April 10 – The Circle

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, April 7)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on April 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE CIRCLE.

Logline: A woman lands her dream job at the most powerful tech company in the world only to find herself facing questions of privacy, identity, and freedom that will determine the future of humanity.

Writers: The Circle is based on the novel by DAVE EGGERS, who wrote the first draft of the screenplay. He also wrote screenplays for Away We Go with his wife, novelist Vendela Vida, and Where the Wild Things Are with director Spike Jonze, and has a story credit on Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land. The Circle is Eggers’ tenth novel. His 2009 book, Zeitoun, has been optioned by Jonathan Demme, and his novel A Hologram for the King was made into a movie in 2016 by Tom Tykwer starring Tom Hanks. JAMES PONSOLDT rewrote the script for The Circle and is the film’s director. Ponsoldt’s other writer-director credits include Off the Black starring Nick Nolte and Smashed starring Aaron Paul. He also directed The End of the Tour starring Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg and the acclaimed The Spectacular Now starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

The Black Mirror-esque sci-fi thriller stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter film series) and Tom Hanks in his first-ever villain role, with John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), and the late Bill Paxton in his final film appearance.

Producers and Production Companies: Hanks optioned the novel in 2014 to star in and produce through his Playtone banner with producing partner Gary Goetzman (Sully, Game Change). Anthony Bregman (Collateral Beauty, Sing Street, Foxcatcher) joined the producers with his company, Likely Story. Sophia Dilley (Netflix’s Tallulah) co-produces through Route One Entertainment. Writer-director Ponsoldt also has a producing credit. The film’s financing came from Image Nation (Rings, Contagion).

Release Date: April 28 (STX Entertainment), after its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Rated PG-13. 110 minutes. 141 pages. Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller.

LINDA COWGILL will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. After completing her MFA at UCLA’s School of Film and Television, Linda landed her first TV writing job on The Incredible Hulk and sold her first feature screenplay to Orion Pictures. She continued writing scripts for Paramount, Universal, MGM, Warner Bros., and for the acclaimed series Life Goes On, until deciding to focus on teaching screenwriting. She has since taught seminars and workshops at AFI, Kennedy Center, Boston Film Institute, Loyola Marymount, IFP Miami, and NALIP and now heads the Screenwriting Department at Los Angeles Film School. She has also published three books, The Art of Plotting, Secrets of Screenplay Structure, and Writing Short Films, and has many useful screenwriting articles on her website, Plots Inc.


March 14 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, March 11)

10 Cloverfield LaneMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE.

Room meets Cloverfield. Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he saved her from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable. Fearing she was really abducted, she tries to escape, despite the dangers she might face outside.

The original microbudget spec script, The Cellar, which is the draft we will be discussing, was written by Josh Campbell & Matthew Stuecken. Campbell, who was the editor for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, is currently writing an English-language remake of John Woo’s The Killer. Stuecken was previously an associate producer on G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Their contained thriller, The Cellar, was on the Tracking Board’s 2012 Hit List.

Paramount Pictures bought the script for their specialty label, Insurge (Project Almanac, Area 51), and Bad Robot (Star Trek). Academy Award nominated screenwriter Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) was hired to rewrite the script, which became a “blood relative” of Bad Robot’s found-footage hit, Cloverfield.

10 Cloverfield Lane stars scream queen Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3), John Goodman (Roseanne, Trumbo, Red State), and Tony award-winning Broadway star John Gallagher, Jr. (Spring Awakening, American Idiot).

Produced by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Lindsey Weber. Executive produced by Bad Robot co-founder Bryan Burk.

Release Date: March 11 (Paramount). If you plan to see the movie before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. 95 pages. Sci-Fi, Thriller.

WendellWellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Trained at the Actors Studio and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Wendell has acted in feature films, television, and on stage. He has taught screenwriting at UCLA and wrote FIREFOX, SUDDEN IMPACT, and the final Dirty Harry script for Clint Eastwood. He recently completed adapting the novel The River Journey by Robert Nathan and is currently working on setting up his screenplay Top Hat. Wendell’s book, A Writer’s Roadmap, is available at Amazon.

July 13 – Self/less

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Monday, July 6)

Self/lessMeet on the 20th Century Fox studio lot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay SELF/LESS.

When a wealthy man dying of cancer has his consciousness transferred into a healthy body, he discovers the mystery of his new body’s origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.

Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Mirror Mirror).

Written by brothers David Pastor & Alex Pastor, who were nominated for two Gaudi Awards last year for writing and directing the dystopian thriller The Last Days in which the entire population of the world is stricken with agoraphobia so severe, if they step outside they will die.

Universal’s Focus Features relaunches its action/horror/sci-fi label Gramercy Pictures with Self/less as its second new release since 2001.

Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) stars as the new and improved version of Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, House of Sand and Fog). Also starring Matthew Goode (The Good Wife), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Natalie Martinez (Under the Dome), Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher), and five-time Emmy nominee Victor Garber (Alias).

Release date: July 10 (Gramercy Pictures). If you plan to see the film before the meeting, reading the script before seeing the movie is advised.

Rated PG-13. 116 minutes. 118 pages. Sci-fi, Thriller.

Peter RussellPETER RUSSELL will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Peter started as a story analyst reading thousands of scripts for Imagine, Participant, HBO, CBS, Walden, and more. He began teaching screenwriting at UCLA in 2004, and in 2009 was named UCLA Extension Instructor of the Year for Film & Television. Recently, he was invited to teach television pilot creation for Pepperdine University’s Seaver College Screenwriting MFA program. Along with Celia Stewart Russell, he has discovered deep, hidden patterns in the best films and developed The Storymaker, a process for quickly developing an original, complex, vivid story from a single idea. Meet Peter in person at StoryBoard on July 13, and find out more about his seminars, workshops, and online classes at How Movies Work (howmovieswork.com).