February 13 – The Fabelmans

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on December 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of Steven Spielberg’s screenplay THE FABELMANS.

LOGLINE: A young aspiring filmmaker explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about his dysfunctional family and those around him.

“I’ve been hiding from this story since I was 17 years old,” director and co-writer STEVEN SPIELBERG said at the Golden Globe awards last week, where The Fabelmans won Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director. “I put a lot of things in the way of this story. I told this story in parts and parcels all throughout my career. E.T. has a lot to do with this story. Close Encounters has a lot to do with this story. But I never had the courage to hit this story head on until [co-writer] TONY KUSHNER sat me down and said, ‘Tell me about all these stories I’ve heard about your life.’ And we started a conversation that lasted all through Munich, all through Lincoln, all through West Side Story. And my wife, Kate, was always saying, ‘You have to tell this story.'” So the 74-year-old filmmaker finally sat down to tell the most personal story of his career, a story he says is “about the fact that it’s not easy to be a kid, the fact that everybody sees me as a success story, and everybody sees all of us based on how they get the information, but nobody really knows who we are until we’re courageous enough to tell everyone who we are.”

(registration deadline: Friday, February 10)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

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The Fabelmans premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and opened nationwide in November. Also currently available on VOD and scheduled for DVD/Blu-ray/4K UHD releases the day after our meeting, the film stars Gabriel LaBelle (Showtime’s American Gigolo) as Sammy Fabelman — a fictional version of Spielberg, Michelle Williams (Dawson’s Creek), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up), Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People), and filmmaker David Lynch as filmmaker John Ford. It currently holds a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been nominated for hundreds of awards so far. If you have not yet seen the movie, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page.

UPDATE: On January 24, The Fabelmans was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay!

Rated PG-13. 144 pages. 151 minutes. 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.

December 12 – TÁR

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on December 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay TÁR.

LOGLINE: A renowned orchestra conductor’s life unravels as she prepares a book launch and a live performance of Mahler’s 5th Symphony.

ABOUT THE WRITER: As a teenager, TODD FIELD co-created Big League Chew bubble gum. He began his movie career as an actor, appearing in such films as Twister, Woody Allen’s Radio Days, and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. He made his feature directorial debut in 2001 with In The Bedroom, which won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, which Field co-wrote. Field’s second film, Little Children, starred Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley and earned Field another Oscar nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Tár, written, produced, and directed by Field, is his first film since 2006 and his first original feature-length screenplay to be produced.

(registration deadline: Friday, December 9)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

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Tár stars two-time Oscar winner and six-time nominee Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár. The film was released in October by Focus Features after premiering at the Venice and Telluride film festivals and is currently available on VOD. If you have not yet seen the movie, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page. Afterward, you are encouraged to also see the film, as our discussion may include choices made in the process of adapting the script to a finished film.

Rated R. 92 pages. 158 minutes. Drama.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A produced feature-film screenwriter and an award-winning filmmaker, Diana is a Jane-of-all-trades with vast industry experience in production, development, acquisitions, distribution, physical production, film finance, business and legal affairs, as well as new media. She wrote the adapted screenplay for the feature film The Journey Ahead starring Michael Madsen, and produced the feature film Culture Class in AmeriCCA directed by Emilio Estevez. Previously, she served as President of Production at a mini-studio, Arenas Entertainment in partnership with Universal Pictures, and was the Head of Development for a production entity, Patriot Pictures, and the industry liaison for Banque Paribas, a film financing institution, and has taught at the New York Film Academy. Via her banner company, Bumptious Media Consulting, Diana offers screenwriting and producing one-on-one coaching, workshops, and master classes, with a specialty in pitching and mastering communication skills. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).

April 11 – BELFAST

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on April 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the Academy Award winning screenplay BELFAST.

LOGLINE: A young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.

