May 11 – The High Note

Meet ONLINE on May 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE HIGH NOTE.

LOGLINE: The longtime assistant of a famous singer must navigate the rocky waters of the LA music scene to make her dreams of producing music a reality.

ABOUT THE WRITER: With no other screen credits to her name, newbie FLORA GREESON landed on the 2018 Black List, an annual industry list of the best unproduced scripts of the year, with her spec script Covers. That attention won her a job rewriting When Prince Made a Chambermaid His Queen for a Day, based on a true story published in The Daily Beast in 2017 about a 1986 MTV contest where a small-town Wyoming motel maid won a date with the late rock star Prince. Greeson was hired by producer and star Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) to rewrite Josh Stolberg (Good Luck Chuck); the still-in-development project’s title has been shortened to Queen for a Day. Meanwhile, the scribe’s Black List entry, Covers, has been made by Cats producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, after also undergoing a title change — to The High Note.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, May 6)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

Starring Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey) as the assistant and Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) as singing superstar Grace Davis, The High Note also features Ice Cube (N.W.A., Friday), Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (It Comes At Night), and comedian Eddie Izzard. Directed by Nisha Ganatra (Late Night), the film’s release date, originally scheduled for May 8, is like to be changed due to ongoing stay-at-home orders that have shuttered most movie theaters.

Rated PG-13. Draft dated January 17, 2018, 99 pages. Comedy.

DMA will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Story analyst, development executive, and author of Write It, Pitch It, Sell Your Screenplay: A Hollywood Buyer’s Insider Guide to Getting Your Script Past the Gatekeepers, an update of her 1-3-5 Story Structure Made Simple Structure: The Nine Essential Elements of a Sellable Screenplay, which was the first story structure system integrated into Final Draft, DMA (Donna Michelle Anderson) has helmed top-rated programming for CBS, Bravo, BET, A&E, TLC and more. Visit her at PlanetDMA.com.

March 9 – Knives Out

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on March 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay KNIVES OUT.

LOGLINE: A modern whodunnit that follows a family gathering gone awry after the patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate.

Writer/director RIAN JOHNSON graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1996. He pitched his first screenplay, a Dashiell Hammett-inspired neo-noir mystery called Brick, unsuccessfully for seven years before raising the $500,000 budget from friends and family and making the film independently. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film earned back more than $4 million, won a special jury prize at Sundance for originality of vision, and went on to become a cult classic. Two other low budget hits followed (The Brothers Bloom starring Oscar winners Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody and Looper starring Bruce Willis and Gordon-Levitt) before Johnson was tapped to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which grossed over $1.3 billion. Johnson received his first Academy Award nomination this year, in the Best Original Screenplay category, for Knives Out.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, March 4)

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.

Knives Out features an all-star ensemble cast including Daniel Craig (James Bond), Chris Evans (Captain America), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Django Unchained), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Jaeden Martell (It), and Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music).

Still in current release, Knives Out has grossed nearly $300 million worldwide so far and holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 420 professional critics’ reviews), with an audience score of 92%. In addition to its Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the script was nominated for BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Hollywood Critics Association, and Writers Guild of America awards, along with three Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a Producers Guild nomination for Best Picture, and placement in the National Board of Review’s and American Film Institute’s top ten lists for 2019.

If you have not yet seen Knives Out but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised. EXTRA CREDIT: Watch the 1973 murder mystery film The Last of Sheila, which Rian Johnson cited as his inspiration and main influence in writing Knives Out. Written by Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Into the Woods) and directed by Herbert Ross (Footloose), The Last of Sheila stars Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, and Raquel Welch, and can be digitally rented for $2.99 or purchased for $9.99 from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft, Fandango, and Apple TV.

Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. 124 pages. Mystery. Comedy.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian was previously with us in January 2018 for BlacKkKlansman. He 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.

January 13 – Jojo Rabbit

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on January 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay JOJO RABBIT.

LOGLINE: A ten-year-old boy in Nazi Germany, whose imaginary friend is Hitler, discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl behind a wall in their home.

