Screenwriting : The black list by Don Zorbas

Don Zorbas

The black list

Hi What are your thoughts on the blacklist website and you think it’s worth it to post your script on there for $30 a month?

Jason Mirch

Hey Don, Thanks for posting! I am the Director of Script Services for Stage 32. My biggest concern about the blacklist website is that you do not know who is ultimately reading your script whereas with Stage 32, there is total transparency because you pick the executive you want to read your project. And for our Industry Reader Coverage, you will receive a bio on the reader which shows their credentials. We work with some of the top companies and executives who are helping writers move projects along.

I don't think that having a script sit on the blacklist site for $30 a month is a great deal for you. It is a great deal for them, but there is no way of knowing if your investment is yielding tangible results. And at Stage 32, you know exactly who is reading your script and what they think. Of course I am happy to discuss further! Feel free to email me at j.mirch@stage32.com I would love to hear from you!

Dan MaxXx

BL website worked for Melanie Toast.

https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/spec-script-deal-shut-in-bf763d3f8d1a

I think this deal has actual CASH exchanging hands from Buyer to Writer.

Believe whoever or whatever website you want to believe.

Pete Conrad

Hey Don,

I have to agree with Jason, though I haven't as of yet pitched anyone here. I don't intend to make this about me, but I have some experience. I placed several scripts on Blcklst.com and even bought coverage for them. I have a book/screenplay that's polished and received a score of 7 for its first draft, which is good I'm told. I made some changes and re-uploaded, got a different reader who gave it a 6. I also uploaded a script/book that is a rewrite of an 1895 book/1951 film named Quo Vadis? It scored low - maybe a 5, so I asked for another reader who knew the plot lines of Quo Vadis? so they could understand what I did (I changed the setting from Roman 64 A.D. to 80s LA drug world), but got so much backlash that I deleted all of my stuff and quit. I've sold over 26k books with great Amazon reviews. I know the quality of my stuff, but there's too much subjectivity IMO. The best advice I have ever received was from Norman Brokaw who simply told me to never stop asking, and I don't. Ironically, I had pitched him for Bill Cosby to play the drug lord.

Miodrag Milanović

How to get money for nothing that's Blacklist; Pete's post explain theirs modus vivendi

John L & Jamie S

We got far better results from the Blacklist than most of the people I talk to about it but I've stopped personally recommending it. We got two attached directors for two separate projects that pretty much everyone would know their names (at least in terms of other s32/screenwriting posters, I think) but technically no sales. We got a single option on a different project. Our projects were like 6-8 score wise. I think we got a single 9 overall on something that was lowered a little by a later review. The results there were pretty "effortless" but we had a set idea in mind (number of months, number of reviews and a "budget" for what we were doing) that we were only gonna be there as long as we could "trend" on one of their "top lists" which we did. We went into it also knowing how long things in the movie business can take and that we weren't going to just let the script sit there hosted with no activity. The scripts that got directors attached each had less than 3 reviews paid for and were on for less than 3 months hosting. The scores changed that slightly. (Free hosting on one, plus reviews) Afterwards, we only saw about 20 industry views and about half that or less in downloads. The total views for one of the "trending" scripts was around 50. Same amount of downloads. So....on the one hand, with very little effort we attached a director to that one because his manager's assistant read it. I don't recommend the blacklist personally any more because I think, statistically, most people asking this question aren't "ready" for the blacklist. It's not for first time writers. It's for people who have a catalogue of at least three to five screenplays...as far as skill level goes. The more you have, the more it's going to be a useful tool. But, I don't think it's something to count on being a way to get past gatekeepers. It's really just a learning experience. I've extensively used the Stage32 pitch services but I found them to be far more expensive and far less engaging overall. But again, they were also useful because I was working with someone who needed to hear "No" a lot and quickly and some version of "why" before we started doing live pitches in real life. Was it useful? Yes. It was the best bang for my buck in terms of what I was doing and I didn't think greenlightmymovie or InkTip or virtual pitch was going to get Jamie "up to speed" as quickly as stage32 did. I went into those pitches knowing we were not likely going to get a single yes. (We did get one request to read but...that was a learning experience unto itself) In general, all of these sites are part of a greater plan you need to put in place to try and accomplish a goal but be flexible enough to network through. And the blacklist is super hard to network with because of the one-sided nature of it all. You aren't going to get feedback you don't pay for but your script getting read otherwise is a bit of a fluke.

