2013 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Buyers

January 29th, 2014 by

Yesterday we looked at 2013 spec script sales by genre. Today we break down the numbers per major studios, mini-majors, subsidiaries, and financiers to see which were the most and least active in the script acquisition market. The totals:

6
Universal

4
BCDF Pictures
Lionsgate
Thunder Road
Warner Bros.

3
20th Century Fox
CBS Films
Lotus Entertainment
Millennium
Paramount
Screen Gems
Sony

2
1984 Private Defense Contractors
Aldamisa Films
Focus Features
Fox 2000
Gulfstream Pictures
QED International
Relativity Media
The Solution
Voltage Pictures

1
42
108 Production
1492 Productions
1821 Pictures
Altitude Entertainment
Atmosphere Entertainment
Big Beach Films
Blumhouse Productions
Boies/Schiller Film Group
Bold Entertainment
Bon Aire Productons
Boundless Pictures
Chernin Entertainment
CIMA Productions
Content Films
De Line Pictures
Dimension Films
Electric Entertainment
Fox Searchlight
Gold Circle Films
Good Universe
Incognito Pictures
Legendary Pictures
Mammo Media
Mandeville
Maven Pictures
Media Rights Capital
MGM
Michael De Luca Productions
New Line
Nostromo Films
Ocean Blue Entertainment
Odd Fellows Entertainment
Pantelion Films
Paramount Insurge
Participant Media
Preferred Content
Romain Philippe Equity
Sentinel Pictures
Sierra/Affinity
Skydance Productions
Solipsist Films
Sourian Productions
The Exchange
Treehouse Pictures
Vendome Pictures
Wayfare Entertainment
Working Title

Look at these numbers from the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 per each major studio:

Disney 5 / 1 / 2 / 1 / 2 / 0
DreamWorks 6 / 4 / 1 / 2 / 1 / 0
Paramount 1 / 5 / 4 / 4 / 12 / 3
Sony Pictures 8 / 4 / 1 / 7 / 9 /3
Twentieth Century Fox 5 / 3 / 1 / 7 / 3 / 3
Universal 6 / 6 / 1 / 6 / 9 / 6
Warner Bros. 8 / 8 / 8 / 15 / 7 / 4

The numbers per major studios in the spec script market were pretty poor. Every studio with the exception of 20th Century Fox acquired less spec scripts in 2013, some markedly so such as Paramount and Sony.

Last year the major Hollywood studios were involved in 23 of the 100 spec script deals which amounts to 23% of total transactions, compared to 43% in 2012,  38% in 2011, 33% in 2010, 45% in 2009 and 43% in 2008. That is the lowest percentage since I started this blog… and substantially so.

Reverse the perspective and what we are looking at is the continued emergence of the independent financiers, filling the void left by reluctant buyers among the major studios.

Here is a breakdown of acquisitions by genre at major, mini-major studios and subsidiaries:

20th Century Fox
Capsule — Science Fiction
Tranquility Base – Science Fiction Drama
The Unseen — Horror

Paramount
Agatha — Action Adventure
Attach — Science Fiction
Little Black Dress – Drama

Sony
Inheritance — Legal Thriller
Unleash the Mules — Drama (Columbia)
The Politician — Comedy

Universal
One Night on the Hudson — Comedy
Little Evil — Comedy
Don’t Mess With Texas – Action Comedy
Soldiers of the Sun — Science Fiction
Untitled Amy Schumer Project – Comedy
Section 6 — Spy Drama Thriller

Warner Bros.
Bermuda Triangle — Action
The Asterisk – Action
Nemesis — Action Thriller
Untitled Uziel & Krasinski Project — Action Adventure

CBS Films
Omega Point — Science Fiction
Other People’s Love Letters — Romantic Comedy
Split — Thriller

Dimension Films
Ink and Bone – Thriller

Focus Features
Deprivation — Action Thriller
Rose — Thriller

Fox 2000
Highrise — Thriller
Depth of Field – Sports Drama Comedy

Fox Searchlight
Sorta Like a Rock Star — Drama

Legendary Pictures
Reminiscence — Science Fiction Thriller

Lionsgate
Endangered — Action Adventure
Spinback — Action Thriller (Summit)
You’ll Be the Death of Me — Comedy (Summit)
Time Tweaker — Science Fiction

Millennium Films
Criminal — Action
The Strategist — Thriller
The Civilian — Action

New Line
The Lost — Action Comedy

Paramount Insurge
Fetch – Comedy

Participant Media
From Here to Albion — Thriller

Relativity Media
House Arrest — Comedy
Jump – Romantic Dramedy

Screen Gems
Cat Fight — Comedy
The Unsacred — Thriller
Patient Zero — Action Thriller

What do you take away from this information?

Tomorrow: Agents and managers.

2013 Spec Script Sales Analysis: Genres

January 28th, 2014 by

By my count, Hwood studios and production groups acquired 100 spec scripts in 2013. During this week, I’ll be breaking down those numbers.

Today we look at sales by genre. Some scripts are categorized as cross genres or sub-genres, so those are noted where relevant under their primary genre category.

Note: Genre designations are not scientific, so you have to understand these numbers are general.

