2014 Black List: Final

December 16th, 2014 by

Yesterday morning, the 2014 Black List was released to the public. Here is the list ranked per the number of votes each script received along with loglines:

Catherine the Great by Kristina Lauren Anderson (51)

Sophia Augusta takes control of her life, her marriage, and her kingdom becoming Russia’s most celebrated and beloved monarch: Catherine the Great.

Rockingham by Adam Morrison (38)

A look into the mania of the OJ Simpson trial, through the eyes of Simpson’s sports agent Mike Gilbert and Los Angeles Police Department Detective Mark Fuhrman.

The Swimsuit Issue by Randall Green (35)

A nerdy high schooler, who fancies himself an amateur photographer, attempts to create a “Swimsuit Issue” featuring his high school classmates in hopes of raising enough money to go to summer camp.

The Babysitter by Brian Duffield (34)

A lonely twelve year old boy in love with his babysitter discovers some hard truths about life, love, and murder.

Rothchild by John Patton Ford (32)

A young, well-educated loner kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in hopes that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune.

The Wall by Dwain A Worrell (30)

A sniper and his spotter must kill and avoid being killed, separated from an enemy sniper by only a 16x6ft prayer wall.

Cascade by Kieran Fitzgerald (25)

Based on the documentary style film “The Day Britain Stopped” directed by Gabriel Range, an oil tanker collides with an Iranian patrol boat in the Strait of Hormuz, triggering a chain of tragic disastrous events.

Aether by Krysty Wilson-Cairns (24)

In near future London, a revolutionary technology has been invented that can record sounds hours after they were made. Detective Harry Orwell, inventor of this technology, is part of a pilot program where investigators record and analyze past sound waves and finds himself the prime suspect while investigating a string of brutal murders.

Situation Comedy by Cat Vasko (24)

A young woman, feeling directionless, stumbles upon a mysterious courtyard where she is transported into a sitcom-like universe, becoming a major character on this “TV show.”

Tau by Noga Landau (23)

A woman held captive in the futuristic smart house of a serial kidnapper realizes that her only hope of escape lies in turning the house’s sentient computer against its creator.

Echo by Chris MacBride (18)

A CIA drone coordinator battles his own psychological health while trying to decipher whether his wife has been replaced.

Mena by Gary Spinelli (18)

In the late 1970s to mid 1980s, Barry Seal, a TWA pilot recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States, one that spawned the birth of the Medellin cartel and eventually almost brought down the Reagan White House with the Iran Contra scandal.

Dodge by Scott Wascha (17)

A genre bending action comedy about a pill popping thug who begins to develop superpowers.

North of Reno by Banipal Ablakhad, Benhur Ablakhad (17)

A down and out prison guard attempts to murder a recently released inmate and steal a half million dollars in hidden heist money.

On the Basis of Sex by Daniel Stiepleman (17)

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, as she faced numerous obstacles to her fight for equal rights throughout her career.

Moonfall by David Weil (16)

The investigation of a murder on a moon colony.

The Munchkin by Will Widger (16)

A little person private eye investigates the disappearance of a young actress in 1930s Hollywood, leading him to uncover conspiracies involving THE WIZARD OF OZ and Metro Goldwyn Mayer brass.

Matriarch by Eric Koenig (15)

A prison psychologist has 48 hours to convince a serial killer to tell her the location of her final victim before she is executed.

The Defection by Ken Nolan (15)

After the Edward Snowden affair, an intelligence contractor defects to North Korea, taking a mysterious bag with him, and the CIA hires an expert trained during the Cold War to help with the case.

The Long Haul by Dan Stoller (15)

A self-destructive trucker estranged from his son travels cross country with a problematic nephew whom he barely knows.

Berliner by F Scott Frazier (14)

As the Berlin Wall is being constructed at the height of the Cold War, a veteran CIA agent searches for a Soviet mole who has already killed several fellow agents, including a young agent he’s mentored.

One Fell Swoop by Greg Scharpf (14)

A self-centered divorce attorney’s life takes an unexpected turn when he is guilted into spending time with the family of a one night stand who dies in a freak accident.

Bird Box by Eric Heisserer (13)

A woman tries to lead her children to safety after the world is invaded by monsters who turn you insane upon sight.

Huntsville by Anthony Ragnone (13)

A girl tracks down the man responsible for her father’s death and avenges him.

In the Deep by Anthony Jaswinski (13)

A lone surfer attacked by a shark and stranded on a reef must find a way back to shore before succumbing to her injuries.

The Founder by Rob Siegel (13)

The origin story of McDonald’s and Raymond Albert “Ray” Kroc.

The Search by Spencer Mondshein (13)

An expert tracker battles his demons while on a journey to rescue his estranged older brother who has vanished in the uncharted wilderness of the Northwest.

Yellowstone Falls by Daniel Kunka (13)

After an apocalyptic event, a mother wolf is separated from her mate and the rest of the pack, and has to protect her cubs from swarms of mutated humans.

Syndrome (E) by Mark Heyman (12)

A detective solving the case of a disturbing film with subliminal images that is killing people who come in contact with it discovers a greater evil.

Beef by Jeff Lock (11)

The manager of a fast food chain in Muncie, Indiana gets in over his head with some bookies.

Black Winter by Jonathan Stewart and Jake Crane (11)

On the eve of a US-Soviet disarmament treaty, a British scientist and a NATO medical investigator discover a secret Soviet plot to unleash a terrifying biological weapon.

Cartoon Girl by Randall Green (11)

When a young boy finds out that the cartoon character he’s in love with is based on a real girl, he drags his single father on a road trip to track her down.

