April 13 – Promising Young Woman (UPDATED)

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios ONLINE on April 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN.

LOGLINE: After her sexual assault complaint is dismissed, a promising medical student drops out to systematically lure badly-behaving men into her vengeance-seeking clutches.

ABOUT THE WRITER: The erotic thriller was penned by EMERALD FENNELL, who also makes her feature directorial debut, following Careful How You Go, a short film she wrote and directed that played at Sundance in 2018. An actress who has appeared in such films as Albert Nobbs, Anna Karenina (2012), and The Danish Girl, and the hit Netflix series The Crown, Fennell is a two-time prime-time Emmy nominee as head writer for the BBC series Killing Eve, a position she took over from her good friend, Fleabag sensation Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fennell is also a novelist, having authored the children’s book series Shiverton Hall as well as the 2015 adult horror novel Monsters.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, April 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 instructionsDUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, THE APRIL 13th MEETING WILL BE HELD ONLINE. INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE SENT TO ALL REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETING, so don’t forget to register by April 8.

Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) stars as the titular woman along with Bo Burnham (writer/director of Eighth Grade), Alison Brie (GLOW), Connie Britton (American Horror Story), Adam Brody (The O.C.), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Sam Richardson (Veep), Molly Shannon (SNL), and Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spider-Man 2). Margot Robbie, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in last year’s similarly-themed Bombshell, was one of this film’s producers.

Universal’s arthouse label Focus Features acquired distribution rights for the film early last year and premiered it at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, earning rave reviews and an early tomatometer score of 98%. The film opens nationwide on April 17. UPDATE: The film, originally scheduled to be released on April 17, has been pulled from the schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic; new release plans have not yet been announced by Universal.

Rated R. 113 minutes. 106 pages. Drama. Thriller.

UPDATE: Longtime StoryBoard member DIANA CALDWELL will lead our in-depth analysis and discussion. Diana wrote her first spec script at the age of 11 and got her first notes on that script from Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. More recently, she has placed in numerous screenwriting competitions, winning the Legacy Award in Screenwriting at the Festival Angelica in Big Bear for her script Fair Trade, which also won her a slot in the prestigious Cinestory Writers Retreat. Diana has also worked as a reader for Barry Levinson’s production company and as Film Inspector and Technical Director for various film festivals, including Telluride, TCM, and AFM.

February 10 – Parasite

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

LOGLINE: A family of con artists worms their way into employment for a wealthy family, but startling secrets keep them from enjoying their plush new surroundings when their bosses leave them alone for a weekend.

THE WRITERS: South Korean-born writer-director BONG JOON-HO garnered international acclaim with his second feature, Memories of Murder, based on the true story of his country’s first serial killer. He followed that up with The Host, a monster movie that became the highest-grossing South Korean film of all time. Joon-ho’s first English-language film, Snowpiercer, a post-climate change sci-fi action adventure, starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, and Ed Harris, and appeared on dozens of critics’ ten-best lists for 2014. Okja, his Netflix debut, premiered in competition at Cannes where it received a four-minute standing ovation. Parasite was co-written by Han Jin-won, based on Joon-ho’s original story; it is his only writing credit so far, but he previously worked as an AD on Joon-ho’s Okja.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, February 5)

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.

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: If you plan to attend this event, please watch the film Snowpiercer, also by Bong Joon-ho, if you have time (in addition to reading the Parasite script).

Parasite premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palm d’Or by unanimous vote. South Korea’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film category of the Academy Awards, last week Parasite became the first film from South Korea to win the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Film. In November, the film surpassed The Godfather as the most popular film of all time on social media site Letterboxd, and it was announced last week that Joon-ho and Adam McKay (The Big Short) are currently in talks to develop a limited series based on Parasite for HBO. This morning the film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Still in current release, Parasite has grossed over $130 million worldwide so far and holds a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 349 professional critics’ reviews). Over 40 critics and publications have named it the best movie of 2019, including Christy Lemire, Justin Chang, Michael Phillips, Film Comment, and IndieWire (based on a 300+ Critics Survey). More than sixty others placed it in their top ten for the year, and more than a dozen put it in their top ten for the decade. It’s also nominated for four BAFTAs, a SAG, a Spirit, and a DGA award among its hundreds of other accolades, including Best Screenplay and Best Director nominations for the Golden Globes and a still-pending WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

If you have not yet seen Parasite but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised. Also, please watch Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer before the meeting if you can. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and can be rented online for just $1.99 at Redbox.

Rated R. 132 minutes. 141 pages (English translation). Drama. Horror.

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.

December 9 – Richard Jewell

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on December 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay RICHARD JEWELL.

LOGLINE: A security guard saves thousands of lives when he discovers a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, but when the FBI investigates him as a “person of interest,” the media vilifies the hero, falsely accusing him of planting the bomb.

THE WRITERS: Richard Jewell is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell” by Marie Brenner. Two other feature films and one made-for-TV movie have been made from Brenner’s investigative journalism over the last twenty years, including The Insider, about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth, Michael Mann). The Richard Jewell article was adapted for the screen by BILLY RAY. This year alone, the Encino native also has writing credits on Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark FateRichard Jewell echoes the theme of journalistic responsibility Ray previously explored in his directorial debut, Shattered Glass, which told the true story of Stephen Glass, who published dozens of high profile articles in The New Republic based on facts that were completely made up. Some of Ray’s other credits include The Hunger Games, Amazon’s The Last Tycoon, and Captain Phillips, for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, December 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.

