Elvis Mitchell hosts a interview show called The Treatment, which is must-listen for anyone involved in creative pursuits, particularly filmmaking.
A recent episode sees Elvis chatting to Franklin Leonard, creator of something that’s endeared him to screenwriters the world over, The Black List. What began as his personal means of tracking great scripts became a phenomenon and highlighted a key flaw in the Hollywood development model: chronic risk aversion.
Great scripts are acknowledged but not produced because there’s something “difficult” about them. The Black List allows these another bite of the cherry, using group think to the benefit of originality for a change. It’s a simple idea that’s proved incredibly powerful, and other creative industries should take note.
One of the things we do is hold up a mirror to the industry itself and say, ‘This is what you love. Is this what you’re making?’
Some of the best amongst produced Black List titles include Stoker by Wentworth Miller, Lars and the Real Girl by Nancy Oliver and Take This Walz by Sarah Polley. Oh and a little thing called Django Unchained (Black List scripts are not by definition by unknown writers, they’re just scripts that haven’t yet received a green light).
Your racial background, your gender background, those things have nothing to do with your ability to deliver great screenplay… On some level, I just want to see a lot of good, different movies.
What most impresses me about Franklin Leonard and the work he does with the Black List (which has now expanded to encompass an open submission portal, by the way) is that he’s apparently doing so from a place of unabashed idealism.