Road to Oz by Josh Golden (11)

The early days of brilliant, whimsical author L. Frank Baum, who gave the world The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Big Time Adolescence by Jason Orley (10)

A sixteen year old virgin with a growth deficiency slowly gets corrupted by his hero, an aimless college dropout.

LBJ by Joey Hartstone (10)

Lyndon Johnson goes from powerful Senate Majority Leader, powerless Vice President to President of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Possession: A Love Story by Jack Stanley (10)

In a seemingly perfect marriage, a man discovers that he is actually wedded to a demon inhabiting another woman’s body.

The Secret Ingredients of Rockey Cola by Mike Vukadinovich (10)

Twin brothers with opposite personalities are separated at a young age and go on to live drastically different lives, eventually being reunited in the effort to save the company ‘Rocket Cola’ despite their love of the same woman.

The Shower by Jac Schaeffer (10)

At a baby shower for their longtime friend, the attendees suddenly find themselves in the middle of a different type of shower: meteors that release a vapor turning men into blood-hungry aliens.

Celeritas by Kimberly Barrante (9)

When a missing astronaut crash lands forty years after he launched having not aged a day, his elderly twin brother helps him escape the NASA scientists hunting him. As the government closes in, neither brother is who they claim to be.

I am Ryan Reynolds by Billy Goulston (9)

An inside look at the marriage, career, and mental state of 2010’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Jackpot by Dave Callaham (9)

After a group of bumbling teachers win a large amount of money, their greed and incompetence put them on a hilarious path toward death and destruction.

Plus One by April Prosser (9)

Just out of a long term relationship and realizing that all her friends have married, Rachel discovers that her only remaining wingwoman is Summer, a loud and oversharing wildcard.

Wonka by Jason Micallef (9)

A dark, reimagining of the Willy Wonka story beginning in World War II and culminating with his takeover of the chocolate factory.

Beauty Pageant by Shea Mirzai and Evan Mirzai (8)

After they unwittingly get their daughters disqualified from the child beauty circuit, two warring stagemothers are forced to go head to head in an adult beauty pageant.

Bismarck by Jared Cowie (8)

As Britain struggles through the darkest hours of World War II, a naval officer, raw from the loss of his ship during the evacuation of Dunkirk, is thrust into the thick of the hunt for the Nazi super- battleship, Bismarck. Based on a true story.

Morgan by Seth W. Owen (8)

A corporate risk management consultant is summoned to a remote research lab to determine whether or not to terminate an at-risk artificial being.

Shadow Run by Joe Gazzam (8)

A viral attack puts lives in danger, forcing a CIA agent to initiate a secret prisoner exchange of Russia’s most notorious spy for the American scientist who can create a cure.

The Bringing by Brandon Murphey and Philip Murphey (8)

A private investigator investigates a mysterious murder at a downtown Los Angeles hotel and uncovers it’s dark supernatural history. Based on true events.

The Takeway by Julia Cox (8)

A young, play-it-safe, art restorer is swept up in a whirlwind romance with her charming boss, who turns out to be a world- class thief.

Blink by Hernany Perla (7)

Years after being fully paralyzed during an infamous bank robbery, a man is taken hostage for the secrets in his head. His only form of communicating with the outside world – and outsmarting his captors – is his ability to blink.

Boston Strangler by Chuck Maclean (7)

In the 1960s, a determined detective puts his life and career on the line to solve the case of the Boston Strangler.

Erin’s Voice by Greg Sullivan

A deaf computer genius’ world is thrown into turmoil when he meets a troubled coffee shop waitress whose voice turns out to be the only thing he can miraculously hear.

Everyone Wants Everything by Abraham Higginbotham (7)

As his life reaches its neurosis-inducing midpoint, a married man asks himself an eternal question with no real answer — “Am I living the life I want to be living, or do I need to start over before its too late?” Torn between two lives, he’s forced to do the one thing he doesn’t want to do — make a choice.

Gifted by Tom Flynn (7)

A thirty year old man attempts to continue raising his deceased sister’s seven year old daughter, a kid-genius, while battling his own mother for custody.

Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan (7)

An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

Merc by Andrew Bozalis and Derek Mether (7)

When a disgraced former soldier finds success by working for a private security company, the illegal tactics the company employs challenges his worldview.

Professor Pasghetti by Jeff Feuerstein (7)

A famous children’s author, with an affinity for drugs and hookers, finds himself on a journey of self-discovery with a dead stripper and her eight year old son.

The Eden Project by Christina Hodson (7)

When a race of genetically modified humans living secretly among us declare war on Man, the fate of the world is in the hands of a rogue “Synthetic” named Eve and a young girl who is about to discover she’s not all human.

Uncle Shelby by Brian Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi (7)

The little-known personal, heartbreaking, and darker side of cartoonist/author Shel Silverstein.

A Garden at the End of the World by Gary Graham (7)

In a post-apocalyptic world, a recluse, trying to recreate trees to produce new life, takes in a young girl who is on the run from some bad men, including her father.

Coffee & Kareem by Shane McCarthy (6)

An overweight, foul-mouthed nine year old reluctantly teams with the straight edge cop sleeping with his mom to take down Detroit’s most ruthless drug lord.

Forgive Me by Max Hurwitz (6)

How Mike Wallace helped to create 60 Minutes and how years later, he confronted and dealt with his own depression.

In Real Time by Chai Hecht (6)

A young man convinced that his mentally unstable sister needs to relive her high school prom from ten years prior to overcome her depression goes to great lengths to recreate that event.

In This, My Darkest Hour by Bryan McMullin (6)

A man rises to power during the California gold rush, tearing his family apart.

Money Monster by Alan DiFiore, Alan Rauf and Jamie Linden (6)

After a man loses all his money in the stock market by following the advice of a Wall Street TV host, he takes the money adviser hostage on live television.

