Do You Know: The Black List

What do Argo, The King’s Speech, The Butler and Stoker all have in common? Besides being great movies, they were all once on The Black List. If you’re sitting on a great, unproduced script, it might be high time you ask yourself, Do You Know: The Black List?

In 2005, Franklin Leonard, an industry executive, surveyed around 100 industry executives about their favorite unproduced screenplays from that year. He published their answers and thus The Black list was created. Since then, it has become a database where screenwriters can upload their script, pay for evaluations and get the attention of industry players. In addition, The Black List continues to publish a yearly report of the best unproduced screenplays. Past screenplays on this list have included Hanna, Argo, The King’s Speech, The Butler, and this year’s award favorite Spotlight.

So how does it work for me?

“Putting your film on The Black List” does NOT mean you are automatically included in the yearly report. You are paying The Black List to host your script on their database and make it accessible to industry executives/filmmakers. That’s it. The hosting fee for your script is $25 per month.

Similar to script coverage, The Black List offers script evaluations. Qualified readers will rank your script from 1 to 10 in a number of categories and give comments. Evaluations are a $50 one-time fee per evaluation.

Scripts that receive a “high score” (usually 8 or higher) are then labeled a “Spotlight Script.” The Black List sends a list of these Spotlight Scripts to industry members. If interested, industry members will then go to your scripts page and can choose to view/download the script. If they like it, they can then get in contact with you.

What if there’s a rewrite?

You do have the ability on The Black List to switch out versions of your script. However, you must consider this: How different is the draft? If we’re talking a page one re-write, then you might not want old evaluations and ratings associated with the new draft. It’s recommended (both by The Black List and myself) that you delete the previous entry and essentially start over.

Listen carefully, please – While The Black List does offer screenwriters an invaluable opportunity to receive industry attention, it’s really only screenplays that receive a rating of 8 or higher that get attention.

I believe The Storyteller received a 7 rating from the person we paid for coverage. Which is quite good I’m told, but not enough to really get anything moving for us on there. We weren’t willing to pay to host the script for more than a couple of months without any organic traffic. It adds up fast. – Rachel Noll, producer of The Storyteller

The key to a great screenplay is understanding where your script is in the writing process and what you need to get it to the next stage. Getting feedback is crucial to making any script grow.  Whether Coverage, Contests or The Black List is your next stage, you should know what you’re buying before you whip out your credit card. Our comprehensive article on the subject – The Storyteller Series: Script Coverage & Screenwriting Contests – will give you a head start.

Heather Ostrove

About Heather Ostrove

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LA-based, East Coast native Writer, Director, Editor. Her shorts have appeared in numerous festivals and she is currently working on several projects.

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