2013 SPEC SCRIPT SALES BY GENRE

THRILLER 25
Contained Thriller 2
Crime Thriller 2
Legal Thriller 1
Political Thriller 1
Supernatural Thriller 1

ACTION 20
Action Thriller 11
Action Adventure 3
Action Drama 1

COMEDY 18
Action Comedy 7
Romantic Comedy 1

DRAMA 17
Biopic 2
Crime Drama 2
Drama Comedy 2
Cop Drama 1
Spy Drama Thriller 1
Drama Adventure 1
Drama Romance 1
War Drama 1

SCIENCE FICTION 13
Science Fiction Thriller 5
Science Fiction Drama 1

HORROR 3
Horror Supernatural 2

WESTERN 2

DISASTER 1

FAMILY 1

First let’s compare to 2008, 2009, 20102011, and 2012.

2008 (88 sales)

COMEDY 41
ACTION 13
DRAMA 12
THRILLER 10
FANTASY 3
SCIENCE FICTION 3
ADVENTURE 2
DISASTER 2
FAMILY 1
HORROR 1

2009 (68 sales)

COMEDY 26
THRILLER 12
ACTION 11
DRAMA 7
SCIENCE FICTION 4
ROMANTIC COMEDY 3
FAMILY 1
FANTASY 1
HEIST 1
HORROR 1
MURDER MYSTERY 1

2010 (55 sales)

COMEDY 16
ACTION 14
THRILLER 10
SCIENCE FICTION 7
DRAMA 4
FAMILY 2
FANTASY 1
MYSTERY 1

2011 (110 sales)

ACTION 29
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 19
DRAMA 14
SCIENCE FICTION 13
HORROR 8
FAMILY 2
FAIRY TALE 1
HEIST 1
SUPERNATURAL 1
WESTERN 1

2012 (99 sales)

ACTION 27
THRILLER 20
COMEDY 20
SCIENCE FICTION 12
DRAMA 10
HORROR 9
SUPERNATURAL 1

2013 (100 sales)

THRILLER 25
ACTION 20
COMEDY 18
DRAMA 17
SCIENCE FICTION 13
HORROR 3
WESTERN 2
DISASTER 1
FAMILY 1

* The first thing that strikes me is how consistent the total number of deals has been the last three years: 110 / 99 / 100. This suggests a strong spec script market in comparison to 2008-2010: 88 / 68 / 55. Put another way:

2008-2010: 211 (average per year: 70)

2011-2013: 309 (average per year: 103)

Certainly these current numbers are not near historic peaks such as 1995 with 173 deals and 1996 with 155. And a significant number of acquisitions during the last few years have been with financiers as compared to the major studios and, therefore, for less money. Still compared to as recently as four years ago when some people were talking about the “death” of the spec script market, these numbers suggest otherwise. That’s good news for aspiring and professional screenwriters.

* Note the continuing upward trend of both Thriller and Science Fiction (2008-2013):

Thriller: 10 / 12 / 10 / 20 / 20 / 25

Science Fiction: 3 / 4 / 7 / 13 / 12 / 13

My  take is Thrillers can be done for a price and because they lend themselves to visual storytelling, which makes them appealing to international moviegoers, that combined with the fact many of them have been successful the last few years (Now You See Me, Prisoners, Argo, Safe House) suggests buyers are still attracted to this genre. Indeed in 2013, Thriller took over the #1 spot from Action. And if you add Action Thrillers to the mix, that is 36 spec script sales, a nifty 36% of all deals.

Conventional wisdom is that science fiction spec scripts are a hard sell because many studio folks think this is the most challenging genre that exists and, therefore, they tend to rely on writers that have a track record in the genre such as Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof, and Jon Spaihts. But look at those numbers, a definite trend upward. My guess is with the overall success of big science fiction / superhero franchises, there is some bleed-over into the spec market. Plus if we dug down into the details of the sci fi spec deals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least some of them are more ‘contained’ projects, at least from a budget standpoint — a big concept wrapped in a smaller narrative package.

* Action took a hit in the spec market and I suspect the fact so many of them tanked early on in 2013 (The Last Stand, Parker, Bullet to the Head), that left a bad taste in buyers’ mouths. My sense is that there is some concern that the genre may have become oversaturated with product combined with the fact that some of the standby actors in the genre (Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger) are getting too old to generate interest in moviegoers. And where are the new action stars?

* After a precipitous drop in 2008 and 2009, Comedy seems to have stabilized in the spec market. One number in particular pleases me: Action Comedy with 7 sales, 39% of all deals within the genre. Why does this make me happy? First, I like this cross genre. Second, three years ago on this blog, I predicted it would make a comeback. Sometimes I get it right!

* But the number which gives me the most joy is Drama with 17 deals. That is the highest total in the 6 years I’ve been tracking spec sales at Go Into The Story. To me, this says one thing: The buyers have finally recognized they have a reliable audience with adults. Most Drama acquisitions are from fiction books, nonfiction books and real life stories, so the fact there has been this much activity in the spec market suggests this is an actual trend: The studios have made a conscious business decision to go after Seniors, Baby Boomers and the 40+ crowd.

What do you think when you look at these numbers? Will they have any impact on what stories you choose to write in 2014?

Head over to comments to post your observations and analysis of the year in spec script sales.

2013 Spec Script Sales List

January 27th, 2014 by

Here is the final 2013 Spec Script Sales List, each with a link to the GITS post about the sale. A few comments.

