May 10 – I Carry You With Me

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on May 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay I CARRY YOU WITH ME.

An epic love story spanning decades is sparked by a chance encounter between an aspiring chef and a teacher in provincial Mexico. Based on a true story, ambition and societal pressure propel the aspiring chef to leave his soulmate and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same.

THE WRITERS: Academy Award-nominated documentarian HEIDI EWING makes her narrative feature debut as director and co-writer of I Carry You with Me. Some of her acclaimed documentaries include Jesus Camp, Detropia, and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. As a white woman from Detroit telling the story of two Mexican men, Ewing told the L.A. Times she brought in Mexican-American writer ALAN PAGE ARRIAGA “to help me get this right.” Arriaga’s previous writing credits include four episodes of Fear the Walking Dead  He also served as a script translator for Babel and The Burning Plain, as well as several novels, all by Guillermo Arriaga.

(registration deadline: Friday, May 7)

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I Carry You with Me premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 where it won the NEXT Innovator and Audience awards. U.S. distribution rights were acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and is scheduled for release on May 21. The film also played at the New York Film Festival and AFI Fest and is nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards including Best First Feature. It currently holds a 96% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Rated R. 111 minutes. 68 pages. Drama. Romance

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A produced feature-film screenwriter and an award-winning filmmaker, Diana is a Jane-of-all-trades with vast industry experience in production, development, acquisitions, distribution, physical production, film finance, business and legal affairs, as well as new media. She wrote the adapted screenplay for the feature film The Journey Ahead starring Michael Madsen, and produced the feature film Culture Class in AmeriCCA directed by Emilio Estevez. Previously, she served as President of Production at a mini-studio, Arenas Entertainment in partnership with Universal Pictures, and was the Head of Development for a production entity, Patriot Pictures, and the industry liaison for Banque Paribas, a film financing institution, and has taught at the New York Film Academy. Via her banner company, Bumptious Media Consulting, Diana offers screenwriting and producing one-on-one coaching, workshops, and master classes, with a specialty in pitching and mastering communication skills. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).

April 12 – The Father

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on April 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE FATHER. [UPDATE: This post was originally published with the wrong date. The correct date is Monday, April 12th, not the 13th. We apologize for the confusion.]

LOGLINE: Anthony Hopkins stars as an aging man trying to make sense of his changing circumstances and beginning to doubt his loved ones, his own mind, and even the fabric of his reality.

THE WRITERS: French novelist and playwright FLORIAN ZELLER directed and co-wrote The Father based on his award-winning 2012 play, Le Père. A published novelist by age 22, Zeller’s third novel, Fascination of Evil, made him a household name in France, while his writing for the stage prompted The Guardian to call him “the most exciting playwright of our time.” Le Père was previously filmed in French as Floride and was followed on the stage by The Mother and The Son, both produced in 2019. All three plays in the trilogy were translated for English-language productions by Zeller’s longtime collaborator, British playwright CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON, who also co-wrote the screenplay with the first-time filmmaker. Hampton co-wrote the book and lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd., while his previous screenwriting credits include The Good Father (also starring Anthony Hopkins), Dangerous Liaisons, for which he won BAFTA and WGA awards as well as the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Atonement, for which he nominated again for the Academy and BAFTA awards.

(registration deadline: Friday, April 9)

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The Father is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman), and Best Picture. This is Hopkins’ sixth nomination; he previously won for The Silence of the Lambs. This is Colman’s second nomination; she won two years ago for The Favourite and currently stars in The Crown on Netflix. Rounding out the cast of The Father are Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Imogene Poots (28 Weeks Later), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), and Dr. Who writer Mark Gatiss.

Note: The film is currently playing in limited release and is available to stream on VOD. If you have not yet seen it, it is recommended that you hold off on watching it at least until after you’ve read the script. Our discussion will focus on the writing on the page, but we can also discuss changes in the finished film toward the end of the meeting.