Directed by CLINT EASTWOOD, Richard Jewell stars Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya) in the title role, Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Kathy Bates (American Horror Story), Jon Hamm (Top Gun: Maverick), and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart).

Richard Jewell is scheduled to premiere at AFI Fest on November 20th, with a December 13 release date set by Warner Bros.. If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Not Yet Rated. 129 minutes. 115 pages (September 25, 2015 draft). Drama, Biopic.

JEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff was classically trained in playwriting technique, worked as a dramaturg in the New York theater, and taught playwriting on Broadway at the Negro Ensemble Company. He has taught screenwriting for over 20 years in small high-intensity hands-on groups and is a sought-after script doctor, plot construction specialist, and rewrite consultant. His book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, is available at amazon.com. For more information, visit Jeff’s website, BuildYourScript.com.

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.

October 14 – Gemini Man

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on October 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GEMINI MAN.

LOGLINE: A retiring government assassin finds himself the target of another assassin who turns out to be a clone of his younger self.

THE SCREENWRITERS: Conceived by screenwriter DARREN LEMKE, his original spec sold to Disney way back in 1997, with the late Tony Scott (Top Gun) attached to direct. Lemke’s produced credits since then include the hit family films Shrek Forever After, Goosebumps, and this year’s Shazam! In 2007, writer/showrunner DAVID BENIOFF rewrote the script prior to co-creating the phenomenally popular HBO series Game of Thrones and shares a story credit with Lemke on Gemini Man. Benioff’s other feature writing credits include 25th Hour (adapted from his novel), Troy, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Other screenwriters who worked on the project during its lengthy development period include Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show), Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River), and Jonathan Hensleigh (Jumanji, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Armageddon), but the final screenwriting credit is shared by Lemke, Benioff, and BILLY RAY, whose other credits include The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), and the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. (Note: We will be discussing David Benioff’s “revised first draft” of Gemini Man dated October 29, 2007.)

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, October 9)

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.

Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, and Sean Connery were among the A-listers attached to the challenging dual lead role for directors Scott, Joe Carnahan, and the late Curtis Hanson before Skydance acquired the property from Disney for two-time Oscar winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Will Smith (Independence Day, Aladdin) stars as the 50-year-old assassin and his younger clone, along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Clive Owen (Children of Men), and Benedict Wong (The Martian).

Paramount Pictures is scheduled to release Gemini Man on October 11, three days before the meeting. If you plan to see the movie on opening weekend, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. 115 pages (revised first draft, 10/29/07, Benioff). Sci-Fi, Action.

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.

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.

March 11 – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on March 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

The true story of a bitter, washed-up biographer who falls into a life of crime forging letters from dead literary celebrities to pay the rent.

Nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay!

Can You Ever Forgive Me? stars Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Richard E. Grant (Game of ThronesStar Wars: Episode IX), both nominated for Golden Globes, BAFTA, and SAG awards in addition to their Oscar nods. (Update: Richard E. Grant won the Independent Spirit Award!)

The screenplay, by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on the book by Lee Israel, has been nominated for dozens of industry awards, including the WGA, USC Scripter, BAFTA, Independent Spirit Award, and, of course, the Academy Award.

UPDATE: On February 17th, Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the Writers Guild of America award for Best Adapted Screenplay. On February 23rd, Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the Independent Spirit Award for Best 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, March 7)

DEVELOPMENT: After interviewing Katharine Hepburn for Esquire in 1967, LEE ISRAEL published full-length biographies on Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder. Unable to sell her publishers on a Fanny Brice biography, she began forging letters from the likes of Noël Coward and Dorothy Parker to sell to unsuspecting collectors, which she wrote about in her 2008 memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger. (Israel passed away in 2014.)

In 2011, producer Bob Balaban hired Tony Award winning playwright JEFF WHITTY (Avenue Q) to adapt Israel’s memoir after reading his play The Hiding Place, which had characters with voices similar to Israel’s. Whitty wrote four drafts of the screenplay before filmmaker NICOLE HOLOFCENER (Enough Said) was attached to direct. Holofcener cast Julianne Moore in the lead and rewrote the script as a two-hander with greater emphasis on the relationship between Israel and her partner in crime, con man Jack Hock.

Six days before production was to start, Moore dropped out due to creative differences with Holofcener. Rather than start over again later with a new star, Holofcener handed the reins to her Sundance lab protege, Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), wishing her luck and recommending McCarthy for the vacated lead.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? premiered last September at the Telluride Film Festival, followed by a showing at the Toronto International Film Festival later that month. Fox Searchlight released the $10 million picture on October 19, 2018, and it is currently still in theaters. So far it has received 39 awards and 70 nominations including WGA, SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes, and Film Independent Spirit Awards, and has a 98% Fresh score from 255 critics as compiled by Rotten Tomatoes. If you have not yet seen the movie but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 107 minutes. 133 pages (final shooting script, March 13, 2017). Drama, Crime, Biography.

DMA will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A veteran entertainment industry showrunner, executive and consultant, DMA (Donna Michelle Anderson) guides traditional and digital networks through branding, launching and scaling their content and companies. Over the past 20 years, she has helmed top-rated programming for CBS, Bravo, BET, A&E, TLC and more, created groundbreaking, patented production software, and championed diversity throughout the industry, including founding the Hollywood Diversity Network. She is a graduate, with distinction, of Stanford University and is an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Producers Guild of America and American Mensa.