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).

February 14 – CODA & The Tender Bar

Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on February 14th for a coming-of-age DOUBLE FEATURE in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplays CODA and THE TENDER BAR.

This month we’ll read, discuss, analyze, compare, and contrast not one, but two screenplays, both in the coming-of-age genre and both generating awards-season buzz.

Written and directed by SIAN HEDER, CODA follows a hearing teenage girl who is a Child Of Deaf Adults torn between following her dream of attending Berklee College of Music and her fear of abandoning her deaf family. Heder won a Peabody award in 2010 for her work on the TV series Men of a Certain Age and wrote for the first three seasons of Orange Is the New Black. She made her feature debut as writer/director with Netflix’s Tallulah starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney. An English-language remake of the 2014 César-nominated French film La Famille Bélier, CODA stars Emilia Jones (Locke & Key), Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God, Switched at Birth), and Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included, How to Be a Latin Lover).

Based on the memoir of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist J.R. Moehringer (Resurrecting the Champ), The Tender Bar tells the story of a nine-year-old Long Island boy from a dysfunctional family who bonds with his uncle, a bar owner who encourages him to become a writer. The screenplay was written by former journalist/novelist WILLIAM MONAHAN, whose screenwriting credits include Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, Body of Lies, and The Gambler (2014). In 2007, Monahan won an Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. The Tender Bar is directed by George Clooney (The Ides of March, Suburbicon) and stars Ben Affleck (Justice League, The Accountant), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, The Card Counter), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story), and Christopher Lloyd (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Back to the Future).

(registration deadline: Friday, February 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
SPECIAL OFFER
– ONLY $150 FOR A 6-MONTH MEMBERSHIP OR RENEWAL!
Save $120 over the single meeting fees and get six consecutive online meetings!

Click the Register Now button for instructions.
(Email StoryBoardDG@gmail.com if you have any questions.)

WENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Wendell WellmanScreenwriter, actor, playwright, teacher, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA and UWV 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.

CODA is currently streaming on Apple TV+. It premiered at Sundance in 2021 where it won the audience award, the grand jury award, and the directing award, and was nominated for two Golden Globes, Best Picture Drama and Best Supporting Actor (Troy Katsur) among its many other accolades.

Rated PG-13. 79 pages. 111 minutes. Drama.

The Tender Bar is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Its accolades include a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Ben Affleck).

Rated R. 131 pages. 104 minutes. Drama.

If you have not seen the movies, it is highly recommended that you first read the screenplay so your initial impression is from the writing on the page. Also please watch the movies before the meeting as our discussion will include comparison of the writing on the page with what is seen and heard while watching the movie.

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.

January 13 – Jojo Rabbit

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on January 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay JOJO RABBIT.

LOGLINE: A ten-year-old boy in Nazi Germany, whose imaginary friend is Hitler, discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl behind a wall in their home.

THE WRITERS: Jojo Rabbit was written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker/comedian TAIKA WAITITI, who also appears in the film as Hitler. Waititi first gained international acclaim in 2004 with his short film Two Cars, One Night, which won awards at the AFI and Berlin festivals and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. He went on to make four well-received independent features, including Eagle vs Shark and the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, before helming his first big studio picture, Thor: Ragnarok, which grossed more than $850 million worldwide, enabling him to make his low-budget Nazi comedy. The script was adapted from the first half of the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. The novel was previously adapted for the stage in 2017 in New Zealand, where the American-born, Harvard-educated author has lived since 2006.

(registration deadline: Noon, Wednesday, January 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 instructions.

Jojo Rabbit premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award. Ten of the last eleven films to win this award went on to Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, with six of them winning in their respective writing category. Featuring Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Black Widow), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Richard Jewell), Rebel Wilson (Isn’t It Romantic, Cats), Stephen Merchant (The Office (UK), Logan), Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), and introducing ten-year-old Roman Griffin Davis in his Golden Globe nominated lead role, the film was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

1/13/20 UPDATE: Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Also nominated for 6 BAFTA awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, 2 SAG awards, a DGA award, a PGA award, the USC Scripter award, and a WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay, among many other accolades.