Beth Fox Heisinger

The Black List script-listing, data bank website, and the other service under the same brand name, the Black List Industry Survey, have been topics of much heated debate and discussion over the years. Just do a search by its topic at the top of the Lounge and all related threads will be shown. ;)

Peter Roberts

Did not know it possible to have script posted on blacklist but $30 a month, seems a lot as many of us do not have great resources. Am therefore grateful you posed the question and for the informative advise many have added. The only thing I would add is the GoIntoTheStory site has some interesting and helpful posts about the craft.

John Ellis

Inktip is a better listing site, albeit a bit more expensive. They have a LOT more "success stories" than Blacklist.

IMO, networking (in person) is the best way to make a career of screenwriting (unless you go totally indie and produce your stuff yourself). The best way to network is to work on-set, anywhere and everywhere you can. The next best way would be to go to a big film school, but not many people have the money to do that!

Listing services, contests, fellowships, etc., are simply other ways to network (the views and awards offered by these are of VERY dubious worth - how many winners have parlayed the accolades into a working career?). And very limited ways of networking; you'll meet many more people on set than ever through a service.

Just sayin'.

Bill Lonero

I was a member of the BlackList for a year and got zero results. As many people on here have stated, you don’t know who is actually reading your script and it just seems like a money grab for BlackList. I do like Stage 32 better for multiple reasons, one of which is this forum and the interaction between everyone and the great advice. But I also like 32 better for their transparency. You know who’s reading your script. Anyone can create a website and say “for $50 top producers will read your script”. It happens in the music industry all the time. With no qualifications as to what “top” refers to, legally it could be “top producer of West Lake high school”. It could be the director of the drama club. That is how vague Blacklist is and a lot of the music sites. For me, I’ll stick with Stage 32.

Robert Sacchi

Have you considered Zoetrope.com or Scriptrevolution.com?

Jim Boston

Don, I'm reluctant to go to Black List. Matter of fact, I've just joined Script Revolution and I'm about to load all ten of the scripts I've completed onto that site. (And those ten screenplays will remain available here on Stage 32!)

John Ellis

CJ Walley who runs Script Rev is also on here, Don Zorbas. It's a legit site - very clear on what it does and doesn't do. And it's free!

Don Zorbas

I have to say I also got a script evaluation and it was probably the worst one I’ve ever received as far as quality and quantity

David Villanueva

I didn't have a good experience with The Black List. I paid for 3 months, and my screenplay had no views. There's no way to promote your script on their website to get interest. I did pay for an evaluation, and some of the feedback was great, but it definitely wasn't worth the cost/price.

Phil Hwang

I decided to give the Black List another try and purchased an evaluation for a murder mystery/ comedy screenplay that had been optioned twice. One of the people who optioned it was a former head of the William Morris Agency. I received a seven but scored low in critical areas of plot and character. Another screenplay I purchased an evaluation for won Slamdance's grand prize and had been optioned also received a 5. I think the evaluations are arbitrary. The Black List is certainly not for unpolished screenplays, but their evaluations seem to be all over the place which is why there are so few success stories. I don't recommend it.

Anyone who wants to read them for themselves can message me.

William Martell

All of these things are passive: they expect producers to come to you. A better plan is for you to go to producers. Not through any service. You do the research, you target the best producers for your specific script.

Dan Guardino

I agree with William.

Kay Luke

No matter what it is, if you have to pay then anyone can do it so even if you wrote the greatest script ever it's probably going to get lost in the shuffle.

Best to seek relationships.

Robert Sacchi

Phil Hwang - did Black List give useful feedback or just a series of scores?

