TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 8)

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It is looking more and more like a dead end. Another 21 days has past and my teleplay has still not been evaluated (I am assuming another free month of hosting is coming). The ATX festival begins in 2 1/2 weeks, and I’m sure the 10 selections have already been made. This kind of feels a bit disappointing. The rules clearly stipulated that the script needed to be up on the website for a week by April 15. I clearly made the due date, and even went ahead and paid for 2 script evaluations, but so far, I feel like I am some high plains drifter out on a long journey. I do see on future contests, they have been posting a “submit for evaluations by” date on the press releases which alleviates confusion. I wonder this is why my email to the system administrator when unanswered 5 weeks ago.

How long will I be out here? I have another screenplay in mid-draft, but as each day goes by, I find myself working on my novels more and more (I have a bunch of projects in various stages of draft). I looked up my stats today, and so far, I have 5 views of No Returns Allowed. I checked early last week and I had 3 views, so there were at least a couple clicks this week. I had gone, well, well over a month with nothing happening as the script sat in the wilderness. I try not to complain, as there is always the next opportunity.

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If I read this correctly, it is still awaiting assignment. Wow. So I don’t know. It would be ironic if the evaluations don’t get done until after the ATX festival. I don’t see any other TV submission contests as most seem to be film oriented, so I would have a couple options. First is to pull it from the site and upload it again next year. I am not sure if the evaluations would stick or not, but if rated 7 or lower, that means I should probably take it down to revise anyway. If the evaluations are great, I guess it would be worth it to keep it up for the next round. I could also make movie version, however, I would have to completely change the script. I would have to condense the pilot to 40 minutes and flip around plot points, then change the antagonist. I would essentially take the planned reveal at the end of the season and make that the second act, and then resolve it. It can be done, but it really was constructed for TV.

I do still plan to post the evaluations if they ever do come. Although I had fun writing the script and it was surprisingly easy to outline a pilot and a 5 season story arc, I do want a little feedback with it so I can learn what to improve. I’ll probably be writing a hundred scripts in the future, regardless of how this escapade turns out. Max Landis posted online that out of a 100 scripts he wrote only 3 got picked up. One of them was for like $3M, so his journey was eventually worth it financially.

PART 9

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 7)

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Well, it has been a few weeks since my last update on the The Black List. I was checking seven times a day to see if my script was read the first few days, then started checking once a day, and now I checked maybe twice a week. I knew there was a stipulation that if the script wasn’t read in the 21 days, then I would get a free month of web hosting.

Today, I received the email above that I received a FREE month of web hosting of the script because they couldn’t review it in the 21 days. I thought it was pretty cool that I didn’t have to haggle or call or be proactive in getting the free month. They pretty much automate the process through their system, which is cool. It gives me some motivation now to maybe upload my other script (which I was waiting for the quality first reviews to decide if it was worth it or not).

As for my total views, my stats are still pathetically bad. I have had one pro view and one regular view and no downloads. This happened in the first 24 hours, so I don’t really know if it was just a quality control check to see if a script was uploaded or my mothers recipe for kimchee pancakes.

So, stay posted, as I plan to share whatever feedback I get. If I get slammed, then you all can read it. Until then, like and share this page, so that I know it is worth publicly posting my paid reviews online for you to read.

MY NEXT UPDATE

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 6)

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Okay. It has only been a couple days, but after reviewing the little details of the site, I now understand that two reviews are kind of the minimum to show up in the searches. The point of the site is to filter out quality scripts, so since I already sunk $25 in this endeavor, why not throw $100 for two reviews. That is only like 300 ramen meals for a hungry writer, so why not?

Choosing to buy evaluations is pretty easy since my credit card is already on file. You just click on “Buy Evaluations” on the left column then choose how many credits you want. I selected two and bangarang the one time evaluation fee of $100 shows up.

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So there I go. I acknowledged whatever that paragraph means because there really isn’t much choice, is there? I assume this means if they slam your script to the pavement, you can keep it hidden for nobody to see. I don’t know. I intend to post my evaluations here in full view for everyone to see, so it doesn’t bother me one bit.

In any case, that is my big update. I should expect feedback in less than 3 weeks according to the website.

In the meantime, I’ve started my next script involving talking dalmatians who go on a quest to fly on a rocket ship to Venus, only to discover the planet is really a gas wormhole and sucks the dalmationauts to a parallel universe where dalmatians have green spots and can breathe fire some serious material that might be Oscar worthy in the future.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 5)

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So here I am again, checking up on my account like an obsessive compulsive writer. I figured now would be a good time to fill you in on how it works. After paying $25 you give have your screenplay uploaded but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone will read it. (In theory, since I only did it for a TV writing contest at the ATX festival, it should get consideration, but who knows). What if there wasn’t something specific you were submitting to? How do you get recognized?

Well, according to this nifty page, those-in-the-know can do searches and access the most highly rated scripts. The blacklist readers are minimum 1 year experienced in the biz and act as a filter of sorts for the slush pile. When I searched for TV pilots submitted in the month to date category (top left) it pulled 29 scripts with at least “2 required ratings.” The average score was around 6. Not too bad I guess if you want to get noticed with one rated script a day being too much.

I then searched for the quarter and it as basically the same. There were 82 scripts with at “least 2 required ratings” with an average of around 6. So to me, for a nominee fee, anyone can get at least a shot at having their script read and possibly passed on.

