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TIFF Long Take - Ep. 2: The Science To A Successful Screenplay

Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, will make you want to immediately quit your job to become a screenwriter. Sorry.

Mar 3, 2017

In the second episode of TIFF Long Take, our hosts Rob and Geoff ask Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, about changing the game when it comes to screenplays.

Franklin Leonard is the founder and CEO of 'The Black List', an annual survey that compiles the "most liked" unproduced screenplays of the year. Since the list's creation in 2005, over 300 Blacklist scripts have been made into theatrical films, with 4 of them going on to win a Best Picture Oscar.

Franklin joins Rob and Geoff to talk about the early days of The Black List (2:35), how he's managed to "industrialize" the screenwriting process (5:55), and why, despite his love of data, he has trepidations about applying an analytical lens to an artistic form (8:50).

The three also discuss the difference between a "liked script" and a "good script" (11:50), how growing economic pressures have changed what kind of films get made (15:30), why biopics might be the safest bet for aspiring screenwriters (18:20), and why Franklin can't wait for a script about the David Bowie and Iman love story to come across his desk (hint hint, writers).

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Further reading:
Find out more about the List, and how you can submit your own script, at The Black List website
Read Harvard Magazine's excellent profile of Franklin. Because he went to Harvard. NBD.
Do you fear our robot overlords, and want them not to take all our screenwriting jobs? Writer Kyle Chayka says: relax.