The Father has over 100 nominations for industry and critics awards, with over 20 wins so far! The screenplay was nominated for Golden Globe, BAFTA, and 22 other writing awards and has already won Best Screenplay from the British Independent Film Awards, the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, the Satellite Awards, and the Sunset Film Circle Awards. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and also screened at the Toronto and AFI festivals. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in New York and Los Angeles on February 26, 2021, expanding it wider in March following its six Oscar nominations. It currently holds a 98% fresh rating from 173 critics according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Rated PG-13. 97 minutes. 87 pages. Drama.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian currently holds the title of lead faculty in screenwriting for the prestigious Boston University in Los Angeles – Writer In Hollywood Program, has taught online for UCLA Extension, and spent five years as the sitcom instructor for Writer’s Bootcamp. He has written for such TV shows as Blossom, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Acapulco Heat, Dream On, Renegade, and Murder, She Wrote. and in 2014 released he released the book Process to Product: From Concept to Script: A Practical Guide for the Screenwriter. His feature screenwriting credits include the horror/thriller Darkroom and the family comedy Tio Papi. Also a talented actor, producer, and director, Brian made the award-winning short film Odessa or Bust starring Jason Alexander, Red Buttons, and Jason Schwartzman, and the domestic abuse documentary 1736: Somewhere To Turn. Find out more about Brian and his projects at brianherskowitz.com.

March 8 – Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on March 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DA 5 BLOODS.

LOGLINE: Four aging Vietnam War veterans return to the country in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader, as well as the treasure they buried while serving there.

THE WRITERS: Da 5 Bloods began as a 2013 spec script titled The Last Tour by DANNY BILSON & PAUL DE MEO. Bilson & De Meo previously teamed up to pen 1991’s superhero film The Rocketeer for Disney. Together or separately, the two have also written for television (The Flash, Viper), comic books (The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, Red Menace), and video games (The Sims, Harry Potter, James Bond). Oliver Stone was attached to direct The Last Tour, but dropped out in 2016.

De Meo passed away in 2018, a year after SPIKE LEE began rewriting the script as Da 5 Bloods with KEVIN WILLMOTT, his co-writer on 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, for which they shared the Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Willmott’s other credits, as writer and director, include C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America and The 24th, which tells the true story of the Houston riot of 1917. Lee, who also directed Da 5 Bloods, has two Peabody awards, among many other accolades, and is best known for writing and directing Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, and his 1986 feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It, as well its 2017 Netflix series adaptation.

MATTHEW BILLINGSLY, whose 2008 Black List script, Code Name Veil, is still unproduced, contributed uncredited rewrites to what was to become Da 5 Bloods when the project was still with Oliver Stone. Billingsly was also hired to adapt the non-fiction book Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo, which is also still in development.

(registration deadline: Friday, March 5)

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The late Chadwick Boseman (Marvel’s Black Panther), who posthumously won the Golden Globe award this year for Best Actor in a Drama for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, stars in Da 5 Bloods alongside Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty), Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Clarke Peters (The Wire), Broadway star Norm Lewis (The Phantom of the Opera), Isiah Whitlcok Jr. (The Wire), Melanie Thierry (One for the Road), and Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional).

Note: The film is currently available on Netflix, but it is recommended that you hold off on watching it at least until after you’ve read the script. Our discussion will focus on the writing on the page, but we can also discuss changes in the finished film toward the end of the meeting.

Da 5 Bloods has over 150 nominations for industry and critics awards, with over 30 wins so far!

Rated R. 154 minutes. 127 pages (3/11/2019 salmon draft). Adventure. Drama. War.

A SPECIAL GUEST MODERATOR to be announced soon will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Please stay tuned!

February 8 – Breaking News in Yuba County

Meet ONLINE on February 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BREAKING NEWS IN YUBA COUNTY.

Logline: After catching her husband in bed with a hooker, causing him to die of a heart attack, a housewife decides to bury his body, then takes advantage of the media spotlight covering the search for her missing husband.

