Opening up gmail to read that my pilot script Blowback got a 9 on The Black List was a great way to start a day. While most of us alternate between love and hate of our own work (depending on mood, moon-cycle, and how much coffee we’ve mainlined), getting 3rd party approval of something I’ve labored on for months on end can be quite gratifying to say the least.
Of course I realize that one thing common on the Black List is how drastically ratings can vary from reader to reader. Having cycled several scripts through their site, I’ve certainly noticed that some readers will absolutely hate some aspects of a script that other readers will think are the strongest points. My philosophy on this is to take everything, good or bad, with a grain of salt, and then really think about the points made in the critiques to try and improve my screenplay. Even some reviews that I haven’t agreed with ultimately wound up inspiring some minor tweaks.
For now I’m just going to bask in the glow of validation before hitting the bricks once more. Getting a 9 is certainly great, but it’s still an uphill slog to get a script out there and into the right hands. Of course meeting a bevy of interesting folks while pursuing those ends can be rewarding as well.
3 thoughts on “A 9 on the Black List”
Congratulations on the 9. From your experience cycling several scripts through their site, do you feel like some readers skim through the scripts? If so, how do you derive value from such feedback?
Hey, thanks for the support!
Ya know, only a few felt like they just skimmed (perhaps I’ve been lucky). I’ve received bad ratings with excellent and well thought out critiques that have led to some pretty effective story tweaks, but I’ve also had high ratings whose notes were kind of half-assed fluff jobs. Obviously we all want a high rating, but it’s so great when you can tell a reader really paid attention and brings specifics to their critique.
I’d say that in all but the most blatant “this person didn’t get it” comments, there are almost always at least a few nuggets I ultimately find useful to think about (putting ego aside and just letting their comment sink in), regardless of whether or not I make revisions based on them. Every time I get to see how someone else perceives my stories it is a great wake up call to what works and what doesn’t. You know as well as I do that when you’ve been with a story too long it can be easy to lose objectivity.
Have you had experiences with the site? If so, good, bad, or a smattering of both?
I posted something up there not too long ago, for the first time. My mind is still boggled.
One of the readers said, “With its highly creative concept, this film offers a unique central premise..” That reader gave me a premise rating of 4/10.
But, overall, my opinion of that readers feedback was that they didn’t pay attention. I seriously feel like they skimmed and maybe only read dialogue or something, if even all of that. And, I’m not comparing to my own impression. I’m comparing to other feedback I’ve received, from at least equally worthy sources, if not more worthy (the worthiness of some BL readers has been brought into question, in my mind).
I also felt like that reader was incapable of understanding nuance and doesn’t understand that things can be a little gray, as opposed to black and white.
Some of the questions the reader posed still boggle my mind, like, Why is this character afraid of encountering the people she’s trying to escape from while she’s trying to escape from them? Really?
I’m currently debating whether to rate that review a 1 or a 2. The argument for 2 is that I can glean something from it. But, part of the reason I can glean something from it is because it exists within a group of other feedback I have.
And, I’m not sure I’m liking what I’m gleaning.
In writing this screenplay, I tried to give my audience some credit. Some of my audience and feedback has proven to deserve being given credit. The aforementioned reader, however, seems to want me to chew their food for them.
Now, I find myself writing a new draft that I’m not sure I believe in as much – tailored to lazy readers. It gives the audience less credit and has too much exposition, in my opinion. So, why am I writing it?
Maybe I’ve become convinced that there are too many lazy readers out there. So, now, instead of writing the expositionally sparse script I would want to see, I find myself writing something that lazy readers don’t have to chew. And, I’m not sure I believe in it as much.
On the flip side, maybe this is a change that needs to occur. But, it’s disappointing. At least, for now.