THE WRITER: Sir KENNETH BRANAGH was almost nine years old in August of 1969 when the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles began in his Belfast neighborhood in Northern Ireland. Trained at the Royal Academy of Art in London, where he has served as its president since 2015, Branagh received his first two of eight Academy Award nominations for directing and starring in Henry V in 1989. The actor-writer-director continued making acclaimed films of Shakespeare’s plays with his 1996 screenplay of Hamlet bringing him another Oscar nomination. Some of his other films include Disney’s 2015 live-action Cinderella remake starring Lily James, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein starring Robert De Niro, Murder on the Orient Express and its sequel, Death on the Nile, currently in theaters, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster Thor. As an actor, he has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and TenetHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and My Weekend with Marilyn as Laurence Olivier, for which he was nominated for another Oscar. Based on his own childhood, his most personal film, Belfast, was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, winning Branagh his first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

(registration deadline: Friday, April 8)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

Single Meeting Fee: $45
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Filmed in black and white during the COVID pandemic, Belfast stars ten-year-old Jude Hill in his film debut, for which he was nominated for fifteen industry, critics, and festival awards, winning six. The coming-of-age film also features Caitríona Balfe (Now You See Me, Ford v Ferrari), Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades trilogy), Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Skyfall), and Ciarán Hinds (There Will Be Blood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2, Game of Thrones).

The film received more than 200 nominations and won more than 40 awards, including the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film of the Year, a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, and Best Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Belfast grossed over $46 million worldwide at the box office and is currently available to rent or purchase on DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming.

If you have not yet seen the movie, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing. After reading the screenplay, please make an effort to watch the movie as our meeting will include discussion of the writing as well as what is seen and heard while watching the movie.

Rated PG-13. 94 pages. 98 minutes. Drama. Coming-of-Age.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A produced feature-film screenwriter and an award-winning filmmaker, Diana is a Jane-of-all-trades with vast industry experience in production, development, acquisitions, distribution, physical production, film finance, business and legal affairs, as well as new media. She wrote the adapted screenplay for the feature film The Journey Ahead starring Michael Madsen, and produced the feature film Culture Class in AmeriCCA directed by Emilio Estevez. Previously, she served as President of Production at a mini-studio, Arenas Entertainment in partnership with Universal Pictures, and was the Head of Development for a production entity, Patriot Pictures, and the industry liaison for Banque Paribas, a film financing institution, and has taught at the New York Film Academy. Via her banner company, Bumptious Media Consulting, Diana offers screenwriting and producing one-on-one coaching, workshops, and master classes, with a specialty in pitching and mastering communication skills. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).

March 14 – The Power of the Dog

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on March 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the Oscar-nominated screenplay THE POWER OF THE DOG.

LOGLINE: A charismatic rancher inspires fear and awe in those around him, tormenting them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

THE WRITERS: The Power of the Dog is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by THOMAS SAVAGE, who, like one of the characters, moved with his mother and stepfather to a Montana cattle ranch as a boy in the 1920s, where he felt like a misfit. He wrote thirteen novels, all Westerns set in or connected to Montana, in a career spanning 44 years. The Power of the Dog is said to have previously been optioned five times, including once by Paul Newman, but did not make it to the screen until acclaimed Kiwi filmmaker JANE CAMPION read her stepmother’s copy of the book in 2017. In 1993, Campion became the first woman to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her best-known film, The Piano, which also earned her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Some of her other work includes The Portrait of a Lady starring Nicole Kidman, Holy Smoke! starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel, In the Cut with Meg Ryan, and Top of the Lake, the first TV series to screen at the Sundance Film Festival. The Power of the Dog is her first feature film in over a decade.

(registration deadline: Friday, March 11)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

Single Meeting Fee: $45
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The Power of the Dog leads this year’s Academy Awards with 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and four acting nominations. Furthermore, Jane Campion is the first woman ever to receive a second Best Director nomination, 28 years after her nomination for The Piano. The Netflix original film premiered last September at the Venice film festival where Campion won the Silver Lion award for directing. After a healthy festival run and a limited theatrical run, it began streaming on Netflix last December. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man), Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), and Frances Conroy (American Horror Story).