Tracking spec script sales is not an exact science. To make the blog’s list, there almost always has to be some sort of article in the press verifying a deal, but even then that can get dicey because the term “spec script” is itself rather amorphous in meaning.

In the broadest terms, it applies to any deal made for a script written ‘speculatively,’ that is for no fees, just the writer’s own sweat equity with the hope of making a sale. Seems simple enough, but there is a lot of gray area:

* Some deals get announced that are in effect handshake, no money arrangements, typically forwarded to the press to generate some PR for the project.

* Some deals are by professional writers with a preexisting relationship with a production group or studio, so that a tacit agreement was in place for the project from the get-go, even if nothing official until the script comes in.

* Some deals are scripts that have been circulating for many months, even years in the process of being packaged, then finally get announced when the project receives a green light.

* Some deals are option arrangements for as little as $5-10K, not what we typically associate with spec script sales (i.e., six figures).

As I say, not an exact science. But this list does give you a pretty good sense of the buyer’s market in the last 12 months.

Each day this week, I will provide some analysis of the 2013 spec script sales:

Tuesday, January 28: Genres

Wednesday, January 29: Studios

Thursday, January 30: Managers & Agents

Friday, January 31: Top Sales

Saturday, February 1: First Timers

To see the entire list of 100 spec script sales in 2013, go below the fold!

(more…)

Filmography 2013

January 2nd, 2014 by

Edited by Gen Ip (@genrocks):

“Words are life,” says Max in 2013’s “The Book Thief”, and indeed they hold us together and to help us share that transcendent phenomenon that is life. This video takes 300 of this year’s films and distills it into a 7-minute exploration of the ideas we keep coming back to: the purpose of life, the nature of evil, the mystery of death, the power of love, and the inevitability of time.

Or, it’s just a pretty cool mashup of movies from 2013. Either way: I hope you enjoy.

Here it is:

I love these compilations because they remind us of the macro items of Story: Self-identity, Life, Death, Struggle, Who Can I Be, Who Can I Become, Family, Friends, Darkness, Light.

Great stories are about something. Videos like this remind us of that necessity.

To see a list of each movie included in the compilation, go here.

More Movies Like This, Please: 2013 List

December 31st, 2013 by

I started something in 2012. Whenever I saw a new movie I liked, I would jump onto Twitter, identify the movie, then simply tweet this: “More movies like this, please.”

Then I thought, Why don’t I do an annual More Movies Like This, Please list? I did my inaugural list last year here.

What do I mean by “more movies like this, please”? Not big popcorn flicks. Hey, I love huge spectacle movies as much as the next guy, but we know Hollywood is going to make them, studios don’t need encouragement to produce prequels, sequels, remakes, tentpoles, and so forth.

Rather I’m talking about movies Hollywood seems to have a hard time committing to nowadays for a variety of reasons, most of them related to economics and conventional wisdom about what supposedly will work / won’t work.

Here are some of elements I’m looking for in my More Movies Like This, Please list:

* More adult dramas.

* More mid-budget movies [$25-50M], smaller stories that need larger budgets to be told well.

* More original movies [based on an original screenplay].

* More movies targeting people who love movies and appreciate the history of movies.

* More movies that represent the vision of one writer / writer-director or team of writers / writer-directors.

* More movies that explore interesting, unique and unusual subcultures.

* More movies that take risks.

* More movies that approach narrative in different ways.

* More cinematic movies.

* More quirky, whimsical, oddball movies reflecting a distinctive take on the world.

* More movies where the focus is on characters, not special effects.

* More movies that make me think.

* More movies that have no reason to exist other than the fact they have a great story to tell.

So here is my 2013 More Movies Like This, Please list:

12 Years a Slave
All Is Lost
American Hustle
Before Midnight
Breakfast With Curtis
Captain Phillips
Cold Comes the Night
Computer Chess
Dallas Buyers Club
Don Jon
Drinking Buddies
Enough Said
Frozen
Fruitvale Station
Gravity
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Mud
Now You See Me
Pacific Rim
Prisoners
Rush
Saving Mr. Banks
Short Term 12
The Conjuring
The Heat
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Spectacular Now
The Way Way Back
The Wolf of Wall Street
This is the End
Upstream Color

I’m sure I missed some, but these are the titles that surfaced in my thoughts today.

All in all, a really good year for some quality films. Following up on 2012, which was superlative in that regard, this is a good sign for movie fans. Let’s hope 2014 continues this positive trend.

Congratulations and thanks all the filmmakers involved in making original movies and to the money people behind them taking the risk to finance those productions.

How about you? What is your “More Movies Like This, Please” list for 2013? Or just your favorite films of the year. Hope to see your thoughts in comments.

2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge: Winners!

December 23rd, 2013 by

It started here:

We did this last year and had a helluva lot of fun, so following in footsteps of Hollywood’s studios, it’s sequel time! Yes, it’s the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

Here is a word cloud based on the loglines for the 2013 Black List scripts, all 72 of them:

2013 Black List word cloud

[You can see the entire 2013 Black List including loglines for the 72 scripts here.]

Your mission for the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge should you choose to accept: Come up with a logline using words from the word cloud. Or loglines (you may enter as many times as you want).

Two days of entries: Here. Here.

The judge? Hollywood movie producer extraordinaire Max Millimeter.