Disney-owned Fox Searchlight opened the film in limited release on October 18, expanding to just under a thousand screens in November. To date the $14 million movie still in current release has grossed more than $24 million. If you have not yet seen Jojo Rabbit but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

PG-13. 108 minutes. 113 pages (March 15, 2012 draft). Comedy. War.

DAN MARGULES will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is the creator, publisher, and one of the authors of ScripTipps, a line of inexpensive ebooks on screenwriting conceived in part by his participation in StoryBoard. An award-winning filmmaker, Dan was co-founder and president of San Diego Filmmakers and sat on the board of directors of Scriptwriters Network where he ran their writers groups and staged readings programs. In 2012 he published the popular young adult Christmas novel North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus and later adapted it into a musical through the Academy of New Musical Theatre, where he also wrote the book for Chaturbate: The Musical, which premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2017. A member of StoryBoard’s Screenplay Discussion Group since November 2009, Dan has never missed a meeting.

February 11 – GREEN BOOK

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on February 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GREEN BOOK.

Winner of THREE Golden Globe awards, including BEST SCREENPLAY and BEST PICTURE (Musical or Comedy)!

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Based on the true story of future Sopranos actor Tony Lip and jazz musician Don Shirley, the screenplay for Green Book was penned by Lip’s son, NICK VALLELONGA, along with BRIAN CURRIE and the film’s director, PETER FARRELLY.

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, February 7)

Green Book stars two-time Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic) as Tony Lip and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) as Dr. Shirley. Last week Ali won a Golden Globe for his work in Green Book.

Among the film’s other 33 awards and 78 nominations (so far) are the Writers Guild of America’s nomination for Original Screenplay, four BAFTA nominations including Best Screenplay (Original), two SAG nominations, seven Critics Choice nominations including Best Original Screenplay, DGA and PGA nominations for Best Film, a Screenwriter of the Year award from the Hollywood Film Awards, and a tie (with Vice) for Best Screenplay from the Detroit Film Critics Society.

UPDATE: Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Ali), and Best Original Screenplay!

About the writers: Vallelonga had appeared, with his father, in such films as The Godfather, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and GoodFellas before getting his first feature writing credit on 1993’s Deadfall, which he co-wrote with Christopher Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s brother). He followed that with four more films that he wrote and directed while keeping his father’s story close to his vest. When he finally shared the idea with Currie, a friend he’d worked with in a nightclub years earlier, Currie convinced Vallelonga to let him produce and co-write the script. Currie then pitched the idea to Farrelly, having previously played bit parts in several of the director’s comedies. Farrelly is known for writing and directing (usually with his brother Bobby) a string of hits including Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal.

Green Book premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award for best film. It opened in limited release in the US on November 16, before going wide one week later. As of this writing, it is still playing on over 500 screens and is #10 at the North American box office. If you have not yet seen the movie but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Released by Universal Pictures.

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 115 pages. Comedy, Biography.

Beverly GrayBEVERLY GRAY will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As story editor and development executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures, screenwriter Beverly Gray oversaw the making of 170 low-budget features. More recently, she has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and currently teaches online screenwriting workshops for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Beverly has also written books on filmmakers Corman and Ron Howard, and in 2017 she released Seduced by Mrs. Robinson for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

January 14 – BlacKkKlansman

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

Director Spike Lee‘s drama was produced by the team behind Get Out and offers another provocative exploration of American race relations. In the midst of the 1970s civil rights movement, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first black detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department. He sets out to prove his worth by infiltrating the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and convinces his Jewish colleague (Adam Driver) to go undercover as a white supremacist.

11/1/16 draft written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz (their first feature screenwriting credit), based on the non-fiction book Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth, with eight sets of revisions by Kevin Willmott (CSA: The Confederate States of America) & Spike Lee.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script mailed to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, January 10)

BlacKkKlansman was nominated for 4 Golden Globe awards (Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Actor, Drama, John David Washington; Best Supporting Actor, Adam Driver; Best Director, Spike Lee), and has another 7 wins and 11 nominations listed on IMDb, including placement in American Film Institutes top ten Movies of the Year. (1/11/19 UPDATE: Nominated for Writers Guild of America award for Best Adapted Screenplay, with 119 more nominations, 24 of those for the screenplay, and winner of 24 awards so far!)