Michael L. Burris

The Truth

Scott Meyers is worth the follow.

I guess its some platform for learners.

Phil Hwang

Robert Sacchi - As many other people have noted, the Blacklist evaluations are very general. The constructive criticism or weaknesses that the Black List evaluator noted, in my opinion, were nitpicks that I wouldn't change in large part because the previous dozen or so people who have given me feedback have never mentioned them. Actually, the Evaluator caught a typo which I'm embarrassed about and appreciative for pointing out. So, the feedback was not generally useful and I did not expect it to be going in.

However, I have read Black List evaluations on other screenplays that could potentially be helpful just not in my case.

Michael L. Burris

The Beatles.

Listen to "Revolution."

3 minutes might change your life.

Funny how thought perspectives parallel current conundrums.

I'm not plugging anyone just trying to inspire.

Your... you're the main goal to cause others to admire.

Dan MaxXx

Phil Hwang that doesn’t make any sense, if your scripts have already been optioned , why would you need a BL Eval?

Jason Mirch

Hey Phil Hwang - I am the Director of Script Services at Stage 32. I am currently down at the Austin Film Festival where I was just speaking with another writer about this very subject. My issue is that your project just sits on the BL site while you keep paying $30 a month. And you do not know if it is getting any traction or being read by any executives. At Stage 32, you are able to pick the executive you want to read it based on their bio, company and credits. That to me is worth far more and guarantees that an executive is reading your project. I am always happy to discuss further. You can reach me at j.mirch@stage32.com!

Phil Hwang

Dan MaxXx - The options expired several years ago. The evaluations are the Black List's seal of approval. Screenplays with overall scores less than 8 do not get promoted.

Robert Sacchi

Phil Hwang - If they only found 1 typo, and that's your only typo, that's great. If they missed other errors that doesn't reflect well on them. Were the nitpicks related to formatting, technical errors, or what? Too bad about your options expiring.

Iannis Aliferis

Every little thing one can do to promote their screenplay is probably worth it in a sense. It just so happens we live in a world now that to really promote your work you need a full salary each month to go towards it. In one sense you should be grateful that these 'opportunities' exist (and there's a variety of them), in another sense it's like: 'What he hell, I need to be slaving away all these jobs I truly hate to pay each month towards the hope that one day I can make money off my big passion?' I find it a bit schizophrenic, is all.

CJ Walley

Something every aspiring screenwriter needs to be aware of is that there's a dangerous fault in the human brain. We are incredibly vulnerable to favouring low-chance high-reward opportunities. This is why so many people invest in scams and become victims of gambling. It can often feel like we're one lottery ticket away from a fortune and we just need to buy that next read to be discovered.

If you're going to pay for something, pay for the most upfront, transparent, and fair option you can find. There are too many people out there selling hope. They'll tell you there's gold in the river just so they can sell you a spade.

Teresa Barber

IMO - I wasted $30 on one month of Blacklist, watching my script collect dust. I dislike dusting and I don't believe in letting a potential investment go to waste.

Phil Hwang

Robert Sacchi - I did not expect detailed notes just a general analysis. The typo was the only thing I could use to make the screenplay better. The evaluator's nitpicks were story related. My screenplay is a murder mystery/ comedy, and the evaluator has an issue with a couple of the conventions that are routinely employed in the detective genre.

However, looking back at the evaluation, the written notes are rather positive but I did not receive a corresponding high numerical score. I don’t understand why the evaluator would write this and only give a 6 character rating. “The dialogue throughout generally feels authentic to the setting and the character delivering it, successfully advancing the plot while injecting it with a number of dramatic and laugh out loud moments. “ Are “laugh out loud moments” easy to write?

Dan MaxXx

Phil, that's just backwards. Like from NBA pro ball back to college ball. Your scripts are already approved and vouched - they were optioned. The former Boss at William Morris agency should know more about making movies than a BL reader/website.

Target & query... "Hi Big Shot Producer, my script XXXXXX was optioned by XXXXXX, former head of William Morris Agency. The option has expired and it's currently available..."

