April 13 – Promising Young Woman (UPDATED)

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios ONLINE on April 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN.

LOGLINE: After her sexual assault complaint is dismissed, a promising medical student drops out to systematically lure badly-behaving men into her vengeance-seeking clutches.

ABOUT THE WRITER: The erotic thriller was penned by EMERALD FENNELL, who also makes her feature directorial debut, following Careful How You Go, a short film she wrote and directed that played at Sundance in 2018. An actress who has appeared in such films as Albert Nobbs, Anna Karenina (2012), and The Danish Girl, and the hit Netflix series The Crown, Fennell is a two-time prime-time Emmy nominee as head writer for the BBC series Killing Eve, a position she took over from her good friend, Fleabag sensation Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fennell is also a novelist, having authored the children’s book series Shiverton Hall as well as the 2015 adult horror novel Monsters.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, April 8)

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 instructionsDUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, THE APRIL 13th MEETING WILL BE HELD ONLINE. INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE SENT TO ALL REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS IN ADVANCE OF THE MEETING, so don’t forget to register by April 8.

Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan (An Education) stars as the titular woman along with Bo Burnham (writer/director of Eighth Grade), Alison Brie (GLOW), Connie Britton (American Horror Story), Adam Brody (The O.C.), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Sam Richardson (Veep), Molly Shannon (SNL), and Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spider-Man 2). Margot Robbie, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in last year’s similarly-themed Bombshell, was one of this film’s producers.

Universal’s arthouse label Focus Features acquired distribution rights for the film early last year and premiered it at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, earning rave reviews and an early tomatometer score of 98%. The film opens nationwide on April 17. UPDATE: The film, originally scheduled to be released on April 17, has been pulled from the schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic; new release plans have not yet been announced by Universal.

Rated R. 113 minutes. 106 pages. Drama. Thriller.

A special guest moderator will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion.

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 brianherskowitz.com.

February 10 – Parasite

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on February 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay PARASITE.

LOGLINE: A family of con artists worms their way into employment for a wealthy family, but startling secrets keep them from enjoying their plush new surroundings when their bosses leave them alone for a weekend.

THE WRITERS: South Korean-born writer-director BONG JOON-HO garnered international acclaim with his second feature, Memories of Murder, based on the true story of his country’s first serial killer. He followed that up with The Host, a monster movie that became the highest-grossing South Korean film of all time. Joon-ho’s first English-language film, Snowpiercer, a post-climate change sci-fi action adventure, starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, and Ed Harris, and appeared on dozens of critics’ ten-best lists for 2014. Okja, his Netflix debut, premiered in competition at Cannes where it received a four-minute standing ovation. Parasite was co-written by Han Jin-won, based on Joon-ho’s original story; it is his only writing credit so far, but he previously worked as an AD on Joon-ho’s Okja.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, February 5)

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.

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: If you plan to attend this event, please watch the film Snowpiercer, also by Bong Joon-ho, if you have time (in addition to reading the Parasite script).

Parasite premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Palm d’Or by unanimous vote. South Korea’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film category of the Academy Awards, last week Parasite became the first film from South Korea to win the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Film. In November, the film surpassed The Godfather as the most popular film of all time on social media site Letterboxd, and it was announced last week that Joon-ho and Adam McKay (The Big Short) are currently in talks to develop a limited series based on Parasite for HBO. This morning the film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Still in current release, Parasite has grossed over $130 million worldwide so far and holds a 99% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 349 professional critics’ reviews). Over 40 critics and publications have named it the best movie of 2019, including Christy Lemire, Justin Chang, Michael Phillips, Film Comment, and IndieWire (based on a 300+ Critics Survey). More than sixty others placed it in their top ten for the year, and more than a dozen put it in their top ten for the decade. It’s also nominated for four BAFTAs, a SAG, a Spirit, and a DGA award among its hundreds of other accolades, including Best Screenplay and Best Director nominations for the Golden Globes and a still-pending WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

If you have not yet seen Parasite but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised. Also, please watch Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer before the meeting if you can. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and can be rented online for just $1.99 at Redbox.

Rated R. 132 minutes. 141 pages (English translation). Drama. Horror.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program. As co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This), David Crane (Friends), Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Mark O’Donnel (Hairspray). Steve teaches a number of different workshops all over the globe, including The Comedy Intensive, a 2-day workshop that covers the fundamental principles of comedy. Look for his books The Hidden Tools of Comedy and The Comic Hero’s Journey, learn more about Steve and his workshops at kaplancomedy.com, and follow him on Twitter at @skcomedy where you can tweet quick comedy questions at him with the #AskKaplan hashtag.

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.

October 14 – Gemini Man

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on October 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GEMINI MAN.

LOGLINE: A retiring government assassin finds himself the target of another assassin who turns out to be a clone of his younger self.

