September 11 – Rebel in the Rye

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Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on September 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay REBEL IN THE RYE.

Logline: The true story of how J.D. Salinger came to write The Catcher in the Rye.

Screenwriter: Known for his roles as Jonathan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle on Gilmore Girls, DANNY STRONG launched his screenwriting career with a pair of HBO movies about the 2000 and 2008 elections. Recount earned Strong a WGA award and an Emmy nomination, while Game Change won him his second WGA trophy, two Emmys, and a Peabody. For the big screen he wrote the script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler and had a hand in adapting the third and fourth Hunger Games movies from the novel Mockingjay. Strong is also co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the hit series Empire. Rebel in the Rye, which marks Strong’s feature film directorial debut, was adapted from the non-fiction book J.D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawensky, which Strong is said to have optioned with his own money.

Rebel in the Rye stars Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, X-Men franchise) as the struggling author, Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Why Him?) as love interest Oona O’Neill, Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) as mentor Whit Burnett, and Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson) as Salinger’s agent.

Producers and Production Companies: Writer/director Danny Strong also serves as a producer on Rebel in the Rye along with Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook), Jason Shuman (Middle Men, Little Black Book) and the team of Molly Smith and identical twin brothers Thad and Trent Luckinbill under their Black Label Media banner (La La Land, Sicario, Demolition). Rebel is the first production credited in IMDb to West Madison Entertainment, a production company recently founded by executive producer Christina Papagjika, an associate producer on Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Release Date: September 15 (IFC Films). The film premiered this January at the Sundance Film Festival.

Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. 97 pages. Drama, Biopic.

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.

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August 14 – The Only Living Boy in New York

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, August 11)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on August 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK.

Logline: Adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress.

Screenwriter: After a twelve-year struggle to get noticed in Hollywood, screenwriter ALLAN LOEB finally broke through in 2005 when two of his spec scripts landed in the top four of the industry’s inaugural Black List, leading to sales of six projects in a single year. The first to make it to the cinema was 2007’s Things We Lost in the Fire starring Halle Berry. Subsequent writing credits include 21 (the fictionalized true story of a card-counting ring from MIT), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Switch (starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman), The Dilemma (directed by Ron Howard), and the musical Rock of Ages. Earlier this year Loeb shared a writing credit on the sci-fi romantic drama The Space Between Us, and just two months before that his original screenplay Collateral Beauty hit the screen with Will Smith in the lead. Along with Things We Lost…, The Only Living Boy in New York was Loeb’s other script on the 2005 Black List.

Named after the 1970 Simon & Garfunkel song, The Only Living Boy in New York is Loeb’s “version of my favorite movie, The Graduate, with kind of a Manhattan love-letter to New York flourish to it,” according to a 2012 interview with the scribe. Directed by Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man), the film stars Callum Turner (Queen and Country), Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor), Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Kiersey Clemons (Justice League), and Jeff Bridges (True Grit, The Big Lebowski).

Producers and Production Companies: Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, produced The Only Living Boy… through their Bona Fide Productions. Previously, the pair had produced Payne’s Election, Loeb’s The Switch, and the Oscar winning Little Miss Sunshine. They have a first-look deal with Amazon Studios (Manchester by the Sea), who financed the picture. John Fogel also produced. This is his first credit.

Release Date: August 11 (Roadside Attractions)

Rated R. 88 minutes. 105 pages. Drama.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian 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.

July 10 – Dunkirk

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, July 7)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on July 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DUNKIRK.

Logline: WWII Allied forces mount a mission to rescue 400,000 soldiers surrounded by the enemy after the Battle of Dunkirk.

Screenwriter: Writer-director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN gained acclaim for his second feature, Memento (2000), a noir thriller told in converging timelines as a man with short-term memory loss attempts to hunt down his wife’s killer. His Dark Knight trilogy has grossed more than $2.4 billion worldwide and his screenplays for Memento and Inception have both been nominated for Academy Awards. Dunkirk is his first film since 2014’s Interstellar, and his first film based on true events.

The film, which will be told from three perspectives (air, land, and sea) and will contain as little dialogue as possible, stars Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow in the Dark Knight trilogy), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and Harry Styles of One Direction in his acting debut.

Producers and Production Companies: As with all his films since Batman Begins, Nolan produced Dunkirk with his wife, Emma Thomas, through their London-based production company Syncopy, which also produced Man of Steel, on which Nolan shares a story credit.

Release Date: July 21 (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13. 107 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Drama, War, Action.

