August 8 – SAMARITAN

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on August 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the superhero screenplay SAMARITAN.

LOGLINE: A young boy suspects his reclusive neighbor is the vigilante superhero, Samaritan, who was believed to have perished decades ago in a fiery warehouse battle with his rival, Nemesis.

BRAGI SCHUT originally wrote Samaritan as a spec script before adapting it into a graphic novel that was published by Mythos Comics in 2014. The Nicholl Fellowship winner’s previous feature film writing credits include Season of the Witch, starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, and Escape Room, which made $155 million on a $10 million budget, making it one of the most profitable films of 2019. Schut also worked on video games for Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, created the CBS alien invasion series Threshold starring Carla Gugino and Peter Dinklage, and is currently the show runner for the popular Lego children’s show Ninjago.

(registration deadline: Friday, August 5)

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Originally put into development in 2016 by Bold Films (Nightcrawler, Whiplash), Samaritan was acquired by MGM in 2019 with Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Rambo) set to star in the title role. The cast also includes Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria, The Umbrella Academy), Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones), Dascha Polanco (Orange Is the New Black), and Moisés Arias (Hannah Montana). The film is scheduled for an August 26 release on Amazon Prime Video, which bought MGM Studios in March.

Rated PG-13. 121 pages. 99 minutes. Action. Drama. Fantasy.

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.

March 14 – The Power of the Dog

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on March 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the Oscar-nominated screenplay THE POWER OF THE DOG.

LOGLINE: A charismatic rancher inspires fear and awe in those around him, tormenting them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

THE WRITERS: The Power of the Dog is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by THOMAS SAVAGE, who, like one of the characters, moved with his mother and stepfather to a Montana cattle ranch as a boy in the 1920s, where he felt like a misfit. He wrote thirteen novels, all Westerns set in or connected to Montana, in a career spanning 44 years. The Power of the Dog is said to have previously been optioned five times, including once by Paul Newman, but did not make it to the screen until acclaimed Kiwi filmmaker JANE CAMPION read her stepmother’s copy of the book in 2017. In 1993, Campion became the first woman to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her best-known film, The Piano, which also earned her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Some of her other work includes The Portrait of a Lady starring Nicole Kidman, Holy Smoke! starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel, In the Cut with Meg Ryan, and Top of the Lake, the first TV series to screen at the Sundance Film Festival. The Power of the Dog is her first feature film in over a decade.

(registration deadline: Friday, March 11)

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The Power of the Dog leads this year’s Academy Awards with 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and four acting nominations. Furthermore, Jane Campion is the first woman ever to receive a second Best Director nomination, 28 years after her nomination for The Piano. The Netflix original film premiered last September at the Venice film festival where Campion won the Silver Lion award for directing. After a healthy festival run and a limited theatrical run, it began streaming on Netflix last December. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), and Frances Conroy (American Horror Story).

The film has already won three Golden Globes, including Best Picture – Drama and Best Director, as well as hundreds of other awards and nominations from SAG, DGA, USC, BAFTA, and many more.

If you have not yet seen the movie, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page. Afterward, for extra credit, you are encouraged to also watch the film (currently streaming on Netflix) and/or read the novel (available from Amazon or your local library), as our discussion may include choices made in the process of adapting the novel to the script to a finished film.

Rated R. 106 pages. 123 minutes. Drama. Romance. Western.

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).

February 14 – CODA & The Tender Bar

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on February 14th for a coming-of-age DOUBLE FEATURE in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplays CODA and THE TENDER BAR.

This month we’ll read, discuss, analyze, compare, and contrast not one, but two screenplays, both in the coming-of-age genre and both generating awards-season buzz.

Written and directed by SIAN HEDER, CODA follows a hearing teenage girl who is a Child Of Deaf Adults torn between following her dream of attending Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her deaf family. Heder won a Peabody award in 2010 for her work on the TV series Men of a Certain Age and wrote for the first three seasons of Orange Is the New Black. She made her feature debut as writer/director with Netflix’s Tallulah starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney. An English-language remake of the 2014 César-nominated French film La Famille Bélier, CODA stars Emilia Jones (Locke & Key), Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, Switched at Birth), and Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included, How to Be a Latin Lover).

Based on the memoir of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist J.R. Moehringer (Resurrecting the Champ), The Tender Bar tells the story of a nine-year-old Long Island boy from a dysfunctional family who bonds with his uncle, a bar owner who encourages him to become a writer. The screenplay was written by former journalist/novelist WILLIAM MONAHAN, whose screenwriting credits include Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, Body of Lies, and The Gambler (2014). In 2007, Monahan won an Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. The Tender Bar is directed by George Clooney (The Ides of March, Suburbicon) and stars Ben Affleck (Justice League, The Accountant), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, The Card Counter), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story), and Christopher Lloyd (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Back to the Future).