The prizes?

* 3 lucky winners: Free 1 script read + 1 month script hosting via the Black List website.

* 3 lucky winners: 1 free Craft class that I will be teaching next year through Screenwriting Master Class. There are 8 of them: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling, Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets, Handling Exposition, Character Introductions, Character Development Keys, Create a Compelling Protagonist, Write a Worthy Nemesis, and The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling. Each winner gets their choice of one class.

And it ends up here with the announcement of this year’s winners. Here is a transcript of a voice mail Max Millimeter left me:

Awright, Kid, just got back from Musso and Frank. Went through every single damn logline with a couple of buddies of mine, an actor and a retired agent. Read ‘em out loud, order a round. Read, drink. By the time we got done with all of ‘em, holy shitballs, we were toxicated. I mean seriously shellacked and schnockered. Lemme get my notes…

[Rustling pages]

Okay, first three. Uh… this one we all liked:

NASA’S FIRST FEMALE TIME CONTROL AGENT MUST SAVE RECENTLY MURDERED FIANCE.

That was easy peasy: Gravity meets Back to the Future. Next one was a piece of cake, too:

On a ROAD TRIP to MEXICO, TWO TEENAGE GIRLS pick up ROGERS, an attractive, yet VIOLENT, YOUNG MAN, and listen to STORIES of his PAST, which end with the ACCOUNT of TWO GIRLS he MURDERED on his LAST hitchhiking TRIP.

My six word test: Two girls. Pick up hitchhiker. Killer. We’re talking high concept, low budget, horror thriller. A big fat fucking fastball down the middle of the plate. Whack!

This third one? Tough.

A MAJOR DRUG dealer MUST clean up his act when his aging MOTHER comes to live with him.

I was all, “Hey, it’s funny.” And they were like, “Guy only used four of the words he was supposed to.” But I kept sayin’, “But it’s fucking funny.” Finally the agent said to look at another logline from the same guy:

A psychiatrist is HIRED to HELP a YOUNG boy LEARN to CONTROL his superhuman abilities after a TRAGIC ACCIDENT.

It’s Spiderman meets Analyze This. Get it. Got it. Good!

As for the others… just a sec…

[Ice rattles in drink. Slurp. Belch.]

Kid, I know you said three more, but we came up with seven. Now just hear me out, awright?

Three of ‘em have snipers. First one:

After he DISCOVERS a MYSTERIOUS CHILD HIDDEN among FOUR MURDERED FRIENDS, FORMER U.S. MILITARY SNIPER “TRIP” ROGERS MUST SAVE the YOUNG GIRL from a VIOLENT AMERICAN DOCTOR and his WIFE who now CONTROL the BIGGEST ILLEGAL DRUG cartel in MEXICO.

You got your protect your kid angle. You got your cowboy called in from the cold. And you got your big, bad business guy thing. Bruce Willis as the sniper. Some younger Jennifer Lawrence clone. Bang. Got a movie. Next:

MR. DAVID, the GREATEST SNIPER in HISTORY, FINDS the WIFE of a JOURNALIST and the SON of a MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AGENT tied up together in his HOME, both MURDERED, a minute before FOUR COP CARS block the ROAD.

Nice setup. Gets you asking questions. Who the woman? Who’s the son? Why have they been whacked? Why in the sniper’s house? Who are the cops? Why are they blocking the road? You get me goin’ with that many questions, ya’ got me curious. And believe me, curiosity doesn’t kill this cat.

[Glass rattles again. Lots of slurping sounds.]

One more sniper story:

A MAN marries into a FAMILY of SNIPERs and DISCOVERS a new CAREER as their AGENT, although his ex-FIANCÉe – a COP – really doesn’t like that at all, obviously, and therefore BEGINS a MISSION to UNCOVER the TRUTH. (BASED on a TRUE STORY.)

Action comedy, right? Will Ferrell, he’s the, ya’ know, guy, the agent. And Melissa McCarthy, she’s the cop. Well, she probably wouldn’t do any other cop thing than The Heat. So how about Tina Fey? Or Amy what’s-her-name, the blonde? God, they were great at the Golden Globes last year.

By the way, this guy, the one with this logline, he came up with something funny with another one:

A MOVIE SET in the MYSTERIOUS WORLD of LOVE…? Or an OFFICE…? A WAR MOVIE…? Something BASED on a TRUE STORY…? HELP.

Man, ain’t we all been there! Sit around working an idea until your brain feels like a plate of mashed yeast.

Okay, where are we?

[Crinkling papers. Clinking ice.]

Next one I wasn’t so sure ’bout, but the actor, he was all mother this, son that, Oscars blah blah:

A TEENAGE BOY DISCOVERS his TERMINALLY ill MOTHER is the WRITER of a VIOLENT NOVEL BASED on her own DEVASTATING childhood EXPERIENCE. He embarks on a MISSION of mercy to SAVE her from the shadowy demons. HELPING her let GO of the PAST and die in peace.

Me? I’m thinking Ordinary People meets Forrest Gump. And if the demons are real, toss in The Exorcist. That could maybe work.

