For Denis, doing my blogger duty and reprinting a slightly edited version of his original post on DeadThingsOnSticks:
FROM the moment I heard about it, I was fascinated by the concept of The Blacklist. No, not the 1950's purge of screenwriters with supposed communist sympathies. This blacklist was more about the cool side of black -- more black ipod than black mark.
Each year, ninety Hollywood executives are polled and asked to mention their favorite scripts of the past twelve months. Although the organizers make it clear that the list does not represent the best only favorites, it is difficult to separate the two in a town where subjectivity rules.The fact that one of the most hated terms in Hollywood writer lore has been repurposed to shine a klieg light on talent, is, for me, the proof that the great thing about America is that everything finally does come around. But in Hollywood, looking for great new material is the norm.
Okay, there's nothing normal about it, but you know what I mean.
Indulge me here with a bit of personal history. For a little while, a period of say about a year, when I wasn't getting work, I was a reader for one of the Canadian networks. In that time, I read a bunch of pretty bad, undercooked scripts and did reader's reports. Several of the undercooked scripts I read were subsequently made into a few undercooked movies and MOW's. But there is this one script which haunted me.It haunts me still. I loved this script. I know the writer who wrote it, and he's a successful Canadian TV writer. He's worked on many big budget one-hour Canadian dramas.
But this script... it was a Canadian story about Canadian themes that nevertheless would have total universal appeal. It's about a forgotten icon and time in Canadian Cultural history. It's about Canada's place in the world, but in the same way that The Full Monty was about British de-industrialization. It covers similar ground to a novel that was a breakout hit a few years ago, and which won the Pulitzer Prize. This story, though...this story was true.
Damnit, I wish, I wish I could see that movie.
But the network passed. And as far as I know, (I've never talked with the writer about this), the project's dead. I wonder....are there more out there? Let's find out.
Announcing the First Maple Leaf List.
Here's how this will work. Accounting for Canada's smaller population and less vibrant industry, the thesis is nevertheless that there are excellent projects out there that for whatever reason, were passed over and not made. The hope is that we can discover some of these forgotten gems and maybe shine a little light on them.
What sort of project is eligible for the Maple Leaf List? The project can be any feature screenplay, 1/2 hour comedy/drama television series (based on pilot episode), 1 hr television series (based on pilot episode) or animated series (based on bible & sample script.) The project must have been under paid option to a production company or network in Canada in the last five years. (So, anything from Calendar year 2002 on.)
What sort of projects are not eligible? Spec scripts of any kind. Stage plays. Documentaries. Projects that were written on spec and never received any option money/development funding. This is not a search for new writing talent. This is a search for passed-over projects. Projects by people who are not Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants residing in one of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 Territories as are also ineligible.
Who can nominate a project? Theoretically, I'm going to leave the ability to nominate a project open to anyone, with this proviso: You cannot nominate your own work. I also state here that I will, as the organizer of this little game, recuse my own work from consideration. In practice, I will give special attention to any project that is submitted by a Development Executive, Network Executive, or Agent. If you feel a piece of work has been criminally underattended, here's your chance. ONLY ONE PROJECT MAY BE SUBMITTED PER PERSON.
What do I need to do to nominate a project for the Maple Leaf List?
You may submit an ADOBE PDF of the script in question to MAPLELEAFLIST@GMAIL.COM. Dead Tree Scripts (paper) will not be accepted, as I have neither space to store them nor help to organize them. The PDF of the script should not contain identifying features such as the writer's name, on the document itself. Along with the script, a separate document should be submitted with the following information (which will be kept completely confidential:)
1) Nominator's name and position/occupation/relationship to script
2) Project's development history (dates of development/option)
3) Project's current status
4) Synopsis/description (200 words or less, including genre & length)
5) Impact Statement: why you think this project has been unjustly passed over. (300 word max)
6) Author's declaration: contact information from the author
Please note that projects that do not contain these elements (or any script that identifies the writer by name) cannot be considered for the Maple Leaf List.
How will the list be determined?After the submission deadline, a shortlist will be prepared by me. Then scripts will be forwarded to a selection of confidential judges who will be asked to pick their #1, #2, and #3 choices for inclusion on the list. The judges decisions will be collected and averaged out, and the list will be determined from that.
Since this is new and unknown, I have no idea how many projects will be received, therefore I cannot currently speculate on the number of judges, or in fact, the number of projects that will appear on the list. Because the projects will be of different types and genres, the list will not be ranked hierarchically.
The deadline will be May 18th, 2007, at Midnight. Results will be announced June 10, 2007, on this blog -- just as the Banff TV Festival Gets Underway.
What do I win? Absolutely nothing but bragging rights. Okay, and if you are in and around Toronto or anywhere else I happen to be and pin me down, I will buy you a drink and an Appetizer of your choice. All listers will also be profiled on this blog (unless they choose not to be.)
Are there diamonds in the rough? Let's see. Let's see. My guess is, any notable scripts will not shamelessly deploy the icons of Canadiana as I have here. But who knows? Maybe somewhere out there is a script about a maple syrup guzzling beaver who chomps back bacon while prepping for his role in the big hockey game.
You just never, ever, ever know.
Agents and Managers and Development and Network Execs should be rummaging around their closets for those diamonds and getting them to McGrath.
Shine On You Crazy...