Amanda Idokok (screenwriter)ABOUT THE WRITER: Halfway through college, Nigerian-American AMANDA IDOKO (@amidoko) switched from pre-med to a theater arts major at Cornell University. After college, she wrote plays in New York before moving to Hollywood, starting out there as a writer’s assistant on Bones. Since participating in the Disney/ABC Television Writing Program in 2016, she’s written for several sitcoms including The Goldbergs and Apple TV’s animated hit Central Park. Her spec feature screenplay Breaking News in Yuba County landed in the top ten on the 2017 Black List, an annual ranking of the industry’s best unproduced screenplays. Idoko is currently scripting an adaptation of Plastic Man for the DCU and an untitled Rip Van Winkle musical starring Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo.

(registration deadline: Friday, February 5)

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MGM is set to release Breaking News in Yuba County on February 12 as the launch for its new specialty label, American International Pictures, the former independent production company known for its string of highly successful low-budget, teen-oriented drive-in fare by Samuel Z. Arkoff and Roger Corman from the 1950s through the 1970s. Breaking News will be the first movie released under this banner in over 40 years. Black List founder Franklin Leonard is a credited producer on the film, as is actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Ma, The Girl on the Train), Breaking News in Yuba County stars Academy Award winner Allison Janney (I, Tonya, Juno), Mila Kunis (Black Swan, That ’70s Show), Regina Hall (Girls Trip, The Hate U Give), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell), Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear, Natural Born Killers), Wanda Sykes (Bad Moms, The Chris Rock Show), Ellen Barkin (The Big Easy, Sea of Love), and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Stranger Things) as the dead guy.

Rated R. 96 minutes. 118 pages. Black Comedy.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program. As co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This), David Crane (Friends), Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Mark O’Donnel (Hairspray). Steve teaches a number of different workshops all over the globe, including The Comedy Intensive, a 2-day workshop that covers the fundamental principles of comedy. Look for his books The Hidden Tools of Comedy and The Comic Hero’s Journey, learn more about Steve and his workshops at kaplancomedy.com, and follow him on Twitter at @skcomedy where you can tweet quick comedy questions at him with the #AskKaplan hashtag.

January 11 – MANK

Mank (2020) Meet ONLINE on January 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MANK.

“You cannot capture a man’s entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one.”

Mank attempts to capture, in 134 pages, the life of Herman J. Mankiewicz, the legendary screenwriter who had a hand in creating such classics as The Wizard of Oz, The Front Page, The Pride of the Yankees, and Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made.

The biopic was penned by JACK FINCHER, father of its director, David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network). The elder Fincher wrote the script in the 1990s, which David intended to be his next picture after The Game, but the studio where it was set up (with Kevin Spacey to star as Mankiewicz and Jodie Foster as Marion Davies) refused to let him shoot it in black-and-white. Around the same time, Jack Fincher also wrote a Howard Hughes biopic that ended up being merged with Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. Jack, a talented essayist, had numerous articles published in Readers Digest, Saturday Review, The Smithsonian, and other major publications, and served as the San Francisco Bureau Chief of Life magazine. He passed away in 2003.

Now, thanks to Netflix, David Fincher has finally been able to realize his father’s dream project. The script underwent an uncredited polish by Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button writer Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, 2018’s A Star Is Born, next year’s Dune remake), who has a producer credit on the film.

(registration deadline: Friday, January 8)

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Mank stars last year’s Best Actor Oscar winner Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, The Dark Knight) as Mankiewicz, Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables (the 2012 musical), Mamma Mia!) as Marion Davies, Lily Collins (Les Misérables (the 2018 BBC miniseries)), Arliss Howard (Full Metal Jacket) as MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, Tom Pelphrey (Ozark), and Tom Burke (Only God Forgives) as Citizen Kane director Orson Welles.