DANIEL P. CALVISI will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is a story analyst, speaker, screenwriter, and the author of Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay, Story Maps: TV Drama, Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays, and Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He is a former Story Analyst for major studios like 20th Century Fox, Miramax, and New Line Cinema. He coaches writers, teaches webinars on writing for film and television with The Writers Store, and speaks at writing conferences and book signings. He lives in Los Angeles and holds a degree in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. To learn more about Story Maps and how you can work with Dan, visit ActFourScreenplays.com.

April 10 – The Circle

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, April 7)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on April 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE CIRCLE.

Logline: A woman lands her dream job at the most powerful tech company in the world only to find herself facing questions of privacy, identity, and freedom that will determine the future of humanity.

Writers: The Circle is based on the novel by DAVE EGGERS, who wrote the first draft of the screenplay. He also wrote screenplays for Away We Go with his wife, novelist Vendela Vida, and Where the Wild Things Are with director Spike Jonze, and has a story credit on Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land. The Circle is Eggers’ tenth novel. His 2009 book, Zeitoun, has been optioned by Jonathan Demme, and his novel A Hologram for the King was made into a movie in 2016 by Tom Tykwer starring Tom Hanks. JAMES PONSOLDT rewrote the script for The Circle and is the film’s director. Ponsoldt’s other writer-director credits include Off the Black starring Nick Nolte and Smashed starring Aaron Paul. He also directed The End of the Tour starring Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg and the acclaimed The Spectacular Now starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

The Black Mirror-esque sci-fi thriller stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter film series) and Tom Hanks in his first-ever villain role, with John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), and the late Bill Paxton in his final film appearance.

Producers and Production Companies: Hanks optioned the novel in 2014 to star in and produce through his Playtone banner with producing partner Gary Goetzman (Sully, Game Change). Anthony Bregman (Collateral Beauty, Sing Street, Foxcatcher) joined the producers with his company, Likely Story. Sophia Dilley (Netflix’s Tallulah) co-produces through Route One Entertainment. Writer-director Ponsoldt also has a producing credit. The film’s financing came from Image Nation (Rings, Contagion).

Release Date: April 28 (STX Entertainment), after its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Rated PG-13. 110 minutes. 141 pages. Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller.

LINDA COWGILL will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. After completing her MFA at UCLA’s School of Film and Television, Linda landed her first TV writing job on The Incredible Hulk and sold her first feature screenplay to Orion Pictures. She continued writing scripts for Paramount, Universal, MGM, Warner Bros., and for the acclaimed series Life Goes On, until deciding to focus on teaching screenwriting. She has since taught seminars and workshops at AFI, Kennedy Center, Boston Film Institute, Loyola Marymount, IFP Miami, and NALIP and now heads the Screenwriting Department at Los Angeles Film School. She has also published three books, The Art of Plotting, Secrets of Screenplay Structure, and Writing Short Films, and has many useful screenwriting articles on her website, Plots Inc.

March 13 – Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures (UK poster)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on March 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HIDDEN FIGURES.

Logline: The untold true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Based on the 2016 bestseller Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by debut author Margot Lee Shetterly, the script was adapted by ALLISON SCHROEDER and rewritten by the film’s director, THEODORE MELFI, focusing on balancing the home lives of the three protagonists with their careers at NASA. Schroeder, a former production assistant on Smallville who had interned at NASA as a teenager, previously wrote Mean Girls 2. Hidden Figures is her first feature writing credit. Melfi previously wrote and directed St. Vincent and wrote the upcoming remake of 1979’s Going in Style, scheduled to be released in April.

The 1961-set historical drama stars Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Grammy Award nominated singer Janelle Monáe (Moonlight), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), and Glen Powell (Scream Queens) as John Glenn, and features the music of Pharrell Williams, who is also one of the film’s producers.

Awards and Nominations: Hidden Figures is nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The ensemble cast recently won the top honor at the Screen Actors Guild awards, and the screenplay is also nominated for BAFTA, WGA, and USC Scripter awards.

Producers and Production Companies: Academy Award winning producer Donna Gigliotti (Shakespeare in Love) acquired the book’s film rights for Levantine Films (Beasts of No Nation, The Fundamentals of Caring), where she is the president. Gigliotti has had two other Best Picture nominations (Silver Linings Playbook and The Reader) since beginning her career as an assistant to Martin Scorsese on Raging Bull. Gigliotti produced Hidden Figures with former News Corp. COO Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment production company (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Heat, St. Vincent).

Release: Fox 2000 gave the film a limited Christmas Day release for awards qualification. Having grossed over $130 million since its wide release on January 6, Hidden Figures is currently the highest grossing of the nine films nominated for Best Picture and of all ten films nominated in the two screenplay categories. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG. 127 minutes. 121 pages. Historical Drama, Biopic.

