March 9 – Knives Out

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on March 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay KNIVES OUT.

LOGLINE: A modern whodunnit that follows a family gathering gone awry after the patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate.

Writer/director RIAN JOHNSON graduated from USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1996. He pitched his first screenplay, a Dashiell Hammett-inspired neo-noir mystery called Brick, unsuccessfully for seven years before raising the $500,000 budget from friends and family and making the film independently. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film earned back more than $4 million, won a special jury prize at Sundance for originality of vision, and went on to become a cult classic. Two other low budget hits followed (The Brothers Bloom starring Oscar winners Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody and Looper starring Bruce Willis and Gordon-Levitt) before Johnson was tapped to write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which grossed over $1.3 billion. Johnson received his first Academy Award nomination this year, in the Best Original Screenplay category, for Knives Out.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, March 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.

Knives Out features an all-star ensemble cast including Daniel Craig (James Bond), Chris Evans (Captain America), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Django Unchained), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Jaeden Martell (It), and Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music).

Still in current release, Knives Out has grossed nearly $300 million worldwide so far and holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 420 professional critics’ reviews), with an audience score of 92%. In addition to its Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the script was nominated for BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Hollywood Critics Association, and Writers Guild of America awards, along with three Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a Producers Guild nomination for Best Picture, and placement in the National Board of Review’s and American Film Institute’s top ten lists for 2019.

If you have not yet seen Knives Out but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised. EXTRA CREDIT: Watch the 1973 murder mystery film The Last of Sheila, which Rian Johnson cited as his inspiration and main influence in writing Knives Out. Written by Anthony Perkins (Psycho) and Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Into the Woods) and directed by Herbert Ross (Footloose), The Last of Sheila stars Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, and Raquel Welch, and can be digitally rented for $2.99 or purchased for $9.99 from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft, Fandango, and Apple TV.

Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. 124 pages. Mystery. Comedy.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian was previously with us in January 2018 for BlacKkKlansman. He 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

June 11 – Under the Silver Lake

(registration deadline: Friday, June 8)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on June 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay UNDER THE SILVER LAKE.

Logline: Mysterious clues lead a man on a strange journey to find the beautiful next door neighbor who disappeared the day after they hooked up.

The Writer/Director: Originally from Michigan, DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL graduated from Florida State University with an MFA in Production. His feature debut, The Myth of the American Sleepover, won a special jury prize at SXSW for Best Ensemble Cast and was an official Critic’s Week selection at Cannes, but it was his second film that catapulted Mitchell to indie film stardom. In It Follows, a murderous entity stalks its victim until he or she either dies or passes “it” to the next victim through sex. The nightmarish, low-budget horror film debuted at Cannes and grossed $23 million worldwide. The auteur cites Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window as his favorite film of all time.

Under the Silver Lake stars Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge, The Amazing Spider-Man), with Riley Keough (Magic Mike, Mad Max: Fury Road), and Topher Grace (That 70s Show).

Producers and Production Companies: Among the 25 producers, associate producers, co-producers, and executive producers, and 11 production companies, credited on IMDb for Under the Silver Lake are Academy Award winner Adele Romanski (Moonlight) for PASTEL, former New Line and Dreamworks president Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades of Grey) for Michael De Luca Productions, Chris Bender (A History of Violence) for Good Fear Film + Management, and Rufus Parker (Wild Nights with Emily) for P2 Films.

Festivals and Release Date: Under the Silver Lake is scheduled to premiere tomorrow, May 15, 2018, at the Cannes Film Festival, with a wide U.S. release scheduled for June 22 (A24).

Rated R. 139 minutes. 149 pages. Mystery, Comedy.

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.



Monday, June 25, 2018

author of Seduced by Mrs. Robinson:
How The Graduate became the Touchstone of a Generation

Register by noon, Friday, June 22

(click here for details)

September 12 – The Girl on the Train

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, September 9)

The Girl on the TrainMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

Logline: Obsessively fantasizing about the perfect couple that lives down the street from her ex-husband, a self-destructive woman finds herself entangled in a mystery that will forever alter the lives of all involved.

Writers: Based on a bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train was adapted by ERIN CRESSIDA WILSON, whose first produced screenplay, Secretary, won the 2002 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Her other credits include Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, Chloe (directed by Atom Egoyan), and Men, Women & Children (directed and co-written by Jason Reitman). The novel, written by PAULA HAWKINS, debuted in 2015 at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, remaining at the top for 16 weeks. Hawkins had previously released a string of less successful romantic comedy novels under the pen name Amy Silver before challenging herself to write darker material with The Girl on the Train, which has often been called “the next Gone Girl.”

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Haley Bennett (The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven), Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive), Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy), Édgar Ramírez (Point Break), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and Laura Prepon (Orange Is the New Black).

Producers and Production Companies: DreamWorks Pictures acquired film rights to the novel in 2014. The film was produced by Marc Platt, former president of production for Orion, TriStar, and Universal, under his Marc Platt Productions banner. The former entertainment attorney’s other producing credits include the Legally Blonde franchise, Wanted, Drive, Bridge of Spies, and the Broadway musical Wicked.

Release Date: October 7 (Universal Pictures).

Rated R. 105 minutes. 100 pages. Drama, Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Lee JessupLEE JESSUP will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Born and raised in Israel, Jessup is a career coach for screenwriters whose clients include Golden Globe and Emmy nominated writers as well as emerging screenwriters just starting on their professional writing path. She previously ran development for a small production company and was product manager for Baseline’s ScriptShark coverage service. Her book Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide To A Screenwriting Career is a comprehensive guide with practical advice for aspiring and working screenwriters. Find out more at and follow Lee on Twitter (@LeeZJessup).

August 8 – SOLACE

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, August 5)

SolaceMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay SOLACE.

Logline: An FBI agent must work with a paranormal specialist to hunt a psychic serial killer.

Screenwriters: TED GRIFFIN is best known for writing the mega-hit heist movie Ocean’s Eleven. In 2011, he co-created the series Terriers for the FX cable network. Griffin’s other writing credits include a pair of con-man capers, Best Laid Plans and Matchstick Men, produced SEAN BAILEY, producer and co-screenwriter of Solace. Currently the president of production at Walt Disney Pictures, Bailey co-founded the production company LivePlanet in 2000 with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Chris Moore, with whom he produced Project Greenlight. Solace is Bailey’s only feature writing credit.

Originally intended as a sequel to Se7en, Solace is the English-language debut of Brazilian director Afonso Poyart (2 Rabbits). The film stars Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), Colin Farrell (Minority Report, The Lobster), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy, Watchmen), and Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch, Limitless).

Producers and Production Companies include Beau Flynn for the Flynn Picture Company (San Andreas, Hercules), Thomas Augsberger for Eden Rock Media (Mr. Brooks), Tripp Vinson (the producer whose Las Vegas bachelor party inspired The Hangover), and Venture Forth (Rock the Kasbah), with financing by Silver Reel’s Claudia Bluemhuber (Under the Skin, The Host) and FilmNation (The Founder).

Release Date: September 2 (Relativity).

Rated R. 101 minutes. 107 pages. Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Currently an independent writer, producer, and director for her company, The StoryMaker Entertainment, Diana’s screenwriting has placed her as a finalist in the Walt Disney Fellowship Program, Broad Humor Film Festival, and Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. Her vast background in the entertainment industry includes developing film projects for Atlantic Streamline (Igby Goes Down) and Patriot Pictures (Air Force One) and she has taught at the New York Film Academy and the Los Angeles Film School. Diana also offers pitching, producing, distribution, and marketing consulting services through her Bumptious Media Consulting banner. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).