12.12.2011 Screenwriting Blog No Comments

The Black List 2011 highlights the best spec screenplays of the year

The 2011 Black List is here! Congratulations to all of the writers who made the list.

For those who don’t know, the Black List compiles the “most liked” unproduced (as of voting time) screenplays of the year, as voted on by studio, agency and production company executives in Hollywood. What began as an underground project has become a major announcement for the development community that is reported on by sources such as The Hollywood Reporter.

Past winners like Juno and The Social Network have proven the list as a prescient judge of quality film storytelling.

It has become a great honor for a writer to land on the Black List, and it’s used by agents for bragging rights and as momentum to land an assignment for a writer, or, perhaps more importantly, to push the script into production as a film.

Download the 27-page Black List 2011 PDF

I’ve been told that the script with the most votes, “The Imitation Game” by Graham Moore, was the odds-on favorite for months, and just last week it also topped another industry list, The Hit List, which is compiled by the fine folks at Tracking-Board.com.

You may have heard that Moore’s winning script was a million dollar sale from a new writer. Well, not quite. Yes, it’s a 7-figure sale, but it’s his first feature-length screenplay sale–he’s a published novelist and has written for TV. From Deadline’s article on the script sale in October…

First-time screenwriter Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game was snapped up by Warner Bros in a 7-figure deal. I’ve learned that the studio outbid half a dozen indie companies because Leonardo DiCaprio ”has the inside track” to play the lead and was chasing the project. But so far no talent is attached. I hear Ron Howard is interested in directing.

Moore’s script sale is still a great achievement, but don’t believe the myth that he just walked into CAA off the street, script in hand, and the rest is history. This guy had been honing his writing chops for years.

After a quick scan of the 2011 Black List, here’s my initial thoughts:

  • Good: More than one new writer made the list.
  • Good: Only two vampire scripts.
  • Good: Not as many political scripts as last year (as they almost never get produced).
  • Bad: Still too many zombies, hitmen and apocalyptic stories, IMHO.
  • Bad: They should list the genre of the script before the logline! It’s not always apparent.

Keep in mind that many of these loglines are written by an agent, manager or assistant, not the writer. So if you don’t think they’re well-phrased or compelling, you can’t necessarily blame the writer. Which do you find the most intriguing?

Download the 27-page Black List 2011 PDF

I noticed they must have more people voting now, as the top script got 133 votes this year, compared to 49 votes for last year’s winner, “College Republicans.”

You will also see trends in the subject matter. For example, two Pinocchio scripts? Is this worse than the competing Snow White and King Arthur scripts that made the list in recent years? You decide.

Here’s the Top 15 vote-getters (the # above the title is the number of votes the script got):

133
THE IMITATION GAME by Graham Moore
The story of British WWII cryptographer Alan Turing, who cracked the German Enigma code and later poisoned himself after being criminally pros¬ecuted for being a homosexual..
AGENCY:  CAA
AGENT: JP Evans, Jacqueline Sacerio
MANAGEMENT:  The Safran Company
MANAGER:  Tom Drumm
FINANCIER:  Warner Brothers
PRODUCER: Ido Ostrowsky, Nora Grossman

84
WHEN THE STREET LIGHTS GO ON by Chris Hutton, Eddie O’Keefe
In the early 1980s, a town suffers through the aftermath of a brutal murder of a high school girl and a teacher.
AGENCY: WME
AGENT: Simon Faber, Sarah Self
MANAGEMENT: Tariq Merhab Management
MANAGER: Tariq Merhab
PRODUCER: Imagine Entertainment

59
CHEWIE by Evan Susser, Van Robichaux
A satirical behind the scenes look at the making of Star Wars through the eyes of Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca.
AGENCY:  WME
AGENT: Mike Esola
MANAGEMENT: Industry Entertainment
MANAGER: Jess Rosenthal

53
THE OUTSIDER by Andrew Baldwin
In post World War II Japan, an American former prisoner-of-war rises in the yakuza.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Jay Baker, John Garvey
MANAGEMENT: Anonymous Content
MANAGER: Bard Dorros, David Kanter
FINANCIER: Warner Brothers
PRODUCER: Linson Entertainment

