September 11 – Rebel in the Rye

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on September 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay REBEL IN THE RYE.

Logline: The true story of how J.D. Salinger came to write The Catcher in the Rye.

Screenwriter: Known for his roles as Jonathan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle on Gilmore Girls, DANNY STRONG launched his screenwriting career with a pair of HBO movies about the 2000 and 2008 elections. Recount earned Strong a WGA award and an Emmy nomination, while Game Change won him his second WGA trophy, two Emmys, and a Peabody. For the big screen he wrote the script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler and had a hand in adapting the third and fourth Hunger Games movies from the novel Mockingjay. Strong is also co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the hit series Empire. Rebel in the Rye, which marks Strong’s feature film directorial debut, was adapted from the non-fiction book J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawensky, which Strong is said to have optioned with his own money.

Rebel in the Rye stars Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, X-Men franchise) as the struggling author, Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Why Him?) as love interest Oona O’Neill, Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) as mentor Whit Burnett, and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson) as Salinger’s agent.

Producers and Production Companies: Writer/director Danny Strong also serves as a producer on Rebel in the Rye along with Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook), Jason Shuman (Middle Men, Little Black Book) and the team of Molly Smith and identical twin brothers Thad and Trent Luckinbill under their Black Label Media banner (La La Land, Sicario, Demolition). Rebel is the first production credited in IMDb to West Madison Entertainment, a production company recently founded by executive producer Christina Papagjika, an associate producer on Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Release Date: September 15 (IFC Films). The film premiered this January at the Sundance Film Festival.

Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. 97 pages. Drama, Biopic.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Trained at the Actors Studio and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Wendell has acted in feature films, television, and on stage. He has taught screenwriting at UCLA and wrote FIREFOX, SUDDEN IMPACT, and the final Dirty Harry script for Clint Eastwood. He recently completed adapting the novel The River Journey by Robert Nathan and is currently working on setting up his screenplay Top Hat. Wendell’s book, A Writer’s Roadmap, is available at Amazon.

April 10 – The Circle

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on April 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE CIRCLE.

Logline: A woman lands her dream job at the most powerful tech company in the world only to find herself facing questions of privacy, identity, and freedom that will determine the future of humanity.

Writers: The Circle is based on the novel by DAVE EGGERS, who wrote the first draft of the screenplay. He also wrote screenplays for Away We Go with his wife, novelist Vendela Vida, and Where the Wild Things Are with director Spike Jonze, and has a story credit on Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land. The Circle is Eggers’ tenth novel. His 2009 book, Zeitoun, has been optioned by Jonathan Demme, and his novel A Hologram for the King was made into a movie in 2016 by Tom Tykwer starring Tom Hanks. JAMES PONSOLDT rewrote the script for The Circle and is the film’s director. Ponsoldt’s other writer-director credits include Off the Black starring Nick Nolte and Smashed starring Aaron Paul. He also directed The End of the Tour starring Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg and the acclaimed The Spectacular Now starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

The Black Mirror-esque sci-fi thriller stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter film series) and Tom Hanks in his first-ever villain role, with John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), and the late Bill Paxton in his final film appearance.

Producers and Production Companies: Hanks optioned the novel in 2014 to star in and produce through his Playtone banner with producing partner Gary Goetzman (Sully, Game Change). Anthony Bregman (Collateral Beauty, Sing Street, Foxcatcher) joined the producers with his company, Likely Story. Sophia Dilley (Netflix’s Tallulah) co-produces through Route One Entertainment. Writer-director Ponsoldt also has a producing credit. The film’s financing came from Image Nation (Rings, Contagion).

Release Date: April 28 (STX Entertainment), after its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Rated PG-13. 110 minutes. 141 pages. Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller.

LINDA COWGILL will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. After completing her MFA at UCLA’s School of Film and Television, Linda landed her first TV writing job on The Incredible Hulk and sold her first feature screenplay to Orion Pictures. She continued writing scripts for Paramount, Universal, MGM, Warner Bros., and for the acclaimed series Life Goes On, until deciding to focus on teaching screenwriting. She has since taught seminars and workshops at AFI, Kennedy Center, Boston Film Institute, Loyola Marymount, IFP Miami, and NALIP and now heads the Screenwriting Department at Los Angeles Film School. She has also published three books, The Art of Plotting, Secrets of Screenplay Structure, and Writing Short Films, and has many useful screenwriting articles on her website, Plots Inc.