The film premiered on May 14, 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or and won the Grand Prix.

BlacKkKlansman opened in wide release in the U.S. on August 10, 2018, in the top 5, earning $10 million in its opening weekend against a $15 million budget. The film went on to earn a total of $48 million at the North American box office and $88 million worldwide.

“If The Birth of a Nation was history written with lightning, BlacKkKlansman is a roll of thunder we’ve been waiting for ever since.”  –  David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a movie exploit its total mismatches so voraciously and purposely.”  – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

Released by Focus Features.

Rated R. 135 minutes. 124 pages (draft dated 7/17/17). Historical Drama, Biography, Crime.

Brian HerskowitzBRIAN HERSKOWITZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Brian was previously with us in August 2017 for The Only Living Boy In New York and in June 2016 for Our Kind Of Traitor. 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 13 – Manchester by the Sea

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, February 10)

Manchester by the SeaMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on February 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Logline: A troubled janitor must return, permanently, to a town that holds painful memories for him in order to raise his nephew when his brother dies unexpectedly.

KENNETH LONERGAN wrote and directed this original screenplay. After finding success as a playwright, Lonergan broke into screenwriting with the Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro comedy Analyze This (1999). A year later, he received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, for You Can Count On Me, his motion picture directorial debut. That script also won WGA and Spirit awards as well as the Sundance Film Festival’s Waldo Salt award for screenwriting. Lonergan earned his second Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for his contributions to Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Manchester by the Sea is Lonergan’s first outing since 2011’s heavily litigated Margaret starring Anna Paquin.

Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Tate Donovan (Damages), an appearance by Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and a breakthrough performance by newcomer Lucas Hedges, son of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of About a Boy, Peter Hedges.

Awards and Nominations: Widely expected to have a strong showing at the Academy Awards, Manchester has so far racked up five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, four SAG award nominations, five Independent Spirit Award nominations including Best Feature and Best Screenplay, and a WGA nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Update: Manchester by the Sea was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), and Best Supporting Actress (Williams).

The writing has also received accolades from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Atlanta Film Critics Society, Boston Online Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Chicago Film Critics Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Hollywood Film Awards, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, Toronto Film Critics Association, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and the Village Voice Film Poll, with 20 additional nominations, and the film has appeared on over 50 ten-best lists for 2016.

Producers and Production Companies: Actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski first brought the idea to Lonergan and were both originally going to act in it, with Damon directing. Both actors eventually dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts but retained producing credits. Other producers and production companies include Kimberly Steward of K Period Media, Kevin J. Walsh (The Way Way Back) of B Story, and Chris Moore (Project Greenlight) of CMP. Damon’s production company is Pearl Street Films.

Release: Premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Amazon Studios won a bidding war against Sony, Universal, Lionsgate, and Fox Searchlight, paying $10 million for distribution rights, and is co-distributing with Roadside Attractions. The film opened in limited release on November 18, 2016, and reached the top ten at the box office for the weekend of December 9, despite having expanded to only 366 screens. It went wide on December 16 and has grossed over $33 million to date against an estimated $8.5 million budget. 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 R. 137 minutes. 112 pages. Drama.

Beverly GrayBEVERLY GRAY will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As story editor and development executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures, screenwriter Beverly Gray oversaw the making of 170 low-budget features. More recently, she has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and currently teaches online screenwriting workshops for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Beverly has also written books on filmmakers Corman and Ron Howard, as well as the upcoming Seduced by Mrs. Robinson, scheduled for release in November 2017 for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

January 11 – Spotlight

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, January 8)

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

The true story of how The Boston Globe‘s elite “Spotlight” team of investigative reporters uncovered the massive child molestation scandal and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.

DIRECTOR/CO-SCREENWRITER TOM McCARTHY – As an actor, McCarthy has appeared in such films as Meet the Parents and The Lovely Bones, and on the small screen in The Wire and Boston Public. His 2003 writing and directing debut, The Station Agent, starring Peter Dinklage, won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award at Sundance, Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, and a Best Screenplay BAFTA award. He received WGA nominations for that film as well as his next two, The Visitor and Win Win, and was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing Disney/Pixar’s Up.

