So You Want to Be on the Blacklist


No, it’s not 1955, and I’m not talking about that whole terrible calling artists communists thing. The Black List I’m referring to is the one out in Hollywood that people actually want to get on. It’s the list of the years so-called “best” scripts, that have, as of yet, not been produced. Over 300 studio execs read and vote on these scripts so it’s pretty big deal to be one of the few scripts selected.

I recently downloaded a shit-ton of said scripts from MEDIA FIRE (if you’re interested in doing the same, I highly suggest you jump on this link now, as it will be taken down soon), and, as a writer trying to break her way into the bizz, I have mixed feelings about the quality of work that I read. To be frank, I was not impressed by the 3 scripts I read last night (which shall remain nameless). They were okay. Certainly polished, and well-written to an extent. Extremely marketable, for sure. And definitely in keeping with the same kind of dreck that Hollywood has been pooping out for years. So I’m feeling like I’m at an impass. On the one hand, I can write better than these folks (yes, yes, I can, and no, that’s not just ego talking), which is good for me. But on the other hand, I can’t write commercially viable Hollywood dreck (no, no I cannot, and yes, that is ego talking), so that’s bad for moi.

I’d like to open this topic up to the floor, and get your opinions on it. Do you feel that as a screenwriter you have more responsibility to your voice, and your artistic inclinations, or do you feel that the writer simply services the need for entertainment in society? Is it better to be unique and distinct as a writer, or do you feel that to get ahead you need to adopt the same blah blah blah, happily-ever-after tune that Hollywood has been singing since it’s conception?

I reality, there are no right or wring answers to these questions. It all depends on the kind of writer you want to be, and your strategy for breaking into the business. On the bright side, there are some crazy stories as to how people got their movies made, and no one script follows the same path as another. We ask ourselves these questions in an attempt to control the machine, but in reality, we are always at the mercy of fate and luck. My advice? Work hard, keep your ear to the ground, and follow your intuition.

Author: hollywouldink

I'm a visual writer and teacher currently getting my MFA in Writing for the Screen & Stage at Northwestern University. Sarah Lawrence undergrad. Writer for movies, TV, theater, and literature.

2 thoughts on “So You Want to Be on the Blacklist

  1. I think sometimes the problem with just seeing the scripts is, since they are single (but extremely important!) parts of a film, some of the ones that get picked up that are passingly original are ones that also have some extra factor like a hotshot director, and aesthetic or even a marketing plan behind them. :/

    It’s not fair, but they just don’t seem to be making big interesting films these days unless some sort of extra marketing tool, such as the reputations of Danny Boyle or Christopher Nolan (to think of two examples at hand) can be possibly included in not only the pitch to the producers but also to the audience.

    That’s my opinion anyway, I know a few scriptwriters but most are for TV rather than film.

    • Thanks for your comments. I think you’re onto something with the big-name factor. Another problem is that most execs are looking for films they can franchise too. It’s odd the way movies are becoming more like TV and TV is becoming more like movies. And, uhg, tangentially related to this topic, and maybe the worst part is that if you look at the Top 100 grossing films of all time, most of them are based on a novel or some other text, and are, by default, unoriginal. Really makes me wonder if I should be a novelist instead. Too bad that’s just not my calling.

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