What Is The Blacklist In The Context Of Screenplay Contests?

Are you curious to know what exactly is the blacklist when it comes to screenplay contests? Well, let’s dive right in and find out! The blacklist, in the context of screenplay contests, refers to a list of the most-liked unproduced screenplays circulating within the industry. These scripts have garnered high praise from industry professionals, making them a sought-after resource for producers and filmmakers looking for fresh and exceptional talent. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of the blacklist and how it can impact aspiring screenwriters’ careers. So, buckle up and get ready to uncover the secrets behind the blacklist!

What is the blacklist in the context of screenplay contests?

The blacklist, in the context of screenplay contests, refers to a platform that showcases the most promising scripts and screenwriters in the industry. It is a curated list of unproduced scripts that have received high evaluations from professional readers. The purpose of the blacklist is to provide exposure and recognition to talented screenwriters and connect them with industry professionals, such as agents, managers, and producers.

What Is The Blacklist In The Context Of Screenplay Contests?

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Definition of the blacklist

The blacklist is a collection of screenplays that have been highly rated by industry readers but have not yet been produced. It serves as a resource for industry professionals who are looking for fresh and exceptional scripts. In essence, it is a seal of approval for screenwriters, signaling that their work has been recognized by experts in the field.

Origin and purpose of the blacklist

The blacklist was first introduced in 2005 by Franklin Leonard, a former development executive, as an anonymous survey among his peers in the film industry. This survey aimed to identify the most liked, yet unproduced screenplays. The positive response and the demand for the scripts on the list led Leonard to create an annual publication called “The Black List.” The purpose of the blacklist is to highlight the best unproduced scripts and provide a platform for screenwriters to gain visibility in a highly competitive industry.

Screenwriting industry’s perspective on the blacklist

The screenwriting industry regards the blacklist as a valuable resource for discovering promising talent and quality scripts. Many industry professionals actively search for scripts on the blacklist in their quest to find new and compelling stories to bring to the screen. The blacklist helps to narrow down the overwhelming number of scripts submitted to production companies and provides a curated selection of scripts with high potential.

How the blacklist operates

The blacklist operates as a yearly survey among development executives, agents, producers, and other professionals in the film industry. They are invited to anonymously submit a list of their favorite unproduced screenplays from that year. The scripts that receive the most mentions are then compiled into “The Black List” and made available to industry insiders. The list includes a brief description of each screenplay and the contact information of the respective screenwriters.

What Is The Blacklist In The Context Of Screenplay Contests?

Benefits of the blacklist for screenwriters

For screenwriters, the blacklist offers several significant benefits. Firstly, being included in “The Black List” can greatly increase their visibility and potentially attract attention from industry professionals. This exposure can lead to opportunities for representation by agents or managers, as well as potential script sales or assignments.

Secondly, the blacklist provides validation and recognition of a screenwriter’s talent. Being selected for the blacklist means that their script has received positive evaluations from industry readers, which can be a powerful endorsement when pitching their work to other industry professionals.

Lastly, the blacklist also serves as a networking tool for screenwriters. By including their contact information in “The Black List,” they create an opportunity for interested parties to reach out and potentially collaborate on future projects. This networking aspect can be invaluable in an industry where relationships play a crucial role.

Controversies surrounding the blacklist

While the blacklist has gained popularity and recognition, it has also faced some controversies. One of the main concerns is the lack of transparency in the selection process. Some argue that the anonymity of the surveys makes it difficult to validate the credibility and objectivity of the evaluations. Additionally, there have been instances where scripts with high evaluations on the blacklist failed to find success in the eyes of audiences and critics.

Another controversy revolves around the representation of diverse voices and stories on the blacklist. Critics argue that the dominance of certain genres and narratives perpetuates the industry’s bias towards commercially appealing scripts while disregarding underrepresented voices.

Effectiveness and credibility of the blacklist

The effectiveness and credibility of the blacklist have been a subject of debate in the industry. While it has undeniably helped launch the careers of many screenwriters and led to successful script sales, it is important to approach it as one of many tools in a screenwriter’s toolbox. The blacklist is not a guarantee of success, but rather a stepping stone that can open doors and generate interest in a script.

Its effectiveness largely depends on the individual screenwriter’s talent, persistence, and ability to navigate the industry. Ultimately, a great screenplay paired with a compelling pitch and powerful execution is what will truly grab the attention of industry professionals.

Other similar platforms or services

Apart from the blacklist, there are other platforms and services available for screenwriters to gain exposure and connect with industry professionals. These include fellowships, screenwriting competitions, script coverage services, and online screenwriting communities.

Fellowships, such as the Nicholl Fellowship and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, offer mentorship opportunities and industry exposure to selected screenwriters. Screenwriting competitions, like the Austin Film Festival and the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, provide a chance for scripts to be recognized and potentially celebrated.

Script coverage services, such as the Tracking Board and Script Pipeline, offer feedback and analysis of scripts, helping screenwriters refine their work. Additionally, online screenwriting communities, such as the International Screenwriters’ Association and Stage 32, provide platforms for collaboration, feedback, and networking among screenwriters.

Tips for screenwriters regarding the blacklist

For screenwriters aspiring to get their scripts on the blacklist, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Firstly, focus on writing a compelling and original script that stands out from the rest. Craft well-developed characters, gripping narratives, and unique storytelling elements that will captivate readers.

Secondly, seek professional feedback and revisions. Consider hiring script consultants or joining writing workshops to strengthen your screenplay. Feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and make your script more marketable.

Lastly, remain persistent and active in the industry. Network, attend industry events, and build relationships with other professionals. It is through these connections that opportunities can emerge, leading to your script being noticed, evaluated, and potentially included in “The Black List.”


In conclusion, the blacklist in the context of screenplay contests is an influential platform that highlights the best unproduced scripts and serves as a bridge between talented screenwriters and industry professionals. While it offers valuable exposure and validation, it is essential to approach it as one tool among many in a screenwriter’s journey. By focusing on crafting exceptional scripts, seeking feedback, and actively engaging in the industry, screenwriters can increase their chances of gaining recognition and success.

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