Note: The film is currently available on Netflix, but it is recommended that you hold off on watching it at least until after you’ve read the script. Our discussion will focus on the writing on the page, but we can also discuss changes in the finished film toward the end of the meeting. However, if you have not seen Citizen Kane, or have not seen it in a while, you are encouraged to watch that prior to reading Mank.

Rated R. 131 minutes. 134 pages. Biopic. Drama.

BARNEY MILES LICHTENSTEIN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Barney has worked as a professional story analyst for such companies as Amblin, Imagine, and New Line Cinema. He also assists in training new analysts for the Sundance Institute and is the recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Screenwriting.

December 14 – Hillbilly Elegy

Meet ONLINE on December 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HILLBILLY ELEGY.

LOGLINE: A Yale Law School student returns to his Appalachian roots, recalling the values he learned being raised by his grandmother while his mother fought a heroin addiction.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Venture capitalist J.D. VANCE wrote the New York Times bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis, while at Yale Law School. The book received national attention during the 2016 election cycle as a window into the white working class. Vance currently lives in Ohio, where he started the nonprofit Our Ohio Renewal to combat drug addiction in the Rust Belt and has been contemplating a run for the U.S. Senate. Imagine Entertainment optioned the book’s film rights for Ron Howard to direct and hired VANESSA TAYLOR to write the screenplay. Taylor began her writing career in television with credits on such popular shows as Alias, Everwood, and Game of Thrones. Some of her feature screenplays include her original spec Hope Springs, which starred Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones; the adaptation of the YA dystopian novel Divergent; and The Shape of Water, which earned Vanessa her first Academy Award nomination and went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Picture. More recently, she adapted the nonfiction book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, with Adam McCay attached to direct and Jennifer Lawrence attached to star.

(registration deadline: Friday, December 4)

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Directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13), the true coming-of-age story stars six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Enchanted, Lois Lane in the DC Extended Universe), seven-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Haley Bennett (The Girl on the Train, The Devil All the Time), and Gabriel Basso (Super 8, The Big C) as Vance.

Netflix won a bidding war for the film’s distribution rights, putting up the entire $45 million budget. Although the Academy’s theatrical screening eligibility requirement has been suspended this year, Netflix did open Hillbilly Elegy on November 11 in Middletown, Ohio, where the film is set, as well as a handful of other cities in Ohio. It’s scheduled to premiere on the streaming service on November 24.

Rated R. 116 minutes. 122 pages. Coming-of-Age Drama.

WENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Wendell WellmanScreenwriter, actor, playwright, teacher, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA and UWV and has been a frequent guest moderator at StoryBoardDG.com’s Screenplay Development Group. As an actor, Wendell studied under Lee Strasberg and Peggy Feury at the Strasberg Institute and has appeared in episodic television, theater, and motion pictures, including prominent roles in the films The Klansman starring Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, Sudden Impact, Sommersby, and Street of Dreams. As a writer, he teamed up with Alex Lasker to adapt the novel Firefox for director Clint Eastwood. He also did additional work for Eastwood on the screenplay for Sudden Impact and wrote a final Dirty Harry project. Wendell also worked with the West End Theatre Group as co-founder and artistic director while continuing to alternate between acting and writing assignments. He is currently writing original feature scripts.

November 9 – Dreamland

Meet ONLINE on November 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DREAMLAND.

LOGLINE: A small-town, Depression-era bounty hunter falls in love with the seductive, wounded fugitive he’s captured.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Dreamland is the first produced feature film credit for screenwriter NICOLAAS ZWART. As a musician, Zwart released several albums in the 2000s under the names Desolation Wilderness and Electric Sunset. After making the short film Here Comes Midnight, the San Francisco native landed a spot in the fast-paced writers room for the CW series Riverdale, for which he penned the first season’s sixth episode. He spent three years shepherding Dreamland from his original concept, through more than fifty drafts of notes, to the end of postproduction on the $8 million film produced by Margot Robbie. Zwart has since worked on feature animation projects for Luma Pictures and Dreamworks Animation that are still in development.