The last three deserve a lil’ something special. This one is The Kitchen Sink Award, given to the person who tosses in everything:

After his MYSTERIOUS AGENT/FORMER WIFE is MURDERED by a VIOLENT FEMALE SNIPER in MEXICO, DRUG-addicted AMERICAN MOVIE WRITER EDWIN ROGERS uses NASA’S FIRST TIME travel machine to take a TRIP BACK in HISTORY so he can UNCOVER the TRUE, HIDDEN STORY BEHIND her TRAGIC DEATH — and SAVE the LOVE of his LIFE. BASED on the NOVEL “DEVASTATING EVENTS” by Sapphire.

This next one is The WTF Award:

After taking a MYSTERIOUS DRUG, a MR. WORLD competitor BECOMES a WOMAN, and MUST win the LOVE of his lesbian ex-WIFE.

I don’t understand it. But I it feels funny to me. Finally there’s The Writer With Chutzpah Award:

In a world where every stinking MOVIE is the STORY of a YOUNG MAN, one determined WOMAN SETS off a JOURNEY to find an AGENT and forge a CAREER as a screenWRITER, even though her skeptical FRIENDS think she should just get HIGH and write a NOVEL.

That ain’t much of a story, but hell, she’s right. I mean look at the cloud doohickey, the two biggest words: Young. Man. How ’bout next year, it’s Young. Woman. Or Old. Fart.

Anyways that’s what we came up with. I know it’s too many, Kid, but just deal with it, awright? It’s the holidays, so don’t be a goddammed Scrooge.

Well, there you go. And sure, I’ll pony up some more free Craft classes for our extra winners. So here are the three winners of Black List goodies:

Jason Young says:
December 19, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Brian says:
December 17, 2013 at 12:24 AM

Nicole Chapman says:
December 17, 2013 at 4:48 PM

And the winners of a free Craft class with me:

Simon Littlefield says:
December 20, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Adam Scott Thompson says:
December 18, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Gordon says:
December 18, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Karen Wilson says:
December 20, 2013 at 10:19 PM

UpandComing says:
December 16, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Joel Enross says:
December 18, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Barbara Thomas says:
December 16, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Thanks to all for participating. A gift for everyone: A holiday blast of creative juju to whisk you into 2014!

VAAAAARRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!!

To see last year’s winners as selected by Max, go here.

Update: Award season screenplay downloads (38 scripts!)

December 19th, 2013 by

It’s that time of year again when studios make available PDFs of movie scripts for award season. As in years past, we will be tracking them and posting links as they become available.

Current total of scripts for download: 38.

Newly added script: Labor Day

12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight)

42 (Warner Bros.)

All Is Lost (Roadside Attractions) NOTE: The script is 31 pages long with virtually no dialogue.

The Armstrong Lie (Sony Classics – documentary transcript)

August: Osage County (TWC)

Before Midnight (Sony Classics)

The Bling Ring (A24)

The Croods (DreamWorks Animation)

Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)

Despicable Me 2 (Universal – Click on “Screenplay”)

Enough Said (Fox Searchlight)

The Fifth Estate (IMG)

Frozen (Disney)

Fruitvale Station (TWC)

Gravity (Warner Bros.)

The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.)

The Invisible Woman (Sony Classics)

Kill Your Darlings (Sony Classics)

Labor Day (Paramount)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (TWC)

Lone Survivor (Universal – Click on “Screenplay”)

Monsters University (Disney / Pixar)

Mud (Roadside Attractions)

Nebraska (Paramount)

One Chance (TWC)

The Past (Sony Classics)

Philomena (TWC)

The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features)

Prisoners (Warner Bros.)

Rush (Universal – Click on “Screenplay”)

Saving Mr. Banks (Disney)

Short Term 12 (Cinedigm) NOTE: Hosted exclusively by Go Into The Story.

The Spectacular Now (A24)

Spring Breakers (A24)

Wadjda (Sony Classics)

The Way Way Back (Fox Searchlight)

We Steal Secrets (IMG – transcript)

The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)

Studios also make production notes available:

All Is Lost

August: Osage County

Blue Jasmine

Dallas Buyers Club

Despicable Me 2 (Click on “Production Notes”)

Fast & Furious 6 (Click on “Production Notes”)

Fruitvale Station

The Grandmaster

Gravity

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Lone Survivor (Click on ‘Production Notes”)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mud

Muscle Shoals

Nebraska

Oblivion (Click on “Production Notes”)

One Chance

Philomena

The Place Beyond the Pine Trees

Prisoners

Rush (Click on “Production Notes”)

A special thanks to Wendy Cohen for tracking script downloads for us!

There will be more to come, so enjoy the bounty and honor the writing by reading these scripts! That is one of the keys to learning the craft.

Update: 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

December 17th, 2013 by

It’s Day 2 of the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge! Here is a word cloud based on the loglines for the 2013 Black List scripts, all 72 of them:

2013 Black List word cloud

[You can see the entire 2013 Black List including loglines for the 72 scripts here.]

Your mission for the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge should you choose to accept: Come up with a logline using words from the word cloud. Or loglines (you may enter as many times as you want).

NOTE: One way your logline will be assessed is by how many words from the word cloud you use in your logline. If only one or two, less points. If five or six, more points.

BIG NOTE: Please CAPITALIZE each word cloud word in your logline.

Example: A RELUCTANT JOURNALIST INVESTIGATES a COLD DRUG only to UNCOVER that his FIANCE is a SNIPER for a MEXICAN MOVIE COMPANY.