My Friend Dahmer by Marc Meyers (6)

Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by John Backderf, Jeffrey Dahmer struggles with a difficult family life as a young boy and during his teenage years he slowly transforms, edging closer to the serial killer he becomes.

Seducing Ingrid Bergman by Arash Amel (6)

Based on Chris Greenhalgh’s eponymous novel. Ingrid Bergman and war photographer Robert Capa engage in a passionate, life- changing romance in post-World War II Paris.

The Beautiful Game by Zander Lehmann (6)

A high school soccer star’s personal life becomes complicated leading up to his championship game as he develops a relationship with his soccer coach.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by David Bar Katz (6)

The story of Clark Rockefeller, a con artist thought to be American royalty until he kidnapped his young daughter initiating a manhunt that revealed his true identity.

The Wilde Ones by Tyler Shields (6)

In a corrupt Southern town, a dangerous sociopath runs bareknuckle boxing fights that pit its youths against each other.

Here is a photo of Kristina Lauren Anderson at the Black List 10th anniversary party which took place Sunday night at the Palihouse in West Hollywood the very moment when it was announced her script Catherine the Great had topped this year’s List.

BL10 Kristina Lauren Anderson

Photograph courtesy of Robin Roemer

Congratulations, Kristina! I spoke with her and Kristina has graciously agreed to an interview. Look for that sometime next year. For now, Kristina, enjoy the ride!

I will have stats and analysis of this year’s Black List later on this week. Plus it’s the return of the Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge! Be on the lookout for that — with prizes!

To download the 2014 Black List, click here.

Black List 2014 — Final Updated List

December 15th, 2014 by

Beginning at 1PM Eastern / 10AM Pacific, I will be continuously updating this year’s Black List writers as their scripts and names are released via Twitter [#BlackList2014].

UPDATE #1

PROFESSOR PASGHETTI — Jeff Feuerstein
MORGAN — Seth W. Owen
I AM RYAN REYNOLDS — Billy Goulston
GIFTED — Tom Flynn
ROAD TO OZ — Josh Golden
THE FOUNDER — Rob Siegel
WONKA — Jason Micallef
BIRD BOX — Eric Heisserer
THE WALL — Dwain Worrell
IN THE DEEP — Anthony Jaswinski

UPDATE #2

BEAUTY PAGEANT — Evan Mirzai, Shea Mirzai
MY FRIEND DAHMER — Marc Meyers
IN THIS, MY DARKEST HOUR — Bryan McMullin
LBJ — Joey Hartstone
A GARDEN AT THE END OF THE WORLD — Gary Graham
PLUS ONE — April Prosser
THE SHOWER — Jac Schaeffer
ROCKINGHAM — Adam Morrison
ROTHCHILD — John Patton
BISMARCK — Jared Cowie

UPDATE #3

POSSESSION: A LOVE STORY — Jack Stanley
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA — Kenneth Lonergan
AETHER — Krysty Wilson-Cairns
NORTH OF RENO — Banipal Ablakhad, Benhur Ablakhad
THE MAN IN THE ROCKEFELLER SUIT — David Bar Katz
SHADOW RUN — Joe Gazzam
THE LONG HAUL — Dan Stoller
BERLINER — F. Scott Frazier
ON THE BASIS OF SEX — Daniel Stiepleman
EVERYONE WANTS EVERYTHING — Abraham Higginbotham

UPDATE #4

THE EDEN PROJECT — Christina Hodson
MONEY MONSTER — Alan DiFiore, Alan Rauf, & Jamie Linden
THE SEARCH — Spencer Mondshein
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME — Zander Lehmann
THE SWIMSUIT ISSUE — Randall Green
THE WILDE ONES — Tyler Shields
ERIN’S VOICE — Greg Sullivan
BLINK — Hernany Perla
BLACK WINTER — Jonathan Stewart & Jake Crane
BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE — Jason Orley

UPDATE #5

ECHO — Chris MacBride
BEEF — Jeff Lock
SYNDROME (E) — Mark Heyman
FORGIVE ME — Max Hurwitz
MERC — Andrew Bozalis & Derek Mether
THE TAKEWAY — Julia Cox
THE MUNCHKIN — Will Widger
MATRIARCH — Eric Koenig
UNCLE SHELBY — Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi
THE DEFECTION — Ken Nolan

UPDATE #6

MENA — Gary Spinelli
MOONFALL — David Weil
TAU — Noga Landau
SITUATION COMEDY — Cat Vasko
YELLOSTONE FALLS — Daniel Kunka
ONE FELL SWOOP — Greg Scharpf
DODGE — Scott Wascha
CATHERINE THE GREAT — Kristina Lauren Anderson
HUNTSVILLE — Anthony Ragnone II
SEDUCING INGRID BERGMAN — Arash Amel

UPDATE #7

BOSTON STRANGLER — Chuck Maclean
THE BRINGING — Brandon Murphey, Philip Murphey
THE SECRET INGREDIENTS OF ROCKEY COLA — Mike Vukadinovich
JACKPOT — Dave Callaham
CARTOON GIRL — Randall Green
THE CASCADE — Kieran Fitzgerald
COFFEE & KAREEM — Shane McCarthy
CELERITAS — Kimberly Barrante
IN REAL TIME — Chai Hecht
THE BABYSITTER — Brian Duffield

That’s all 70 scripts and their writers. Later I will have a lot more information about this year’s list after I get a chance to do some analysis. Plus the 2014 Black List Word Cloud Logline Challenge. More soon!

Congratulations to all of the 2014 Black List writers!

“Twas the night before Black List…”

December 14th, 2014 by

Screenwriter Chris McCoy has made the Black List three times (Get Back, Good Looking, Good Kids), so he knows of what he speaks when he composed these four tweets last year:

“‘Twas the Night Before Black List and all through the LA / Writers were nervous – could this help them get pay?”

