Earlier this week, both Deadline and The Wrap reported news that Warner Bros. hired new screenwriter Richard Cordiner for a two-film blind deal. The first script Cordiner will write for the studio will be Spacesuit, based on the book by Nicholas de Monchaux that tells the true story of bra designers from Playtex who designed the spacesuit for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon (which leads to the natural realization that, yes, all you MTV Music Video Award winners, your trophies were essentially designed by Playtex). What is more interesting about the Warner Bros. deal with Cordiner is the writer was discovered and signed by his agent and managers via The Black List service after his uploaded script The Shark Is Not Working about the making of Jaws made the rounds in Hollywood. This is great news for Cordiner and The Black List service, but what does it mean for the rest of us?
For those of you keeping score at home, this is not the first success story from The Black List service (for those of you unfamiliar with The Black List service for screenwriters to upload their screenplays for industry professionals to read, check out our previous posts here and here). In fact, back in April, The Wrap announced the first international sale of a spec script discovered from The Black List service. These big announcements certainly generate buzz for The Black List, but what do they really mean for aspiring screenwriters? Let's take a closer look.
1. The Black List service is making connections between new screenwriters and industry professionals.
Let's start with the obvious: these success stories highlight the potential value proposition of The Black List's screenplay uploading service. Aspiring screenwriters now have a place where they can upload their screenplays and if those screenplays are reviewed and rated high enough, industry professionals will download and read them. This is a big deal because most agents, managers and production companies in Hollywood don't even open query letters anymore, so new screenwriters really have very few ways to get their scripts read by people who can actually produce movies or offer writing assignments. In the best case scenarios, new screenwriters are discovered, signed by agents and managers, sell spec screenplays and land paid writing assignments.
2. These success stories represent a tiny fraction of screenplays uploaded to The Black List.
Back in early April, The Black List reported that during the five months since the service's launch in October, 3,651 screenplays were uploaded. So if we don't even add in the screenplays uploaded over the past two months, these success stories represent less than 0.1% of the screenplays uploaded to The Black List. To be fair, several more connections are likely happening between managers, production companies and writers on a smaller scale that don't lead to big headlines.
If these big headlines are what get us to sit up and take notice of The Black List service, but really only represent a tiny fraction of the screenplays in the service (as one should expect), what is the real value proposition for aspiring screenwriters? A better way to look at the service is how many screenplays are downloaded by industry professionals and how frequently a screenplay is downloaded.
3. Over 40% of uploaded screenplays are downloaded by industry professionals, but only a select few scripts generate wide interest.
In the first five months of The Black List, uploaded scripts were downloaded a total of 4,931 times. The chart below shows that the vast majority of scripts are downloaded between 1-5 times. Also, if we add up the total number of screenplays that are downloaded based on the chart's data, we realize that just over 40% of uploaded screenplays are downloaded by industry professionals. This is much more promising than the 0.1% headline success rate and means that the value proposition of The Black List is a screenplay with a good rating and the right content and tags for a particular industry professional has a decent chance of being downloaded.
If we parse this data further, we notice that just over 10% of uploaded screenplays are downloaded more than five times, and just under 5% of uploaded screenplays are creating a real stir in the industry with over ten downloads. So while it's good that over two-fifths of uploaded screenplays to The Black List are downloaded, it should come as no surprise that only a few uploaded screenplays stand out.
Also, The Black List service requires a $25/month subscription to host a screenplay, plus an optional $50 for a review of a screenplay. Since most downloads are based on a screenplay's rating, the optional $50 review is basically a requirement if you hope to get your screenplay read by an industry professional. So the costs, while not exorbitant, need to be factored into the value proposition.
For the majority of aspiring screenwriters, The Black List offers a screenplay hosting and review service that will provide a rating and review of a screenplay and make that screenplay available to its industry professional members for download. Screenwriters can track the downloads of their screenplays and even upload revised versions of their screenplays to the database. If nothing else, screenwriters can use their screenplay's rating to benchmark their writing against the community of uploaded screenplays as well as screenplays from professional screenwriters that The Black List tracks.
With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, an aspiring screenwriter just may find success through The Black List service. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
What do you think about the most recent success story of Richard Cordiner's discovery via The Black List and his deal with Warner Bros.? Do you think The Black List service provides a strong value proposition for aspiring screenwriters? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments.
Link: The Black List