December 14 – Hillbilly Elegy

Meet ONLINE on December 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HILLBILLY ELEGY.

LOGLINE: A Yale Law School student returns to his Appalachian roots, recalling the values he learned being raised by his grandmother while his mother fought a heroin addiction.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Venture capitalist J.D. VANCE wrote the New York Times bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis, while at Yale Law School. The book received national attention during the 2016 election cycle as a window into the white working class. Vance currently lives in Ohio, where he started the nonprofit Our Ohio Renewal to combat drug addiction in the Rust Belt and has been contemplating a run for the U.S. Senate. Imagine Entertainment optioned the book’s film rights for Ron Howard to direct and hired VANESSA TAYLOR to write the screenplay. Taylor began her writing career in television with credits on such popular shows as Alias, Everwood, and Game of Thrones. Some of her feature screenplays include her original spec Hope Springs, which starred Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones; the adaptation of the YA dystopian novel Divergent; and The Shape of Water, which earned Vanessa her first Academy Award nomination and went on to win four Academy Awards including Best Picture. More recently, she adapted the nonfiction book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, with Adam McCay attached to direct and Jennifer Lawrence attached to star.

(registration deadline: Friday, December 4)

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 Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13), the true coming-of-age story stars six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Enchanted, Lois Lane in the DC Extended Universe), seven-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Haley Bennett (The Girl on the Train, The Devil All the Time), and Gabriel Basso (Super 8, The Big C) as Vance.

Netflix won a bidding war for the film’s distribution rights, putting up the entire $45 million budget. Although the Academy’s theatrical screening eligibility requirement has been suspended this year, Netflix did open Hillbilly Elegy on November 11 in Middletown, Ohio, where the film is set, as well as a handful of other cities in Ohio. It’s scheduled to premiere on the streaming service on November 24.

Rated R. 116 minutes. 122 pages. Coming-of-Age Drama.

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.

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.

November 11 – Hala

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

LOGLINE: 17-year-old girl navigating the conflicting worlds of her traditional Muslim household and her modern American high school struggles with her identity when she uncovers a secret that threatens to destroy her nuclear family.

Inspired by her own experiences growing up in Chicago, first-generation Pakistani-American MINHAL BAIG wrote and directed the coming-of-age story. Previously a staff writer on the Hulu series Ramy and story editor on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, Baig was chosen to participate in Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Directing Mentorship in 2017. She is currently a story editor on Dune: The Sisterhood, a new series to be launched on the upcoming streaming platform HBO Max. Hala is her feature filmmaking debut.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, November 6)

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.

The film was executive produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith, using an inclusion rider to guarantee the hiring of women in all department head positions and 75% of critical below-the-line roles. Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Bad Education) stars in the title role along with Jack Kilmer (The Nice Guys, Palo Alto), Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Net, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Anna Chlumsky (Veep, My Girl).

Hala premiered in competition at the Sundance International Film Festival in January, where it became the first of three films acquired by Apple Inc. The tech giant will release the film in select theaters on November 22 before dropping it on their new Apple TV+ streaming service in December.

UPDATE: See Hala on November 18 (6:30pm) or November 20 (7:00pm) at AFI Fest. (Click here to get tickets now before they sell out!)  (StoryBoard is not affiliated with AFI Fest.)

Rated R. 94 minutes. 89 pages. Drama, Coming-of-Age.

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.


SPECIAL BONUS MEMBER WORKSHOP SESSION!

Every screenplay is perfect until  someone reads it. A recent StoryBoard moderator was so impressed with the group’s ability to pinpoint potential script problems, he’s asked us to apply those analytical skills to his work. Don’t miss your chance to help him improve his screenplay in this special bonus StoryBoard Workshop.

For regular, paid StoryBoard members only, this session, at no extra cost to members, will be held on Monday, October 28, 7:30 PM at Fox Studios. Refreshments included. If you wish to participate but did not pick up the script at the October 14th meeting, please contact Scott at StoryBoardDG@gmail.com no later than Wednesday, October 23.

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.