is there a standard range of deviation you see between their ratings and those of industry members? Also, do you know what percentage of industry members rate scripts that they've downloaded?

  14. Hi! I've recently finished polishing my first screenplay, and I'm thinking of hosting it on The Black List. Would it be best for me to wait until I finish a second screenplay, just in case by some stroke of luck someone asks to see more of my work? I have a few polished short stories in my portfolio, but this is the only screenplay I have right now that I feel comfortable showing people in the industry. Thank you!

    1. There's merit to both approaches. I tend to think that your first screenplay is rarely going to be the one that opens the doors for you. However, getting feedback on it is important because it will give you the lessons you need in order to make your next screenplay better.

      My advice would be to show the screenplay to people who you trust to give you informed feedback. If you're lucky enough to have people like that in your circle of friends, it won't cost you anything and it'll probably help you figure out how someone else would react to your work. At that point you can decide if you want to keep rewriting this one, or move onto a new script and see if starting on a fresh idea might be better.

      The Black List probably isn't the place for you yet. I feel like the people who get discovered there tend to be people with extraordinary talent. If you're a prodigy, maybe your first script will show that kind of genius, but right now, it's more likely you're still a diamond in the rough.

      Give it a little time, work on some other ideas and then come back and see if you still feel like you're ready to compete on The Black List