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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.