March 13 – Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures (UK poster)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on March 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HIDDEN FIGURES.

Logline: The untold true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Based on the 2016 bestseller Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by debut author Margot Lee Shetterly, the script was adapted by ALLISON SCHROEDER and rewritten by the film’s director, THEODORE MELFI, focusing on balancing the home lives of the three protagonists with their careers at NASA. Schroeder, a former production assistant on Smallville who had interned at NASA as a teenager, previously wrote Mean Girls 2. Hidden Figures is her first feature writing credit. Melfi previously wrote and directed St. Vincent and wrote the upcoming remake of 1979’s Going in Style, scheduled to be released in April.

The 1961-set historical drama stars Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Grammy Award nominated singer Janelle Monáe (Moonlight), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), and Glen Powell (Scream Queens) as John Glenn, and features the music of Pharrell Williams, who is also one of the film’s producers.

Awards and Nominations: Hidden Figures is nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The ensemble cast recently won the top honor at the Screen Actors Guild awards, and the screenplay is also nominated for BAFTA, WGA, and USC Scripter awards.

Producers and Production Companies: Academy Award winning producer Donna Gigliotti (Shakespeare in Love) acquired the book’s film rights for Levantine Films (Beasts of No Nation, The Fundamentals of Caring), where she is the president. Gigliotti has had two other Best Picture nominations (Silver Linings Playbook and The Reader) since beginning her career as an assistant to Martin Scorsese on Raging Bull. Gigliotti produced Hidden Figures with former News Corp. COO Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment production company (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Heat, St. Vincent).

Release: Fox 2000 gave the film a limited Christmas Day release for awards qualification. Having grossed over $130 million since its wide release on January 6, Hidden Figures is currently the highest grossing of the nine films nominated for Best Picture and of all ten films nominated in the two screenplay categories. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG. 127 minutes. 121 pages. Historical Drama, Biopic.

BSchiffmanhead150Script consultant and book adaptation coach BARBARA SCHIFFMAN will lead the discussion. For over 35 years, Barbara read scripts for Miramax, Dreamworks, Mandalay, HBO, CAA, UTA, and more. The writing guide NOW WRITE! Screenwriting Exercises by Today’s Best Screenwriters and Teachers includes her chapter “Key Things to Know About Your Script Before You Write.” She has also evaluated candidates for NBCUniversal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship programs and in 2016 presented seminars on Adapting Books and True Stories to Film/TV at the 26th annual Flathead Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Barbara currently offers script coaching and “first look” feedback for screenwriters, as well as book coaching and editing for authors and self-publishers. Get info on Barbara’s services at her website, barbaraschiffman.com.

November 14 – Nocturnal Animals

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Nocturnal Animals (Amy Adams)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.

Logline: An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

Writers: Director and producer TOM FORD penned the script, based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by AUSTIN WRIGHT. Ford gained worldwide acclaim as a fashion designer before making his motion picture directorial debut in 2009 with A Single Man, which he also co-wrote. That film earned its star, Colin Firth, his first Oscar nomination. Novelist and literary critic Austin Wright died in 2003 at the age of 80. The only novel of his to be adapted for the screen to date, Tony and Susan was not successful in Wright’s lifetime. Released posthumously in the UK for the first time in 2010, the book finally found its audience and was re-released in the US to critical acclaim.

The stellar ensemble cast includes five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Big Eyes), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Demolition), Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Revolutionary Road), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me, Confessions of a Shopaholic), Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Birth of a Nation), Laura Linney (The Big C), and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex).

Producers and Production Companies: As with A Single Man, Ford produced Nocturnal Animals through his production company, Fade to Black Films, again with Robert Salerno, whose other credits include 21 Grams and next year’s Going Places, a spin-off of The Big Lebowski.

Premiere: Venice Film Festival, September 2 (Grand Jury Prize winner). Also played at Toronto International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival.

Release Date: November 18 (L.A. & New York), November 23 (limited), December 9 (wide) (Focus Features).

Rated R. 115 minutes. 126 pages. Drama, Thriller.

Jeff KitchenJEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff is a sought-after script doctor and working writer who has taught screenwriting professionally since 1989. He is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, and has trained development executives from all the major studios who have consistently said that he teaches “the most advanced development tools in the film industry.” Creative Screenwriting listed him as one of the top five screenwriting teachers working today. Visit his website DevelopmentHeaven.com.