THE WRITERS: Jojo Rabbit was written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker/comedian TAIKA WAITITI, who also appears in the film as Hitler. Waititi first gained international acclaim in 2004 with his short film Two Cars, One Night, which won awards at the AFI and Berlin festivals and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. He went on to make four well-received independent features, including Eagle vs Shark and the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, before helming his first big studio picture, Thor: Ragnarok, which grossed more than $850 million worldwide, enabling him to make his low-budget Nazi comedy. The script was adapted from the first half of the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. The novel was previously adapted for the stage in 2017 in New Zealand, where the American-born, Harvard-educated author has lived since 2006.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, January 8)

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.

Jojo Rabbit premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award. Ten of the last eleven films to win this award went on to Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, with six of them winning in their respective writing category. Featuring Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Black Widow), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Richard Jewell), Rebel Wilson (Isn’t It Romantic, Cats), Stephen Merchant (The Office (UK), Logan), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), and introducing ten-year-old Roman Griffin Davis in his Golden Globe nominated lead role, the film was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

1/13/20 UPDATE: Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for 6 BAFTA awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, 2 SAG awards, a DGA award, a PGA award, the USC Scripter award, and a WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, among many other accolades.

Disney-owned Fox Searchlight opened the film in limited release on October 18, expanding to just under a thousand screens in November. To date the $14 million movie still in current release has grossed more than $24 million. If you have not yet seen Jojo Rabbit but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

PG-13. 108 minutes. 113 pages (March 15, 2012 draft). Comedy. War.

DAN MARGULES will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is the creator, publisher, and one of the authors of ScripTipps, a line of inexpensive ebooks on screenwriting conceived in part by his participation in StoryBoard. An award-winning filmmaker, Dan was co-founder and president of San Diego Filmmakers and sat on the board of directors of Scriptwriters Network where he ran their writers groups and staged readings programs. In 2012 he published the popular young adult Christmas novel North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus and later adapted it into a musical through the Academy of New Musical Theatre, where he also wrote the book for Chaturbate: The Musical, which premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2017. A member of StoryBoard’s Screenplay Discussion Group since November 2009, Dan has never missed a meeting.

August 12 – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on August 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE.

LOGLINE: An agoraphobic architect and mother goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica.

ABOUT THE WRITERS:

The film is based on the bestselling 2012 young adult novel of the same name by MARIA SEMPLE. Bernadette is the author’s second novel, followed by Today Will Be Different, which Semple has adapted for an upcoming HBO series set to star Julia Roberts. Semple’s other TV writing credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, for which she received an Emmy nomination, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, Ellen, Saturday Night Live, and Arrested Development, for which she received a WGA award nomination. Her father was screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Batman, Three Days of the Condor).

The screenplay for Where’d You Go, Bernadette was written by SCOTT NEUSTADTER & MICHAEL H. WEBER. After the success of their breakthrough original screenplay (500) Days of Summer, the duo became the go-to writing team for YA adaptations with The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars, and Paper Towns. The team received their first Academy Award nomination in 2017 for their screenplay The Disaster Artist, about the making of “the greatest bad movie ever made,” The Room.

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, August 8)

We will be discussing the July 2013 draft by Neustadter & Weber. The script was later rewritten by Holly Gent & Vince Palmo Jr. along with the film’s director, RICHARD LINKLATER. With five Oscar nominations, indie superstar director Linklater is best known for Slackers, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Boyhood, and the Before… trilogy. Separately, Gent and Palmo have numerous credits in a variety of crew positions, many of them on films by Richard Linklater. Their other writing credits are on 2008’s Me and Orson Welles, starring Zac Efron, and an upcoming untitled John Brinkley biopic starring Robert Downey Jr., both also directed by Linklater.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette stars two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), Judy Greer (The Descendants, Arrested Development), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, The Martian), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Man of Steel), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), and Billy Crudup (Big Fish, Almost Famous). The film is scheduled to be released nationwide by Annapurna Pictures and United Artists Releasing on August 16, the Friday after our meeting.

BEWARE: Trailer may contain spoilers.

Optional Exercise for Advanced Members: Read the novel first. Think about how you would adapt it for the screen. What would keep? What you drop? What would you change? Then read the script to compare your choices with the ones Neustadter & Weber made. Be prepared to discuss your findings at the meeting! And don’t forget to check out the finished film when it opens on August 16 to see what changes Linklater, Gent, and Palmo incorporated.