(registration deadline: Friday, November 6)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

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Dreamland stars two-time Academy Award nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya, Bombshell), Finn Cole (Peaky Blinders), Travis Fimmel (Vikings), Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Kerry Condon (Better Call Saul), Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles), and Hans Christopher (Waco).

Shot in New Mexico in 2017, Dreamland held its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019. Produced by Romulus Entertainment, Automatik, and Robbie’s LuckyChap label, the film will be distributed by Vertical Entertainment in a limited theatrical run starting November 13, followed by a VOD release by Paramount on November 17.

Rated R. 98 minutes. 119 pages. Western. Drama.

pamelajayesmithPAMELA JAYE SMITH will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A mythologist and award-winning producer/director with over thirty years experience in features, TV, music videos, and more, Pamela is the author of five books, including The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains and Inner Drives: How to Write and Create Characters Using the Eight Classic Centers of Motivation. Her company, MYTHWORKS, offers consulting and coaching and, through her Pitch Proxy service, pitches writers’ projects at pitch festivals they cannot attend. Visit pamelajayesmith.com for more information.

October 12 – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Meet ONLINE on October 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7.

LOGLINE: In a year of civil unrest, seven political activists stand trial for inciting a riot after an anti-war protest outside the Democratic National Convention turns violent.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Academy-Award-winning screenwriter AARON SORKIN initially wrote the script in 2007 for Steven Spielberg to direct. The writers strike that year delayed production, forcing Spielberg to drop out. A former playwright, Sorkin began his screenwriting career in the 1990s, adapting his Broadway play A Few Good Men for the 1992 Rob Reiner film. He created The West Wing in 1999 and wrote or co-wrote all but three of the series’ first 90 episodes, taking home six of the show’s 26 Emmy awards. In 2011, Sorkin won his first Academy Award for his screenplay about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, and earned a second nomination the following year for co-writing Moneyball. He won Golden Globe awards for The Social Network and his 2016 biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and made his directorial debut with 2018’s Molly’s Game, which netted him his third Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Sorkin returns to the director’s chair for The Trial of the Chicago 7, which premieres on Netflix on October 16.

(registration deadline: Friday, October 9)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

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Based on true events surrounding the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, The Trial of the Chicago 7 stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as Tom Hayden, Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) as Abbie Hoffman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as attorney William Kunstler, Michael Keaton (Birdman), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Jeremy Strong (Succession), John Caroll Lynch (The Founder), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as Judge Julius Hoffman, and William Hurt (Marvel’s Avengers and Black Widow films) as Attorney General John Mitchell.

Originally planned for a September 25 theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, movie theater shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the studio to sell the distribution rights to Netflix for $56 million. The streaming service now plans to release the film online on October 16, just ahead of the November 3 election, with a possible limited theatrical run in September.

Rated R. 129 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Courtroom Drama.

JEFF KITCHEN, top-rated scriptwriting teacher and author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting will lead our script analysis and in-depth screenwriting discussion. Classically trained in playwriting technique, Jeff worked as a dramaturg in the New York theater, and taught playwriting on Broadway. He’s currently in the process of launching a two-year intensive training program for scriptwriters called Script Kitchen. His current BuildYourScript.com website will soon change to Script.Kitchen.

September 14 – Greenland

Meet ONLINE on September 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GREENLAND.

LOGLINE: When comets smash into Earth causing an extinction-level event, a Philadelphia man races against time to get his family to safety in a bunker in Greenland.

Screenwriter CHRIS SPARLING‘s breakthrough came with 2010’s groundbreaking single-character contained thriller Buried, which starred Ryan Reynolds and was set entirely inside a coffin. This was followed by script work on a string of scary movies including ATM, about three friends trapped in an ATM by a psycho killer; The Atticus Institute, a horror film dealing with demonic possession; and an adaptation of the 1974 Gothic YA boarding school novel Down a Dark Hall, produced by Twilight author Stephenie MeyerVariety named Sparling one of “10 Screenwriters to Watch” in its November 2014 issue. Originally writing the Greenland script for District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, Sparling told reporters he tried to make his screenplay more like the 2012 character-based tsunami drama The Impossible than the 1998 Michael Bay end-of-the-world popcorn hit Armageddon.

