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.

September 9 – Ad Astra

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on September 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay AD ASTRA.

LOGLINE: An astronaut goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiments threaten the solar system.

Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) was directed and co-written by JAMES GRAY, whose first film, at age 25, 1994’s Little Odessa, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His next four films, including The Yards and We Own The Night (both starring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix), and The Immigrant (starring Marion Cotillard), all played in competition for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, while his most recent release, 2017’s The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, was nominated for the prestigious USC Scripter award. Gray co-wrote Ad Astra with ETHAN GROSS, best known for his work as writer and executive story editor on 22 episodes of the FOX sci-fi series Fringe.

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.

(registration deadline: Thursday, September 5)

Compare the script to the finished film when it opens wide on September 20, a week and a half after our discussion! The film, which Gray describes as a mash-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now, stars Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Men in Black), Ruth Negga (Loving, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise).

Rated PG-13. 124 minutes. 108 pages. Sci-Fi, Drama, Adventure.

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.