“Their loglines were sharp and polished with care / In the hopes that St. Franklin soon would be there.”

“The writers were ambien’d all snug in their beds / While visions of having a sustainable future danced in their heads.”

“The agent in Prada and the hopeful in Gap / Had just settled their brains (with pot) for a long winter’s nap.”

That’s as far as Chris got, but thanks to him, an opportunity arises!

Who wants to finish the poem? An ode to Black List Eve! The best one receives two script evaluations and three months hosting on the Black List website – all for free.

To help you out, here is the original poem:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Here are Chris’s original tweets:

Know this: At 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern tomorrow, all eyes will be on Twitter as the screenwriters who made the 2014 Black List are announced. Why is this such a big deal? In ten years time, the Black List has become a prominent force in Hollywood by recognizing and promoting screenwriters and the best unproduced scripts as rated by studio execs.

As proof to the impact the Black List has in filmmaking circles, all you need to do is ask any screenwriter whose script has made the annual list, what that achievement had on those projects and their career. Here is a sampling of comments from interviews I have conducted:

David Guggenheim (Safe House): “The first time (Safe House), I couldn’t’ believe it. I thought it was just the coolest thing, because as an up‑and‑coming writer, you want to get on the Black List. You should aspire to write a script that people really love and that they remember. When I’d heard, I couldn’t believe it. Then with ‘Black Box,’ it was just really special as well because I really love spec writing, so it’s nice to get acknowledged for that.”

Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks): “Both (producer) Alison (Owen) and I will tell you that The Black List was a MASSIVE part of helping get this film made. It was being on that list that brought people’s attention to SMB. After the Black List, a whirlwind of attention arrived and very quickly built a hype around it. We all owe a great deal to Franklin and everyone involved in the Black List, and I cannot underestimate how important it was in the process of getting Banks noticed and into the hands of the people who would eventually give it life.

Arash Amel (Grace of Monaco): “Everybody was talking about the Black List, and the script being on the Black List – we landed number 12 if I remember right. I also had pre-booked studio meetings that went from generals to ‘We really want to be in business with you.’ That’s huge, for a writer who’s struggling and making it and working up the ladder. For them to go from leaning back, to sitting forward now … that’s what the Black List played into, a sign of quality. That’s what I view it as. I felt like I didn’t have to explain myself so much anymore.”

Thus a lot of nervous and excited screenwriters (and their reps) today on Black List Eve. So let’s get the celebration started early with your conclusions to the beginning of Chris McCoy’s ode “Twas the Night Before Black List…”

Entry deadline: Monday, December 15 at 10AM Pacific. That’s precisely when the 2014 Black List begins its unveiling. Contest winner announced Thursday, December 18th.

Follow the unveiling of the 2014 Black List tomorrow at 10AM Pacific: @theblcklst.

Hashtag: #BlackList2014.

You can follow Chris McCoy on Twitter: @thatthere.

And in the spirit of the season, here is some virtual egg nog for everyone, flavored with a special spicing of creative juju!

Onward!

UPDATE: After due deliberation while standing under a mistletoe and imbibing gallons of egg nog, I have made a decision as to who is the winner of the 2014 Twas the Night Before Black List contest: All of you!

The Ultra Groovy Grand Prize goes to adampachter! Adam will not only receive two script evaluations and three months hosting on the Black List website — for free — I will also feature his poem on the blog on Christmas Eve, then tweet that link to my 29K+ followers.

The Almost As Groovy Grand Prizes go to Jon, jajjer, jtw439, hechttoball, and uncgym44 for their inspired efforts: 1 free Craft class of their choice I will be teaching in 2015. Choose from Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling, Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets, Handling Exposition, Character Development Keys, Create a Compelling Protagonist, Write a Worthy Nemesis, Scene Description Spotlight, and The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling.

Winners, contact me via email for further details. Congratulations and thanks for entering!

Cassian Elwes independent screenwriting fellowship enters 2nd year with Black List

July 29th, 2014 by

From the Black List:

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 27, 2014) – This morning, producer Cassian Elwes and Black List founder Franklin Leonard launched the second year of the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship, wherein one unrepresented writer with lifetime writing earnings not exceeding $5,000 with a screenplay of indie sensibility will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and mentorship from Elwes himself.

Inaugural fellow Matthew Hickman, a retail employee at the UPS store in Santa Monica selected on the basis of his script AN ELEGY FOR EVELYN FRANCIS is now represented by Circle of Confusion. “Winning the fellowship last year changed my life and attending Sundance was only the top of the iceberg. I now have representation and a writing deal, not to mention a script that Cassian himself is producing. I also know of several other finalists whose scripts he has optioned. The opportunity accomplishes very concretely what the Black List originally set out to do: level the playing field so that anyone with a good script has got a chance.”

Said Cassian Elwes, “I am so grateful to the Black List for their incredible work in finding last year’s fellow and the quality of all of the scripts I read. I was so happy with my experience with Matthew at Sundance last year. He now has a manager and a deal to write a new script. We have become friends, and I’m going to make the movie of ELEGY FOR EVELYN FRANCIS. I couldn’t be more excited to continue this Fellowship and look forward to meeting its next recipient.”

“Suffice it to say that Matthew was an ideal first recipient of this extraordinary opportunity from Cassian and the prospect of someone else finding similar success in this way has us even more excited for the Sundance Film Festival than we already are, which is remarkable,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard.

For this year’s fellowship, writers with scripts on the Black List or who have had scripts on the site since its launch will be able to opt into consideration for the opportunity until November 7, 2014, at which time a short list of writers will be shared with Elwes who will decide on one writer to make the trip.