(registration deadline: Friday, February 11)

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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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.

CODA is currently streaming on Apple TV+. It premiered at Sundance in 2021 where it won the audience award, the grand jury award, and the directing award, and was nominated for two Golden Globes, Best Picture Drama and Best Supporting Actor (Troy Katsur) among its many other accolades.

Rated PG-13. 79 pages. 111 minutes. Drama.

The Tender Bar is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Its accolades include a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Ben Affleck).

Rated R. 131 pages. 104 minutes. Drama.

If you have not seen the movies, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page. Also please watch the movies before the meeting as our discussion will include comparison of the writing on the page with what is seen and heard while watching the movie.

December 13 – House of Gucci

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on December 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay for the upcoming Ridley Scott-helmed crime thriller HOUSE OF GUCCI.

LOGLINE: Three decades of love, betrayal, decadence, and revenge mark the extravagant life and grisly 1995 murder of fashion designer Maurizio Gucci.

THE WRITERS: The screenplay is based on the book The House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by SARA GAY FORDEN, a journalist who covered Italian fashion for fifteen years and now covers corporate influence in Washington, DC for Bloomberg News. Academy Award nominated screenwriter BECKY JOHNSTON (The Prince of Tides) wrote the screenplay. Johnston’s other credits include Under the Cherry Moon, starring and directed by Prince, and Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt. Ridley Scott was first attached to the project in 2006 with a script by Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton). Charles Randolph (The Big Short) also worked on the script. We will be reading and discussing the April 19, 2019 draft by Italian filmmaker ROBERTO BENTIVEGNA. This will be the first feature screenwriting credit for Bentivegna, which he shares with Johnston, who also has story credit.

(registration deadline: Friday, December 10)

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

Single Meeting Fee: $45
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Scheduled for release on November 24, House of Gucci stars Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), Adam Driver (Marriage Story, Star Wars sequel trilogy), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, Fight Club), Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Salma Hayek (Frida), and Al Pacino (The Godfather trilogy).

Rated R. 133 pages. 157 minutes. Drama. Crime. Biopic.

Jennifer DornbushJENNIFER DORNBUSH will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The daughter of a medical examiner, Jennifer is a forensic specialist who began investigating deaths at eight years old. Trained at the Forensic Science Academy, her decades of experience have made her a sought-after consultant on such shows as Hawaii Five-0, Suits, Rectify, and Prison Break, and speaker at The Writer’s Store, Sisters in Crime, Scriptwriters Network, and Story Expo, to name a few. Wanting to share her love of forensics with other storytellers, she penned Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, published by Michael Wiese Productions. She is also the author of the Coroner’s Daughter Mystery two-book series and wrote the screenplay for God Bless the Broken Road as well as its novelization for Simon & Schuster. Visit jenniferdornbush.com for more.

October 11 – DUNE (2021)

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on October 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay for the upcoming remake of DUNE.

LOGLINE: A duke oversees the spice mining operations on a dangerous, desert planet, battling the natives for the most valuable substance in the universe, a drug that extends human life.

THE WRITERS: Dune is based on the first half of the Nebula and Hugo award-winning 1965 novel by FRANK HERBERT and is expected to be followed by a sequel based on the second half of the book. Inspired partially by the author’s experiences with psychedelic mushrooms, Herbert wrote five sequels to Dune before his death in 1986. The novel was adapted by screenwriters ERIC ROTH and DENIS VILLENEUVE and JON SPAIHTS. Roth won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Forrest Gump and has been nominated four other times, most recently for the 2018 remake of A Star Is Born. He has also written the upcoming Martin Scorsese Western Killers of the Flower Moon. French Canadian Villeneuve, who also helmed this version of Dune, gained prominence as the director and co-writer of Incendies, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. He has also made the acclaimed thrillers Prisoners and Sicario and sci-fi films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Spaihts started his career when his sci-fi spec script Passengers appeared on the 2007 Black List; it was produced in 2016, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Spaihts’s other screenwriting credits include Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel, Prometheus, and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

(registration deadline: Friday, October 8)

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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Dune: Part One stars Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name). Also featured in the epic film are Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars episodes VII-IX), Josh Brolin (The Goonies), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig in the MCU movies), professional wrestler Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer in the MCU), Zendaya (MJ in the most recent Spider-Man movies), Charlotte Rampling (Basic Instinct 2), and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men). The film premiered September 3 at the Venice International Film Festival and will be released theatrically in the U.S. while simultaneously streaming on HBO Max beginning October 22.

