Schamus and the Black List announced last May that they were teaming up on the initiative for a project that would fall within the Writers Guild of America’s low-budget guidelines. The Black List has similar partnerships with the Picture Company, Studiocanal, Warner Bros., Disney and the National Football League.
Hundreds of writers opted into consideration by hosting their script on the Black List website and indicating their interest in working with Symbolic Exchange. Young opted into the program with his script “Scarletville” and is now working on a new screenplay for Symbolic Exchange. Production head Joe Pirro will oversee development of the screenplay, financed through Symbolic’s first-look and financing deal with Meridian Entertainment.
“This is frankly an embarrassment of riches, being able to introduce a new screenwriting voice to one of my personal film industry heroes,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. “I have every expectation that everyone involved will benefit from this introduction, and I look forward to see the fruit it bears onscreen.”
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Schamus said, “We’re excited that our first partnership with the Black List has resulted in our being able to support a fresh new voice in genre screenwriting.”
Young studied screenwriting at the Vancouver Film School and wrote the short films “How to Disappear Completely” and “Interpersonalities,” which have played at over 50 festivals worldwide. In October, he participated in the Black List’s third annual Feature Writers Lab with “Scarletville,” which was optioned by Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment. He is represented by Paradigm, Integral Artists, Circle of Confusion, and attorney Lev Ginsburg.
Schamus, the former Focus Features chief, started Symbolic Exchange in 2015 and partnered with China-based Meridian Entertainment in a financing deal. He also made his feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s “Indignation,” which premiered at Sundance last year.
Schamus is also known for his long collaboration with Ang Lee, writing many of the screenplays for the director’s works, such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Ice Storm.”
The Black List is an online community where moviemakers find scripts to make and writers to write them, and screenwriters find moviemakers to make their scripts and employ them. It was launched in 2005 as an annual survey of several dozen executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays and has grown to survey over 500 executives each year. More than 350 Black List scripts have been produced into films grossing over $25 billion in worldwide box office, including Best Picture winners “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The King’s Speech,” “Argo,” and “Spotlight.”