Cassian Elwes

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 $16 billion in worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 30 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 159 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 1600 screenplays are actively hosted for perusal by over 2000 film industry professionals ranging from agency assistants to studio chairs.

And the beat goes on, the Black List continuing to open doors into Hollywood.

For background on the first year of this particular initiative:

“Cassian Elwes Endows New Indie Writer Fellowship Via The Black List” (October 29th, 2013)

Five questions with Cassian Elwes about the Black List Fellowship (November 5th, 2013)

Matthew Hickman: Reflections of an Independent Screenwriting Fellowship Winner (January 12th, 2014)

Matthew Hickman: Reflections on 2014 Sundance Film Festival (January 30th, 2014)

The complete roster of Black List initiatives:

Cassian Elwes / Sundance Film Festival – Black List

Hasty Pudding Institute Screenwriting Fellowship – Black List

Martin Katz/Toronto International Film Festival – Black List

TBS / TNT – Black List

Walt Disney Studios – Black List

Warner Bros. – Black List

WIGS – Black List

And don’t forget the 2014 Black List Screenwriters Lab. That submission period is now open and if it’s anything like last year’s session, which I was fortunate to be a part of, it should be another phenomenal experience for a select group of writers.

“Want to write a script in 6 weeks?”

July 21st, 2014 by

Screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe is up to something pretty damn cool. From his blog:

Starting 1 September 2014 – professional duties allowing, which I’ll qualify in a moment – I’m going to begin writing the first draft of a brand new spec screenplay. I’m giving myself six weeks to complete it. I want you to come along with me on the journey. But not just in the passive way that you might be thinking. Here’s the deal:

I want you to start a your own brand new spec too. The one you’ve always wanted to dive into but never did. The one that’s kept you up nights tossing around scenes and dialogue but that you never had the drive to actually crack. The one that itches and burns and crackles, but life has kept you away from. Actually, in that last instance you might have some bacterial issue rather than a creative one. Maybe check with a doctor and get yourself a Z-Pak. If ANY of those are the case, and you have your first masterwork banging around inside you like Dennis Quaid (INNERSPACE reference!), the last quarter of this year is going to be the absolute best time to kick your own ass into gear. And you know why?

Because Franklin Leonard and the impossibly awesome people at The Black List have been kind enough to offer something at the end of this rainbow that you cannot afford to pass up. If you have the balls to find out whether or not you have any shot whatsoever as a screenwriter, that is.

It’s going to work like this:

THE GOAL

1. On 18 July 2014, the email address you can find on the main page of this blog will be open for submissions. You will have ONE MONTH (that is, until 18 August 2014, for those of you who are idiots) to send me a one-page declaration of why you want to write the FEATURE-LENGTH (MINIMUM: 90 pages) script you are going to write. Your only job is to convince me as that you’re capable of great writing and that you’re going to finish this fucking thing in six weeks. That’s it.

2. I will pick ten of these submissions.

3. The Selected Ten will be announced on 20 August 2014.

4. The Selected Ten will start their scripts on 1 September 2014.

5. Once per week, the Selected Ten will submit a reaction to the last seven days of writing – their successes, their failures, their frustrations, their unfettered rejection of any higher power(s). These reactions will be shared on my blog, along with my own.

6. On 15 October 2014, the scripts must be finished, no questions asked, no exceptions whatsoever. You must literally write FADE OUT and be done with it. And when I say you must “literally” write FADE OUT, I’m not misusing the word “literally”. Those two words literally have to appear at the end of your script.

THE RESULT

If all of these steps are completed according to the rules of this little game (which I will lay out in full below) then each of the Selected Ten will be given TWO months of script hosting on and FOUR evaluations from The Black List – free of charge, courtesy of the wonderful people at said Black List. Because you’ll have earned it. This means that, by 15 December 2014 at the latest, you will have not only completed the first draft of a screenplay but you will have been provided with four industry-level evaluations of your work at the cost of $0 to you. So if you play your cards right, you could have a nicely-polished second draft of your script to foist upon the world in any way you see fit by New Year’s Day 2015. Are you excited? I’m excited.

It is of UTMOST importance that you read ALL of the following if you’re up to the challenge of a submission:

THE RULES

FIRST AND FOREMOST

This is an opportunity for NEW writers. That is to say: if you have ever previously been employed as a screenwriter, you are not eligible. For a studio, for a production company, for a producer, in film, in television, with a coat, in a boat, whatever. If you’ve been paid to write a screenplay, you’re out. And I will be verifying this independently.

SUBMISSIONS

1. All submissions must be in the form of a Microsoft Word document, 12 point font size, whichever font you like best. There will be no exceptions. Don’t have Word? Find someone who does. Can’t be that difficult.

2. All submissions must be limited to one page. No exceptions. If your submission is even one single character over a page, it will be deleted unread. This page should include both your full name and email address.

3. All submissions must be sent to the provided email address with the subject line “Why I’m Going to Write This Script Now”. Exactly like that, quotations and capitalization included. No exceptions. If your subject line does not read exactly as such, your email will be deleted unread.

4. Your submission will not contain ANYTHING related to the content of the script you are going to write outside of its chosen genre. I don’t want to know anything else. I do not care. I only care WHY you want to write it. If your submission contains any of the following, it will be deleted immediately and dismissed: the script’s title, logline, or any other identifying information whatsoever; discussion of any characters or locations; examples of any dialogue or voiceover; anything pertaining to details of the script that are not the script’s genre. To make it perfectly clear: YOU ARE NOT SUBMITTING AN IDEA FOR A SCRIPT TO ME. You are submitting an explanation of why you want to write it. Is that limiting? Absolutely. Be creative. That’s the point. To that effect, anything that I think violates this accord will be cause for immediate deletion and dismissal of your submission.

