'Catherine the Great' Tops 2014 Black List
Kristina Lauren Anderson leads the list of Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday
The Black List celebrated 10 years of bringing screenwriters closer to their dreams at Palihouse in West Hollywood on Sunday evening and unveiled the title that tops the annual list of Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays.
After an evening of hors d'oeuvres and entertainment from KCRW's DJ Garth Trinidad and Fantastic Negrito, founder Franklin Leonard announced that Kristina Lauren Anderson took the number one spot on this year's list for her screenplay Catherine the Great. Anderson previously produced Girlfriend, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and took home the audience award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Starting Monday morning at 10 a.m., screenwriters and their scripts (which have not begun principal photography this year) on this year's Black List will be announced via Twitter along with video announcements from celebrities. It's a huge leap forward from when Leonard was working for Leonardo DiCaprio's production company and simply asking his peers to submit their top 10 screenplays that had caught their attention but not been made into feature films.
A decade has passed, and 250 executives now contribute their top picks to the list, which Leonard hopes will help give screenwriters the attention they deserve.
"I think they should be getting paid more," Leonard told THR. "They should be able to have more control over their material. I think in television you see that with the Gods of TV, Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, Vince Gilligan and Matt Weiner, but there are not as many household names of writers in the film industry. I look forward to seeing more writers get their due in the significant contributions they make to the filmmaking process."
When Leonard looks back on the influence of The Black List for the past 10 years what's most memorable to him is seeing films on the list such as Lars and the Real Girl and Juno move on to receive Oscar nominations. One of his most memorable success stories is the screenplay for The King's Speech which made the list in 2009 and later won the Oscar for Best Screenplay.
"When [The King's Speech] was on the list, David Seidler didn't even have an agent," said Leonard. "To see the movie get made, to see him win an Oscar, to know the story of his career and to become friends with him in the time being, and also I had a stutter as a kid, so that one was pretty emotional for me."
Seidler was fishing in New Zealand when he saw his iPhone blinking with a message informing him that Geoffrey Rush had attached himself to the undiscovered script. Seidler told THR that Tom Hooper followed up telling him that if he attached himself to the script he would sleep better that night.
"The whole secret is to build critical mass," said Seidler. "You get the mass and then suddenly it goes. You start feeling there's a build and then it reaches critical mass and it's beyond the point of no return and you know the movie is going to get made. Being on the Black List helps get that critical mass."
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"I think it's a point to be looked at that how few of them are from studios. They are independent films. I personally love The Theory of Everything," said Seidler adding: "I'm just blown away by the challenge of writing a script in which your leading man is a quadriplegic for half of it and can only speak with a robotic voice, and then he's got love scenes."
Grey's Anatomy actor Jesse Williams and NBA star Baron Davis were also on hand to support Franklin's 10-year run.
"You have people trying to reach directly out to folks and not getting through because of the middle man that we have in the business," Williams told THR. "I'm about information sharing and getting together to kick around ideas and failing or succeeding, but by their own effort and measure, and this is another alternative series of paths to allow people to do that, so I'm in full support of it."
As the evening came to a close, it was clear Leonard enjoyed the celebration but was more focused on helping the screenwriters reach their goals.
"There are a bunch of writer's here who are really talented," Leonard reminded the audience. "There are a bunch of representatives, producers and financiers here who have money to spend on great writing talent. There's still 29 minutes left in this party. Find writing talent, and get movies made."
Proceeds from Sunday night's event benefited the Young Storytellers Foundation that teaches young students to write and produce their own screenplays.