THE SCREENWRITERS: Conceived by screenwriter DARREN LEMKE, his original spec sold to Disney way back in 1997, with the late Tony Scott (Top Gun) attached to direct. Lemke’s produced credits since then include the hit family films Shrek Forever After, Goosebumps, and this year’s Shazam! In 2007, writer/showrunner DAVID BENIOFF rewrote the script prior to co-creating the phenomenally popular HBO series Game of Thrones and shares a story credit with Lemke on Gemini Man. Benioff’s other feature writing credits include 25th Hour (adapted from his novel), Troy, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Other screenwriters who worked on the project during its lengthy development period include Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show), Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River), and Jonathan Hensleigh (Jumanji, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Armageddon), but the final screenwriting credit is shared by Lemke, Benioff, and BILLY RAY, whose other credits include The Hunger Games, Captain Phillips (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), and the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. (Note: We will be discussing David Benioff’s “revised first draft” of Gemini Man dated October 29, 2007.)

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, October 9)

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.

Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, and Sean Connery were among the A-listers attached to the challenging dual lead role for directors Scott, Joe Carnahan, and the late Curtis Hanson before Skydance acquired the property from Disney for two-time Oscar winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Will Smith (Independence Day, Aladdin) stars as the 50-year-old assassin and his younger clone, along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Clive Owen (Children of Men), and Benedict Wong (The Martian).

Paramount Pictures is scheduled to release Gemini Man on October 11, three days before the meeting. If you plan to see the movie on opening weekend, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. 115 pages (revised first draft, 10/29/07, Benioff). Sci-Fi, Action.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A teacher, screenwriter, actor, playwright, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA and has been a frequent guest moderator at StoryBoardDG.com’s Screenplay Development Group. As an actor, Wendell studied under Lee Strasberg and Peggy Feury at the Strasberg Institute and has appeared in episodic television, theater, and motion pictures, including prominent roles in the films The Klansman starring Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, Sudden Impact, Sommersby, and Street of Dreams. As a writer, he teamed up with Alex Lasker to adapt the novel Firefox for director Clint Eastwood. He also did additional work for Eastwood on the screenplay for Sudden Impact and wrote a final Dirty Harry project. Wendell also worked with the West End Theatre Group as co-founder and artistic director while continuing to alternate between acting and writing assignments. He is currently writing original feature scripts as well as a screenplay adaptation of The River Journey by acclaimed novelist Robert Nathan.

September 9 – Ad Astra

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on September 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay AD ASTRA.

LOGLINE: An astronaut goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiments threaten the solar system.

Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) was directed and co-written by JAMES GRAY, whose first film, at age 25, 1994’s Little Odessa, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His next four films, including The Yards and We Own The Night (both starring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix), and The Immigrant (starring Marion Cotillard), all played in competition for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, while his most recent release, 2017’s The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, was nominated for the prestigious USC Scripter award. Gray co-wrote Ad Astra with ETHAN GROSS, best known for his work as writer and executive story editor on 22 episodes of the FOX sci-fi series Fringe.

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.

(registration deadline: Thursday, September 5)

Compare the script to the finished film when it opens wide on September 20, a week and a half after our discussion! The film, which Gray describes as a mash-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now, stars Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Men in Black), Ruth Negga (Loving, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise).

Rated PG-13. 124 minutes. 108 pages. Sci-Fi, Drama, Adventure.

BARNEY MILES LICHTENSTEIN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Barney has worked as a professional story analyst for such companies as Amblin, Imagine, and New Line Cinema. He also assists in training new analysts for the Sundance Institute and is the recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Screenwriting.

July 8 – Stuber

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on July 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay STUBER.

LOGLINE: Unable to drive after a botched LASIK surgery, a tough cop must rely on his mild-mannered Uber driver to help him nab a dangerous criminal.

ABOUT THE WRITER: The buddy cop action comedy was written by TRIPPER CLANCY, whose first breaks came after winning the Script Pipeline screenplay competition in 2009 with his comedy, Henry the Second. From there, he participated in the Fox Writers Studio in 2011 and signed with manager Jake Wagner. After several of his subsequent spec scripts sold but never got made, Wagner pitched him the title Stuber, thinking it could become a comedy version of Collateral, and Clancy wrote a three-page treatment the next day. A few months later, he had a draft that sold to 20th Century Fox. Stuber marks the scribe’s English-language feature debut, his other produced feature writing credits being the German action comedies Four Against the Bank (directed by Wolfgang Petersen) and 2018’s Hot Dog.

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.

(registration deadline: Wednesday, July 3)

Stuber stars Academy Award nominated screenwriter Kumail Nanjani (The Big Sick) as Stu, the Uber driver, and former WWE star Dave Bautista (Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Vic, the cop. Iko Uwais (The Raid), Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation), Betty Gilpin (A Dog’s Journey), and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion) also star. The film, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year, opens July 12, the Friday after our discussion, just in time to go see it and compare the finished film to what was on the page!

Rated R. 105 minutes. 109 pages (3/27/16 draft). Action Comedy, Buddy Comedy.

BRUCE LOGAN, A.S.C., writer-director-cinematographer-visual effects producer (2001: A Space Odyssey, TRON, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Airplane!, Batman Forever) will lead our script analysis and screenwriting discussion. Lost Fare, Bruce’s debut as a feature writer-director, is about an 11 year old disabled girl, routinely pimped out by her prostitute mother, who is saved by a suicidal cab driver. Together they go on a journey of redemption that forever changes their lives. Learn more about Bruce’s work in film and music videos for such artists as Madonna, Prince, and Aerosmith at bruceloganfilm.com.