5. The cut-off for submissions is Midnight 18 August 2014 Pacific. No exceptions. Anything received even a second later will be deleted unread.

6. The Selected Ten will be determined by me and only by me and announced on 20 August 2014. No explanations will be given. No exceptions. If you don’t hear from me, you aren’t one of the Selected Ten. No I will not tell you why. It will just have to be left an unanswered question that will haunt you the rest of your life.

WRITING

1. The Selected Ten may officially start their FEATURE LENGTH (MIN: 90 pages) scripts on 1 September 2014. This date shall be observed on the Honor System. I’m not your fucking mother. I will trust you to be honorable. Any time prior to this date shall be used for any necessary prewriting or for general pissing around.

2. The script ABSOLUTELY CANNOT have been previously completed. It is encouraged that you start a completely new script. It is DISCOURAGED that you throw out and start over on a previously uncompleted script; however, it will be allowed, begrudgingly. These rules shall be observed on the Honor System. However, it should be noted: if a script is uploaded to the Black List that has previously, IN ANY FORM, been uploaded to the site, that writer shall have their script deleted from the site and their allowances therein canceled. Also, I will shame the motherfucking shit out of you on Twitter. Relentlessly and with purposeful malice. This is to be a fun and communal experience. Don’t be a dick. You MAY adapt your own previously completed short script into a feature-length script. YOU MAY NOT adapt any pre-existing material that you do not personally own or have the rights to. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that but some of you are perpetually stupid.

3. Each of the Selected Ten will submit to me, every Sunday, a two-paragraph summary of their week. As few story details of the script should be mentioned as possible; these updates are to give other writers a look into your process, not to describe your story. Paragraphs need not be submitted in Word, just over email. I’m not a MONSTER.

4. The finished first draft of your script – FADE OUT BEING THE LAST THING TO APPEAR ON THE LAST PAGE, SIGNALING COMPLETION – shall be uploaded to The Black List ABSOLUTELY NO LATER THAN 11:59PM Pacific Time on 15 October 2014. No exceptions. That means that if you upload your script at exactly Midnight 16 October 2015 Pacific Time, you are fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked and all this will have been basically for naught. Them’s the rules. This really shouldn’t be a problem. If you complete your script early and upload it BEFORE the 15 October deadline, good for you! However, your two months/four evaluations package will start on YOUR DATE OF SUBMISSION, not 15 October.

THE REST

That’s it. That’s the whole kit and caboodle for you. A couple more things for me:

1. At no time ever – be it before, during or after the dates laid out in previous sections – will I ever be reading, analyzing or commenting on individual scripts. That is not my job here, nor is it my intent. So don’t ask. If you do ask, I will fire rockets at someone you love.

2. There is a chance that unforeseen professional writing obligations may cause me to be unable to complete and/or even start my own spec script simultaneously to the Selected Ten. However, should such a situation occur, at no point will anything be altered negatively for the Selected Ten. You will write your weekly reactions and finish your scripts by the said dates and be provided your Black List entitlements.

3. I reserve the right to extended deadlines and make changes to rules at any point as I see fit. In that way, I’m sort of like God.

————————————————–

And that’s about it. I good you bid luck. Now go ready those submissions!!!!

A few thoughts.

First, this is quite generous on both Geoff and the Black List’s part.

Second, I support this effort because it is very much in the spirit of The Quest initiative I ran in 2012 and 2013, along with Go On Your Own Quest which we run annually in conjunction with The Black Board. If one key to learning the craft is to Write Pages, initiatives like these which motivate writers to write are a good thing.

Third, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that there are many shitty people in Hollywood. However there are also a lot of good, even great folks. In my experience, some of the best are screenwriters and TV writers. What Geoff is doing — putting his own time and effort into play to inspire and help aspiring writers — is an example of the generous spirit that many Hollywood writers have.

So kudos to Geoff and the Black List for this latest idea.

And Geoff, I’ve whipped up a special batch of creative juju for you that I trust will bring you some eventual, if not instant karma:

Check out Geoff’s blog for the latest information. While you’re at it, follow him on Twitter (@DrGMLaTulippe) as he’s been doing updates there as well.

Good luck!

Interview: Barbara Stepansky (2013 Nicholl Winner, 2013 Black List) — Part 6

January 18th, 2014 by

Barbara Stepansky’s original screenplay “Sugar in My Veins” not only won the filmmaker a 2013 Nicholl fellowship, it also landed on the 2013 Black List, so I was excited when she agreed to do an interview to see what we could learn from this talented young filmmaker.

Today in Part 6, Barbara talks more about the craft of screenwriting, what it was like learning she had made the 2013 Black List, and what advice she has for aspiring filmmakers:

Scott: What are you thinking about when you’re writing a scene? Do you have specific goals in mind?

Barbara: Normally, when I write scenes, I want to make sure that it drives the plot forward. If it’s just two people talking and we’re revealing character, that’s great, but if it’s not doing something at the end of that scene that makes sense for why the next scene now needs to happen, then it’s not a necessary scene.

Obviously you have your characters, but now you need to actually tell a story with them, and that means need causality. If a scene doesn’t have a cause and effect built into it, it doesn’t make sense to have it. I’m very radical with my scenes. [laughs] You have to make it essential enough that without that scene, the next scene couldn’t exist.

If you’re doing a B- and C-plot, you can plot them around each other and you don’t see the track so clearly, but the tracks are there.

Scott: You talk about the rewriting process, and of course that’s that whole thing. Writing is rewriting. When you finish your draft and you’re faced with the rewrite, are there some keys that you discovered to rewriting a script? If so what are they?