The film has already won three Golden Globes, including Best Picture – Drama and Best Director, as well as hundreds of other awards and nominations from SAG, DGA, USC, BAFTA, and many more.

If you have not yet seen the movie, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page. Afterward, for extra credit, you are encouraged to also watch the film (currently streaming on Netflix) and/or read the novel (available from Amazon or your local library), as our discussion may include choices made in the process of adapting the novel to the script to a finished film.

Rated R. 106 pages. 123 minutes. Drama. Romance. Western.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A produced feature-film screenwriter and an award-winning filmmaker, Diana is a Jane-of-all-trades with vast industry experience in production, development, acquisitions, distribution, physical production, film finance, business and legal affairs, as well as new media. She wrote the adapted screenplay for the feature film The Journey Ahead starring Michael Madsen, and produced the feature film Culture Class in AmeriCCA directed by Emilio Estevez. Previously, she served as President of Production at a mini-studio, Arenas Entertainment in partnership with Universal Pictures, and was the Head of Development for a production entity, Patriot Pictures, and the industry liaison for Banque Paribas, a film financing institution, and has taught at the New York Film Academy. Via her banner company, Bumptious Media Consulting, Diana offers screenwriting and producing one-on-one coaching, workshops, and master classes, with a specialty in pitching and mastering communication skills. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).

June 14 – Minari

MINARI Movie Poster Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on June 14th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MINARI.

LOGLINE: A Korean family starts a farm in 1980s Arkansas.

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Munyurangabo, the first-ever narrative feature in the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda and the debut feature film of Asian-American LEE ISAAC CHUNG, premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section and won the Grand Prize at that year’s AFI Fest. After three more films, Chung had to take a full-time teaching job to support his family, but decided to write one more script, hunkered down in his regular South Pasadena coffee shop, before the gig started. Searching for public domain material to adapt, Chung was inspired by Willa Cather’s 1918 novel My Ántonia, about a 19th century child of immigrants growing up on a farm in Nebraska, to write about his own similar upbringing as a South Korean boy on a farm in Arkansas. Thus, the filmmaker says, the writing of his breakthrough film began when he “ceased to admire and began to remember.” (The semi-autobiographical script was written in English, with the dialogue later translated into Korean.)

(registration deadline: Friday, June 11)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

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Minari premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 where it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for drama. The long list of subsequent accolades includes placing on the year-end top ten lists of 68 critics, winning twelve awards with 25 additional nominations for the screenplay, winning the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film, earning six Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations (including Best Screenplay), and six Academy Award nominations (including Best Original Screenplay), and winning the Spirit, BAFTA, SAG, and Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Yuh-Jung Youn).

A24 released the film virtually and in select theaters on February 12. If you have not yet seen Minari, it is recommended that you read the script first, as our discussion will focus on the writing on the page. This month we also plan to discuss the finished film, so it is suggested that you also watch the movie after reading the script. Minari is currently available to rent or buy digitally at Redbox, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Fandango, Vudu, and Apple TV.

Rated PG-13. 155 minutes. 97 pages. Drama.

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 pamelajayesmith.com for more information.

April 12 – The Father

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on April 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE FATHER. [UPDATE: This post was originally published with the wrong date. The correct date is Monday, April 12th, not the 13th. We apologize for the confusion.]

LOGLINE: Anthony Hopkins stars as an aging man trying to make sense of his changing circumstances and beginning to doubt his loved ones, his own mind, and even the fabric of his reality.

THE WRITERS: French novelist and playwright FLORIAN ZELLER directed and co-wrote The Father based on his award-winning 2012 play, Le Père. A published novelist by age 22, Zeller’s third novel, Fascination of Evil, made him a household name in France, while his writing for the stage prompted The Guardian to call him “the most exciting playwright of our time.” Le Père was previously filmed in French as Floride and was followed on the stage by The Mother and The Son, both produced in 2019. All three plays in the trilogy were translated for English-language productions by Zeller’s longtime collaborator, British playwright CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON, who also co-wrote the screenplay with the first-time filmmaker. Hampton co-wrote the book and lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd., while his previous screenwriting credits include The Good Father (also starring Anthony Hopkins), Dangerous Liaisons, for which he won BAFTA and WGA awards as well as the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Atonement, for which he nominated again for the Academy and BAFTA awards.

