How do you sell a spec script in Hollywood? It used to be that a writer would have to acquire representation, an agent or a manager, who could send the spec material out into the marketplace and hope a studio or production company would make an offer. That was before The Black List, an industry list of the best unproduced spec scripts voted on by Hollywood executives. The list has become so popular among studios, executives and production companies for finding up and coming projects, it’s becoming the best way for a new screenwriter to break into the business.
Andrew Dodge was one of those screenwriters. He penned a script called Bad Words and when it landed on the Black List, his life changed. Soonafter, Jason Bateman wanted to direct and star in the film and every production company in town wanted a meeting. The story about a 40-year-old man who wants to win a kid’s spelling bee went from pipedream to big Hollywood production after being featured on the Black List.
“I was taking meetings as a result of being on the Black List for other projects and at the same time it helped cement the fact that Bad Words would be a good thing to do,” says Dodge of the experience. He also says his collaboration with Batemen was ideal for a first time screenwriter. Dodge says Batemen often explained his choices while directing on set. At one point, Dodge had to write an entire spelling bee from the basement of one of the set.
ScreenwritingU sat down with the writer to hear about the amazing experience from Black List to feature film debut.
Bad Words co-stars Kathryn Hahn, Rohan Chand, Philip Baker Hall, Ben Falcone and Allison Janney. The film releases in theaters March. 28.
Photo credit: Focus Features