CO-SCREENWRITER JOSH SINGER – Spotlight is Singer’s second feature film writing credit, following 2013’s The Fifth Estate, a fact-based thriller about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  Before writing for Fringe and The West Wing, for which he earned two WGA nominations, Singer interned at Disney, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Workshop, and graduated magna cum laude from Yale in mathematics and economics.

AWARDS – The film has already won the Independent Spirits’ Robert Altman Award for its ensemble cast, which includes Mark Ruffalo (Marvel’s The Avengers), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), John Slattery (Mad Men), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games franchise), and Billy Crudup (Almost Famous).

Spotlight is also nominated for a WGA award, four Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Director, Screenplay and Editing, three BAFTAs for Best Film, Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Original Screenplay, and three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama, Director, and Screenplay, and has won Gotham Awards for Best Feature and Best Screenplay as well as the Hollywood Film Award for Screenwriter of the Year, with more accolades expected.

AWARDS UPDATE: The screenplay alone has won 15 more writing awards so far from: Boston Online Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critic Society, Florida Film Critics Circle, Indiana Film Journalists Association, Indiewire Critics’ Poll, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Online Film Critics Society, Phoenix Critics Circle, Southeastern Film Critics Association, and St. Louis Film Critics Association.

It has also received an additional 14 screenplay nominations from: Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Austin Film Critics Association, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society, London Critics Circle, North Carolina Film Critics Association, Phoenix Film Critics Society, San Diego Film Critics Society, San Francisco Fim Critics Circle, Satellite Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association, Utah Film Critics Assocation, Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and Washington DC Area Film Critics Association.

Producers and Production Companies: Steve Golin (The Revenant, HBO’s True Detective) and Michael Sugar (The Fifth Estate) for Anonymous Content, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust for Rocklin/Faust (The Queen Latifah Show), and Participant Media (Bridge of Spies, Beasts of No Nation).

Premiere: Venice Film Festival (September 3, 2015, out of competition). Also played at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.

Release date: November 20 (Open Road Films). If you plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 128 minutes. 131 pages. Drama.

Danny ManusDANNY MANUS,  founder of No BullScript Consulting, will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Author of No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective, Danny has taught workshops and seminars at prestigious events and venues including the Austin Film Festival, Great American Pitchfest, Screenwriting Expo, Sherwood Oaks, and more. As Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions, he sold the family adventure project To Oz to United Artists and was instrumental in developing Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) and Just Add Water (Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy). He was also a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and Director of Development for Sandstorm Films, and was named one of Screencraft’s “25 People Screenwriters Should Follow on Twitter (@DannyManus).”

December 14 – The Big Short

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, December 11)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE BIG SHORT.

Four outsiders in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s and decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed in this true story based on the book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side).

Screenwriters: ADAM McKAY (Ant-Man, Get Hard, Saturday Night Live) and CHARLES RANDOLPH (Love & Other Drugs, The Interpreter). Directed by Adam McKay.

Cast: Christian Bale (The Dark Knight trilogy), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher, The Office), Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Lars and the Real Girl), Brad Pitt (Fight Club, 12 Years a Slave), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers)

Producers: Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner for Plan-B Entertainment (12 Years a Slave, Moneyball, World War Z), and Regency Enterprises (Birdman, Gone Girl).

Premiere: AFI Fest, closing night (November 12, 2015).

Release date: December 11 (limited), December 23 (wide), Paramount. If you plan to go to the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 130 minutes. 121 pages. Drama.

Dave KlineDAVE KLINE, senior script consultant at Script Pipeline, will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Dave co-founded Script Pipeline (formerly Script P.I.M.P.) in 2000 with Chad Clough. With Dave’s focus on contest judging and one-on-one script consultations to help writers find representation, the service has grown into a vital online outlet for agents and managers seeking emerging talent. As a writer, Dave sold his TV series, Detail, to CBS in 2011, which gained him representation at CAA. He has gone on to develop projects for Rough House Pictures, Mosaic, and Le Grisbi Productions (Black Mass). His latest pilot is being produced by Rashida Jones’s production company, Le Train Train. Dave is currently repped by George Heller at Apostle.

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.