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.


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.

June 12 – The Mummy

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, June 9)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on June 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE MUMMY.

Logline: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Screenwriters: JON SPAIHTS first gained industry attention when his sci-fi spec script Passengers found a spot on the 2007 Black List. Produced nine years later with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in the lead roles, the film was released in December of last year, making over $300 million. Before that, Spaihts had writing credits on Ridley Scott’s first Alien prequel, Prometheus (2012), and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, released a month before Passengers. The two franchise films made over $400 million and $600 million, respectively. We will be reading Sphait’s 7/11/13 draft of The Mummy. On the finished film, he shares a writing credit with CHRISTOPHER MCQUARRIE, who won an Academy Award in 1996 for his second produced feature screenplay, The Usual Suspects. The Mummy reboot marks his fifth outing with Tom Cruise, having also written the scripts for Valkyrie (2008) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and written and directed Jack Reacher (2012) and Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation (2015).

Directed by Alex Kurtzman, co-writer of such hits as Transformers, Mission: Impossible III, and Star Trek, The Mummy launches the new Universal Monsters shared universe series of films that is expected to include re-imaginings of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Invisible Man, among others. In addition to Cruise, The Mummy stars Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) in the title role, Annabelle Wallis (BBC’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (New Girl), Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson), and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) as Dr. Jekyll.

Producers and Production Companies: At age 34 in 1985, Sean Daniel became the youngest head of production in the history of Universal Pictures. After leaving the studio, he went on to produce the previous Mummy franchise for them through his company Alphaville Films, and is now producing the reboot franchise under his new banner, The Sean Daniel Company. Chris Morgan, screenwriter of several Fast and the Furious movies, and Kurtzman have been put in charge of development for the entire Universal Monsters shared universe series under Kurtzman’s new Secret Hideout banner, which is also producing the new series Star Trek: Discovery. Kurtzman’s former writing partner, Roberto Orci, also produced The Mummy via K/O Paper Products, the production company he started with Kurtzman.

Release Date: June 9 (Universal Pictures)

Rated PG-13. 120 minutes. 123 pages. Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror.

pamelajayesmithPAMELA JAYE SMITH will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A mythologist and award-winning producer/director with over thirty years experience in features, TV, music videos, and more, Pamela is the author of five books, including The Power of the Dark Side: Creating Great Villains and Inner Drives: How to Write and Create Characters Using the Eight Classic Centers of Motivation. Her company, MYTHWORKS, offers consulting and coaching and, through her Pitch Proxy service, pitches writers’ projects at pitch festivals they cannot attend. Visit for more information.