Warner Bros. Hires Screenwriter from Black List Service, What Does This Mean for the Rest of Us?

Spacesuit - Black List - Richard CordinerEarlier 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

[via Deadline and The Wrap]

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Your Comment


I think this great for aspiring screenwriters, but only if they take it with a grain of salt. This service offers the ability to show your writing to the industry, but at the same time it does not mean that it will be shown. So, if one goes into it understanding that, it can be very useful, but it is not the only way people should be trying.

May 24, 2013 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


where can one find " The Shark is Not Working?"

May 26, 2013 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Black List coverage service is like hanging your script on a clothes line in hopes someone walking by might see it and try it on. There are multiple problems with this for writers which no article seems to want to call out the Black List for and those are 1) A writer is putting their ideas out there for anyone to steal 2) Writers are not being told who is looking at their material 3) Writers have no recourse like a response from companies to protect themselves.

I like the new service Greenlightmymovie.com better because as a writer I am able to select which companies view my work and I am guaranteed a response from them.

June 4, 2013 at 4:28PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


How does The Black List compare to the service provided by Ink Tip?

July 5, 2013 at 6:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Every day good things happen. It is important to record what they are. Now there is the way eachday write down what good happened to you. Then you can always remember how wonderful life canbe.


Pizi apps AS

July 16, 2013 at 2:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Do they accept pilots for original TV shows?

July 24, 2013 at 6:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

JR Wicker

Adolph Mondry MD
753 Virginia Street
Plymouth, Michigan 48170
Dear Sir: 2-24-14
I would like you to review “Highly Connected-and a Zombie too.”, a screenplay which plays like “War Games” and answers – what would you do if you were an athletic, handsome 16 year old down to earth genius with a phD in computer programming and dated the finest girl in town, but discovered that you subconsciously controlled the entire universe, and the universe seemed variably angry and inhabited by zombies and vampires and the like? It was represented by Jack Scagnetti.
Supernatural control in the screenplay is catchy like an infection and reflects the subconscious of the connected person - villain as well as hero. Kids mainly get afflicted, but a rare adult does too. Generally the bad guy is a bully. An antidote is discovered, which disconnects control, but until the connecter, a previously unknown new technology, is discovered and destroyed, the screenplay twists and turns around good and evil through an interesting number of computer generated special effects featuring feeble reactive military intervention; controlled meteorite trajectory guidance and other controlled natural weaponry; and, a chilling example of a connected monster delivering lethal lightning bursts from its finger tips as it pursues the hero, until comedy and love save the day. By the way the special effects can be realized quite inexpensively and even deleted for a TV show or stage play or added for a competitive lion’s share of a summer time market without detracting from the story. In any event plenty of latitude exists in the story to completely penetrate any desired market.
I published two editorials on high level esoteric scams. I wrote a hundred and fourteen page textbook on medical rip-offs, a two hundred and thirty page poem and fictional account of life from an esoteric point of view, two patents and six patent pendings, and a five hundred page novel examining power and control along with its consequences throughout history (especially in the Middle East).
I am a physician and a self- taught mathematician, physicist, and engineer. I own a software company. I am an energy and medical advisor to the White House.

Yours truly,
Adolph Mondry MD

February 25, 2014 at 8:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM