Monday, February 3, 2014

The Black List

This is the 2nd part to my previous blog on readers. Just to make sure everyone knows what I'm talking about, readers in the film business are more often than not the people who judge our work. Remember that the only requirement is to be able to read. Or at least able to read a little bit.

As you can tell by my mood, readers aren't the most liked people in the business. And there is some envy by some readers as some of them are writers themselves, but who haven't been able to write a good story.

Take the Black List. This was originally the work of a reader who was a little bit better than most of his fellow readers. One year some time ago he decided to put out a list of screenplays he thought should be made but never were made.

As he didn't use his name, this became a yearly thing for him and did eventually cause some good screenplays being made. It wasn't long before everyone would read the Black List, as he decided to call it.

Last year, he decided on something else. 

He should make money from this.

So he did, he started a website where screenwriters could post their screenplays for studios and producers to see and maybe read. All for some money. And I don't feel bad about that in some ways.

But it certainly takes away the system that "used to be" and that was agents who would pass around new writers and screenplays for free. Well, sort of free, they would hope to sell the screenplays.

But as the number of aspiring screenwriters grows, the less contact they get with real agents who can push them into a career. Only problem is that the agent scene is smaller than it used to be as some of the big agencies swallowed the middle and smaller ones.

So the situation is this; more and more writers and less and less agencies.

If you read about my point of view on readers in the previous blog, you know how I feel.  And yes, I had a screenplay on The Black List and paid $40 for a reader's report, knowing full well that it could not work.

I got the report, the rider loved the premise, but found some areas that weren't "plausible." That's when I hit the roof, mostly because what I wrote was plausible. But now the reader's report can work against me.

And if that happens to me; it happens to a lot of people. You're giving your screenplay to someone who might trash it on the website. In a nice way, as they say.

But there are good readers; but very few. And that's where I can even show you what a good reader is.

I wrote a screenplay based on an idea by a director friend that was pretty much as far out there as I've ever written. The premise of the story is this:

An Irish hitman in the 1950's in Buffalo is sent to take out a gay union promoter inNiagara Falls but when he gets there he falls in love with a cojoined sister. Siamese Twins as they used to call them.

I had no experience with either gay union promoters or co-joined twins but I wrote what was considered a pretty good screenplay. And I had a woman reader who I really didn't want to deal with.

Until she wrote her notes.

And they were probably the best notes I've ever had or read. And she taught me a good lesson in the fact that not all readers are bad.

I am attempting to find out how to include her notes in the Materials and am having a hell of a time trying to figure it out.

Will get back in the week hopefully on this computer bug thing.

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