Barbara: There’s no easy solution to rewriting. For me writing the first draft is much easier than going back and rewriting it. You see all your flaws of your first draft, and you actually have to sit down and think about what you did there. Whereas before, you kind of do the vomit draft and you give yourself the liberty of not thinking about it, just to getting it on the page to see what’s going on.

Then the second draft gets much more in depth and it takes longer, because now you’re really thinking. I never had a first draft that was perfect, but I had perfect sixth drafts. First I go back focus on the big picture problems. Then I do the drafts that focus on specific characters or a specific issue.

The script that I just wrote, I took the entire main location out after my first draft because it wasn’t working. It was a big picture rewrite, because I literally had to go into every scene and change everything.

I’m trying to think of techniques of rewriting, but it’s literally just like slave work for me. It’s sitting there and really figuring it out.

Scott: What is your writing process?

Barbara: I write every day apart from weekends. I do treat it a little a job, where you start it in the morning, and then you have lunch and then you write again until I’ve put in a good six to eight hours. I have an office, I work from home. I personally can’t work with complete silence, so I listen to music, sometimes even TV shows running in the background. HDTV is incredibly helpful.

Any binge-watching shows on Netflix, also very helpful. Part of my analytical brain gets distracted to a point where I can be actually more creative, because I’m not double-checking everything.

Scott: How about this: What’s your single best excuse not to write?

Barbara: What’s your single best excuse not to write? There is really no good excuse not to write unless you actually don’t want to be a writer. There is no excuse. Maybe it’s best to figure out early that as nice as it sounds to be a writer, maybe you’re not. Then why waste the time and energy. But if that’s what you want to do, you just have to do it.

Scott: What do you love most about writing?

Barbara: What I love most about writing is when I get into a Zen state of being in the moment with characters, and they suddenly do something I didn’t expect and it’s as if you’re taking dictation. That’s my favorite, when I can get into that zone.

These days, when I have trouble with a character, I’m always say, “She’s not speaking to me.” [laughs] Then I have to try and figure out what it is that’s not working. But I just love when they kind of spout out their opinions.

Scott: What were you doing when you discovered you made the 2013 Black List?

Barbara: I was in Germany and it was already quite late in the evening, when looked down at my iPhone and I noticed I was getting all these new Twitter followers. I couldn’t figure out why. Then I checked my emails and realized what was going on. I don’t think I slept much that night.

Scott: What does it mean to you to make the Black List?

Barbara: Making the Black List is a huge honor. My script made the rounds quite late in the year so I never thought it would be possible. My name is on the same list as Tom McCarthy’s and that’s cool. You’re sharing the space with screenwriters who have worked professionally in the industry, whose work you’ve already admired, and so it’s a wonderful, warm, fuzzy feeling. And now, well, now I just have to do it all over again!

Scott: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years? In an ideal world, what are you doing?

Barbara: In an ideal world I would have made “Sugar.” I would have moved on to other critically acclaimed movies. As a filmmaker I would like to establish myself as a writer-director. I would like to go to Sundance. I would like to see myself making movies that I admired other filmmakers making in the past.

Any time I walk out of a cinema thinking that, “Wow, I feel like I just read a really good book.” That’s what I want. I want to make those kinds of movies.

Scott: Finally, what advice can you offer to aspiring screenwriters about learning the craft, breaking into Hollywood?

Barbara: Of course you need to do your writing by yourself in a room or coffee shop, but I think what I’ve learned, is that writing in a vacuum for a long period of time isn’t healthy. Especially for screenwriters. I don’t know about novelists. I’ve never written a novel.

I feel like sharing the work with a group or supportive readers has helped me tremendously to not be so precious about the material. It can always be better. People are smart. They give good advice. Generally, they have your best interest at heart. I think you can grow you craft significantly with the help of other people around you.

For Part 1, go here.

Part 2, go here.

Part 3, go here.

Part 4, go here.

Part 5, go here.

Please stop by comments to thank Barbara for taking the time for the interview and post any follow-up questions you may have.

Barbara is repped by ICM Partners and Hertzberg Media.

Top 13: Go Into The Story and The Black Board

January 1st, 2014 by

Franklin Leonard did something cool yesterday: Tweeting the Top 13 items posted at this blog and The Black Board in 2013 in terms of site traffic. Here they are:

Go Into The Story

#13: Keys to Low Budget Filmmaking

#12: Spec Script Sales Analysis 2013: The First Timers

#11: Everything you ever wanted to know about specs, Part 1

#10: 30 Days of Screenplays, Day 1: The Sixth Sense

#9: 115 words for “walks”

#8: Interview with Julia Hart (@JuliaHartowitz) (The Keeping Room)

#7: 30 Essential Movies for Screenwriters to Watch

#6: Jeff Lieber’s (NECESSARY ROUGHNESS) showrunner rules

#5: Gender as represented in spec script sales

#4: 30 Things About Screenwriting

#3: “Girls” as a horror movie

#2: If you’re about to write your first (or 500th) screenplay, read this

#1: Where can you download 37 award contending screenplays legally and free?

The Black Board

#13: The Trouble With Sex Scenes

#12: Should We All Be Writing Spec TV Pilots?

#11: #BeTheChange

#10: What the Bechdel Test Is and Isn’t

#9: The Whiny Kid Technique

#8: An Easy Trick to Fix on the Nose Dialogue

#7: The Two Things about Screenwriting

#6: Creating Complex Characters with Rodrigo Garcia

#5: Viktor Shklovsky on moving from storyline to plot

#4: Making the Most of @theblcklst

#3: How to generate story ideas

#2: @JeffWillis81 Live Q&A

#1: Playing with Tropes

Thanks, Franklin. A lot of great content there.