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 138 pages (2nd Draft, July 2013). Comedy.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program. As co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This), David Crane (Friends), Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Mark O’Donnel (Hairspray). Steve teaches a number of different workshops all over the globe, including The Comedy Intensive, a 2-day workshop that covers the fundamental principles of comedy. Look for his books The Hidden Tools of Comedy and The Comic Hero’s Journey, learn more about Steve and his workshops at kaplancomedy.com, and follow him on Twitter at @skcomedy where you can tweet quick comedy questions at him with the #AskKaplan hashtag.

July 8 – Stuber

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on July 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay STUBER.

LOGLINE: Unable to drive after a botched LASIK surgery, a tough cop must rely on his mild-mannered Uber driver to help him nab a dangerous criminal.

ABOUT THE WRITER: The buddy cop action comedy was written by TRIPPER CLANCY, whose first breaks came after winning the Script Pipeline screenplay competition in 2009 with his comedy, Henry the Second. From there, he participated in the Fox Writers Studio in 2011 and signed with manager Jake Wagner. After several of his subsequent spec scripts sold but never got made, Wagner pitched him the title Stuber, thinking it could become a comedy version of Collateral, and Clancy wrote a three-page treatment the next day. A few months later, he had a draft that sold to 20th Century Fox. Stuber marks the scribe’s English-language feature debut, his other produced feature writing credits being the German action comedies Four Against the Bank (directed by Wolfgang Petersen) and 2018’s Hot Dog.

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: Wednesday, July 3)

Stuber stars Academy Award nominated screenwriter Kumail Nanjani (The Big Sick) as Stu, the Uber driver, and former WWE star Dave Bautista (Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Vic, the cop. Iko Uwais (The Raid), Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation), Betty Gilpin (A Dog’s Journey), and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion) also star. The film, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year, opens July 12, the Friday after our discussion, just in time to go see it and compare the finished film to what was on the page!

Rated R. 105 minutes. 109 pages (3/27/16 draft). Action Comedy, Buddy Comedy.

BRUCE LOGAN, A.S.C., writer-director-cinematographer-visual effects producer (2001: A Space Odyssey, TRON, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Airplane!, Batman Forever) will lead our script analysis and screenwriting discussion. Lost Fare, Bruce’s debut as a feature writer-director, is about an 11 year old disabled girl, routinely pimped out by her prostitute mother, who is saved by a suicidal cab driver. Together they go on a journey of redemption that forever changes their lives. Learn more about Bruce’s work in film and music videos for such artists as Madonna, Prince, and Aerosmith at bruceloganfilm.com.

June 10 – Late Night

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on June 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay LATE NIGHT.

A late-night talk show host on the verge of losing her show hires a female writer to help revitalize the long-running program.

The screenplay was written by MINDY KALING, who also produced the film and stars as its fictional talk show’s new writer. Fittingly, Kaling began her showbiz career as a college intern on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. After college, she began doing her own stand up comedy and played Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway show she co-wrote called Matt & Ben. Her work as a writer/performer on the hit sitcom The Office earned Kaling and her colleagues a WGA award, six more WGA nominations, and six prime time Emmy nominations. She followed that up with her own series, The Mindy Project, which earned her an additional WGA nomination. Mindy also co-wrote and executive produced the upcoming Hulu miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral, based on the 1994 movie.

Late Night also stars Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Men In Black: International) and John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, The Crown), with a supporting cast that includes Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Reid Scott (Veep), and Amy Ryan (Birdman, Gone Baby Gone).

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, June 6)

Late Night premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2019. Shortly thereafter, Amazon Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film for $13 million, the largest sum paid for U.S.-only distribution at the festival.

The film is scheduled to open wide on June 7, three days before our meeting. We recommend reading the script before then to focus on what’s on the page, then go see the movie before the meeting so we can discuss how the script changed.

Rated R. 102 minutes. 132 pages. Comedy.

BILL TAUB will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Screenwriter, producer, author, creative troubleshooter, and teacher Bill Taub has written or co-written the pilots for Relic Hunter, Friday the 13th: The Series, Mission Genesis, The Oddyssey, and Dark Shadows (1991), as well as two unproduced pilots for NBC, Blue Skies and Burger Palace. He was recently honored by the WGA for his work on Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues, and his spec pilot, Raffle Guy, won first place at Scriptapalooza. Bill has also recently taught Creating a Web Series at UCLA Extension Online. His book, Automatic Pilot: Writing a TV Pilot has never been so easy!, is available at Amazon. For more information, visit billtaub.com. or follow @BillyTaub on Twitter.

