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.

January 9 – Miss Sloane

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, January 6)

Miss Sloane movie posterMeet on the Fox Studios backlot on December 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MISS SLOANE.

Logline: A ruthless lobbyist faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass gun control legislation.

First-time British screenwriter JONATHAN PERERA wrote Miss Sloane while working as an elementary schoolteacher in South Korea after a BBC News interview with corrupt D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff inspired him to explore the untapped milieu of the behind-the-scenes power players pulling the strings in American politics for his first-ever attempt at writing a screenplay. The original spec script found representation through a query letter and landed on the 2015 Black List. Perera is managed by Scott Carr of Management SGC and the script was repped by Peter Dodd and Carolyn Sivitz at UTA.

Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). Starring Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Dr. Who), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun), Michael Stuhlbarg (Trumbo, Steve Jobs), Mark Strong (The Imitation Game), and Sam Waterston (Law & Order).

Producers and Production Companies: Perera’s manager took the property to executive producer Patrick Chu at FilmNation (Arrival, The Founder) where Ben Browning (Passengers) produced alongside Kris Thykier (Kick-Ass) of Archery Pictures. EuropaCorp (Taken franchise), the France-based international distributor co-founded by Luc Besson (The Professional), picked up Miss Sloane for distribution after a bidding war in Toronto.

Release Date: Opened in limited release on November 25th, followed by a wide release on December 9th. 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. 132 minutes. 123 pages. Drama, Thriller, Political Thriller.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL 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.

December 12 – GOLD

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, December 9)

Gold (2016)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on December 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GOLD.

Logline: An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold in a treasure hunt story inspired by the 1996 Bre-X scandal, the most elaborate fraud in the history of mining.

Writers: PATRICK MASSETT & JOHN ZINMAN, the team who adapted the video game Tomb Raider into the massive 2001 hit Lara Croft movie that made Angelina Jolie an international superstar, were nominated for an Emmy and five WGA awards for their work on the series Friday Night Lights. More recently they have written for such shows as The Blacklist and The Chicago Code. Massett is a former actor who has appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Murphy Brown, and Quantum Leap.

Directed by Sephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic (2000), Gold stars Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Timothy Simons (Veep), Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek (2009)), and Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy).

Producers and Production Companies: Two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), who began developing the script in 2011 with the writers, executive produced the film with Michael Nozik (Haggis’s The Next Three Days, Syriana, Quiz Show) through their HWY 61 Films. Producers Teddy Schwarzman (The Imitation Game) and Ben Stillman provided financing through their Black Bear Pictures. McConaughey and the two writers also have producing credits.

Release Date: December 25 (TWC-Dimension).

Rated R. 121 minutes. 129 pages. Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Crime.

Lane Shefter-BishopLANE SHEFTER-BISHOP will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Currently the CEO of Vast Entertainment, the go-to book-to-screen company, producer/director Lane Shefter-Bishop has won numerous accolades for her work including an Emmy, six Telly awards, and the DGA Fellowship Award for Episodic Television. Lane holds a BA in Literature from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA in Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and began her career producing and directing projects at ABC, Showtime, HBO, and MTV. In 2016 she released her first book, Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Advice from the Front Lines of Hollywood. Follow @LaneShefterBish on Twitter.

November 14 – Nocturnal Animals

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, November 11)

Nocturnal Animals (Amy Adams)Meet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.

Logline: An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

Writers: Director and producer TOM FORD penned the script, based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by AUSTIN WRIGHT. Ford gained worldwide acclaim as a fashion designer before making his motion picture directorial debut in 2009 with A Single Man, which he also co-wrote. That film earned its star, Colin Firth, his first Oscar nomination. Novelist and literary critic Austin Wright died in 2003 at the age of 80. The only novel of his to be adapted for the screen to date, Tony and Susan was not successful in Wright’s lifetime. Released posthumously in the UK for the first time in 2010, the book finally found its audience and was re-released in the US to critical acclaim.

The stellar ensemble cast includes five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Big Eyes), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Demolition), Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Revolutionary Road), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Isla Fisher (Now You See Me, Confessions of a Shopaholic), Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Birth of a Nation), Laura Linney (The Big C), and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex).

Producers and Production Companies: As with A Single Man, Ford produced Nocturnal Animals through his production company, Fade to Black Films, again with Robert Salerno, whose other credits include 21 Grams and next year’s Going Places, a spin-off of The Big Lebowski.

Premiere: Venice Film Festival, September 2 (Grand Jury Prize winner). Also played at Toronto International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival.

Release Date: November 18 (L.A. & New York), November 23 (limited), December 9 (wide) (Focus Features).

Rated R. 115 minutes. 126 pages. Drama, Thriller.

Jeff KitchenJEFF 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.

October 10 – The Accountant

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, October 7)

The AccountantMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE ACCOUNTANT.

Logline: After a life spent un-cooking the books for the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations, a brilliant forensic accountant tries to go straight just as the US Treasury Department closes in on him and the body count starts to rise.