CJ Walley

Wait, hang on a second, it was a former head of CAA three days ago.

Kay Luke

Kimberly -- the info on that link is way outdated.

For one thing, Amazon Studios no longer accepts unsolicited submissions.

For what it's worth, the only Listing Service I've ever heard mentioned by name in a professional setting is Ink Tip.

Alicia Norman

Have any of you tried CoverFly's The Red List--I know Mark Stasenko one of the owners--he' s an up and up guy.

CJ Walley

Kimberly, it sounds like you could do with reading this; How This Writer Eventually Laughed off a Blacklist 2, Got Told He Was a “Bad Writer”, Never Made It past the Quarter Finals & Still Optioned a Goddamned Feature Script

Six months after writing that article, I was approached by a producer who loved my work. Twelve months later, he'd flown me over to Los Angeles and we were shooting a feature film together. After years of patience and perseverance, it can all just suddenly happen.

I know how tough it is. That's one of the reasons I created Script Revolution. You are more than welcome to upload your material on there. Keep dreaming and keep fighting.

Alicia Norman

CJ not to mention how I know of a certain actor, who shall remain nameless, gaming the system to gain traction for his work, while those without the money or industry connects try hard to advance and can only make it so far in these things. My advice--no matter where you land never give up. Keep striving and improving. Get coverage to work up strengths and weaknesses in your writing-not to assess your potential. I have found coverage valuable and helpful, but we have to keep perspective, a lot of it is subjective and not everyone likes what we like. Hopes this helps Kimberly. hugs

Alicia Norman

Also, the best way to defend yourself is to keep going and one day prove them wrong.

Robert Sacchi

Phil Hwang & anybody else - You may have had the misfortune of drawing a reviewer who had central tendencies. Such folks tend to give ratings in the middle of the scale and it's almost impossible to get higher on the scale from them.

Phil Hwang

Robert Sacchi - Ironically, I have the same centralist tendencies. From my perspective, a 10 is perfection and therefore unattainable. A 9 or 9.5 is reserved for serious classics like Citizen Kane and The Godfather. An 8 would would for Stars Wars and Jaws. Great movies but less serious or less grounded in reality. So a 7 which I did receive is great in my view but again does not give me exposure on the Black List website.

It’s really in the best interest of the Black List to have as many success stories as possible. A year or so ago, I suggested a friend write a certain type of screenplay because I had seen numerous calls for this storyline on the Inktip newsletter. Lo and behold, he wrote one and sold it. It was never made though. The screenplay was okay. Not his best work but solid. Maybe a five based on the criteria that I mentioned above. The point is that it was sold because it adequately fulfilled a need not because it was a masterpiece of literature. I think that when a producer reads a screenplay he/ she wants to be confident that the writer and the screenplay are at the very least solidly professional.

BTW: Here is what the evaluator wrote about my screenplay’s prospects.

Prospects:

While there may still be some room for improvement, overall there's a lot to like about the long term prospects of the project. Tonally and thematically, the script knows what it wants to be, what it wants to say and goes for it in a way that should resonate with fans of the genre. From a budget perspective, it reads as quite affordable to produce, something that's always ideal when looking to find financing for an independent feature. The core cast is small, the locations are limited and while the Minnesota setting is almost a character unto itself, it could likely shoot in a number of cities or states that are currently offering tax incentives and production rebates to the film and television industries. In terms of casting, there are several strong roles that should appeal to a range of talent, most notably Sheila, Tim and Carl. It's worth noting that Sheila is an empowered female lead at a time when there's a hunger for such stories and voices in the marketplace. Depending on the work done to future drafts of the script, the level of talent attached and the execution by the director there could be a variety of potential outlets for the project. If it doesn't find traditional theatrical distribution, it feels like it may find a home on a streaming or VOD platform like an Amazon, Netflix or Hulu.

Robert Sacchi

Kimberly Marasco - Thank you for sharing the list.