I then clicked around and saw some interesting stats based on ratings given. It turns out Tuesday seems to be the big ratings day. I am assuming they read scripts submitted over the weekend on Monday and rate on Tuesday. What was the lowest for ratings? Friday though Sunday. So maybe my pathetic numbers so far doesn’t mean much.

I read through a few blogs and quora and reddit feeds and the general gist is the Blacklist website does the best they can due to the volume of submissions and the varying quality of reviewers. Most scripts score around a 6. If you want to get a noticed, you need it around 8 or above. If you get a 9.5 or a 10, then you might get direct contact on the material. If the reviewer totally messes up (Like bashing the script for not being funny enough when it was a drama) then a new reviewer will be assigned for free.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 4)

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It’s Saturday. I grabbed a cup of coffee and checked up on my blog comments, twitter feed, and status of my submission. Do you see what has changed? I know, it’s pretty hard to see, but on the top right, it shows I got 1 view. Woohoo!

Now for the bad news. There was no review or rating. Maybe this was a misclick, or maybe they read about the fire breathing dragon incinerating a legion of leprechauns on top of a floating castle over the planet of Darg’ostalah’meshon. Damn. I knew that would turn off a few people. (But don’t worry, the story is in fact dystopian, and stars a 16 year old girl in a love triangle with mysterious dudes but can’t seem to know which one to pick because both are hot and only have eyes for her because only she has the power to save everything)

Then panic set in. Did I submit the right script? Did I send in nothing but 60 blank pages? After sweating for 60 seconds, I double checked, and yes, the pages were filled with something.

Sorry the update isn’t more exciting than that.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT BLACK LIST UPDATE

 

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 3)

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This is what the screen looks like after you submit and pay the $25. Pretty simple. I had to check a bunch of boxes and what genres it falls into and curious questions on setting, characters, plot trope, etc. Pretty interesting way to search for scripts. As you can see from the top, nothing too much happens when you submit. It shows I had one script submitted and active. There are currently zero reviews and zero downloads. (uh oh…)

The picture I find funny. I guess based on what you click, it puts little pictures to kind of visualize the type of story it is. If you notice to the top right of the screen, it says “pilot” on the script. There is another choice for screenplay when you submit. Pilots are typically 60 pages at length while movie screenplays are 120-140 pages at length (though if its longer, you might need to have some industry pull or name recognition).

On the left is where you see the “opportunities” that you can submit to. A few of them look interesting to me. I might write a screenplay and submit to one just to see what happens. Some will get you into a writing conference while another is a paid gig from WB, if submitted. I did the ATX, which was for free and a chance to attend the festival which I live near. I find all of this pretty neat. It’s much better than stories of valet’s accidentally leaving behind their manuscript in the cars of producers or sliding it beneath bathroom stalls. I’m not sure if I ever heard of a story where one of them was actually produced.

One additional rule is if you get chosen, a biography and additional background information is required within a week. I’m guessing this is to make sure you are not writing from San Quentin or something.

I’ll keep you updated as this hope this thing moves forward.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 2)

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So I did it. With a day left I finished my first TV pilot. It was called “No Returns Allowed” and is about a thief. After the blacklist contest time period, if enough people comment or request it, I’ll just post it on the blog for free. The contest is for the ATX festival in Austin, TX which I live near, so I figured it could be a good opportunity (maybe they want local voices). I heard about the contest relatively late (around 3 weeks prior to submission). I asked myself “Hey, remember back in college when you wrote that screenplay that never went anywhere?” I shook my head assuredly and said “Now that you’ve written a few novels and know about plot structure and design, couldn’t you try this again?” I nodded my head again. Okay, I was game.

I came up with the new plot in 30 minutes. Unlike a movie, a TV pilot has to introduce all the characters and the setup to the show and give the hook. I figured out a way to do it, in order for it to be clear what every following episode would be about. I then wrote an arc to what the first 3 seasons would be, with a cliffhanger at the end of each. This gave me a sense of the nuggets I had to put in the pilot.

It took me 4-5 days of actual writing to get it done. I had one person copy edit it for me, but I’m sure there are errors. I didn’t use Final Draft to format it, only the established guidelines of screenplay writing. I also read the pilots of Lost, Breaking Bad and the screenplay to Birdman to see the tricks in those stories. I sensed a trick early on. It seems actors get direction on the manner in which they play their character, and then later on in scripts less direction is given so the actors can run with it. I tried to do the same besides adding pause beats here and there. If you want to read a crazy pilot, try LOST. Dang, J.J.Abrams really gave a sense of the chaos in the pilot. Pretty amazing.

I went on the blacklist website http://www.blcklst.com and simply registered and paid my $25 to upload my teleplay. Then there was an easy to find option to opt it into the contest, which technically ends the 15th of April, however the contest stipulated it needed to be in at least a week. I can only assume there is an inherent advantage to submitting early. I would have paid $50 for a reader to critique it, but due to timing, I figured it would be dead money. I just have a hope and a prayer at this point.

If it did get consideration for the top “5-10” then that would be a good story in itself based on the long odds and having zero contacts in the TV business (The signup for the blacklist has a bunch of blocks for guilds and production history and other TV associations which made me go “um … uh oh Matt.”)

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST