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.

February 13 – Manchester by the Sea

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Manchester by the SeaMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on February 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Logline: A troubled janitor must return, permanently, to a town that holds painful memories for him in order to raise his nephew when his brother dies unexpectedly.

KENNETH LONERGAN wrote and directed this original screenplay. After finding success as a playwright, Lonergan broke into screenwriting with the Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro comedy Analyze This (1999). A year later, he received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, for You Can Count On Me, his motion picture directorial debut. That script also won WGA and Spirit awards as well as the Sundance Film Festival’s Waldo Salt award for screenwriting. Lonergan earned his second Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for his contributions to Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Manchester by the Sea is Lonergan’s first outing since 2011’s heavily litigated Margaret starring Anna Paquin.

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Tate Donovan (Damages), an appearance by Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and a breakthrough performance by newcomer Lucas Hedges, son of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of About a Boy, Peter Hedges.

Awards and Nominations: Widely expected to have a strong showing at the Academy Awards, Manchester has so far racked up five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, four SAG award nominations, five Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best Feature and Best Screenplay, and a WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Update: Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), and Best Supporting Actress (Williams).

The writing has also received accolades from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Atlanta Film Critics Society, Boston Online Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Chicago Film Critics Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Hollywood Film Awards, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, Toronto Film Critics Association, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and the Village Voice Film Poll, with 20 additional nominations, and the film has appeared on over 50 ten-best lists for 2016.

Producers and Production Companies: Actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski first brought the idea to Lonergan and were both originally going to act in it, with Damon directing. Both actors eventually dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts but retained producing credits. Other producers and production companies include Kimberly Steward of K Period Media, Kevin J. Walsh (The Way Way Back) of B Story, and Chris Moore (Project Greenlight) of CMP. Damon’s production company is Pearl Street Films.

Release: Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Amazon Studios won a bidding war against Sony, Universal, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight, paying $10 million for distribution rights, and is co-distributing with Roadside Attractions. The film opened in limited release on November 18, 2016, and reached the top ten at the box office for the weekend of December 9, despite having expanded to only 366 screens. It went wide on December 16 and has grossed over $33 million to date against an estimated $8.5 million budget. 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 R. 137 minutes. 112 pages. Drama.

Beverly GrayBEVERLY GRAY will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As story editor and development executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures, screenwriter Beverly Gray oversaw the making of 170 low-budget features. More recently, she has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and currently teaches online screenwriting workshops for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Beverly has also written books on filmmakers Corman and Ron Howard, as well as the upcoming Seduced by Mrs. Robinson, scheduled for release in November 2017 for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

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.

February 8 – Inside Out

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Inside OutMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay INSIDE OUT.

Inside the mind of a young girl, her emotions — Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness — must work together to find a way to help her cope with the trauma of moving to a new city and school.

Inspired by his own childhood social anxiety when his family relocated to Denmark, director and co-screenwriter PETE DOCTER noticed his pre-teen daughter exhibiting similar shyness and imagined what happens inside the human minds when emotions develop. Docter was previously nominated for six Academy Awards, including three for his work on the original Pixar screenplays Toy Story, WALL-E, and Up, winning in the Best Animated Feature category for Up, which he also directed. His other writing credits include Monsters, Inc., and he is currently working on Toy Story 4.

Other credited screenwriters on Inside Out include Meg LeFauve (The Good Dinosaur, a live-action Captain Marvel film scheduled for 2019) and animator Josh Cooley (co-director of Toy Story 4), with a co-story credit by co-director Ronnie Del Carmen.

The animated Pixar hit feature stars the voice talents of Amy Poehler (SNL, Parks and Recreation) as Joy, Phyllis Smith (The Office) as Sadness, Bill Hader (SNL, Trainwreck) as Fear, stand-up comic Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) as Disgust, and Richard Kind (Mad About You, Spin City) as Bing Bong, with Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paula Poundstone, Bobby Moynihan, Frank Oz, Flea, John Ratzenberger, and Rashida Jones.

AWARDSInside Out is nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay and Best Animated Feature). The film is up for the same two awards at the BAFTAs and has already won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Animated.

The screenplay has also picked up awards from the Phoenix Film Critics Society, Utah Film Critics Association, and Washington DC Area Film Critics Association.

It has 15 additional writing nominations from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Austin Film Critics Association, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Central Ohio Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Cricits Association, Detroit Film Critic Society, Florida Film Critics Circle, Image Awards, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, North Carolina Film Critics Association, Online Film Critics Society, Satellite Awards, Southeastern Film Critics Association, and St. Louis Film Critics Association.

Inside Out premiered out of competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. After a U.S. premiere on June 8 at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, the film was released wide on June 19. It has grossed over $350 million domestically and is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and streaming.

Rated PG. 95 minutes. 129 pages. Family, Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure.

Barri EvinsBARRI EVINS will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As a producer, Barri has sold pitches and spec scripts to Warner Bros., Universal, Disney, Fox, Nickelodeon, New Line, and HBO. She began her career as development executive for Bruce A. Evans & Ray Gideon (Stand by Me, Starman) and was president of Debra Hill Productions (Halloween, The Fisher King). She discovered Assassins, the first script by the Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy), and has developed projects with Tobey Maguire, Shawn Levy, Frank Oz, and Mark Fergus & Hawk Otsby. Through her seminar and consulting company Big Ideas (BigBigIdeas.com), Evins teaches screenwriting from the perspective of a working producer and has taught at Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, UCLA Producers Program, and AFI. She has also contributed a chapter to the popular book Now Write! Screenwriting. Follow her on Twitter (@BigBigIdeas).

January 11 – Spotlight

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, January 8)

SpotlightMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay SPOTLIGHT.

The true story of how The Boston Globe‘s elite “Spotlight” team of investigative reporters uncovered the massive child molestation scandal and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.

DIRECTOR/CO-SCREENWRITER TOM McCARTHY – As an actor, McCarthy has appeared in such films as Meet the Parents and The Lovely Bones, and on the small screen in The Wire and Boston Public. His 2003 writing and directing debut, The Station Agent, starring Peter Dinklage, won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award at Sundance, Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, and a Best Screenplay BAFTA award. He received WGA nominations for that film as well as his next two, The Visitor and Win Win, and was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing Disney/Pixar’s Up.

CO-SCREENWRITER JOSH SINGER – Spotlight is Singer’s second feature film writing credit, following 2013’s The Fifth Estate, a fact-based thriller about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  Before writing for Fringe and The West Wing, for which he earned two WGA nominations, Singer interned at Disney, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Workshop, and graduated magna cum laude from Yale in mathematics and economics.

AWARDS – The film has already won the Independent Spirits’ Robert Altman Award for its ensemble cast, which includes Mark Ruffalo (Marvel’s The Avengers), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), John Slattery (Mad Men), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games franchise), and Billy Crudup (Almost Famous).

Spotlight is also nominated for a WGA award, four Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Director, Screenplay and Editing, three BAFTAs for Best Film, Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Original Screenplay, and three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama, Director, and Screenplay, and has won Gotham Awards for Best Feature and Best Screenplay as well as the Hollywood Film Award for Screenwriter of the Year, with more accolades expected.

AWARDS UPDATE: The screenplay alone has won 15 more writing awards so far from: Boston Online Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critic Society, Florida Film Critics Circle, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Online Film Critics Society, Phoenix Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, and St. Louis Film Critics Association.

It has also received an additional 14 screenplay nominations from: Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Austin Film Critics Association, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society, London Critics Circle, North Carolina Film Critics Association, Phoenix Film Critics Society, San Diego Film Critics Society, San Francisco Fim Critics Circle, Satellite Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association, Utah Film Critics Assocation, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and Washington DC Area Film Critics Association.

Producers and Production Companies: Steve Golin (The Revenant, HBO’s True Detective) and Michael Sugar (The Fifth Estate) for Anonymous Content, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust for Rocklin/Faust (The Queen Latifah Show), and Participant Media (Bridge of Spies, Beasts of No Nation).

Premiere: Venice Film Festival (September 3, 2015, out of competition). Also played at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.

Release date: November 20 (Open Road Films). If you plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 128 minutes. 131 pages. Drama.

Danny ManusDANNY MANUS,  founder of No BullScript Consulting, will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Author of No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective, Danny has taught workshops and seminars at prestigious events and venues including the Austin Film Festival, Great American Pitchfest, Screenwriting Expo, Sherwood Oaks, and more. As Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions, he sold the family adventure project To Oz to United Artists and was instrumental in developing Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) and Just Add Water (Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy). He was also a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and Director of Development for Sandstorm Films, and was named one of Screencraft’s “25 People Screenwriters Should Follow on Twitter (@DannyManus).”

March 9 – Nightcrawler

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, March 2)

NightcrawlerMeet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay NIGHTCRAWLER

A driven man, desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, blurring the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

Screenwriter: Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy), making his directorial debut.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko) and Renee Russo (Thor, Lethal Weapon 3 & 4)

Released: October 31, 2014 (Open Road Films)

AWARDS: Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay, Best First Feature), Austin Film Critics Association (Best Original Screenplay, Best First Film), Boston Society of Film Critics (Best New Filmmaker), Nevada Film Critics Society (Best Director, Best Screenplay), San Diego Film Critics Society (Best Director, Best Original Screenplay) and dozens more!

NOMINATIONS: Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay), Golden Globes (Best Actor – Drama), BAFTA (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay), Independent Spirit Awards (Best Editing, Best Male Lead, Best Supporting Male), and many, many more.

Budget: $8.5 million. Domestic gross: $32 million.

Rated R. 117 minutes. 107 pages. Drama, Thriller

Bill Boyle, UCLA Extension, Visual MindscapeBILL BOYLE will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Bill is an award winning screenwriter, UCLA Extension instructor, and has been rated among the top 10% of script analysts and consultants by Creative Screenwriting. His book, The Visual Mindscape of the Screenplay, teaches screenwriters how to let the viewer “discover” elements of the story rather than being told. Bill has been involved in the film industry in both Canada and the U.S. for over 25 years as a writer, director, agent, producer, story editor, and mentor. For additional information, visit his website, billboyle.net.

February 9 – The Imitation Game

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, February 2)

Meet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE IMITATION GAME

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code & Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

Writers: Graham Moore (screenplay), Andrew Hodges (book)

Director: Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, 2011; Buddy, 2003)


Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley

Budget: $15 million

The screenplay topped the 2011 Black List.

The Weinstein Company acquired US distribution rights for $7 million, a European Film Market record.

Premiered at Telluride Film Festival and also played at Toronto and nearly 50 other international film festivals.

Release (US): November 28, 2014 (limited), December 25, 2014 (wide)

AWARDS: Over 100 nominations, including eight Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, editing, production design, score), five Golden Globe nominations (including screenplay), eight BAFTA nominations, three SAG nominations, a USC Scripter nomination, and a WGA nomination.

Rated PG-13. 114 minutes. 117 pages. Biography, Drama, Thriller

JeffKitchen_smallJEFF 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.