Monday, March 18, 2013

Will I read more Black List 3.0 scripts?

Twice this weekend I got emails from people asking if I ever was going to do another free-for-all where I read scripts that people have submitted to Black List 3.0.  I'd like to, but I unfortunately have had issues of time committment lately.

When I made my first offer, I was overwhelmed by how many people replied and how fast the queue filled up.  I think I expected maybe fifteen people to take me up on my offer to read at least ten pages of their script.  I think in the end, 75 people made it in under the deadline.  I have a hunch that if I was to offer it a second time, the participation would be even more overwhelming. 

I'll be honest.  That scares me.  I don't want to get to the point where I'm treating reading these like a chore.  That's not fair to the people who submitted, even if this is an unofficial exercise that they're not paying for.

Related to that is the fact that I know from months of reading the weekly emails from The Black List that there are some scripts where right off the bat, the concept just doesn't appeal to me.  If the goal is to find a script that I can give a good rating to and champion, I think I need some way of thinning the herd.  This way, perhaps I could read fewer scripts, but be picking from concepts that I'm more predisposed to liking. 

If I was to do this again, how would you feel about my limiting the period for open submissions to, say, 24 hours?  And how about if I then picked through the submissions and decided which queries intrigued me the most?  I think maybe I could also make it a lesson in what makes a good logline, which extends the benefit beyond the writers being read - it makes this a learning experience for everyone.

This might also mean picking some of the less effective loglines and using them as a lesson in how to make certain pitches more effective.  Would anyone have any objection to that?

If you guys have any suggestions that could make this process even better, please let me know.  I can't promise that I'll implement this anytime soon.  Between my job and the script I'm rewriting, I don't have as much free time as I did back in October.  Even then, I underestimated what I was getting into.

So I hope I can do this sometime in the near future, but I'd also caution everyone that it still might be a ways off.


  1. I like your ideas about filtering potential scripts with a 24 hour timeline and by their loglines, etc.

    Maybe you could narrow your focus even further (and make your workload more manageable) by just dealing with a single genre at a time. Top 10 drama. Then Top 10 action. You get the idea.

    Thank you!


  2. Yeah, make us write the full query letter with logline. If the query letter sucks, we don't get a read, just like the real world. Good exercise.

  3. The top genres filter is a solid idea, but will inevitably lead to some contending, "Oh, but it's more a Thriller than an Action movie...and come to think of it, more Drama than anything." Or, "Well, it's historically set but it's really a comedy." And so forth.

    It's incredibly gracious of you to consider another round of reads on the Black List. Should you choose once more into the breach, juggling it with the pursuit of your own ambitions and work can be grueling. Maybe it would be best to simplify it to the Top 20 loglines submitted in a 24 hour period? If you expand it into a full-on query contest it will result in a LOT more reading on your part. In the end, if it doesn't grab you in the logline...NEXT!

  4. ...and a question regarding Black List loglines:

    How strictly do you adhere to the basic guidelines of logline architecture while investigating possible reads on the BL?

    I ask because I notice that the latest success story from the BL -- THE DEADMAN CHRONICLES -- possesses an extremely long logline that is essentially a synopsis. Same goes for the Black List's first success story, MCCARTHY; another unconventionally long and uniquely structured "logline."

    Not that there is anything wrong with those LL's whatsoever (hey, the authors got signed!), I'm just curious if there's anything there that writers should consider as they construct their loglines for the Black List.

    1. I'm not a fan of the synopsis-as-logline. If someone can't boil the main hook of their story down to two (maybe three) sentences, I worry that there's not a strong core idea there. You don't need to tell me the whole story - just tell me what it's about.

      Sometimes when I see long loglines, I skip right to the next one without even reading. For the purposes of this exercise, brevity is your friend. You won't have the advantage some Black List scripts have - where a high rating of a 9 or so might grant you a benefit of the doubt.

  5. I think the logline notion makes a lot of sense.
    Heck I'll submit my script/logline just to see wether or not the logline is good let alone the read. ^^

  6. Cool.
    Open it up for a week.
    And make it an -- 'I will read your log line.'

  7. This is incredibly generous of you and however you shape it to be more manageable for you, the better for us! Thank you.