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 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.

January 10 – The Card Counter

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on January 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of Paul Schrader‘s new screenplay, THE CARD COUNTER.

LOGLINE: After teaching himself card counting in military prison, a former interrogator’s plan to bet small and win modestly falls apart when his dark past catches up with him.

THE WRITER: Screenwriter PAUL SCHRADER is best known for his collaborations with director Martin Scorsese, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ. As a writer/director, Schrader’s films include American Gigolo (which made Richard Gere a household name), Affliction (for which actor James Coburn won an Academy Award), and 2017’s First Reformed, which brought Schrader his first Oscar nomination (for Best Original Screenplay).

(registration deadline: Friday, January 7)

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Executive produced by Scorsese, The Card Counter stars Oscar Isaac (Star Wars sequel trilogy, X-Men: Apocalypse, Dune), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, The Tender Bar), and four-time Oscar nominee Willem Defoe (Platoon, Spider-Man 2).

The Focus Features film premiered last September at the Venice Film Festival and was released theatrically a week later. With a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 86%, the “bruising character study” (The Hollywood Reporter) has landed on a number of ten-best lists for the year, including Cahiers du Cinéma, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, RogerEbert.com, and IndieWire, and was included in a tweet from President Barack Obama listing his personal favorite movies of 2021.

Rated R. 81 pages. 111 minutes. 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 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)

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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.

November 8 – King Richard

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

LOGLINE: Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, changes the sport of tennis forever.

THE SCREENWRITER: King Richard is the first produced script by ZACH BAYLIN, who previously had art department credits on Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jack Goes Boating. Baylin’s spec biopic about the father of tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams came in second on the 2018 Black List and, with Will Smith attached to star and produce, was picked up by Warner Bros. after a bidding war. Baylin, who had won a spot on the Black List the year before with a script called Come as You Are, about a woman who moderates X-rated content on a social media platform and goes on a violent mission to take down the creators, was recently hired to pen the screenplay for the third film in the Rocky spinoff franchise, Creed, expected to be released in November 2022.

(registration deadline: Friday, November 5)

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 Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men), King Richard stars Will Smith (Independence Day, Bad Boys, Men in Black), Tony Goldwyn (Ghost, Scandal), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Marvel’s The Punisher), Dylan McDermott (The Practice), Aunjanue Ellis (When They See Us), and, as the Williams sisters, Saniyya Sidney (American Horror Story: Roanoke, Fences) and Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem).

The movie, which features the original song “Be Alive” by Beyoncé, premiered last month at the Telluride Film Festival and opens in theaters and on HBO Max on November 19. It won the audience award at the Heartland International Film Festival in Indiana and currently holds a 93% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Entertainment Weekly called King Richard “a surprisingly nuanced portrait of a flawed and deeply complicated man and the kind of classic-uplift sports movie that used to fill multiplexes once upon a time.”

Rated PG-13. 122 pages. 138 minutes. Drama. Sports Biopic.

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.

September 13 – Finch

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on September 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the comedy screenplay FINCH.

LOGLINE: On a post-apocalyptic earth, a robot, built to protect the life of his creator’s beloved dog, learns about life, love, friendship and what it means to be human.

SCREENWRITERS: CRAIG LUCK initially wrote Finch as a short called BIOS. Too expensive to be filmed as a short, Luck expanded the script to feature length with 78-year-old British producer IVOR POWELL, who began his film career as a publicity department liaison for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and later served as associate producer on Ridley Scott’s first three films, The Duellists, Alien, and Blade Runner. Powell brought Finch to Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik, with whom he had previously co-written The Dreamer, a 2000 sci-fi short about a clone trying to escape the fate of being recycled. Finch, which appeared on the 2017 Black List, is the first produced feature writing credit for both scribes.

(registration deadline: Friday, September 10)

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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Finch stars Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class, Get Out), Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black), Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Skeet Ulrich (Scream, Riverdale).

There is no trailer yet, but watch screenwriter Craig Luck discuss the film’s development:

Amblin Entertainment won a bidding war for the spec script in 2018. Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) is among the executive producers. Originally intended to be distributed by Universal Pictures, Apple Original Films won the distribution rights at auction in May after the COVID pandemic delayed the film’s release. Finch is now set to premiere on Apple TV+ on November 5, with a possible limited theatrical run for awards qualifications.

Rated PG-13. 114 pages. Sci-Fi Drama.

JEFF KITCHEN will lead our script analysis and in-depth screenwriting discussion. Jeff trains writers in a two-year apprenticeship program as well as a three-month program at http://script.kitchen. He has taught thousands of writers from Broadway to Hollywood, with former students nominated for multiple Oscars and Emmy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jeff is the author of the bestselling book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting.

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.

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.

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)

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 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!

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)

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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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.

October 12 – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Meet ONLINE on October 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7.

LOGLINE: In a year of civil unrest, seven political activists stand trial for inciting a riot after an anti-war protest outside the Democratic National Convention turns violent.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Academy-Award-winning screenwriter AARON SORKIN initially wrote the script in 2007 for Steven Spielberg to direct. The writers strike that year delayed production, forcing Spielberg to drop out. A former playwright, Sorkin began his screenwriting career in the 1990s, adapting his Broadway play A Few Good Men for the 1992 Rob Reiner film. He created The West Wing in 1999 and wrote or co-wrote all but three of the series’ first 90 episodes, taking home six of the show’s 26 Emmy awards. In 2011, Sorkin won his first Academy Award for his screenplay about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, and earned a second nomination the following year for co-writing Moneyball. He won Golden Globe awards for The Social Network and his 2016 biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and made his directorial debut with 2018’s Molly’s Game, which netted him his third Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Sorkin returns to the director’s chair for The Trial of the Chicago 7, which premieres on Netflix on October 16.

(registration deadline: Friday, October 9)

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Based on true events surrounding the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, The Trial of the Chicago 7 stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as Tom Hayden, Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) as Abbie Hoffman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as attorney William Kunstler, Michael Keaton (Birdman), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Jeremy Strong (Succession), John Caroll Lynch (The Founder), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as Judge Julius Hoffman, and William Hurt (Marvel’s Avengers and Black Widow films) as Attorney General John Mitchell.

Originally planned for a September 25 theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, movie theater shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the studio to sell the distribution rights to Netflix for $56 million. The streaming service now plans to release the film online on October 16, just ahead of the November 3 election, with a possible limited theatrical run in September.

Rated R. 129 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Courtroom Drama.

JEFF KITCHEN, top-rated scriptwriting teacher and author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting will lead our script analysis and in-depth screenwriting discussion. Classically trained in playwriting technique, Jeff worked as a dramaturg in the New York theater, and taught playwriting on Broadway. He’s currently in the process of launching a two-year intensive training program for scriptwriters called Script Kitchen. His current BuildYourScript.com website will soon change to Script.Kitchen.