That, my friends, is a truly crappy logline. However it gets across the key CAPITALIZATION point. This helps in judging each entry. Speaking of which, the inimitable Max Millimeter will return to select the winners, and you know what a hard ass he can be. His whole thing is about entertainment — “Get my [bleeping] attention!” — which you can read about here. So bear that in mind.

Oh, and when he talks about the six words test, he’s not saying make your loglines six words. What he means is can you reduce your story concept down to six words and if so, do those six words communicate a solid story and an entertaining one.

How’s this for prizes:

* 3 lucky winners: Free 1 script read + 1 month script hosting via the Black List website.

* 3 lucky winners: 1 free Craft class that I will be teaching next year through Screenwriting Master Class. There are 8 of them: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling, Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets, Handling Exposition, Character Introductions, Character Development Keys, Create a Compelling Protagonist, Write a Worthy Nemesis, and The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling. Each winner gets their choice of one class.

Deadline for entries: Midnight (Pacific), Friday, December 20th.

If you’d like to see some examples of previous Black List Word Cloud loglines, check out comments in this post.

You may also see the entries from Day 1 here.

More details about the contest:

(1) “How many loglines may I post?” You can submit as many as you’d like. That said, even in a fun challenge like this, you should focus on quality over quantity.

(2) “Since there are only about 100 words in the word cloud, there is bound to be overlap with loglines. How will you sort that out in terms judging?” Good question. And hopefully a good learning point for all of us, the difference between the logline for Dude, Where’s My Car? — “Two potheads wake up from a night of partying and can’t remember where they parked their car” — and The Hangover — Three groomsmen lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must retrace their steps in order to find him”. The focus on a lost groom due for his wedding is substantially better as a comedic conceit than simply looking for a car.

(3) “What about people riffing off earlier loglines?” Another good point and I would think Max will tend to look more favorably on earlier loglines with similar iterations simply due to the earlier writer came up with the idea first.

But bottom line, let’s remember this is supposed to be a fun exercise. The opportunity to get a free script read, web hosting or Craft class with me is a nice treat, but hopefully won’t create any ill will on the part of folks who don’t get selected. Even if you don’t win, you will have exercised your creative muscles, and that’s a plus for you.

FINAL REMINDER: Please CAPITALIZE word cloud words you use in your LOGLINE!!!

Let’s have some creative fun! Good luck!

Visit The Black Board, the official online community of the Black List and Go Into The Story. Overseen by super moderator Shaula Evans flanked by a great group of other moderators, it is an incredible resource which sprung from this blog, very much in the spirit and tone of Go Into The Story and perhaps best of all, it’s free! They even have a logline workshop forum. Check it out!

Analysis: 2013 Black List

December 17th, 2013 by

The 2013 Black List rolled out yesterday – you can find titles, writers and loglines for all 72 scripts here — and as promised, today we have some statistics and analysis for you.

First some interesting stats about this year’s Black List:

• There are 72 scripts on the 2013 Black List. (There were 78 on the 2012 Black List)
• More than 250 working film executives at major Hollywood financiers and production companies contributed to the 2013 Black List.
• 33.3% of the scripts on the 2013 Black List have a financier attached. (37.1% on the2012 Black List)
• 68.0% of the scripts on the 2013 Black List have a producer attached. (69.2% on the2012 Black List)
• 13 female writers (unconfirmed)
• 11 biopics
• 8 scripts with explicitly politically-charged content
• 5 scripts about Hollywood or the entertainment industry
• 5 scripts by writers discovered by the Black List’s website (http://www.blcklst.com)
• 5 writers with scripts on previous Black Lists
• 3 scripts featuring terminally-ill teenagers
• 2 scripts about Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame
• 2 scripts about the making of JAWS
• 2 winners of the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowship
• 1 script about Stanley Kubrick faking the moon landing
• 1 writer with two scripts on the list

Drilling down into the scripts:

1 writer with two scripts on the list: Elijah Bynum – HOT SUMMER NIGHTS, MISSISSIPPI MUD

1 script about Stanley Kubrick faking the moon landing: 1969: SPACE ODYSSEY OR HOW KUBRICK LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LAND ON THE MOON by Stephany Folsom

2 winners of the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowship: QUEEN OF HEARTS by Stephanie Shannon; SUGAR IN MY VEINS by Barbara Stepansky (Note: I have interview both Stephanie and Barbara, so you may look forward to those in 2014).

2 scripts about the making of the film JAWS: THE MAYOR OF SHARK CITY by Nick Creature, Michael Sweeney; THE SHARK IS NOT WORKING by Richard Cordiner

2 scripts about Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighorhood fame: BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD by Alexis C. Jolly; I’M PROUD OF YOU by Noah Harpster, MicahFitzerman-Blue

3 scripts featuring terminally ill teenagers: FRISCO by Simon Stephenson; MAKE WISH by Zach Frankel; SHOVEL BUDDIES by Jason Mark Hellerman

4 writers (or teams) with scripts on previous Black Lists: BURY THE LEAD by Justin Kremer; DIABLO RUN by Evan Mirzai, Shea Mirzai; SEA OF TREES by Chris Sparling; TCHAIKOVSKY’S REQUIEM by Jonathan Stokes

