LOS ANGELES, CA (October 29, 2013) – This morning, producer Cassian Elwes and Black List founder Franklin Leonard jointly announced the creation of the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship, wherein one unrepresented writer with lifetime earnings not exceeding $5,000 with a screenplay of indie sensibility will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and mentorship from Elwes himself.
Writers with scripts on the Black List or who have had scripts on the site since their October 15, 2012 launch will be able to opt into consideration for the opportunity until December 1, at which time a short list of writers will be shared with Elwes who will decide on one writer to make the trip. The Black List and Elwes plan to award the fellowship annually.
Said Elwes, the force behind 2013 awards contenders DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, ALL IS LOST, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, and LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, “Behind every great independent film is a great writer. While it’s been my honor to work with some of the greatest filmmakers ever I have never lost sight of the fact the words were as important as the images. I love what the Black List is about, and I’ve been privileged to work on a number of films that have appeared on it. My hope is that Franklin and I will find the next wave of new voices that are the lifeblood of independent cinema.”
“Two weeks ago we celebrated the website’s first birthday, and it’s difficult imagine a better way to celebrate. At this point, I’ve lost track of how many great independent films Cassian is responsible for over the last two decades,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. “His contribution of money and time in alliance with our work is an honor and yet another reason to be hopeful about the state of American independent cinema. One writer is likely to have an amazing experience in Park City this January, and hopefully many more will be inspired to write great human stories without an explicit focus on their commercial viability, though every year I think we’re reminded this time of year that great human stories are explicitly commercial.”
After beginning his producing career with Oxford Blues and Men at Work, Cassian Elwes headed William Morris Independent for 15 years, where he arranged financing for 283 films including multiple Oscar nominees Sling Blade, The Apostle, and Monster’s Ball. Since leaving William Morris Independent four years ago, Elwes has been involved in arranging financing and distribution for 30 films including Lawless, The Paperboy, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Elwes also produced Lee Daniels’ The Butler and executive produced Dallas Buyers Club and All Is Lost, all presumptive 2013 Awards season contenders.
The Black List
The Black List is an online community where moviemakers find scripts to make and writers to write them and screenwriters find moviemakers to make their scripts and employ them. Google for screenplays, if you will.
Begun in 2005 as an annual survey of several dozen executives favorite unproduced screenplays, the Black List has grown to survey over 500 executives each year (virtually 100% of Hollywood’s studio system’s executive corps.) Over 250 Black List scripts have been produced into films grossing over $19 billion in worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 35 Academy Awards – including three of the last five Best Pictures (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, and ARGO) and seven of the last twelve screenwriting awards (JUNE, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING’S SPEECH, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE DESCENDANTS, ARGO, and DJANGO UNCHAINED) – from 190 nominations.
In October 2012, the Black List launched an online database of every screenplay circulating Hollywood and all those submitted by English language screenwriters from around the world. Since its launch, it has hosted more than 7,500 screenplays and completed more than 10,000 script evaluations. More than 40 writers have found representation at major agencies and management companies and more than 20 writers have sold their screenplays as a direct result of introductions made via the site.
At any given moment, more than 1500 screenplays are actively hosted for perusal by over 2000 film industry professionals ranging from agency assistants to studio chairs.
Franklin Leonard – email@example.com
Yet another terrific initiative from The Black List. There is the partnership between The Black List and Warner Bros. to promote diversity and the Black List Screenwriters Lab (I’ll be posting on that later this week). Now this effort aimed at indie film writers with one of the most well-respected producers in that arena, creating yet another crack in Hollywood’s wall, offering a new way in for writers outside the system.
I just spent several days in Austin at the Film Festival and can tell you first-hand the respect professional screenwriters have for The Black List is deep and abiding. No wonder both the WGA East and WGA West have officially provided their seal of approval for The Black List online database and script hosting service.
Kudos to Franklin for his continued passion to discover and promote new writers to Hollywood. And for those of you who are writing original TV pilot scripts, look for news soon as The Black List expands its coverage into that area.
Exciting times as the old closed paradigm continues to crumble, replaced by a new one, lending even more credence to the saying, “If you write a great script, Hollywood will find you.”