May 13 – Booksmart

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on May 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BOOKSMART.

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars decide they should have worked less and played more, so the best friends try to cram four years of fun into one night.

Booksmart had its world premiere March 10 at SXSW and currently holds a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating with 32 reviews! The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a hilarious, blazingly paced teen comedy” and IndieWire says it “excels at celebrating a friendship strong enough to guarantee that the party never really ends until the credits roll.”

The original draft of Booksmart by EMILY HALPERN & SARAH HASKINS landed on the Black List (the industry’s ranking of the best unproduced screenplays) in 2009.  Halpern’s first writing job was on the one-hour drama series The Unit in 2007. She switched to comedy when she teamed up with Haskins, whose earliest writing credit was on InfoMania, a weekly news satire on Current TV. Together they co-created the 2013 ABC sitcom Trophy Wife starring Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford.

Sarah Haskins, Emily Halpern

Before going into production, Booksmart was rewritten by the team of SUSANNA FOGEL & KATIE SILBERMAN. Fogel previously co-wrote and helmed last year’s action spy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, while Silberman was a co-writer on this year’s hit rom-com Isn’t It Romantic starring Rebel Wilson.

We will be discussing the 2009 Black List draft by Halpern & Haskins, making this a great opportunity to analyze a script as it looked when Hollywood first discovered it, discuss what changes it might need to shape it into the critically-acclaimed festival hit it’s already become, then go see the finished movie in theaters when it’s released on May 24 to see how the development process improved it.

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, May 9)

The coming-of-age comedy stars Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing, Short Term 12) and Beanie Feldstien (Lady Bird), with Lisa Kudrow (Friends), SNL’s Jason Sudekis and Will Forte, Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals), Billie Lourd (Scream Queens), Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet), and Jessica Williams (The Daily Show), and marks the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde (House, Life Itself). From executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for Gloria Sanchez Productions and producer Megan Ellison for Annapurna Pictures, distributed by United Artists.

WARNING: The following red-band trailer is NSFW.

Not Yet Rated. 105 minutes. 121 pages. Comedy, Coming-of-Age.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A teacher, screenwriter, actor, playwright, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA 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 as well as a screenplay adaptation of The River Journey by acclaimed novelist Robert Nathan.

April 8 – Long Shot

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on April 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay LONG SHOT.

When an unemployed, self-destructive journalist is hired as a speechwriter for his former babysitter and childhood crush, who’s now Secretary of State and running for President, sparks fly unexpectedly between the mismatched pair.

Long Shot is the first wide theatrically-released feature film credit for screenwriter DAN STERLING, whose first produced feature film, 2014’s The Interview, saw its wide release canceled at the last minute amid fears of an international crisis when North Korea threatened to retaliate against theaters showing the black comedy, leading the writer to tell Creative Screenwriting, “I couldn’t believe [Kim Jong-un,] the most infamous man in the world, knew about my script.” The First Amendment persevered and the film premiered on multiple streaming services a day before receiving a limited theatrical run. Prior to The Interview, Sterling wrote for such TV shows as The Office, Girls, and The Daily Show.

Sterling’s draft of Long Shot was rewritten by LIZ HANNAH, best known for her spec screenplay, The Post, which landed on the 2016 Black List and quickly went into production with Steven Spielberg at the helm and Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the lead roles. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Hannah was nominated for a Golden Globe for her screenplay.

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, April 4)

(Note: We will be discussing the Dan Sterling draft of Long Shot, which was originally titled Flarsky.)

Long Shot stars Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Steve Jobs) and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Monster, Tully), along with an all-star cast including O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Andy Serkis (Black Panther, Lord of the Rings trilogy), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood), and Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul). The film, which was directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched, 50/50) and premiered on March 9, 2019, at South by Southwest, is currently scheduled for a May 3rd release from Lionsgate.