5 scripts by writers discovered by the Black List’s website (http://www.blcklst.com): BROKEN COVE by Declan
O’Dwyer; BURY THE LEAD by Justin Kremer; MAKE WISH by Zac Frankel; SHOVEL BUDDIES by Jason Mark Hellerman; THE SHARK IS NOT WORKING by Richard Cordiner

5 scripts about Hollywood or the entertainment industry: THE MAYOR OF SHARK CITY by Nick Creature, Michael Sweeney; 1969: SPACE ODYSSEY OR HOW KUBRICK LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LAND ON THE MOON by Stephany Folsom; BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD by Alexis C. Jolly; I’M PROUD OF YOU by Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman-Blue; THE SHARK IS NOT WORKING by Richard Cordiner

8 scripts with explicitly politically charged content: SECTION 6 by Aaron Berg; THE SPECIAL PROGRAM by Debora Cahn; THE INDEPENDENT by Evan Parter; 1969: SPACE ODYSSEY OR HOW KUBRICK LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LAND ON THE MOON by Stephany Folsom; THE COMPANY MAN by Andrew Cypiot; RANDLE IS BENIGN by Damien Ober; THE POLITICIAN by Matthew Bass and Theodore Bressman; TIME & TEMPERATURE by Nick Santora

Some analysis:

* The biopic trend is pretty fascinating. Most of these are not a traditional biopic wherein the movie covered the entire span of a character’s life, rather they are what have come to be called snapshots or as Arash Amel, who wrote Grace of Monaco refers to them, “portraits” (see my interview with Arash here). The idea is to take a compressed period of time in a character’s life and use those narrow set of events as a lens through which to tell — in effect — their life story or at least some essential part. We saw this with The King’s Speech, Lincoln, Jackie, and it makes sense given contemporary audiences who appear to have decreasing attention spans.

But that doesn’t explain why biopics – snapshot, portrait or otherwise – have become so popular. One contributing factor: Hollywood is obsessed with pre-branded content and if you write a story about a well-known historical figure, they are in essence pre-branded.

Will this trend continue? Who knows. I doubt biopics will ever go away entirely as we are always fascinated with the contours of famous people’s lives.

* The relatively high number of political movies is surprising as it’s long been a part of Hollywood’s supposed conventional wisdom: Political movies are a tough sell. Perhaps the current discontent with the gridlock in Washington and the political arena in general has created a vacuum in the consumer marketplace, where we want to see movies either satirizing politicians or something to give us at least a shred of hope things can improve.

* Another piece of conventional wisdom — movies about Hollywood are a hard sell — took a bit of an uppercut with 5 scripts featuring the Biz and/or filmmaking process. My pet theory: Reality TV where even the lowest common denominator of human being can be the star of a series has lowered the bar to stardom, so contemporary audiences may engage in more wish fulfillment fantasies of imagining themselves on the silver screen. The rise of smart phones with built-in cameras so people may film themselves at concerts – instead of watching the concert – or taking selfies is a contributing factor. Or this line of thinking could just be full of crap.

* Why two scripts about the making of Jaws? Why two scripts about Mr. Rogers? In 2013? If this doesn’t prove Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity, I don’t know what else would.

* While many of the scripts on the list seem decidedly low-concept, there are plenty of high-concept stories with the ‘winning’ logline on that front probably being for “Clarity”: What if the world woke up tomorrow to scientific proof of the afterlife? As I always preach, the two most powerful words in the idea generation process are these: What if? “Clarity” and some of the other Black List scripts prove that point once again.

* While 13 female writers is still awfully low, if my math is correct, that means 18% of the scripts on this year’s Black List had at least one female as a writer which is precisely twice as high as the 9% total of women who sold spec scripts in 2011-2012. Add to that the fact 3 of the 5 Nicholl Fellowship scripts were written by women, 2 of which made the Black List. Plus the just-announced Sundance Screenwriters Lab which selected 7 females out of 12 total writers. An aberration? Start of a trend upward? Time will tell. But fingers crossed there will be more diversity among writers. Be the change!

More stats!

AGENCY AND MANAGEMENT COMPANY INFORMATION

(Half scripts indicated a writing team shared by two agencies or management companies)

Agencies

CAA – 16.5, WME – 16.5
UTA – 10
Verve – 7
APA – 4.5
Paradigm – 4
ICM – 3
Gersh – 1.5
Original Artists – 1, Resolution – 1, Rothman Brecher – 1, Michelle Kass Associates – 1

No Agency – 5

Management Companies

Kaplan/Perrone – 9
Madhouse Entertainment – 5
Fourth Floor Productions – 4
Energy Entertainment – 3
Management 360 – 3
Anonymous Content – 2.5, Principato-Young – 2.5
Benderspink – 2, Caliber Media – 2, Echo Lake Entertainment – 2, Generate – 2, Industry Entertainment – 2, Management SGC – 2, Mosaic – 2, Oasis Media Group – 2
3 Arts Entertainment – 1, Apostle Pictures – 1, Brillstein Entertainment Partners – 1, Heroes & Villains Entertainment – 1, Hertzberg Media – 1, Hopscotch Pictures – 1, Luber Roklin Entertainment – 1, New Wave Entertainment – 1, Prolific – 1, Silent R Management – 1, The Gotham Group – 1, Underground – 1, Unified Management – 1, Untitled Entertainment – 1, Zero Gravity Management – 1, Circle of Confusion – 0.5

No Manager – 10

There you have it: Another annual Black List put to bed. But for the writers who made the List this year, it’s up and at ‘em time, a whole slew of meetings on Hollywood’s perpetual bottled water tour in the offing… only now these writers will be perceived as having a lot more heat than before. That’s the power of the Black List.