September 12 – The Girl on the Train

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, September 9)

The Girl on the TrainMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

Logline: Obsessively fantasizing about the perfect couple that lives down the street from her ex-husband, a self-destructive woman finds herself entangled in a mystery that will forever alter the lives of all involved.

Writers: Based on a bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train was adapted by ERIN CRESSIDA WILSON, whose first produced screenplay, Secretary, won the 2002 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Her other credits include Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, Chloe (directed by Atom Egoyan), and Men, Women & Children (directed and co-written by Jason Reitman). The novel, written by PAULA HAWKINS, debuted in 2015 at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, remaining at the top for 16 weeks. Hawkins had previously released a string of less successful romantic comedy novels under the pen name Amy Silver before challenging herself to write darker material with The Girl on the Train, which has often been called “the next Gone Girl.”

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Haley Bennett (The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven), Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive), Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy), Édgar Ramírez (Point Break), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and Laura Prepon (Orange Is the New Black).

Producers and Production Companies: DreamWorks Pictures acquired film rights to the novel in 2014. The film was produced by Marc Platt, former president of production for Orion, TriStar, and Universal, under his Marc Platt Productions banner. The former entertainment attorney’s other producing credits include the Legally Blonde franchise, Wanted, Drive, Bridge of Spies, and the Broadway musical Wicked.

Release Date: October 7 (Universal Pictures).

Rated R. 105 minutes. 100 pages. Drama, Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Lee JessupLEE JESSUP will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Born and raised in Israel, Jessup is a career coach for screenwriters whose clients include Golden Globe and Emmy nominated writers as well as emerging screenwriters just starting on their professional writing path. She previously ran development for a small production company and was product manager for Baseline’s ScriptShark coverage service. Her book Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide To A Screenwriting Career is a comprehensive guide with practical advice for aspiring and working screenwriters. Find out more at leejessup.com and follow Lee on Twitter (@LeeZJessup).

June 13 – Our Kind of Traitor

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Our Kind of TraitorMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Logline: While on holiday in Marrakesh, a Russian oligarch lures an unsuspecting British couple into helping him defect, positioning them between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.

Writers: Academy Award nominated screenwriter Hossein Amini (Wings of the Dove) adapted the 2010 novel of the same name by John le Carré (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Amini’s other acclaimed screenplays include Drive, 47 Ronin, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Our Kind of Traitor stars Ewan McGregor (Star Wars prequel trilogy), Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Skyfall, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise), Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel’s The Avengers, Mama Mia!, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Damian Lewis (Homeland). The film is directed by Susanna White (Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang).

Producers and Production Companies: The Ink Factory’s Simon  Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell (A Most Wanted Man), Potboiler Productions’ Gail Egan (Mr. Turner), StudioCanal, Film4, and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Release Date: July 1 (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions).

Rated R. 108 minutes. 105 pages. Spy thriller.

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 sit-com 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. 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.

December 14 – The Big Short

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, December 11)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE BIG SHORT.

Four outsiders in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s and decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed in this true story based on the book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side).

Screenwriters: ADAM McKAY (Ant-Man, Get Hard, Saturday Night Live) and CHARLES RANDOLPH (Love & Other Drugs, The Interpreter). Directed by Adam McKay.

Cast: Christian Bale (The Dark Knight trilogy), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher, The Office), Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Lars and the Real Girl), Brad Pitt (Fight Club, 12 Years a Slave), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers)

Producers: Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner for Plan-B Entertainment (12 Years a Slave, Moneyball, World War Z), and Regency Enterprises (Birdman, Gone Girl).

Premiere: AFI Fest, closing night (November 12, 2015).

Release date: December 11 (limited), December 23 (wide), Paramount. If you plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 130 minutes. 121 pages. Drama.

Dave KlineDAVE KLINE, senior script consultant at Script Pipeline, will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Dave co-founded Script Pipeline (formerly Script P.I.M.P.) in 2000 with Chad Clough. With Dave’s focus on contest judging and one-on-one script consultations to help writers find representation, the service has grown into a vital online outlet for agents and managers seeking emerging talent. As a writer, Dave sold his TV series, Detail, to CBS in 2011, which gained him representation at CAA. He has gone on to develop projects for Rough House Pictures, Mosaic, and Le Grisbi Productions (Black Mass). His latest pilot is being produced by Rashida Jones’s production company, Le Train Train. Dave is currently repped by George Heller at Apostle.