March 13 – Hidden Figures

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, March 10)

Hidden Figures (UK poster)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on March 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay HIDDEN FIGURES.

Logline: The untold true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Based on the 2016 bestseller Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by debut author Margot Lee Shetterly, the script was adapted by ALLISON SCHROEDER and rewritten by the film’s director, THEODORE MELFI, focusing on balancing the home lives of the three protagonists with their careers at NASA. Schroeder, a former production assistant on Smallville who had interned at NASA as a teenager, previously wrote Mean Girls 2. Hidden Figures is her first feature writing credit. Melfi previously wrote and directed St. Vincent and wrote the upcoming remake of 1979’s Going in Style, scheduled to be released in April.

The 1961-set historical drama stars Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Grammy Award nominated singer Janelle Monáe (Moonlight), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), and Glen Powell (Scream Queens) as John Glenn, and features the music of Pharrell Williams, who is also one of the film’s producers.

Awards and Nominations: Hidden Figures is nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The ensemble cast recently won the top honor at the Screen Actors Guild awards, and the screenplay is also nominated for BAFTA, WGA, and USC Scripter awards.

Producers and Production Companies: Academy Award winning producer Donna Gigliotti (Shakespeare in Love) acquired the book’s film rights for Levantine Films (Beasts of No Nation, The Fundamentals of Caring), where she is the president. Gigliotti has had two other Best Picture nominations (Silver Linings Playbook and The Reader) since beginning her career as an assistant to Martin Scorsese on Raging Bull. Gigliotti produced Hidden Figures with former News Corp. COO Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment production company (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Heat, St. Vincent).

Release: Fox 2000 gave the film a limited Christmas Day release for awards qualification. Having grossed over $130 million since its wide release on January 6, Hidden Figures is currently the highest grossing of the nine films nominated for Best Picture and of all ten films nominated in the two screenplay categories. If you have not seen it yet and plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG. 127 minutes. 121 pages. Historical Drama, Biopic.

BSchiffmanhead150Script consultant and book adaptation coach BARBARA SCHIFFMAN will lead the discussion. For over 35 years, Barbara read scripts for Miramax, Dreamworks, Mandalay, HBO, CAA, UTA, and more. The writing guide NOW WRITE! Screenwriting Exercises by Today’s Best Screenwriters and Teachers includes her chapter “Key Things to Know About Your Script Before You Write.” She has also evaluated candidates for NBCUniversal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship programs and in 2016 presented seminars on Adapting Books and True Stories to Film/TV at the 26th annual Flathead Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Barbara currently offers script coaching and “first look” feedback for screenwriters, as well as book coaching and editing for authors and self-publishers. Get info on Barbara’s services at her website, barbaraschiffman.com.

March 9 – Nightcrawler

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, March 2)

NightcrawlerMeet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay NIGHTCRAWLER

A driven man, desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, blurring the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

Screenwriter: Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy), making his directorial debut.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko) and Renee Russo (Thor, Lethal Weapon 3 & 4)

Released: October 31, 2014 (Open Road Films)

AWARDS: Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay, Best First Feature), Austin Film Critics Association (Best Original Screenplay, Best First Film), Boston Society of Film Critics (Best New Filmmaker), Nevada Film Critics Society (Best Director, Best Screenplay), San Diego Film Critics Society (Best Director, Best Original Screenplay) and dozens more!

NOMINATIONS: Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay), Golden Globes (Best Actor – Drama), BAFTA (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay), Independent Spirit Awards (Best Editing, Best Male Lead, Best Supporting Male), and many, many more.

Budget: $8.5 million. Domestic gross: $32 million.

Rated R. 117 minutes. 107 pages. Drama, Thriller

Bill Boyle, UCLA Extension, Visual MindscapeBILL BOYLE will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Bill is an award winning screenwriter, UCLA Extension instructor, and has been rated among the top 10% of script analysts and consultants by Creative Screenwriting. His book, The Visual Mindscape of the Screenplay, teaches screenwriters how to let the viewer “discover” elements of the story rather than being told. Bill has been involved in the film industry in both Canada and the U.S. for over 25 years as a writer, director, agent, producer, story editor, and mentor. For additional information, visit his website, billboyle.net.

February 9 – The Imitation Game

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, February 2)

Meet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE IMITATION GAME

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code & Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

Writers: Graham Moore (screenplay), Andrew Hodges (book)

Director: Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, 2011; Buddy, 2003)


Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley

Budget: $15 million

The screenplay topped the 2011 Black List.

The Weinstein Company acquired US distribution rights for $7 million, a European Film Market record.

Premiered at Telluride Film Festival and also played at Toronto and nearly 50 other international film festivals.

Release (US): November 28, 2014 (limited), December 25, 2014 (wide)

AWARDS: Over 100 nominations, including eight Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, editing, production design, score), five Golden Globe nominations (including screenplay), eight BAFTA nominations, three SAG nominations, a USC Scripter nomination, and a WGA nomination.

Rated PG-13. 114 minutes. 117 pages. Biography, Drama, Thriller

JeffKitchen_smallJEFF KITCHEN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Jeff is a sought-after script doctor and working writer who has taught screenwriting professionally since 1989. He is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting, and has trained development executives from all the major studios who have consistently said that he teaches “the most advanced development tools in the film industry.” Creative Screenwriting listed him as one of the top five screenwriting teachers working today. Visit his website DevelopmentHeaven.com.

January 12 – WHIPLASH

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, January 5)

WhiplashMeet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay WHIPLASH

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Writer/Director: Damien Chazelle (The Last Exorcism Part II)

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser

Budget: $3.3 million (estimated)

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Screenplay was included on the 2012 Black List of the best unproduced screenplays.

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival January 16, 2014, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Has played at over 40 prestigious film festivals including Cannes, New York, and Toronto. Nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards.

Release (US): October 10, 2014 (limited)

Rated R. 106 minutes. 111 pages. Drama, Music

BSchiffmanhead150Story analyst BARBARA SCHIFFMAN will lead the discussion. For over 35 years, Barbara has read scripts for Miramax, Dreamworks, Mandalay, HBO, CAA, UTA, and more. The writing guide NOW WRITE! Screenwriting Exercises by Today’s Best Screenwriters and Teachers includes her chapter “Key Things to Know About Your Script Before You Write.” More recently, she evaluated candidates for NBCUniversal’s Emerging Writers Fellowship program. Barbara currently writes personal development e-courses for DailyOM.com and offers script coaching and “first look” feedback for screenwriters, as well as book coaching and editing for authors and self-publishers. Get info on Barbara’s services at her website, www.bschiffman.net.