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Is “8” Enough?

Well, that was interesting! After some ten years of trying, a script of mine was rated an “8” at the Black List website (where writers can submit their work and have it evaluated).

If you get an 8 or higher, which is hard to do, they tweet about it and send it out in a weekly newsletter to their industry contacts.

I’ve lusted after that for years! So, a few observations:

1) When you get an 8, they give you two free evaluations (if you want them). Mine came back...a 6 and 7.

But here’s the thing: if I showed you all three evaluations, and took the scores off, you’d have to guess which was the 6, 7 or 8.

I now believe the judging is far more random and arbitrary than I think anybody would admit. The real way to get an 8 is to have a decent-enough script and buy a whole bunch of evaluations (at $100/pop) and hope for the best. That’s a little bleak, I’m sorry to say.

2) Very few people actually seemed to check out the script at its Black List page (registration required). I mean, maybe two script downloads, three or four page loads?

I’ve long suspected that only commercial-sounding feature scripts get a lot of views. Producers mainly want cheap, good genre pictures they can produce. Television is way too hard to sell for a new writer, because they also need a showrunner (who are expensive and hard to get). But features, they can just buy the script and pay another writer to fix it, if they must. You can be a lunatic in a basement somewhere, it doesn’t matter.

So television pilot scripts are mainly useful as writing samples, especially for writers who want to be staffed on existing shows. This is a much smaller pool of managers who would be trawling the Black List for possible talent.

3) Nonetheless, it was a very good experience, mostly because people came out via social media to support me and hit “like” and say a few nice words. Thanks, everybody!

Seriously, this was a very nice, validating time, and I appreciate everybody who popped up to say congrats and hit like. We spend so much time reading in the news about people being terrible, it’s quite heartwarming to have first-hand experiences where they are nice!

4) Also, being on the newsletter is good currency to use for querying (sending cold emails to possible managers) or simply re-querying managers who might have read you in the past. It’s a very important endorsement.

It was also nice to connect with other writers saying something nice and asking to read the script.

So, that’s it! Back to work! Oh, if anybody cares, the first few pages...

Anybody who wants to read it, just email me!

P.S. Shout out to my old Amherst friend, Jonathan Haddad, who I ripped off for that line about a girl saying you’re nice or weird!

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