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).

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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.

January 8 – The Shape of Water

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, January 5)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on January 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE SHAPE OF WATER.

Logline: A mute woman takes a janitorial job at a secret government laboratory where she becomes emotionally attached to a mysterious amphibious humanoid creature being held there in captivity.

The Writers: The story for The Shape of Water was conceived by GUILLERMO DEL TORO over a 2011 breakfast with novelist Daniel Kraus while discussing his wish to see the monster in 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon hook up with that film’s female lead. When Universal rejected his pitch of a remake with that ending, he and VANESSA TAYLOR wrote this original script instead. Mexican filmmaker del Toro is best known for 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth, which won three Academy Awards and was nominated for another three, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film. Some of his other films include Mimic, Pacific Rim, and both Hellboy movies. He has also produced or executive produced animated favorites The Book of Life, Rise of the Guardians, and Kung Fu Panda 3 as well as the low budget horror hit Mama. Taylor’s work was previously discussed at StoryBoard with her original screenplay for Hope Springs, which starred Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Her other work includes the adaptation of Divergent, seasons 2 and 3 of Game of Thrones, and Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin.

Directed by del Toro, The Shape of Water stars Academy Award nominees Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (The Help), Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), and featuring Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery) as the creature.

Producers and Production Companies: Del Torro produced the film under his Double Dare You label with J. Miles Dale. Dale and del Toro previously teamed up on Mama and the FX series The Strain. Dale’s previous credits include Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and recent remakes of Endless Love, Carrie, and The Thing. Novelist Daniel Kraus, who helped del Toro brainstorm the initial story idea over breakfast, has an associate producer credit. Kraus and del Toro also co-wrote the novel Trollhunters. Liz Sayre, executive vice president of physical production at Fox Searchlight, has an executive producer credit on the film.

Festivals & Awards: The Shape of Water premiered at the Venice International Film Festival where it won the prestigious Golden Lion and three other awards. It has also played at festivals in Toronto, Telluride, Rio de Janeiro, London, Vienna, Chicago, Tokyo, Napa Valley, and Key West, and was named one of American Film Institute’s top ten films of the year. This morning the film received seven Golden Globe nominations, the most of any film this year, including Best Motion Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Previously the film had already racked up 14 nominations from the Critics Choice Awards and 10 from the Satellite Awards, also including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay from both organizations. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has also given the film three awards and the Palm Springs International Film Festival will give it their Vanguard Award on January 2, with more accolades to come on the road to the Oscars.

Release Date: Opened on December 1 in New York and December 8 in Los Angeles (Fox Searchlight). If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 123 minutes. 116 pages. Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance.

BILL LUNDY will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. A graduate of USC Film School, Bill has written two highly-rated original films for SyFy, Silent Warnings and Alien Siege, sold stories to Star Trek: Voyager, and optioned several sci-fi, fantasy, and horror projects. From 1997 to 2004 he served as Chairman of the non-profit Scriptwriters Network. A top script consultant and teacher known as “The Log Line Doctor,” he’s done seminars for Screenwriting Expo, Sherwood Oaks College, Newport Beach Film Festival, Scriptwriters Showcase, Flash Forward, and The Writers Store and contributed to such books as Q&A: The Working Screenwriter by Jim Vines, and Now Write! Screenwriting, and his essays and liner notes can be found on award-winning DVD special editions for such films as The Matrix, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Minority Report. Follow Bill on Twitter at @blundysf.

September 11 – Rebel in the Rye

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, September 8)

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.

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.