Screenwriter: The Accountant is the third feature writing credit for BILL DUBUQUE. In 2008, the newbie scribe won the PAGE International Screenwriter Award for Best Drama for his original spec script Confessions of a Headhunter, which premieres this month at the Toronto International Film Festival as The Headhunter’s Calling starring Alison Brie and Gerard Butler. Before that got made, Dubuque was hired to rewrite The Judge for Robert Downey Jr.’s production company, Team Downey, and director David Dobkin. The Judge became Dubuque’s debut writing credit in 2014 and earned an Academy Award nomination for Robert Duvall. The Accountant was on the 2011 Black List.

Ben Affleck (Argo, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) stars in the title role alongside Anna Kendrick (Twilight, Pitch Perfect), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) and John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun). The film was directed by Gavin O’Connor (Jane Got a Gun, Warrior).

Producers and Production Companies: The Accountant was produced by Lynette Howell for Electric City Entertainment (Captain Fantastic, Big Eyes, Blue Valentine) and Mark Williams for Zero Gravity Management. Williams also directed Dubuque’s other 2016 release, The Headhunter’s Calling. Zero Gravity (Beasts of No Nation, The Cooler) “is actively seeking talented writers with a unique voice and vision.”

Release Date: October 14 (Warner Bros.).

Rated R. 128 minutes. 113 pages. Drama, Crime, Thriller.

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. Visit SmartG.com or follow @smartgirlspr on Twitter.

September 12 – The Girl on the Train

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, September 9)

The Girl on the TrainMeet on the Fox Studios backlot for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

Logline: Obsessively fantasizing about the perfect couple that lives down the street from her ex-husband, a self-destructive woman finds herself entangled in a mystery that will forever alter the lives of all involved.

Writers: Based on a bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train was adapted by ERIN CRESSIDA WILSON, whose first produced screenplay, Secretary, won the 2002 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Her other credits include Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, Chloe (directed by Atom Egoyan), and Men, Women & Children (directed and co-written by Jason Reitman). The novel, written by PAULA HAWKINS, debuted in 2015 at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, remaining at the top for 16 weeks. Hawkins had previously released a string of less successful romantic comedy novels under the pen name Amy Silver before challenging herself to write darker material with The Girl on the Train, which has often been called “the next Gone Girl.”

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), The Girl on the Train stars Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Haley Bennett (The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven), Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive), Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy), Édgar Ramírez (Point Break), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and Laura Prepon (Orange Is the New Black).

Producers and Production Companies: DreamWorks Pictures acquired film rights to the novel in 2014. The film was produced by Marc Platt, former president of production for Orion, TriStar, and Universal, under his Marc Platt Productions banner. The former entertainment attorney’s other producing credits include the Legally Blonde franchise, Wanted, Drive, Bridge of Spies, and the Broadway musical Wicked.

Release Date: October 7 (Universal Pictures).

Rated R. 105 minutes. 100 pages. Drama, Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Lee JessupLEE JESSUP will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Born and raised in Israel, Jessup is a career coach for screenwriters whose clients include Golden Globe and Emmy nominated writers as well as emerging screenwriters just starting on their professional writing path. She previously ran development for a small production company and was product manager for Baseline’s ScriptShark coverage service. Her book Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide To A Screenwriting Career is a comprehensive guide with practical advice for aspiring and working screenwriters. Find out more at leejessup.com and follow Lee on Twitter (@LeeZJessup).

August 8 – SOLACE

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, August 5)

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

Logline: An FBI agent must work with a paranormal specialist to hunt a psychic serial killer.

Screenwriters: TED GRIFFIN is best known for writing the mega-hit heist movie Ocean’s Eleven. In 2011, he co-created the series Terriers for the FX cable network. Griffin’s other writing credits include a pair of con-man capers, Best Laid Plans and Matchstick Men, produced SEAN BAILEY, producer and co-screenwriter of Solace. Currently the president of production at Walt Disney Pictures, Bailey co-founded the production company LivePlanet in 2000 with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Chris Moore, with whom he produced Project Greenlight. Solace is Bailey’s only feature writing credit.

Originally intended as a sequel to Se7en, Solace is the English-language debut of Brazilian director Afonso Poyart (2 Rabbits). The film stars Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), Colin Farrell (Minority Report, The Lobster), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy, Watchmen), and Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch, Limitless).

Producers and Production Companies include Beau Flynn for the Flynn Picture Company (San Andreas, Hercules), Thomas Augsberger for Eden Rock Media (Mr. Brooks), Tripp Vinson (the producer whose Las Vegas bachelor party inspired The Hangover), and Venture Forth (Rock the Kasbah), with financing by Silver Reel’s Claudia Bluemhuber (Under the Skin, The Host) and FilmNation (The Founder).

Release Date: September 2 (Relativity).

Rated R. 101 minutes. 107 pages. Crime, Thriller, Mystery.

Diana LesmezDIANA LESMEZ will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Currently an independent writer, producer, and director for her company, The StoryMaker Entertainment, Diana’s screenwriting has placed her as a finalist in the Walt Disney Fellowship Program, Broad Humor Film Festival, and Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. Her vast background in the entertainment industry includes developing film projects for Atlantic Streamline (Igby Goes Down) and Patriot Pictures (Air Force One) and she has taught at the New York Film Academy and the Los Angeles Film School. Diana also offers pitching, producing, distribution, and marketing consulting services through her Bumptious Media Consulting banner. Follow her on Twitter (@DianaLesmez).