December 10 – Ben Is Back

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on December 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BEN IS BACK.

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee PETER HEDGES (About a Boy).

Premise:  Ben Burns, in serious trouble, returns home to his family on Christmas Eve.

19-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family’s suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother’s undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe. Ben Is Back also stars Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird).

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, December 6)

In July 2018, LD Entertainment, Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate acquired distribution rights to the film, and set the film for a limited December 7, 2018, release. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a Want To See rating of 92%. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Refreshingly understated, Ben Is Back subverts family drama stereotypes – and provides a forum for terrific performances from Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts.”

Rated R. 103 minutes. 115 pages (draft dated 8/3/17). Drama.

A special guest moderator will provide in-depth scrip analysis and lead our discussion.

Advertisements

November 12 – DESTROYER

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on November 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DESTROYER.

Destroyer follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past.

SCREENPLAY BY PHIL HAY & MATT MANFREDI, whose credits include Crazy/Beautiful, Aeon Flux, Clash of the Titans (2010), R.I.P.D., and Ride Along (1 & 2).

The film, directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight), stars Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies, Aquaman), Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, Captain America/Avengers franchises), Bradley Whitford (Get Out), and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black).

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, November 8)

Jeff KitchenJEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth scrip analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff Kitchen has been a screenwriting teacher and consultant for over twenty years. He has taught development for executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they have consistently said that Jeff teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. One of his students was recently nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for the movie Hidden Figures. His book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, is available at amazon.com. Visit Jeff’s website BuildYourScript.com.

Destroyer had its world premiere at the 2018 Telluride Film Festival on August 31 and was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival‘s Platform Programme, a juried competition that champions risk-taking, high artistic merit, and bold directorial visions.

The film is slated for a Christmas Day release in the U.S. by Annapurna.

Producers and Production Companies: Screenwriters Hay & Manfredi produced alongside Fred Berger (La La Land) for Automatik Entertainment and David Diliberto (No Country for Old Men).

Not yet rated. 123 minutes. 112 pages (draft dated 9/9/16). Action, Crime, Drama.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Using Digital & Social Media to Advance Your Projects and Your Career!

Monday, October 29, 2018

MASTER CLASS
with DIANA LESMEZ

Register by noon, Friday, October 26

(click here for details)

October 8 – What They Had

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on October 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay WHAT THEY HAD.

This intimate family drama centers on a family in crisis where a woman returns home at her brother’s urging to deal with her ailing mother and her father’s reluctance to let her go, while also grappling with her own past.

Feature debut of writer-director ELIZABETH CHOMKO. Elizabeth was born in Chicago. She is an alumni of the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters and Composers Labs, and an Academy Nicholl Fellowship winner for the screenplay of What They Had.

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, October 4)

What They Had stars two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby), two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Taissa Farmiga (The Nun, American Horror Story), and Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama).

Producers and Production Companies: Among the 22 credited producers are Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa for Bona Fide Productions (Little Miss Sunshine, Nebraska, The Only Living Boy in New York), writer/producer Bill Holderman (Book Club, A Walk in the Woods), Alex Saks for June Pictures (Thoroughbreds, The Florida Project), and Keith Kjarval for Unified Pictures (Dragged Across Concrete, Ride). Interlock Capital financed the film.

In May 2017, Bleecker Street acquired domestic distribution rights to the film. What They Had was initially scheduled for release on March 16, 2018, but was pushed back for a limited release on October 19, 2018.

Premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

International Premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. In competition for the festival’s People’s Choice Award!

Honored as a Truly Moving Picture by Heartland Film (according to IMDb).

100% Want-To-See rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as of September 7).

Rated R. 101 minutes. 110 pages (Draft 10/5/14). Drama.

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.

September 10 – Life Itself

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on September 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay LIFE ITSELF.

Logline: As a young New York couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.

