While I admit that some of you may possibly be interested in this little (very early) postmortem, I hesitate to say that it’s anything less than completely necessary for me. I have been so perpetually blown away by the response to this…whatever it is that this thing is…that I need to decompress from it all. So, look – you’re getting a numbered list, and I honestly don’t care how much of a hack you think that makes me. Also, my hackery could blow your mind no matter how little you think of me. So suck on that butt, buttsucks.
1. I received 423 Submissions in total. I cannot even begin to tell you how giddy I am that the number ballooned to that many. Never in my wildest feverdreams did I think I’d hit those numbers. I thought *maybe* a hundred, tops.
2. It must be noted, in all perfectly honest humility, that I probably wouldn’t have crested even that first 100 without the generous contribution from Franklin Leonard and the wonderful people at The Black List. This includes those of you who discussed the experiment and offered each other support on The Black Board. I am not at all ashamed or embarrassed to know that most of you entered for those two months on the Black List. I would have too.
3. As to those Rules. Oh, how the Rules seemed to vex so many of you so much. I have to admit it was a *little* fun watching some of you dance and fret. But only a little. To wit, the Rules were Rules for a few main reasons:
–I wanted to see how well you paid attention to detail.
–I wanted to weed out those that couldn’t pay attention to detail…and also cut down on the net number of Submissions I’d have to read. All in all, about 50 entries were deleted without being read. And that was AFTER several Twitter/Facebook/Blog warnings that some of you were fucking up. Hell, I even sent out a few personal emails to alert some writers when they’d missed something. I’m a kind, kind man in that way.
–I wanted to see if any of you would bother to break the Rules in a way that kept me interested. Very few did, which is a bummer, but was not at all unexpected.
4. Of those 423 Submissions that met my seemingly-random standards, I read every single word of every single one. If you made the effort to enter, I owed you the read. Simple as that.
5. Some Submissions I discarded after the first read. In fact, the vast majority (over 250) went this way. At the end of the day, the numbers played out, and the maxim stays true: most of the people who want desperately to be writers are never going to be employed or recognized in any meaningful way as writers. It doesn’t behoove any of us to gloss over this or say it in a potentially less offensive way. It’s just bone-dry fact.
6. What disappointed me most were the Submissions that read like job applications. And there were WAY too many of them. Especially after the one update I made on the site flat-out BEGGING you guys for more passion. It rarely came. Again: many aren’t meant to write.
7. The second most disappointing were the Submissions that basically just said, over and over again for an entire page, some iteration of, “I need a kick in the ass and this would provide me with it.” Wow, really? No shit. That’s more or less the bare minimum I’d expect of you. I could write paragraphs describing how not shocked I am that you procrastinate. But if telling me that was all you had, you were firing blanks. I’m not interested in spending my time on writers who need ME + $250 to get them writing. If you can’t be arsed to ever write it on your own, you’re probably never going to write it. On the flip side, I was REALLY impressed with the handful of writers that realized this and turned the pressure on themselves.
A NOTE: That’s not to say that if you talked in ANY way about motivation/procrastination you were dismissed out of hand; far from it. But if it was your only expressed motivation, it wasn’t enough.
8. Anyone who said, “I’ll be writing along no matter what.” I believe you. And I hope you believe you. And I hope you write along. You owe it to yourself to do so.
9. Why “The Selected Ten”? I think I covered this before, but I just thought it sounded cool, like a group of characters we’d have met on LOST. Of COURSE I know it’s patently pretentious and cringe-worthy. That’s part of the fun!
10. At the end of the day, by nature, who I picked came down to my personal tastes and instincts. I am POSITIVE I passed over a couple people who would have written great scripts. I am POSITIVE that another writer in the same position might have made wholly different choices. I am NOT in any way, shape or form claiming that the eleven writers I’ve selected for this are now industry game-breakers. They simply wrote the one-page declarations I believed the most in.
11. If you wrote a comedic piece, I was really hard on you; some funny people wrote funny entries that just missed me in one way or another. If you admitted it had been a long time between scripts or that you’d just started writing, I was almost entirely dismissive; too few of you are ready and almost none of you have read enough scripts to take a legit shot at a feature. If you announced or gave the indication that a move to Los Angeles was impossible for you, I held it against you. A couple of you were, by your own admissions, *very* pregnant; I hope you resubmit when your schedules are a touch more stable. If you were currently living or had lived in Cleveland, bonus points.
12. I think eleventy billion people named “Emma” submitted. It makes me sort of sad to have picked none, though several were close.
13. Only three – ONLY 3 – writers’ Submissions were in screenplay format. I thought there’d be WAY more. I’m flabbergasted there weren’t more.
14. Eight writers, for one reason or another, mentioned Scarlett Johannson in their Submission. As far as I recall, not a single other celebrity, male or female, was mentioned in the other 415. I have no fucking clue what conclusion to draw from this data.
15. What was I looking for? Passion. Engagement. Differentiation. What I consider to be “It”. My definition of “It” is, by its very nature, different than anyone else’s definition. Again, I’m POSITIVE I missed someone with “It”, either by my definition or someone else’s. That said, I’m 100% confident in the Ten I chose. These are the Ten I wanted. They all had something that struck me on a deeper level. That’s it.
16. That said, I think I’m taking some HUGE chances here, chances that I’m taking knowing full-well that I may have passed on a safer option. Safer, in this case, meaning a writer who I was confident could and would complete the script in the allotted time and not have produced a steaming pile of cowflop. Often, I went with “potentially exciting” over “seems dependable”. There are some VERY green writers in this group. There are some who I don’t think have what I would consider a working knowledge of screen story. There are some that seem to think this could be their last shot. And there are those that I think are already in the pocket. But getting to work with writers who are on different levels of experience and plans of attack? Holy shit, that energizes me.
17. In short, I have NO IDEA how this is going to go and how it’ll end up working out. I *think* that these writers will finish a script, and I know they all have the potential to write something that turns heads. But it could all implode and turn out to be nothing. I haven’t the foggiest idea what to expect, but MAN am I excited to get rolling and see where this goes.
18. To everyone that submitted: I find myself truly humbled and even more impressed with your gumption to fire off even that one-pager. Trust me: if you can write that page, you can finish a script. You just have to overcome that initial barrier again. And then do it 90-119 more times
19. Please, write along with us. Let me know how it goes for you. Yes, I’ll be working on my own script and working closely with the Selected Ten, but I will still be available to all of you now and again. If you have a question or something to share, email me. I’d love to hear your battlefield tales as they unfold.
I think that’s it for now. Some of you Not Selected (aw) will, as I stated before, be receiving emails of encouragement in the coming days; this just means you showed me something and I want to encourage you further. And, while I won’t answer emails about why I didn’t select your particular Submission, questions and comments are always welcome.
In just a few days I’ll be introducing you to “The Ten”. Stay tuned.