August 9 – Free Guy

Free Guy (2021)Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on August 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the comedy screenplay FREE GUY.

LOGLINE: A bank teller discovers that he’s actually an NPC (non-player character) inside a brutal, open world video game.

SCREENWRITERS: The first draft of Free Guy was a spec script by MATT LIEBERMAN that appeared on the 2016 Black List, an annual survey of the industry’s best unproduced screenplays. Lieberman’s screenwriting career began in the Disney Feature Writer’s Program, where he worked on various scripts based on IP like Monopoly and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride that are still in development. His first spec sale, 12/24, a found-footage feature about two kids trying to catch Santa Claus on video, eventually became Netflix’s hit comedy The Christmas Chronicles. Lieberman also received story and writing credits on computer animated reboots of The Addams Family (2019) and Scooby Doo (Scoob!, 2020), and has several other projects in development, including reboots of The Jetsons and Rin Tin Tin, as well as the original screenplays Meet the Machines and Meebo and Me. Before going into production, Free Guy was re-written by ZAK PENN, whose other high-concept output includes Last Action HeroThe Incredible HulkThe Avengers, and Ready Player One[We will be reading and discussing Lieberman’s draft only.]

(registration deadline: Friday, August 6)

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Directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum), Free Guy stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), rapper Utkarsh Ambudkar (The Mindy Project), Joe Keery (Stranger Things), and Academy Award winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit). The comedy will be released theatrically by Disney’s 20th Century Studios on Friday, August 13.

Rated PG-13. 115 minutes. 109 pages (Lieberman’s undated Black List draft). Sci-Fi Action Comedy.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion of the sci-fi action comedy Free Guy. 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.

July 12 – Stillwater

Stillwater Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on July 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay STILLWATER.

LOGLINE: A father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his estranged daughter, who is in prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit.

WRITERS: Two teams of screenwriters are credited in the Stillwater trailer. THOMAS BIDEGAIN & NOÉ DEBRÉ are from France. Bidegain has won two César Awards, one for Best Original Screenplay for the gritty prison crime thriller A Prophet, one for Best Adapted Screenplay for Rust And Bone, a romantic drama about a bouncer who falls in love with a woman who lost both her legs while training killer whales. TOM McCARTHY & MARCUS HINCHEY make up the second credited writing team for the film which was inspired by the real-life case of Amanda Knox. Hinchey, whose name is not on the 2/19/19 draft we will be reading and discussing, previously wrote All Good Things, a fictional account of accused murderer Robert Durst, starring Ryan Gosling, and Come Sunday, a Netflix movie about the real-life excommunication of Oklahoma minister Carlton Pearson. Stillwater is the first theatrical feature McCarthy has directed since 2015’s Spotlight won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. His other films include The Station Agent, Win Win, and The Visitor, and he shared another Oscar nomination for his writing contributions to the Disney/Pixar animated hit Up.

(registration deadline: Friday, July 9)

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Stillwater is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July ahead of its July 30 release from Universal’s Focus Features. Academy Award winning screenwriter Matt Damon (the Bourne franchise, the Ocean’s trilogy) stars as the father. Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Zombieland) plays his Foxy Knoxy-like daughter. Damon’s character gets help overcoming language and cultural barriers from a lawyer played by Camille Cottin (Parisian Bitch, Princess Of Hearts).

Rated R. 122 pages. Drama.

JAMES N. FREY, author of How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, will lead our script analysis and discussion. James is one of America’s leading creative writing teachers. For over ten years, he conducted the popular Open Workshop at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers conference. He’s taught and lectured at dozens of other schools and conferences in America and Europe, including the Oregon Writers Colony, the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, and the California Writers Club conference. An award-winning playwright and author of nine novels including The Long Way to Die, which was nominated for an Edgar Award, and Winter of the Wolves, a Literary Guild selection, Frey is also the author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II, How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, and How to Write a Damn Good Mystery.

June 14 – Minari

MINARI Movie Poster Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on June 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MINARI.

LOGLINE: A Korean family starts a farm in 1980s Arkansas.

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Munyurangabo, the first-ever narrative feature in the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda and the debut feature film of Asian-American LEE ISAAC CHUNG, premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section and won the Grand Prize at that year’s AFI Fest. After three more films, Chung had to take a full-time teaching job to support his family, but decided to write one more script, hunkered down in his regular South Pasadena coffee shop, before the gig started. Searching for public domain material to adapt, Chung was inspired by Willa Cather’s 1918 novel My Ántonia, about a 19th century child of immigrants growing up on a farm in Nebraska, to write about his own similar upbringing as a South Korean boy on a farm in Arkansas. Thus, the filmmaker says, the writing of his breakthrough film began when he “ceased to admire and began to remember.” (The semi-autobiographical script was written in English, with the dialogue later translated into Korean.)

(registration deadline: Friday, June 11)

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Minari premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 where it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for drama. The long list of subsequent accolades includes placing on the year-end top ten lists of 68 critics, winning twelve awards with 25 additional nominations for the screenplay, winning the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film, earning six Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations (including Best Screenplay), and six Academy Award nominations (including Best Original Screenplay), and winning the Spirit, BAFTA, SAG, and Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-Jung Youn).

A24 released the film virtually and in select theaters on February 12. If you have not yet seen Minari, it is recommended that you read the script first, as our discussion will focus on the writing on the page. This month we also plan to discuss the finished film, so it is suggested that you also watch the movie after reading the script. Minari is currently available to rent or buy digitally at Redbox, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Fandango, Vudu, and Apple TV.

Rated PG-13. 155 minutes. 97 pages. 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.

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)

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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.