43
FATHER DAUGHTER TIME: A TALE OF ARMED ROBBERY AND ESKIMO KISSES by Matthew Aldrich
A man goes on a three state crime spree with an accomplice, his eleven year old daughter.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: John Garvey, Stuart Manashil
MANAGEMENT: Silent R Management
MANAGER: Jewerl Ross
FINANCIER: Warner Brothers
PRODUCER: Pearl Street Productions

33
IN THE EVENT OF A MOON DISASTER by Mike Jones
An alternate telling of the historic APOLLO 11 mission to land on the moon that examines what might have happened if the astronauts had crash landed there.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: David Kopple, JP Evans, Matt Rosen
MANAGEMENT: The Gotham Group
MANAGER: Lindsay Williams
PRODUCER: FilmNation

Download the 27-page Black List 2011 PDF

30
MAGGIE by John Scott 3
As a “walking dead” virus spreads across the country, a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Billy Hawkins, Dan Rabinow
MANAGEMENT: Sly Predator
MANAGER: Trevor Kaufman
FINANCIER: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
PRODUCER: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Trevor Kaufman, Matthew Baer

30
THE CURRENT WAR by Michael Mitnick
Based on the true story of the race between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to develop a practical system of electricity and sell their respective inventions to the country and the world.
AGENCY: WME
AGENT: Simon Faber
MANAGEMENT: Fourth Floor Productions
MANAGER: Jeff Silver

28
THE END by Aron Eli Coleite
Four people – a veteran broadcaster in London, a sixteen year old girl and her boyfriend in Ann Arbor, and a devoted family man in Shanghai – each try to make peace with their lives before an interstellar event ends the world in six hours.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Matt Rosen, Martin Spencer
FINANCIER: Warner Brothers

27
BEYOND THE PALE by Chad Feehan
Teenage siblings suspect they’ve been ripped off by the town undertaker, but what they discover is much more sinister than either imagined.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Matt Rosen, Jacqueline Sacerio
MANAGEMENT: Management 360
MANAGER: Guymon Casady, Mary Lee
FINANCIER: Vendome Pictures
PRODUCER: The Fort

27
EZEKIEL MOSS by Keith Bunin
A mysterious stranger who possibly has the power to channel the souls of the dead changes the lives of everyone in a small Nebraska town, especially a young widow and her 11-year-old son.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Rowena Arguelles
MANAGEMENT: Kaplan/Perrone
MANAGER: Alex Lerner, Sean Perrone
PRODUCER: A Likely Story, Mandalay Pictures

24
GRACE OF MONACO by Arash Amel
Grace Kelly, age 33 and having given up her acting career to focus on being a full time princess, uses her political maneuvering behind the scenes to save Monaco while French Leader Charles de Gaulle and Monaco’s Prince Rainier III are at odds over the principality’s standing as a tax haven.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Rich Green, Matt Rosen
FINANCIER: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
PRODUCER: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam

24
HE’S FUCKIN’ PERFECT by Lauryn Kahn
A social media savvy girl who is pessimistic about love finds the perfect guy and decides to use her internet research skills to turn herself into his perfect match.
AGENCY: WME
AGENT: Cliff Roberts
FINANCIER: Fox 2000
PRODUCER: Gary Sanchez

23
BETHLEHEM by Larry Brenner
A group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse make an alliance with a vampire, trading themselves as food in exchange for protection since zombies don’t eat vampire.
AGENCY: CAA
AGENT: Martin Spencer, Jacqueline Sacerio
MANAGEMENT: Magnet Management
MANAGER: Mitch Solomon
PRODUCER: Roth Films

20
THE THREE MISFORTUNES OF GEPPETTO: by Michael Vukadinovich
A prequel to the story of Pinocchio in which
Geppetto endures a life of misfortune, war, and adventure, all to be with Julia Moon, his true love.
AGENCY: ICM
AGENT: Ava Jamshidi
FINANCIER: Fox
PRODUCER: 21 Laps Entertainment

Download the 27-page Black List 2011 PDF

Take a look at the full Black List and tell us which ones are your favs in the comments below.

Good Luck and Happy Writing,

Dan

Click to read excerpts

“There is a lot of great advice here…
Most important, as I read Calvisi’s Story Maps,
I was inspired to rethink my current project.
And that’s what it’s all about, right?”
-Script Magazine

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