Rather than just linking you all to the new “Hit List” section to download the 2010 list, I wanted to take a moment to talk about our reasons for creating the list, and some of the details on how the list came about.
When the idea of “another” list came up late last year, I was the first one to shoot it down, claiming the current bloating of year end lists in December 2009 as my prime excuse. I think I may have even spouted off “the last thing Hollywood needs is another list”. However, as the months since began to add up, I started to notice something much more clearly than before – a lot of great specs were NOT selling. Now, this could be quickly lobbed into any number of appropriate reasons – bad economy, bad market, over abundance, etc., however I also noticed a surprising lack of my colleagues who were aware of some of the great scripts that were floating into the market, and disappearing all too soon. Full disclosure — I work in development, so it is my job to know about every spec on the market — whereas, my friends, it is not. Regardless, it was this very reality of great scripts disappearing without a shot that made me rethink the idea of a list. So, I reassembled our team, and we began our chat.
If we were to provide a list, it had to have reason, and meaning behind it. I am the biggest fan of THE BLACK LIST, and what it does, and has done for writers in years past, and I did not want to be involved in anything that simply mimicked that with a different name. The same goes for genre lists — there are enough already, and they do what they do very well. No, if we were going to create a list, I wanted it to be something that reintroduced great scripts to Hollywood, while also giving writers a second chance at making something happen. (For those who do not know, the average market life for a spec script, which a writer will spend between 3 months and 1 year writing, comes out to just about 5-7 business days. I’ve seen more, and I’ve seen less. The reality is, because the buying market has been particularly cold this year, some scripts are almost dead in the water their first day out, simply because those with money, can’t buy another script in the genre you are going out with. So, back to the idea of the list. If we were going to do it, I wanted to do it on the Spec Market.
The Spec Market is essentially Hollywood’s roulette table. For some scripts, it is a place where they will rise to the golden gates of Bidding Wars, A-List Attachments, and Seven Figure Deals, but for others, it is where they will disappear off into the lonely fields of Sampleville, sending their writer’s dreams off with them, as they dig around in the basement searching for enough courage to spend 3-6 months doing it all over again. And, it was here I wanted to create our list.
THE BEST SPECS OF 2010 — That is the core idea behind the creation of The Hit List. We wanted a list that focused on the fresh ideas, the new voices, and the emerging talents that the spec market offers to us. A list that only allowed entry to those projects which hit the spec market, and which were written entirely out of passion, with no payment up front. A spec only — best of. And in truth, as I stated above, I am a diehard fan of the Black List, however I had noticed in the last few years, more and more specs were being left off the list. And while this is simply a testament to following great scripts — at times, I started to feel it was negating what the ‘Black List’ meant to me when it began — the discovery of new and emerging talent. And, so, I returned to the idea, of the “Best of Specs”.
But who would decide which were the best of? Other lists tend to stick to one arena (managers only, assistants only, development only). But, the reality is, often times I find some of the best scripts I’m told I should read come from an intern, or the mail room, or the part-time weekend reader, etc. So, I wanted us to create a new way to reinvent a well-read judges panel. So, we met with a roundtable of colleagues that covered the agents, managers, producers, execs, as well as the writers, directors, and assistants, to come up with a new voting process. And I must say, while I was unsure of how well the plan we came up with would work, I was quite surprised. Each member from our initial board of about 20 was allowed to nominate up to 5 judges. From there, each nominee had to be approved by another board member, and once doing so, they could invite up to 3 more people. We set very strict guidelines that ensured all voters were full time industry employees, and with our approval process it made it very easy to weed out anyone who didn’t follow the rules. Cut to a few weeks later, and we’d reached our vote limit of 400 people (including our 20 member board).
Next we set out the voting rules. We provided each voter with a Spec ballot, which covered roughly 400 of the specs that went out this year (we’ll be releasing this next week, once we have time to update it once more) and informed each voter they had to submit a minimum of 5 votes, with a maximum of 10 votes. Each voter was allowed up to 2 write-ins, but in doing so, had to provide a complete list of details for each, to which we would have to verify in order to be considered. And in they came. From a 400-person pool, I was honestly expecting 50 to 100 voters taking the time. However, I was pleasantly surprised not just at the turn out (263 voters), but the well wishes surrounding the concept of our list. It never stopped being fun!
Cut to a few weeks later, and here we are, with our first public list, voted on by over 250 development executives, creative executives, writers, directors, agents, managers, assistants, and readers. Each nominated themselves for the opportunity to vote, and each stepping up to take the time to tell you what spec scripts truly were the BEST
And so, I very proudly, and on behalf of 263 amazing voters, and 20 amazing contributors, introduce to you:
PS – Be sure to check out the PDF and PDF Interactive lists (which allows you to navigate all of the scripts voted for, and their original spec listings, details, and “up to the minute” updates directly from your list. – This is a members only feature).