TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 10)

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As promised, if you want to see how The Black List works, look no further than my evaluations. The average Black List rating is currently 5.9, so giving me an average of essentially 4 is pretty much slamming my TV pilot. The reviews came in 6 weeks after I purchased them ($100) and based off this, and how far the opinions diverged, I’m not sure if I would go back ever. My Pilot was called NO RETURNS ALLOWED. It was a caper show that was a cross between Alias and The Thomas Crown Affair. Below is the first review of a 5, which actually sounded like a bunch of strengths based on the write-up. The weaknesses that are pointed out seems more movie based, in showing behind the scenes before a plot reveal to make the audience get the inside joke instead of being surprised by the reveal (which I disagree with in a pilot). Oddly enough, they also said I should show the expensive stuff like the explosions and action (which is opposite from he second reviewer). 

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The second reviewer below obliterates my pilot, for confusing reasons. They actually write up their own plot and tell me how they would have written it, however they use a movie trope/plot instead of a TV plot. It’s so bad, they copied Rambo III, Commando, and other bad guy/good guy movie plots. They then get the genre wrong. They wanted to compare it to Ocean’s Eleven, when this wasn’t a Casino heist movie. A TV Pilot and film screenplay are two different narrative structures and this person clearly didn’t know what the difference was. At least they didn’t tell me I should give Sarga an “Uncle Ben” and have him die in the first act.Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 8.15.25 PM.png

My final opinion is confused. I think the first review was so-so, while the second review was non-sensical. What I found unusual was the lack of discussion on my second review on the diverse cast like the first one had. You see, Sarga, my protagonist isn’t the typical TV hero. He is an African-Asian guy of style and smarts and is the best at what he does. The entire cast is more diverse than most. And it is pretty bullshit the reviewer wants me to give the characters “distinct” voices, instead of making them all sound normal and smart (one sounds a little crazy, but that’s another story). I know exactly what the reviewer is saying, and I don’t agree; I don’t need to make my character “more street.” Sarga can be smart as hell and smooth and secretive. I know this reviewer deep down really wanted Danny Ocean, for whatever deep rooted reason, but that’s not my story. They can flip in that DVD any day of the week. If people wanted something diverse and different and distinct, they could follow my story. As a final note, notice the second reviewer said this would be an expensive hour to produce (despite the fact I intentionally used a ton of interior scenes to disguise stuff) while the first reviewer said I needed to show the blowing up of a building (which I did offscreen to make it cheap to make). 

So what happens now? I guess I shelve the script. If I would have been rated 7 or higher and the script would show up on results (anything under the average gets puts in digital no mans land on the site, so it is nearly impossible to search and find) then I would have kept it up. Now I don’t know. It’s not really worth writing a novel version unless there is a fan base for it, so I’ll leave it to you. If 500 people want to read the script, I’ll upload here. Just like my blog. If 1000 people want to see it in a novel, share it with your friends and like this post and I’ll write it as a series. 

POST COMMENTS IF YOU WANT ME TO SUBMIT TO ANOTHER SCREENPLAY EVALUATION SITE. I HAVE ANOTHER ALMOST COMPLETED. OTHERWISE, $125 IN GETTING THIS TYPE OF FEEDBACK ISN’T WORTH IT FOR MY BLOG. (Cost more than many annual web hosting cost). 

 

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.

What about my two paid script evaluations? Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 10.37.50 AM.png

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 1)

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For you writers out there, one of the old ways to get discovered is though writing contests. Usually you want to focus on the ones with more history or more backing from industry insiders. For those of you that know how to write teleplays, there is an open call for the ATX Television Festival for full hour or half hour scripts. 5-10 scripts will be selected and winners will be announced in Austin, TX on June 9-12.

Although there is no monetary prize, it is a good way to get noticed. Bad Robot, Carlton Cuse Productions, FX, Sony, and USA Network are partnering with this contest.

The rules are a bit vague for timelines, but according to comments on various sites, the script has to be uploaded and a $25 fee needs to be paid by at least 4/8/16 if my math is correct. That would give it enough time to be on the site a full week. I am guessing that if you win, you might get transportation to the festival and some swag and a chance to talk with some insiders (maybe you have to hitchhike, I don’t really know). If you do well with that, you might have a chance at a writing gig, which would be awesome.

What? You ask how I can post this three days from the due date … well, I only found out about it last week, so don’t blame me. Twitter is clogged with people shanking each other with adds, which makes it hard for good people to get the word out. I’m sure if you don’t finish in time there will be an opportunity next year or in other contests. I read there was also a pitch competition using youtube which could have been cool to those less scribing-inclined, so to speak.

As for me, I am rushing to finish my teleplay. If any of you have formatting questions, please leave a comment and I’ll let you know what I did.

Keep writing.

I’ll keep you posted of what happens on my journey.

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST