The Black List is the real deal for screenwriters

the_black_list_slice_01I’m surprised not every aspiring screenwriter has heard of The Black List. I can’t help but think if you don’t know about it you haven’t been paying attention or doing your homework. That’s okay, take my word for it – The Black List ( is awesome.

What is The Black List?

Several years ago, Franklin Leonard was a development executive and he wanted to read good scripts. If you don’t already know, there are a lot of bad or mediocre scripts that float around Hollywood. Leonard wanted to circumvent the process of reading bad ones to find good ones so he sent an email out to a bunch of his peers and asked them to send him a list of their favorite unproduced screenplays for the year. From the replies he received, he compiled the scripts mentioned into a list he dubbed “The Black List” and sent it out to everyone. Quickly, it became an influential thing of it’s own and it has persisted as such. Many writers have won careers because their script made it onto the list. It’s quite the thing.

Late last year a variation of the list emerged for ALL SCREENWRITERS when Leonard opened up The Black List website and offered screenwriters a chance to do the same thing he had done years earlier; circumvent the established system.

Simply put, once a writer has a finished draft of their script ready to be consumed by the folks in the industry, they can pay to upload it to the website and have the option of paying to have a professional reader score it on a scale of 1 – 10 based on standard criteria like premise, plot, dialogue, characters etc. Getting feedback and a score gives the writer a real evaluation of where they stand against professionals.

franklin leonard

Black List founder Franklin Leonard

But here is where it gets good – there are hundreds of production companies, agents, managers, actors, directors and producers who have access to the scripts that are uploaded and they can find your script by either searching for any number of criteria (genre, budget, locations etc) or by having it recommended to them. The recommended scripts are those that receive great feedback and stand out from the rest of the uploaded scripts on the site. The real players in the industry know all about The Blacklist.

When it started last October there was a lot of controversy which was born mostly from skeptics who thought Mr. Leonard surely must be exploiting wannabe writers to fill his own bank account. Do your own research but I can save you some time by telling you that both Franklin Leonard and The Black List are the real deal. Designed to offer good writers a way into the machine of Hollywood, it has done just that. Again, do your own research but in less than a year the site has made careers, facilitated writers gaining representation and been the catalyst to options and sales of screenplays. And it’s only getting better.

From my own writers group, we have seen one script optioned to a production company who is actively trying to get the movie made and we have also had another script that received positive feedback from a Black List reader just complete a crowdfunding campaign that will allow them to shoot the film themselves. It was partially helped by the credibility of having received high praise from The Blacklist.

I have my own experience with the site. I uploaded a very silly comedy and received feedback that was strong enough to make it one of the top ranked comedies on The Black List where it remains. The script has received industry reads from simply being there. It has also garnered interest from people (including an A-list director) when I mention it received a “9 on the Black List”. The Black List is legit.

There are a thousand different ways you can try to get your script read but I know of one guarantee; write a good script, upload it to, have it evaluated and score an 8 or higher. It will get some industry reads and you can use the prestige of being well thought of on the site as a means to leverage even more attention for your script.

You can read all about The Black List here

Dane Reade is an admitted knucklehead, writer, producer, actor, storyteller and managing editor of The Tiny Protagonist. You can connect with him on twitter @TheUrbanHobo or via @TinyProtagonist


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