Month: October 2013

My article on The Black List in Creative Screenwriting

My article on The Black List in Creative Screenwriting is finally up.

Here’s an excerpt:

Launched in 2005, The Black List quickly became a Hollywood institution. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly reported:

‘In just four years, the Black List has become Hollywood’s equivalent of the Rookie of the Year award—a neon arrow pointing to the work of undiscovered or unappreciated writers. It has launched careers, been an increasingly important weapon in the battle to get great original screenplays made into great original films, and even become a crystal ball for the Oscars.’

Franklin Leonard, then a development executive at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, launched the list by asking nearly 100 movie execs about their favorite unproduced scripts from the past year. He then compiled the results and initially distributed the list anonymously. The voter pool has now grown to approximately 500, with more than 200 Black List screenplays becoming features.  Collectively, they’ve earned $16 billion at box offices worldwide, earned over 150 Oscar nominations and won 25 statues, including three of the last five Best Pictures and seven of the last 12 screenwriting Oscars.

However, as it turns out, few of the original Black List writers were truly “undiscovered,” since most of the scripts had already been sold and some were even in production.  Furthermore, most of the writers were represented by agents or managers, including heavy-hitters like Quentin Tarantino and then-rookies like Diablo Cody.



Diablo Cody: The 7 Things No One Tells You About Being a Top Screenwriter (plus mostly bad advice from Joe Eszterhas)

A fun list from Diablo Cody, if you’re ever in the enviable position of needing this advice.

This one is my favorite:

6. Everyone you know will suddenly aspire to be a screenwriter.I’ve never heard of a dozen people applying to dental school because their friend or family member became an orthodontist. But if you become a screenwriter and have success at it, at least five of your non-writing acquaintances will spontaneously decide to try writing a screenplay. And you know what? I don’t blame them. I genuinely believe I have the best job in the world, other than Katy Perry. Besides, it’s not like I know what the fuck I’m doing. Go ahead, guys! Take a crack at it!

On the other hand, here’s a mostly (IMHO) terrible list from Joe Eszterhas:  Joe Eszterhas’ 10 Golden Rules of Screenwriting.  I don’t know whether this explains why he was one of the top screenwriters in Hollywood for many years, or if it explains why he hasn’t had a movie made in the States since 1997.  This is the only point I agree with:

10. Don’t let the bastards get you down. If you can’t sell your script, or if you sell the script and they bring in another writer to butcher it, or if the director claims in interviews that he really wrote your script, or if the actors claim that they improvised all of your best lines, or if you’re left out of the press junket, simply sit down and write another script. And if the same thing happens to you on that one, write another and another and another and another, until you get one up there that’s your vision translated by the director to the big screen.