BSchiffmanhead150Script consultant and book adaptation coach BARBARA SCHIFFMAN will lead the discussion. For over 35 years, Barbara read scripts for Miramax, Dreamworks, Mandalay, HBO, CAA, UTA, and more. The writing guide NOW WRITE! Screenwriting Exercises by Today’s Best Screenwriters and Teachers includes her chapter “Key Things to Know About Your Script Before You Write.” She has also evaluated candidates for NBCUniversal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship programs and in 2016 presented seminars on Adapting Books and True Stories to Film/TV at the 26th annual Flathead Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Barbara currently offers script coaching and “first look” feedback for screenwriters, as well as book coaching and editing for authors and self-publishers. Get info on Barbara’s services at her website, barbaraschiffman.com.

February 13 – Manchester by the Sea

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Manchester by the SeaMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on February 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Logline: A troubled janitor must return, permanently, to a town that holds painful memories for him in order to raise his nephew when his brother dies unexpectedly.

KENNETH LONERGAN wrote and directed this original screenplay. After finding success as a playwright, Lonergan broke into screenwriting with the Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro comedy Analyze This (1999). A year later, he received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, for You Can Count On Me, his motion picture directorial debut. That script also won WGA and Spirit awards as well as the Sundance Film Festival’s Waldo Salt award for screenwriting. Lonergan earned his second Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for his contributions to Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Manchester by the Sea is Lonergan’s first outing since 2011’s heavily litigated Margaret starring Anna Paquin.

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Tate Donovan (Damages), an appearance by Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and a breakthrough performance by newcomer Lucas Hedges, son of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of About a Boy, Peter Hedges.

Awards and Nominations: Widely expected to have a strong showing at the Academy Awards, Manchester has so far racked up five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, four SAG award nominations, five Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best Feature and Best Screenplay, and a WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Update: Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), and Best Supporting Actress (Williams).

The writing has also received accolades from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Atlanta Film Critics Society, Boston Online Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Chicago Film Critics Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Hollywood Film Awards, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, Toronto Film Critics Association, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and the Village Voice Film Poll, with 20 additional nominations, and the film has appeared on over 50 ten-best lists for 2016.

Producers and Production Companies: Actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski first brought the idea to Lonergan and were both originally going to act in it, with Damon directing. Both actors eventually dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts but retained producing credits. Other producers and production companies include Kimberly Steward of K Period Media, Kevin J. Walsh (The Way Way Back) of B Story, and Chris Moore (Project Greenlight) of CMP. Damon’s production company is Pearl Street Films.

Release: Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Amazon Studios won a bidding war against Sony, Universal, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight, paying $10 million for distribution rights, and is co-distributing with Roadside Attractions. The film opened in limited release on November 18, 2016, and reached the top ten at the box office for the weekend of December 9, despite having expanded to only 366 screens. It went wide on December 16 and has grossed over $33 million to date against an estimated $8.5 million budget. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 137 minutes. 112 pages. Drama.

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, as well as the upcoming Seduced by Mrs. Robinson, scheduled for release in November 2017 for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

January 9 – Miss Sloane

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Miss Sloane movie posterMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on December 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MISS SLOANE.

Logline: A ruthless lobbyist faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass gun control legislation.

First-time British screenwriter JONATHAN PERERA wrote Miss Sloane while working as an elementary schoolteacher in South Korea after a BBC News interview with corrupt D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff inspired him to explore the untapped milieu of the behind-the-scenes power players pulling the strings in American politics for his first-ever attempt at writing a screenplay. The original spec script found representation through a query letter and landed on the 2015 Black List. Perera is managed by Scott Carr of Management SGC and the script was repped by Peter Dodd and Carolyn Sivitz at UTA.

Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). Starring Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Dr. Who), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun), Michael Stuhlbarg (Trumbo, Steve Jobs), Mark Strong (The Imitation Game), and Sam Waterston (Law & Order).

Producers and Production Companies: Perera’s manager took the property to executive producer Patrick Chu at FilmNation (Arrival, The Founder) where Ben Browning (Passengers) produced alongside Kris Thykier (Kick-Ass) of Archery Pictures. EuropaCorp (Taken franchise), the France-based international distributor co-founded by Luc Besson (The Professional), picked up Miss Sloane for distribution after a bidding war in Toronto.

Release Date: Opened in limited release on November 25th, followed by a wide release on December 9th. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 132 minutes. 123 pages. Drama, Thriller, Political Thriller.

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.