May 8 – Beau Is Afraid

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on May 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BEAU IS AFRAID.

LOGLINE: A mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man, on his way to see his overbearing Jewish mother, encounters a series of obstacles that force him to confront his darkest fears on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey.

ABOUT THE WRITER: ARI ASTER received his MFA in Directing from the AFI Conservatory. After his controversial 2011 incest-themed AFI short, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, went viral, Aster made his feature writing and directing debut with Hereditary, starring Toni Collette, which became A24’s highest-grossing movie (until last year’s Everything Everywhere All at Once). He described his second feature, Midsommar, starring Florence Pugh, as “[The] Wizard of Oz for perverts.” Originally titled Disappointment Blvd., the surrealist black comedy film Beau Is Afraid is Aster’s third feature and is partially based on a short film he made in 2011 called Beau.

(registration deadline: Friday, May 5)

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

Click the Register Now button for instructions.
(Email if you have any questions.)

Beau Is Afraid premiered in New York on April Fool’s Day to an audience expecting to see a director’s cut of Aster’s Midsommar. The A24 film, which Aster once described as a Jewish Lord of the Rings, stars Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator), Parker Posey (Dazed and Confused), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), Nathan Lane (The Birdcage), Richard Kind (Inside Out), and Patti LuPone (Evita) and is scheduled to be released theatrically on April 21. If you plan to see the movie, it is highly recommended that you read the screenplay first so that your initial impression is from the writing on the page.

Rated R. 118 pages. 179 minutes. Black Comedy.

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

May 14 – Hereditary

(registration deadline: Friday, May 11)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on May 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HEREDITARY.

Logline: Ancestral spirits haunt a family after the death of their secretive and private matriarch.

The Screenwriter: ARI ASTER received his MFA in Directing from the AFI Conservatory. His controversial 2011 incest-themed AFI short, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, went viral last year, spawning dozens of polarized “reaction” videos on YouTube. Hereditary, which The Hollywood Reporter called “two breathless hours of escalating terror that never slackens for a minute,” is his feature film debut as writer and director.

Academy Award nominee Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) stars alongside Gabriel Bryne (The Usual Suspects), Alex Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band, My Friend Dahmer), Milly Shapiro (Broadway’s Matilda), and Ann Dowd (Compliance).

Producers and Production Companies: Hereditary was produced by Lars Knudsen (Beginners) and PalmStar Media CEO Kevin Frakes (Collateral Beauty) in association with Buddy Patrick (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), founder and president of Windy Hill Pictures.

Festivals and Release Date: Premiered in the Midnight section of this year’s Sundance Film Festival on January 21, followed by a command performance last month at South by Southwest on March 11. Opens wide June 8 (A24).

Rated R. 126 minutes. 118 pages. Horror.

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 for more information.