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.

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.