Robert Sacchi

Phil Hwang - The text of your evaluation is very good. The problem with a centrist tendency occurs when such markings are an outlier. If other reviewers would give a well constructed screenplay an 8 but the centrist would give the same screenplay a 5 then it becomes the luck of the draw. Do you know of others who submitted scripts to Black List and their scores?

Pete Conrad

I'll share my Blacklist feedback. They scored it a 7, which is good. Based on the feedback, I added another character, which drives the protag. My main gripe is this: all of the changes (weaknesses) can be be made easily. Don't like the big budget opening? Then delete it and save on budget. Don't like the dialogue? NBD. (I use a southern accent). Etc... I can do that. I just don't know how to get read. I've sold tens of thousands of copies. Great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It deals with a current topic. I don't know what else to do. I don't understand why, if this was such a brazen concept, that this is where it dies.

Strengths

This bold, innovative script has quite a few things going for it. It gets an A for originality and vision --as it takes a never-been-done-before premise and executes. What makes it work first and foremost areWinston and May -- who each make for a compelling pair of leads. Winston's humanity is transparent on the page, and his backstory as a Vietnam veteran and a retired engineer works very well within the context of the narrative. The choice to make them 60-70 and African-American is indeed welcome, because it's unconventional and bold. That's perhaps what is most exciting about this script: it takes a lot of risks (which is more than most scripts can say for themselves). Similarly, May is an equally intriguing character to Winston -- and it's fascinating to watch her arc as she emerges as the hero of the story. Both of them are easy to root for, and as the best science fiction films show us -- that at the end of the day is what is most paramount.

Weaknesses

The dialogue in the script can feel a bit coarse at times for two reasons: 1) the strong commitment to the dialects do the writer a bit of a disservice since they don't come across well on the page (in fact, sometimes it's just plain difficult to understand what these characters are saying -- which will put off industry readers) and 2) the script right now relies way too heavily on exposition. There are many missed opportunities here to tell this bold and crazy story visually. The macro point-of-view in the opening teaser also undermines some of this film's potential. It would be far more fascinating to discover the dystopian world through the lenses of Winston and May (rather than an omniscient narrator). Making this script more character-driven and less plot-driven will also help raise the stakes for the audience even more.

Prospects

While it's undeniably compelling -- it's a bit difficult to see how this one will find its financing because it will require such a big budget for it to be done properly. That said, if the writer can find a way to make it more contained -- there may be a chance with its older protagonists for it to find its financing as a more indie Sci-Fi film -- in which case it might be able to carve out a nice/spot for itself in the independent marketplace.

Robert Sacchi

Pete Conrad - Thank you for this detailed sharing. Do you think it would have been adequate to write that the characters spoke with thick southern accents then wrote the screenplay in standard American English? Could it be there is a duality of appreciating an original and bold concept but not wanting to risk a big budget on it?

Pete Conrad

I think that's my gripe, because the next reviewer loved the dialogue. It's highly subjective. I would hope that the readers who keep the gates closed would be better at identifying potential. And pushing things through with the intent of making the screenplay work. This could be a 100MM film or a 5MM film, especially with today's CGI. Feel free to read it for yourself. It's on this site. Thanks, Robert!

Phil Hwang

Robert Sacchi - Yes, I recently read a screenplay on the Black List because the author also complained about the evaluation on a Facebook group so I wanted to see for myself. While the

screenplay has a fantastic hook, great albeit politically incorrect humor, and lots of potential,

I felt there was lack of conflict. Too many situations were convenient for the story to move forward, and the main character too easily resolved problems. There was no discernible turning point between the second and third act, and the ending was rushed. The BL evaluator gave it an 8 for plot despite

acknowledging a “lack of adversity” in the script. Literally the BL evaluator gave the highest score

for the weakest aspect of the screenplay. This irks me because in my own screenplay, my lead characterhas to work diligently for everything she gets while the protagonist of this screenplay has far too many things handed to her. Again, the Black List scores seem arbitrary and the numeric scores are in conflict with the written evaluation.

Robert Sacchi

Pete Conrad - Phil Hwang - Thank you for the information.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In