Not Yet Rated. 120 minutes. 118 pages. Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Politics.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program. As co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This), David Crane (Friends), Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Mark O’Donnel (Hairspray). Steve teaches a number of different workshops all over the globe, including The Comedy Intensive, a 2-day workshop that covers the fundamental principles of comedy. Look for his books The Hidden Tools of Comedy and The Comic Hero’s Journey, learn more about Steve and his workshops at kaplancomedy.com, and follow him on Twitter at @skcomedy where you can tweet quick comedy questions at him with the #AskKaplan hashtag.

February 11 – GREEN BOOK

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on February 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GREEN BOOK.

Winner of THREE Golden Globe awards, including BEST SCREENPLAY and BEST PICTURE (Musical or Comedy)!

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Based on the true story of future Sopranos actor Tony Lip and jazz musician Don Shirley, the screenplay for Green Book was penned by Lip’s son, NICK VALLELONGA, along with BRIAN CURRIE and the film’s director, PETER FARRELLY.

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, February 7)

Green Book stars two-time Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic) as Tony Lip and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) as Dr. Shirley. Last week Ali won a Golden Globe for his work in Green Book.

Among the film’s other 33 awards and 78 nominations (so far) are the Writers Guild of America’s nomination for Original Screenplay, four BAFTA nominations including Best Screenplay (Original), two SAG nominations, seven Critics Choice nominations including Best Original Screenplay, DGA and PGA nominations for Best Film, a Screenwriter of the Year award from the Hollywood Film Awards, and a tie (with Vice) for Best Screenplay from the Detroit Film Critics Society.

UPDATE: Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Ali), and Best Original Screenplay!

About the writers: Vallelonga had appeared, with his father, in such films as The Godfather, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and GoodFellas before getting his first feature writing credit on 1993’s Deadfall, which he co-wrote with Christopher Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s brother). He followed that with four more films that he wrote and directed while keeping his father’s story close to his vest. When he finally shared the idea with Currie, a friend he’d worked with in a nightclub years earlier, Currie convinced Vallelonga to let him produce and co-write the script. Currie then pitched the idea to Farrelly, having previously played bit parts in several of the director’s comedies. Farrelly is known for writing and directing (usually with his brother Bobby) a string of hits including Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal.

Green Book premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award for best film. It opened in limited release in the US on November 16, before going wide one week later. As of this writing, it is still playing on over 500 screens and is #10 at the North American box office. If you have not yet seen the movie but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Released by Universal Pictures.

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 115 pages. Comedy, Biography.

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, and in 2017 she released Seduced by Mrs. Robinson for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

August 13 – The Happytime Murders

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on August 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS.

Logline: When the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.

The Screenwriters: After acting in, writing, and directing a number of shorts, TODD BERGER achieved his first feature-length writing credit on the 2005 ABC Family TV movie Chasing Christmas. In a career that has skirted dark comedy and family-friendly fare, Burger has written and directed festival hits The Scenesters (2009), It’s a Disaster (2012), and this year’s Cover Versions, which premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, while also contributing to several shorts in the Kung Fu Panda and Smurfs franchises and adapting Where’s Waldo? into a live-action feature (still in development). His debut novel, Showdown City, was published in 2016. Berger shares story credit on The Happytime Murders with Dee Austin Robertson, who is also a director and cinematographer.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script mailed to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, August 9)

Directed by Brian Henson (The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island), The Happytime Murders stars Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect and The Hunger Games franchises), Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live), Joel McHale (Community, The Joel McHale Show), and a raunchy cast of puppets! The trailer below is NSFW.

Producers and Production Companies: The film’s director, Brian Henson, produced the film for Henson Alternative (also known as “ha!”), the adult division of his late father’s production company, The Jim Henson Company. The film’s star, Melissa McCarthy, is also credited as a producer, along with her husband, Ben Falcone, for their company, On The Day Productions. Executive producers include Henson’s sister, Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company, and Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Stillman, and Michael Heimler of boutique media company Black Bear Pictures (The Imitation Game, Gold, Suburubicon).

Release Date: The Happytime Murders opens August 24 (STX Entertainment).

Rated R. 98 pages. Comedy.

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 credits include The Journey Ahead, which wrapped principal photography last month (July, 2018) with Michael Madsen in the lead, and the award-winning short rom-com In Between the Gutter and the Stars. 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. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).