Archive for May 15th, 2014

For those who don’t already know The Black List is a list of the best scripts that haven’t as yet been made into a film. It started life in 2005 when film executive Franklin Leonard surveyed around 100 of his peers. To quote the list: “THE BLACK LIST is not a “best of” list. It is, at best, a “most liked” list.” I fist heard of The Black List a few years ago, I think it was in relation to Diablo Cody around the time of the release of Juno (listed second on the first list with 24 mentions). The list was spoken about in such a way that everyone already knew about it, I had no idea what they were talking about and had to look it up. I found the idea of a list of the best undeveloped scripts interesting but unsurprising in this list obsessed world. The list seems to be mentioned more regularly these days, I’m not sure if more films are been made from it or if people are just more aware of it. The internet is full of lists of best and worst movies from the list. I’m more interested in the variety of films that came from the list than the quality of them.Diablo Cody

There are certain films that you expect to have come from the list, these include indie hits like: IN BRUGES (Martin McDonagh), WHIP IT (Shauna Cross), TAKE THIS WALTZ (Sarah Polley), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall), JUNO (Diablo Cody), ADVENTURELAND (Greg Mottola), 500 DAYS OF SUMMER (Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber), NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (Lorene Scafaria).Sarah Polley

But then there are other films that you don’t expect to have come from the list. After the success of TWILIGHT the studios seemed to be buying up the rights to every half successful Young Adult novel, amazingly both THE HUNGER GAMES (Billy Ray) and ENDER’S GAME (D.B. Weiss) started life on The Black List. Three best Picture Oscar winners came from the list: ARGO (Chris Terrio), THE KING’S SPEECH (David Seidler) and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Simon Beaufoy). In total Black List films have been nominated for 171 Oscars winning 35.Lorene Scafaria

The real surprise for me are the big name directors who ultimately made their own films from the listed scripts: THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Paul Thomas Anderson), DJANGO UNCHAINED and INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (both Quentin Tarantino). As well as THE PRESTIGE (Jonathan Nolan), The resulting film being directed by his brother Christopher Nolan. All three directors are at a stage in their career that one imagines that within reason they make what they want, when they want.Quentin Tarantino

Now the survey is conducted annually with an increased voter pool. It has also evolved into a showcase for new screenwriters. For a fee anyone can upload their scripts to a database where industry professionals can see them. And on the subject of new screenwriters, my favourite film of last year, Chan-wook Park’s STOKER came from a Black List script from first time screenwriters Wentworth Miller best know as an actor in the TV show Prison Break and the Resident Evil movies.Wentworth Miller

The variety and varying quality of films made from the list is a reflection of cinema as a whole. There are many possible reasons for this but I believe it is simply because the script is just one part of the film-making process. While a great script in the hands of the perfect director with the best cast will result in a great film, a great script can be destroyed by poor direction, acting or editing. Equally an average script may be rewritten during the production process crating a brilliant film. Going forward I will be interested to see what movies come from The Black List but won’t necessarily have expectations for them over and above any other movie.

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