Rated PG-13. 130 pages (9/24/18 draft). 155 minutes. Sci-Fi. Action/Adventure. 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.

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)

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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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.

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)

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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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.

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)

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

Click the Register Now button for instructions.

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.

January 13 – Jojo Rabbit

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on January 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay JOJO RABBIT.

LOGLINE: A ten-year-old boy in Nazi Germany, whose imaginary friend is Hitler, discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl behind a wall in their home.

THE WRITERS: Jojo Rabbit was written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker/comedian TAIKA WAITITI, who also appears in the film as Hitler. Waititi first gained international acclaim in 2004 with his short film Two Cars, One Night, which won awards at the AFI and Berlin festivals and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. He went on to make four well-received independent features, including Eagle vs Shark and the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, before helming his first big studio picture, Thor: Ragnarok, which grossed more than $850 million worldwide, enabling him to make his low-budget Nazi comedy. The script was adapted from the first half of the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. The novel was previously adapted for the stage in 2017 in New Zealand, where the American-born, Harvard-educated author has lived since 2006.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, January 8)

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.

Jojo Rabbit premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award. Ten of the last eleven films to win this award went on to Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, with six of them winning in their respective writing category. Featuring Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Black Widow), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Richard Jewell), Rebel Wilson (Isn’t It Romantic, Cats), Stephen Merchant (The Office (UK), Logan), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), and introducing ten-year-old Roman Griffin Davis in his Golden Globe nominated lead role, the film was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

1/13/20 UPDATE: Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for 6 BAFTA awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, 2 SAG awards, a DGA award, a PGA award, the USC Scripter award, and a WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, among many other accolades.

Disney-owned Fox Searchlight opened the film in limited release on October 18, expanding to just under a thousand screens in November. To date the $14 million movie still in current release has grossed more than $24 million. If you have not yet seen Jojo Rabbit but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

PG-13. 108 minutes. 113 pages (March 15, 2012 draft). Comedy. War.

DAN MARGULES will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is the creator, publisher, and one of the authors of ScripTipps, a line of inexpensive ebooks on screenwriting conceived in part by his participation in StoryBoard. An award-winning filmmaker, Dan was co-founder and president of San Diego Filmmakers and sat on the board of directors of Scriptwriters Network where he ran their writers groups and staged readings programs. In 2012 he published the popular young adult Christmas novel North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus and later adapted it into a musical through the Academy of New Musical Theatre, where he also wrote the book for Chaturbate: The Musical, which premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2017. A member of StoryBoard’s Screenplay Discussion Group since November 2009, Dan has never missed a meeting.

December 9 – Richard Jewell

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on December 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay RICHARD JEWELL.

LOGLINE: A security guard saves thousands of lives when he discovers a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but when the FBI investigates him as a “person of interest,” the media vilifies the hero, falsely accusing him of planting the bomb.

THE WRITERS: Richard Jewell is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell” by Marie Brenner. Two other feature films and one made-for-TV movie have been made from Brenner’s investigative journalism over the last twenty years, including The Insider, about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth, Michael Mann). The Richard Jewell article was adapted for the screen by BILLY RAY. This year alone, the Encino native also has writing credits on Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark FateRichard Jewell echoes the theme of journalistic responsibility Ray previously explored in his directorial debut, Shattered Glass, which told the true story of Stephen Glass, who published dozens of high profile articles in The New Republic based on facts that were completely made up. Some of Ray’s other credits include The Hunger Games, Amazon’s The Last Tycoon, and Captain Phillips, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, December 4)

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.

Directed by CLINT EASTWOOD, Richard Jewell stars Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya) in the title role, Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), Jon Hamm (Top Gun: Maverick), and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart).

Richard Jewell is scheduled to premiere at AFI Fest on November 20th, with a December 13 release date set by Warner Bros.. If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Not Yet Rated. 129 minutes. 115 pages (September 25, 2015 draft). Drama, Biopic.

JEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff was classically trained in playwriting technique, worked as a dramaturg in the New York theater, and taught playwriting on Broadway at the Negro Ensemble Company. He has taught screenwriting for over 20 years in small high-intensity hands-on groups and is a sought-after script doctor, plot construction specialist, and rewrite consultant. His book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, is available at amazon.com. For more information, visit Jeff’s website, BuildYourScript.com.