If you are not following us on Twitter, you really should:

@theblcklst

@FranklinLeonard

@TheBlackBoard

@GoIntoTheStory

“Twas the night before Black List…”

December 15th, 2013 by

Screenwriter Chris McCoy has made the Black List three times (Get Back, Good Looking, Good Kids), so he knows of what he speaks when he composed these four tweets earlier today:

“‘Twas the Night Before Black List and all through the LA / Writers were nervous – could this help them get pay?”

“Their loglines were sharp and polished with care / In the hopes that St. Franklin soon would be there.”

“The writers were ambien’d all snug in their beds / While visions of having a sustainable future danced in their heads.”

“The agent in Prada and the hopeful in Gap / Had just settled their brains (with pot) for a long winter’s nap.”

That’s as far as he got before heading out to see Her this afternoon. But thanks to Chris, an opportunity arises!

Who wants to finish the poem? An ode to Black List Eve! The best one receives a free script read and a free month for their script hosted on the Black List website.

To help you out, here is the original poem:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Here are Chris’s original tweets:

Know this: At 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern tomorrow, all eyes will be on Twitter as the screenwriters who made the 2013 Black List are announced. Why is this such a big deal? In nine years time, the Black List has become a prominent force in Hollywood by recognizing and promoting screenwriters and the best unproduced scripts as rated by studio execs.

As proof to the impact the Black List has in filmmaking circles, all you need to do is ask any screenwriter whose script has made the annual list, what an impact that achievement had on those projects and their career. Here is a sampling of comments from interviews I have conducted:

David Guggenheim (Safe House): “The first time (Safe House), I couldn’t’ believe it. I thought it was just the coolest thing, because as an up‑and‑coming writer, you want to get on the Black List. You should aspire to write a script that people really love and that they remember. When I’d heard, I couldn’t believe it. Then with ‘Black Box,’ it was just really special as well because I really love spec writing, so it’s nice to get acknowledged for that.”

Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks): “Both (producer) Alison (Owen) and I will tell you that The Black List was a MASSIVE part of helping get this film made. It was being on that list that brought people’s attention to SMB. After the Black List, a whirlwind of attention arrived and very quickly built a hype around it. We all owe a great deal to Franklin and everyone involved in the Black List, and I cannot underestimate how important it was in the process of getting Banks noticed and into the hands of the people who would eventually give it life.

Arash Amel (Grace of Monaco): “Everybody was talking about the Black List, and the script being on the Black List – we landed number 12 if I remember right. I also had pre-booked studio meetings that went from generals to ‘We really want to be in business with you.’ That’s huge, for a writer who’s struggling and making it and working up the ladder. For them to go from leaning back, to sitting forward now … that’s what the Black List played into, a sign of quality. That’s what I view it as. I felt like I didn’t have to explain myself so much anymore.”

Thus a lot of nervous and excited screenwriters (and their reps) today on Black List Eve. So let’s get the celebration started early with your conclusions to the beginning of Chris McCoy’s ode “Twas the Night Before Black List…”

Entry deadline: Monday, December 16 at 10AM Pacific. That’s precisely when the 2013 Black List begins its unveiling. Contest winner announced Tuesday, December 17th.

Follow the unveiling of the 2013 Black List tomorrow at 10AM Pacific: @theblcklst.

Hashtag: #BlackList2013.

You can follow Chris McCoy on Twitter: @thatthere.

You can also watch the short film “The Bicycle” Chris recently wrote and produced along with Adam Neustadter, the film a Vimeo pick and has been receiving lots of attention. Go here to see it.

And in the spirit of the season, here is some virtual egg nog for everyone, flavored with a special spicing of creative juju!

Onward!

“Cassian Elwes Endows New Indie Writer Fellowship Via The Black List”

October 29th, 2013 by

Breaking news:

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.”

Cassian Elwes

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 BladeThe 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 LawlessThe 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.

CONTACT

Franklin Leonard – press@blcklst.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.”

Q&A: Franklin Leonard

June 28th, 2013 by

Recently Franklin was in Toronto to participate in the TIFF STUDIO program and gave an interview with Toro magazine. A few excerpts:

Is the Black List more useful for getting film projects off the ground, or helping to fund / promote those that are already in pre-production?

Both of the above, to an unknowable extent – I say unknowable because I don’t want to overstate the influence the Black List has.

My perception of how movies get green-lit is almost entirely clouded by Robert Altman’s The Player, which might be the best movie about making movies told from the studios’ perspective. But is it accurate – do movies really go into production on the whims of businessmen uninterested in creativity or originality?

The people who run studios are in a very precarious position. Their economic reality is that the cost of making movies on their level is skyrocketing. Revenue has recently dropped significantly because of the fall of the DVD marketplace. So if you have a family, kids in private school, and a mortgage, and some guy comes to you and says “I have a screenplay about a guy who buys a sex doll and treats it like a real girl. Give me $25 million.” So they can (approve) that, or the next Superman movie. Which would allow them to keep their job? It’s an economically rational decision. The Black List provides a certain amount of cover for movies that do have great scripts, have a reasonable chance of finding critical and financial success, but may not have the most obvious commercial appeal. In an industry with a cover-your-ass mentality, the (executive) can say, if the movie (wasn’t a success) “I hired the best director I could, with the Black List support it was reasonable to think this could have been a good idea.”

We’ve explored this dynamic before, how difficult a position studio executives are in, trying to make decisions about creative projects (movies) when everything gets reduced to financial bottom lines. It’s one big reason why they adopt a ‘similar but different’ approach to most movies they green light.

For the rest of the interview with Franklin, go here.

UPDATE: Franklin also made TheWrap’s inaugural Innovator’s List: 12 Who Are Changing Hollywood which was just released today. You can see that list here.