Spotlight: Franklin Leonard, Founder of The Black List

I had the privilege of meeting Franklin Leonard at TIFF Studios in 2013. One of the many guest speakers TIFF Studios brings to Toronto to have an intimate talk with industry members. Here is a short bio on Franklin followed by an interview with the inspirational trailblazer.

blacklistFranklin Leonard went to Hollywood by a circuitous path. Born in Hawaii, he grew up an army brat and lived in Germany for a time before spending his teen years in Georgia. The self-described math nerd eventually graduated from Harvard with a degree in social and political theory. He worked on a congressional campaign in Cincinnati, as a reporter in Trinidad and as a media analyst at McKinsey & Company. It wasn’t until 2003 that he moved to L.A., getting his first job in the business as an assistant at Creative Artists Agency.

In 2005, Franklin Leonard was working for Leonardo DiCaprio‘s production company, looking for great stories that went beyond the Hollywood franchises and sequels that seemed to be ever-present. So he sent a survey to a few film executives with one simple question: What was the best script you read this year that still hasn’t been made into a feature film?

Since then, The Black List has catalyzed the writer/producer partnerships that have resulted in over 225 films, including Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, The King’s Speech, Argo and The Social Network. Films that appeared on The Black List have earned over $19 billion worldwide, and won 35 Academy Awards. Founder Franklin Leonard joins Elvis to talk about the inherent activism in what he’s doing, and how he chose the name “The Black List” in order to subvert the paradigm he heard growing up, that Black somehow equaled Bad.

Here is Leonard in an interview with KCRW’s interviewer Elvis Mitchell. TRT 28mins

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment