May 9 – Money Monster

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, May 6)

Money MonsterMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MONEY MONSTER.

Logline: A financial TV host and his producer are put in an explosive situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.

The screenplay, which appeared on the 2014 Black List, was written by ALAN DiFIORE & JIM KOUF. This is DiFiore’s first feature writing credit. He co-created the Canadian TV series The Bridge and is a writer/producer on the hit NBC series Grimm. Kouf is the co-creator of Grimm and wrote for The Ghost Whisperer and Angel, and is also known for his many feature screenplays including National Treasure, Rush Hour, and Stakeout. JAMIE LINDEN (We Are Marshall, Dear John) was brought in for rewrites on Money Monster (making this the second script in a row we’ll be studying from a writer who previously adapted a Nicholas Sparks novel).

Money Monster is the fourth pairing of Oscar winners George Clooney (The Descendants) and Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich), and the fourth feature film directed by two-time Academy Award winning actress Jodie Foster. The $30 million film also stars Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) and Dominic West (The Wire).

Producers and Production Companies: Daniel Dubieck (Up in the Air) launched Allegiance Theater in 2012 to produce Money Monster. Stuart Ford provided the financing through his company, IM Global (Insidious, Sleeping with Other People). Clooney also produced with Grant Heslov through their Smokehouse Pictures banner (Argo).

Release Date: May 13 (Sony/Tri-Star).

Rated R. 95 minutes. 123 pages. Drama, Thriller.

DianeDrake150DIANE DRAKE will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Prior to writing the hit movies Only You (starring Robert Downey Jr. and Marissa Tomei) and What Women Want (starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt), Diane served as Vice President of Creative Affairs for Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie), honing her story skills while analyzing hundreds of screenplays to find and develop material for the Oscar-winning producer-director. She has taught through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and currently offers online courses and workshops at www.dianedrake.com. Her first book, Get Your Story Straight, is scheduled for release in 2016. Follow her on Twitter (@dianedrake) to find out more.

UPDATE: Diane’s book, Get Your Story Straight, is now available at Amazon.com.

April 11 – Demolition

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, April 8)

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

Logline: A man forms an unlikely bond with a sympathetic customer service representative he complained to when a vending machine failed to give him his M&Ms minutes after his wife died.

Written by BRYAN SIPE (The Choice), this indie drama opened the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The script was on the 2007 Black List, where it was discovered by director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyer’s Club, Wild).

Demolition stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Naomi Watts (Birdman, King Kong), and Chris Cooper (American Beauty, Adaptation).

Production Companies: Mr. Mudd (Juno), with financing from Black Label Media (Sicario) and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (Sleeping with Other People).

Producers: Black Label’s Molly Smith and Trent Luckinbill, Mr. Mudd’s Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith, and Sidney Kimmel. Executive producers include actors Thad Luckinbill (The Young and the Restless) and John Malkovich (Zoolander No. 2), talent agent Nathan Ross, director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), Helen Estabrook (Whiplash) and SKE’s Carla Hacken.

Release Date: April 8 (Fox Searchlight). If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 100 minutes. 113 pages. Drama.

David SilvermanDAVID SILVERMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. David studied screenwriting and story analysis at USC School of Cinematic Arts, worked on over 30 TV shows, pitched, wrote and sold screenplays to studios, and has done rewrites on features for Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment. He has created five TV shows, including The Wild Thornberrys, which spawned two feature films. Having graduated from Stanford University with Honors in psychology, David coaches writers on the psychology of writing, strategies to improve writing skills, creative writing tools, overcoming writer’s block, reinventing yourself and Breaking In: Alternative Strategies, a class he has taught at UCLA. Visit him at HollywoodScriptwriting.com and find out how to get a free 20-minute phone consultation, and follow him on Twitter (@creativeshrink)

June 8 – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, June 1)

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlMeet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL.

First-time screenwriter JESSE ANDREWS adapted his debut YA novel, the resulting screenplay landing on the 2012 Black List. Premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie won both the Audience award (drama) and Grand Jury Prize (drama), drawing a five-minute standing ovation!

Fox Searchlight won worldwide rights over bids from Focus, CBS Films, Lionsgate, A24, Miramax, and The Weinstein Co. The film, which stands on its own in inventiveness, humor, and heart, is “destined not only to connect with young audiences in a big way, but also to endure as a touchstone for its generation,” according to Variety, while Indiwire calls it “a beautifully charming, captivating knock-out.”

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (American Horror Story, Glee)

Starring Thomas Mann (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Welcome to Me), Olivia Cooke (Ouija, Bates Motel), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Connie Britton (Nashville, Friday Night Lights), and Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live)

Release date: June 12 (Fox Searchlight, Indian Paintbrush)

Rated PG-13. 104 minutes. 116 pages. Drama

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Currently an independent writer, producer, and director for her company, The StoryMaker Entertainment, Diana’s screenwriting has placed her as a finalist in the Walt Disney Fellowship Program, Broad Humor Film Festival, and Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. Her vast background in the entertainment industry includes developing film projects for Atlantic Streamline (Igby Goes Down) and Patriot Pictures (Air Force One) and she has taught at the New York Film Academy and the Los Angeles Film School. Diana also offers pitching, producing, distribution, and marketing consulting services through her Bumptious Media Consulting banner.

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.

January 12 – WHIPLASH

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, January 5)

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

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Writer/Director: Damien Chazelle (The Last Exorcism Part II)

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser

Budget: $3.3 million (estimated)

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Screenplay was included on the 2012 Black List of the best unproduced screenplays.

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival January 16, 2014, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Has played at over 40 prestigious film festivals including Cannes, New York, and Toronto. Nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards.

Release (US): October 10, 2014 (limited)

Rated R. 106 minutes. 111 pages. Drama, Music

BSchiffmanhead150Story analyst BARBARA SCHIFFMAN will lead the discussion. For over 35 years, Barbara has 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.” More recently, she evaluated candidates for NBCUniversal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship program. Barbara currently writes personal development e-courses for DailyOM.com and 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, www.bschiffman.net.