December 12, 2007

The 2007 Black List - A look ahead...

The 3rd annual "Black List" has been released in what is becoming an increasingly anticipated (see: important and influential) event in Hollywood. The list is compiled by Frank Leonard, an executive with Mirage Pictures, and it ranks the most buzzed about screenplays that have yet to be produced. Leonard asks his peers to list their top ten scripts, and then compiles the responses into a list ranked by number of "mentions" a particular script receives (a minimum of two is needed to be listed). Its credibility confirmed after only two years, the list is now truly a preview of the most anticipated films of the next year or two.

Not surprisingly, a spot on the list has essentially become a career catalyst for amateur screenwriters. I noted in my Lars and the Real Girl review that its screenplay was rumored to have heavily benefited from inclusion (15 mentions) on the original list in 2005. The same goes for this year's Juno (24 mentions) and Things We Lost in the Fire (25 mentions). Inclusion on the 2006 list likely played a significant role in the production of this year's Rendition (19), Lions for Lambs (6), A Mighty Heart (4), Superbad (4), and a number of the thirty or so others that received the minimum of two mentions. Take a look at the two lists to see how many you recognize.

So the list has, for better or worse, become the defining achievement for many aspiring writers. Make it on the list, and your chances for production exponentially increase - every studio is paying attention. At least that's how it looks to me.

What, then, can we expect from the 2007 list? Some disappointments, If I'm honest as I look through the synopses (lots of cliched terrorism movies, for starters). Nevertheless, definitely watch for the top three: Recount (44 mentions!), Farragut North (43), and Passengers (38), all of which are reportedly already in production. Though there do not appear to be many interesting ideas here, I am excited for Selma (29), The Road (24 - see the influence of a bestseller), This Side of the Truth (17), The Human Factor (11), Get Back (5), Valkyrie (5), Blindness (3), Doubt (3), and Eli Webb (3), among others.

Despite the excitement surrounding the Black List, it must be even more frustrating to be a screenwriter now that you have to be on it to get ahead in your career. I'm sure there are a lot of politics behind the scenes here. Oh well, we're just here to watch what gets made...

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