Industry news coverage of the 2013 Black List:

Deadline

The Dissolve

Entertainment Weekly

Hollywood Reporter

Indiewire [Playlist]

Indiewire [Thompson on Hollywood]

Los Angeles Times

New York Times [Carpetbagger]

Slashfilm

Variety

TheWrap

And others:

Business Insider

CBC

Collider

Film School Rejects

io9

Latino Review

Mother Jones

Script Magazine

Slate

The Film Stage

The Wire

Vulture

My interviews with writers on the 2013 Black List:

Spenser Cohen

Justin Kremer

Declan O’Dwyer

Chris Sparling

As I say, I have already interviewed Stephanie Shannon and Barbara Stepansky, and I’ve got a bunch more in the works with this year’s Black List writers, so we can all look forward to their insights and inspiration in 2014!

And a few words from Franklin Leonard:

Visit The Black Board, the official online community of the Black List and Go Into The Story. Overseen by super moderator Shaula Evans flanked by a great group of other moderators, it is an incredible resource which sprung from this blog, very much in the spirit and tone of Go Into The Story and perhaps best of all, it’s free! Check it out!

2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

December 16th, 2013 by

We did this last year and had a helluva lot of fun, so following in footsteps of Hollywood’s studios, it’s sequel time! Yes, it’s the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge!

Here is a word cloud based on the loglines for the 2013 Black List scripts, all 72 of them:

2013 Black List word cloud

[You can see the entire 2013 Black List including loglines for the 72 scripts here.]

Your mission for the 2013 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge should you choose to accept: Come up with a logline using words from the word cloud. Or loglines (you may enter as many times as you want).

NOTE: One way your logline will be assessed is by how many words from the word cloud you use in your logline. If only one or two, less points. If five or six, more points.

BIG NOTE: Please CAPITALIZE each word cloud word in your logline.

Example: A RELUCTANT JOURNALIST INVESTIGATES a COLD DRUG only to UNCOVER that his FIANCE is a SNIPER for a MEXICAN MOVIE COMPANY.

That, my friends, is a truly crappy logline. However it gets across the key CAPITALIZATION point. This helps in judging each entry. Speaking of which, the inimitable Max Millimeter will return to select the winners, and you know what a hard ass he can be. His whole thing is about entertainment — “Get my [bleeping] attention!” — which you can read about here. So bear that in mind.

Oh, and when he talks about the six words test, he’s not saying make your loglines six words. What he means is can you reduce your story concept down to six words and if so, do those six words communicate a solid story and an entertaining one.

How’s this for prizes:

* 3 lucky winners: Free 1 script read + 1 month script hosting via the Black List website.

* 3 lucky winners: 1 free Craft class that I will be teaching next year through Screenwriting Master Class. There are 8 of them: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling, Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets, Handling Exposition, Character Introductions, Character Development Keys, Create a Compelling Protagonist, Write a Worthy Nemesis, and The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling. Each winner gets their choice of one class.

Deadline for entries: Midnight (Pacific), Friday, December 20th.

If you’d like to see some examples of previous Black List Word Cloud loglines, check out comments in this post.

More details about the contest:

(1) “How many loglines may I post?” You can submit as many as you’d like. That said, even in a fun challenge like this, you should focus on quality over quantity.

(2) “Since there are only about 100 words in the word cloud, there is bound to be overlap with loglines. How will you sort that out in terms judging?” Good question. And hopefully a good learning point for all of us, the difference between the logline for Dude, Where’s My Car? — “Two potheads wake up from a night of partying and can’t remember where they parked their car” — and The Hangover — Three groomsmen lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures, then must retrace their steps in order to find him”. The focus on a lost groom due for his wedding is substantially better as a comedic conceit than simply looking for a car.

(3) “What about people riffing off earlier loglines?” Another good point and I would think Max will tend to look more favorably on earlier loglines with similar iterations simply due to the earlier writer came up with the idea first.

But bottom line, let’s remember this is supposed to be a fun exercise. The opportunity to get a free script read, web hosting or Craft class with me is a nice treat, but hopefully won’t create any ill will on the part of folks who don’t get selected. Even if you don’t win, you will have exercised your creative muscles, and that’s a plus for you.

FINAL REMINDER: Please CAPITALIZE word cloud words you use in your LOGLINE!!!

Let’s have some creative fun! Good luck!

Visit The Black Board, the official online community of the Black List and Go Into The Story. Overseen by super moderator Shaula Evans flanked by a great group of other moderators, it is an incredible resource which sprung from this blog, very much in the spirit and tone of Go Into The Story and perhaps best of all, it’s free! They even have a logline workshop forum. Check it out!

UPDATE: It’s now midnight Pacific, so the challenge is hereby closed! We’ll all await Max Millimeter’s selections to determine the winners. Hopefully by Sunday night, but with Max, you never know. Thanks for all who took the time to enter. Hope you had some fun and worked your creative muscles as well!