Writer/Director: DAN FOGELMAN had never studied screenwriting when he wrote his first script, a Wonder Years-style spec about his bar mitzvah, which landed him a manager and agent and led to his first professional writing assignment — on Pixar’s Cars. After creating a string of short-lived sitcoms, including Galavant and The Neighbors, both on ABC, Fogelman took an unfinished feature spec script about sextuplets called 36 and turned it into his breakout NBC hit drama This Is Us, which is currently nominated for five primetime Emmy awards. The same day that series received its first Golden Globe nominations, the screenplay for Life Itself landed in a three-way tie for the second spot on the 2016 Black List, the industry’s survey of the best scripts not already in production (alongside The Post, which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar last year). Fogelman’s other feature writing credits include Fred Claus, Bolt, Tangled, Crazy Stupid Love, The Guilt Trip, Last Vegas, and Danny Collins, which starred Al Pacino and was Fogelman’s directorial debut.

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, September 6)

Life Itself stars Oscar Isaac (Star Wars 7-9), Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy), Annette Bening (American Beauty), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Jean Smart (Legion), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One), and international superstar Antonio Banderas (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!).

Producers and Production Companies: Executive producer Glen Basner’s FilmNation (Arrival, The Founder) purchased the spec script after it appeared on the 2016 Black List.  FilmNation’s co-president, Aaron Ryder (Hamlet 2, The Prestige), was one of the producers, alongside producing partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey for Temple Hill Entertainment (the Twilight saga, The Fault in Our Stars).

Release Date: Life Itself  is scheduled to have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before opening nationwide in theaters on September 21 (Amazon Studios).

Rated R. 117 minutes. 116 pages (March 4, 2016 draft). Drama, Romance.

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 9 – Tully

(registration deadline: Friday, April 6)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on April 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay TULLY.

Logline: Marlo, a mother of three, including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny.

The Screenwriter: DIABLO CODY first gained popularity for her blog, “The Pussy Ranch,” about her year as a stripper, which led to a publishing deal for her memoir, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper (adapted from the blog), and interest in a screenplay. Rather than adapt the same material a second time, Cody whipped up an original screenplay about a pregnant teen with a hamburger phone. The 2007 indie comedy Juno became a surprise hit earning $143 million domestically, Oscar nominations for Best Picture, director Jason Reitman, and lead actress Ellen Page, and an Academy Award for Cody for her very first screenplay. The success of Juno quickly led to Cody selling a series, The United States of Tara, to Showtime, where she served as executive producer for three seasons and wrote nine episodes. Back in features, Cody re-teamed with Reitman for Young Adult starring Charlize Theron, made her directorial debut with Paradise starring Julianne Hough, and most recently penned the 2015 Meryl Streep/Rick Springfield rock-and-roll drama Ricki and the Flash directed by the late Jonathan Demme.

Tully again reunites the Oscar-winning scribe with her Juno director, Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), as well as their Young Adult star, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road). Joining them are Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire, Blade Runner 2049) in the title role, Mark Duplass (Zero Dark Thirty), and Ron Livingston (Office Space, Boardwalk Empire).

Producers and Production Companies: Cody, Reitman, and Theron share producing credit with Cody’s manager and longtime producing partner Mason Novick (Juno, Jennifer’s Body, Ricki and the Flash) who first encouraged her to turn her blog into a book and screenplay, Helen Estabrook (Labor Day; Men, Women & Children) through Reitman’s Right of Way Productions, A.J. Dix and Beth Kono through Theron’s Denver and Delilah Productions (Atomic Blonde, Dark Places), and Vancouver-based BRON Studios co-founder Aaron L. Gilbert (Monster), who also co-financed along with Creative Wealth Media.

Release Date: Premiered at the Sudance Film Festival on January 23, 2018. Originally scheduled to be released theatrically on April 20th by Focus Features, but pushed to May 4th.

Rated R. 94 minutes. 91 pages. Drama.