(registration deadline: Friday, April 9)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

SPECIAL OFFER – ONLY $150 FOR A NEW MEMBERSHIP OR RENEWAL!
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Click the Register Now button for instructions.
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The Father is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman), and Best Picture. This is Hopkins’ sixth nomination; he previously won for The Silence of the Lambs. This is Colman’s second nomination; she won two years ago for The Favourite and currently stars in The Crown on Netflix. Rounding out the cast of The Father are Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Imogene Poots (28 Weeks Later), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), and Dr. Who writer Mark Gatiss.

Note: The film is currently playing in limited release and is available to stream on VOD. If you have not yet seen it, it is recommended that you hold off on watching it at least until after you’ve read the script. Our discussion will focus on the writing on the page, but we can also discuss changes in the finished film toward the end of the meeting.

The Father has over 100 nominations for industry and critics awards, with over 20 wins so far! The screenplay was nominated for Golden Globe, BAFTA, and 22 other writing awards and has already won Best Screenplay from the British Independent Film Awards, the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, the Satellite Awards, and the Sunset Film Circle Awards. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and also screened at the Toronto and AFI festivals. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in New York and Los Angeles on February 26, 2021, expanding it wider in March following its six Oscar nominations. It currently holds a 98% fresh rating from 173 critics according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Rated PG-13. 97 minutes. 87 pages. Drama.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian 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.

October 12 – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Meet ONLINE on October 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7.

LOGLINE: In a year of civil unrest, seven political activists stand trial for inciting a riot after an anti-war protest outside the Democratic National Convention turns violent.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Academy-Award-winning screenwriter AARON SORKIN initially wrote the script in 2007 for Steven Spielberg to direct. The writers strike that year delayed production, forcing Spielberg to drop out. 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, and made his directorial debut with 2018’s Molly’s Game, which netted him his third Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Sorkin returns to the director’s chair for The Trial of the Chicago 7, which premieres on Netflix on October 16.

(registration deadline: Friday, October 9)

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance.

SPECIAL OFFER – ONLY $150 FOR A NEW MEMBERSHIP OR RENEWAL!
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Based on true events surrounding the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, The Trial of the Chicago 7 stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as Tom Hayden, Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) as Abbie Hoffman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as attorney William Kunstler, Michael Keaton (Birdman), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Jeremy Strong (Succession), John Caroll Lynch (The Founder), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as Judge Julius Hoffman, and William Hurt (Marvel’s Avengers and Black Widow films) as Attorney General John Mitchell.

Originally planned for a September 25 theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, movie theater shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the studio to sell the distribution rights to Netflix for $56 million. The streaming service now plans to release the film online on October 16, just ahead of the November 3 election, with a possible limited theatrical run in September.

Rated R. 129 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Courtroom Drama.

JEFF KITCHEN, top-rated scriptwriting teacher and author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting will lead our script analysis and in-depth screenwriting discussion. Classically trained in playwriting technique, Jeff worked as a dramaturg in the New York theater, and taught playwriting on Broadway. He’s currently in the process of launching a two-year intensive training program for scriptwriters called Script Kitchen. His current BuildYourScript.com website will soon change to Script.Kitchen.

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.

UPDATE: Longtime StoryBoard member DIANA CALDWELL will lead our in-depth analysis and discussion. Diana wrote her first spec script at the age of 11 and got her first notes on that script from Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. More recently, she has placed in numerous screenwriting competitions, winning the Legacy Award in Screenwriting at the Festival Angelica in Big Bear for her script Fair Trade, which also won her a slot in the prestigious Cinestory Writers Retreat. Diana has also worked as a reader for Barry Levinson’s production company and as Film Inspector and Technical Director for various film festivals, including Telluride, TCM, and AFM.

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.