The Black List CEO and founder Franklin Leonard. 

Warner Bros. Pictures, The Black List and Veerhuis Pictures have re-teamed to shine a light on emerging Aussie writing talent for the second year running, offering up the chance to be considered for a two-step blind feature film writing deal with WB.

Last year’s inaugural Australian Scriptwriting Opportunity saw more than 400 script submissions, with the top 10 then shortlisted for “The Aussie List”.

Maziar Lahooti and Steve McCall were eventually awarded the script deal with Warner Bros off the strength of their screenplay Die Well. However, many of the other shortlisted writers were also able to secure representation for the first time, and projects on their slates were optioned.

The initiative was devised after WA-based producer Chris Veerhuis was challenged by former WB president of creative development and worldwide production Greg Silverman to find and present to him emerging Australian screenwriting talent.

Silverman then put Veerhuis in touch with Franklin Leonard, CEO and founder of The Black List, with whom the studio had previously worked to identify talented writers from backgrounds traditionally under-represented in the industry.

It was the first country-specific initiative by The Black List, which polls Hollywood development executives each year about their favourite unproduced screenplays. Over 400 Black List screenplays have gone on to be produced, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, Argo and Spotlight. First founded in 2005, the accompanying website which allows screenwriters to make their scripts available for feedback from industry was launched seven years ago.

Submissions for this year’s opportunity will be once again be handled by The Black List, and is supported by Screenwest.

Leonard, Veerhuis and Lahooti will talk about the program on a ‘Writing Into The Future’ panel today at CinefestOZ.

Leonard says: “The first year of any opportunity like this was always going to be something of an experiment, so we’re overjoyed that it was successful enough that we’re able to return with Chris and Warner Bros and repeat the attempt. I look forward to sitting in a theater and watching whatever comes of Maziar and Steven’s blind deal and reading the work of the upcoming year’s finalists.”

Veerhuis tells IF: “The Australian Scriptwriting Opportunity demonstrated to local writers the value of The Black List and highlighted the site as an effective tool for developing, showcasing and sharing scripts. The ‘Aussie List’ Top 10, allowed producers, screen agencies and practitioners alike to have the cream of emerging screen writing talent available at a glance.

“We all know screenwriting talent exists here in Australia, we just created a new pathway for them be discovered.”

The focus of the initiative is on new and emerging writers: to be eligible, you must be have writing credits on no more than one feature film or up to three hours of broadcast TV (or a combination of both). First time writers are encouraged. Writers must also be at least 18 years old, and a citizen or a permanent resident of Australia.

Writers who host a script on The Black List website for at least one week are welcome to opt in for consideration for this opportunity no later November 28.

After the close of the submission period, The Black List will determine a short list of writers and present them to WB and Veerhuis Pictures. WB will then announce the recipient(s), if any, of a two-step (first draft screenplay and rewrite) blind script deal.

The Black List recommends – but does not require – that writers obtain at least one script evaluation for their hosted scripts, as the data from script evaluations inform the process by which the short list of writers is determined. The Black List offers writers many opportunities for free script evaluations. Evaluations can also be purchased for $USD75.

To ensure that the results of a script evaluation are timely and included with script submissions, script evaluation must be ordered by October 28.

If a writer is selected for a blind script deal, such writer will be engaged by Warner Bros Pictures (or an affiliated entity) to write a new feature film script.

More info here.

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