Ruth AtkinsonRUTH ATKINSON will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Ruth is a Los Angeles-based script consultant and story editor with over 20 years of experience in the film/television business. She is a story analyst for the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Screenwriting and Directing Labs and story advisor for Film Independent’s Director’s Lab as well as their diversity program where she helps develop short film scripts which are produced and showcased at the Los Angeles Film Festival. She is also story advisor for the inaugural Global Media Makers, a cultural exchange with FIND, the US State Department, and 14 filmmakers from the Middle East. She has spoken at the Great American PitchFest, International Screenwriters’ Association, the Writers Store, On the Page podcast, and more. Ruth is available for script consulting. Visit her at ruthatkinson.com for more information and follow her on Twitter (@ruth_atkinson).

March 12 – Ready Player One

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, March 9)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on March 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay READY PLAYER ONE.

Logline: In an overpopulated dystopian future, Wade Watts escapes into the 1980s-pop-culture-influenced virtual reality world of OASIS where he searches for hidden “Easter eggs” that may win him inheritance of the game creator’s vast fortune.

The Writers: Sci-fi novelist and screenwriter ERNEST CLINE started out as a competitive slam poet, winning the Austin Poetry Slam in 1998 and 2001. After writing a fan-fiction screenplay based on Buckaroo Banzai, his first produced screenwriting credit came in 2009 from Fanboys, a spec script he wrote in 1998 about a group of Star Wars fans on a cross-country road trip hoping to get their dying friend an advance screening of the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One, described as the “Holy Grail of Pop Culture,” sold to Random House’s Crown Publishing in a bidding war in 2010 and was published in 2011. Cline wrote the first draft of the screenplay, with uncredited rewrites provided by ERIC EASON (A Better Life) and final, credited rewrites by ZAK PENN (Last Action Hero, The Avengers).

Directed by Steven Spielberg, whose sci-fi hits include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds, Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the film stars Tye Sheridan (The Tree of Life, X-Men: Apocalypse), Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline, Rogue One), T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek), and Mark Rylance (Brigde of Spies, Dunkirk).

Producers and Production Companies: The film rights sold at auction to Warner Bros. and De Line Pictures the same day the author’s publishing deal with Random House was finalized. Donald De Line, former head of production at Paramount Pictures, whose production credits include last year’s remake of Going in Style and 2011’s Green Lantern, produced Ready Player One under his banner, which he established in 1998, along with former Scott Rudin intern Dan Farah (the upcoming The Crow reboot) for Farah Films, Amblin Entertainment partner Kristie Macosko Krieger (Bridge of Spies, The Post), and director Steven Spielberg for his companies, Amblin and DreamWorks. Random House also shares a film production imprint credit, as do Brent Ratner’s RatPac-Dune Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures.

Release Date: Opens worldwide on March 29th (Warner Bros.).

Rated PG-13. 121 pages. Sci-Fi, Action-Adventure.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Trained at the Actors Studio and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Wendell has acted in feature films, television, and on stage. He has taught screenwriting at UCLA and wrote FIREFOX, SUDDEN IMPACT, and the final Dirty Harry script for Clint Eastwood. He recently completed adapting the novel The River Journey by Robert Nathan and is currently working on setting up his screenplay Top Hat. Wendell’s book, A Writer’s Roadmap, is available at Amazon.

February 12 – Molly’s Game

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, February 9)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on February 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MOLLY’S GAME.

Logline: A former Olympic-class skier turned cocktail waitress starts an underground, high-stakes poker game in the basement of The Viper Room that grows into a multimillion-dollar business attracting elite Hollywood celebrities, Wall Street financiers, and the Russian mob, whom she must protect when she becomes the target of an FBI investigation.

