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). 

 

The Black List (Part 9)

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So I do have an update. Approximately 6 weeks after I uploaded and requested 2 paid reviews from the Black List, I finally got assigned readers. They sent me the below email when the script was finally assigned a couple days ago. Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 11.44.49 AM.png

How doe this feel? I don’t know, a little anti-climactic to be honest. There is not much time before the festival I entered this for to get consideration. I’m a person that follows through with everything, so I wanted to see this through. I’ve been told my novels are well constructed (I plot everything similar to a film) so was curious what someone who reads a ton of scripts thought.

One curious thing to note is how many views I received in the last week. I pretty much went from 2 views for 5 weeks, then jumped to 8 views on the 6th week. This is one thing I learned about the website, yes, it provides a way to submit your material for consideration, but it is unlikely you will get read unless you get 2 reviews, because only scripts with ratings get sorted and filtered to see what is the cream of the crop. I assume established writers in the writing guilds or with representation might get looks, but from what I saw, many of those were protected. (If you want to see the script, contact ___ agency for a copy).

So I continue to wait. It can take up to a week to get a review. I’ll share it with you folks so you can see what type of feedback they offer. What I am curious at this point is after getting reviews, will my reads increase dramatically, or will it not make a difference?

PART 10

 

 

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 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