(registration deadline: Friday, September 11)

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Directed by Rick Roman Waugh (Angel Has Fallen), a former stunt performer, Greenland stars action hero Gerard Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen), Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Homeland, Deadpool), David Denman (The Office), Hope Davis (About Schmidt, Captain America: Civil War), Holt McCallany (Mindhunter), Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs), and internet celebrity King Bach.

Currently scheduled to be released in the United States on September 25, the summer disaster flick has already earned more then $10 million dollars on a small number of screens internationally.

Rated PG-13. 119 minutes. 117 pages [1/25/17 draft]. Drama, Action, Thriller, Disaster.

WENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Wendell WellmanScreenwriter, actor, playwright, teacher, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA and UWV and has been a frequent guest moderator at StoryBoardDG.com’s Screenplay Development Group. As an actor, Wendell studied under Lee Strasberg and Peggy Feury at the Strasberg Institute and has appeared in episodic television, theater, and motion pictures, including prominent roles in the films The Klansman starring Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, Sudden Impact, Sommersby, and Street of Dreams. As a writer, he teamed up with Alex Lasker to adapt the novel Firefox for director Clint Eastwood. He also did additional work for Eastwood on the screenplay for Sudden Impact and wrote a final Dirty Harry project. Wendell also worked with the West End Theatre Group as co-founder and artistic director while continuing to alternate between acting and writing assignments. He is currently writing original feature scripts.

August 10 – MULAN

Meet ONLINE on August 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MULAN.

LOGLINE: The daughter of an ailing warrior disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in battle defending their country from a vengeful invader and a powerful witch.

THE WRITERS: The live-action epic is based on a 6th-century Chinese poem, which was the source for Disney’s 1998 animated feature. The update came about when unproduced screenwriters ELIZABETH MARTIN and LAUREN HYNEK heard BenderSpink producer Jake Weiner was looking for four-quadrant stories based on public domain IP. They got a meeting with him and pitched ten ideas; he picked Mulan. Sticking to the original Chinese story without referencing any Disney-owned elements, the duo turned in their spec script twelve weeks later, which Weiner sold to Disney in 24 hours. Disney then hired Rise of the Planet of the Apes scribes RICK JAFFA and AMANDA SILVER to rewrite the script, reincorporating some elements from the animated version. Jaffa & Silver also served as writers on Jurassic World and were involved in writing the two upcoming Avatar sequels for James Cameron.

(registration deadline: Friday, August 7)

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Directed by New Zealander Niki Caro (Whale Rider), Mulan features an all-Asian cast including Liu Yifei (The Forbidden Kingdom) in the title role, Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Jason Scott Lee (The Jungle Book), Yoson An (Dead Lucky), Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha), Jet Li (The Expendables), Rosalind Chao (The Joy Luck Club), and Tzi Ma (The Farewell) as Mulan’s father.

The film had its Hollywood premiere on March 9, ahead of planned March 27 release. That release was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mulan has been rescheduled to open in theaters on August 21.

Rated PG-13. 115 minutes. 100 pages. Drama, Action/Adventure.

Melody JacksonMELODY JACKSON will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Melody completed her Ph.D. in Mythological Studies in 2003 with her dissertation on “The Mythic Impact of Film.” She has been praised by Creative Screenwriting on multiple occasions for her exceptional knowledge of traditional three-act structure and character development. Known for approaching plot and structure through examination of character motivation and relationships, Melody offers consulting and marketing services to screenwriters through Smart Girls, which she founded in 1992. Since then she has helped over 2,500 writers improve their screenplays to get them to 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, CAA, and countless medium-sized and smaller production companies. Visit SmartG.com or follow @smartgirlspr on Twitter.