The Writers: The film is based on the true story of MOLLY BLOOM, the 26-year-old woman behind the most exclusive high-stakes poker game in the world, and her 2014 memoir, Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker. Bloom handpicked her favorite screenwriter, AARON SORKIN, to adapt the book for the big screen. A former playwright, Sorkin began his screenwriting career in the 1990s, adapting his Broadway play A Few Good Men for the 1992 Rob Reiner film. He created The West Wing in 1999 and wrote or co-wrote all but three of the series’ first 90 episodes, taking home six of the show’s 26 Emmy awards. In 2011, Sorkin won his first Academy Award for his screenplay about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, and earned a second nomination the following year for co-writing Moneyball. He won Golden Globe awards for The Social Network and his 2016 biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Molly’s Game marks Sorkin’s directorial debut.

The film stars two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane) as Molly, with Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures), and Michael Cera (Juno).

Producers and Production Companies: With Sorkin already on board, Bloom sold her book’s film rights to The Mark Gordon Company, which had produced Sorkin’s previous film, Steve Jobs. Gordon’s other producing credits include Source Code, The Day After Tomorrow, and Saving Private Ryan, for which he shared a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Gordon brought the project to Sony Pictures Entertainment for distribution. Sony eventually sold their distribution rights to STX Entertainment, but former SPE chairperson Amy Pascal stayed on as producer through her new company, Pascal Pictures. The Mark Gordon Company’s Matt Jackson (Free State of Jones, Secret in Their Eyes) is also listed as a producer.

Festivals & Awards: Molly’s Game had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and was selected as the closing film at AFI Fest in November. The film was nominated for two Golden Globe awards, including Best Screenplay, with twelve other groups also nominating Sorkin’s script, including the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Florida Film Critics Circle, North Carolina Film Critics Association, Online Film Critics Society, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, and the WGA.

UPDATE: On January 23, Molly’s Game was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay!

Release Date: Opened in limited release on December 25 and wide on January 5 (STX Entertainment). If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 140 minutes. 199 pages. Drama, Biopic.

JENNY FRANKFURT will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Founder of the Finish Line Script Competition, Jenny is a script consultant and former literary manager who was the head of the literary department at Handprint Entertainment and later formed her own company, Highstreet Management, specializing in helping British, European, and Australian writers and directors break into the U.S. market. Jenny attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has also worked at the William Morris Agency in New York and ICM in L.A. with such clients as Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Lasse Hallström, and many others. Now in its third year, the Finish Line Script Competition provides development notes for free re-submissions of rewrites.

UPDATE – FEBRUARY 12: Jenny Frankfurt is unable to be with us tonight. We look forward to rescheduling her for another meeting in the near future.

Colin CostelloCOLIN COSTELLO, who was last with us to discuss Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay Steve Jobs, will substitute for Jenny to lead our analysis and discussion of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay Molly’s Game. A former advertising creative director/copywriter, Colin is a produced, award-winning WGA writer. His credits include the 2013 family comedy The Stream (starring Rainn Wilson, Mario Lopez, and Kelly Rutherford) and the currently airing PBS Kids educational series Moochie Kalala Detectives Club. His second family feature, Traveling Without Moving, featuring Steve Guttenberg and Harry Lennix, just wrapped production in Chicago. Visit him at colincostello.com and follow him on Twitter (@colincostello10).


SPECIAL BONUS MEMBER WORKSHOP SESSION!

John Ware (8168 Productions) and Derrick Warfel (Winter Star Productions) are producing an indie budget, Sci-Fi feature film for one of the winners of the 168 Film Competition from last August who also won a pitch competition in late October.

In ECHOES (working title), a seismic doctoral candidate in Los Angeles investigates anomalies in tremor patterns and begins to uncover a major conspiracy of elite scientists who have found missing documents from Nikola Tesla’s research and are developing stealth weapons that leave no way to trace back but disturb mental thought patterns and even can induce earthquakes and hurricanes.

For regular, paid StoryBoard members only, this session, at no extra cost to members, will be held on Tuesday, January 16, 7:30 PM at Fox Studios. Refreshments included.

If you did not pick up the script at the January 8th meeting, contact Derrick with your full name, email, and postal mailing address and he will send you a script and put you on the Fox gate list. email WinterStarProductions@mindspring.com or call 818-360-1107 no later than Friday, January 11th.