LOGLINE: A modern whodunnit that follows a family gathering gone awry after the patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate.
Writer/director RIAN JOHNSON graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1996. He pitched his first screenplay, a Dashiell Hammett-inspired neo-noir mystery called Brick, unsuccessfully for seven years before raising the $500,000 budget from friends and family and making the film independently. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film earned back more than $4 million, won a special jury prize at Sundance for originality of vision, and went on to become a cult classic. Two other low budget hits followed (The Brothers Bloom starring Oscar winners Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody and Looper starring Bruce Willis and Gordon-Levitt) before Johnson was tapped to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which grossed over $1.3 billion. Johnson received his first Academy Award nomination this year, in the Best Original Screenplay category, for Knives Out.
Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.
Knives Out features an all-star ensemble cast including Daniel Craig (James Bond), Chris Evans (Captain America), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Django Unchained), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Jaeden Martell (It), and Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music).
Still in current release, Knives Out has grossed nearly $300 million worldwide so far and holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 420 professional critics’ reviews), with an audience score of 92%. In addition to its Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the script was nominated for BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Hollywood Critics Association, and Writers Guild of America awards, along with three Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a Producers Guild nomination for Best Picture, and placement in the National Board of Review’s and American Film Institute’s top ten lists for 2019.
If you have not yet seen Knives Out but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised. EXTRA CREDIT: Watch the 1973 murder mystery film The Last of Sheila, which Rian Johnson cited as his inspiration and main influence in writing Knives Out. Written by Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Into the Woods) and directed by Herbert Ross (Footloose), The Last of Sheila stars Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, and Raquel Welch, and can be digitally rented for $2.99 or purchased for $9.99 from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft, Fandango, and Apple TV.
Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. 124 pages. Mystery. Comedy.
BRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian was previously with us in January 2018 for BlacKkKlansman. He 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.