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
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.)

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 8 – Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods Meet ONLINE from 7:00-10:00 PM Pacific Time on March 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DA 5 BLOODS.

LOGLINE: Four aging Vietnam War veterans return to the country in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader, as well as the treasure they buried while serving there.

THE WRITERS: Da 5 Bloods began as a 2013 spec script titled The Last Tour by DANNY BILSON & PAUL DE MEO. Bilson & De Meo previously teamed up to pen 1991’s superhero film The Rocketeer for Disney. Together or separately, the two have also written for television (The Flash, Viper), comic books (The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, Red Menace), and video games (The Sims, Harry Potter, James Bond). Oliver Stone was attached to direct The Last Tour, but dropped out in 2016.

De Meo passed away in 2018, a year after SPIKE LEE began rewriting the script as Da 5 Bloods with KEVIN WILLMOTT, his co-writer on 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, for which they shared the Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Willmott’s other credits, as writer and director, include C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America and The 24th, which tells the true story of the Houston riot of 1917. Lee, who also directed Da 5 Bloods, has two Peabody awards, among many other accolades, and is best known for writing and directing Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, and his 1986 feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It, as well its 2017 Netflix series adaptation.

MATTHEW BILLINGSLY, whose 2008 Black List script, Code Name Veil, is still unproduced, contributed uncredited rewrites to what was to become Da 5 Bloods when the project was still with Oliver Stone. Billingsly was also hired to adapt the non-fiction book Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo, which is also still in development.

(registration deadline: Friday, March 5)

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

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.)

The late Chadwick Boseman (Marvel’s Black Panther), who posthumously won the Golden Globe award this year for Best Actor in a Drama for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, stars in Da 5 Bloods alongside Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty), Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Clarke Peters (The Wire), Broadway star Norm Lewis (The Phantom of the Opera), Isiah Whitlcok Jr. (The Wire), Melanie Thierry (One for the Road), and Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional).

Note: The film is currently available on Netflix, but 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.

Da 5 Bloods has over 150 nominations for industry and critics awards, with over 30 wins so far!

Rated R. 154 minutes. 127 pages (3/11/2019 salmon draft). Adventure. Drama. War.

A SPECIAL GUEST MODERATOR to be announced soon will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Please stay tuned!

August 10 – MULAN

Meet ONLINE on August 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay MULAN.

LOGLINE: The daughter of an ailing warrior disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in battle defending their country from a vengeful invader and a powerful witch.

THE WRITERS: The live-action epic is based on a 6th-century Chinese poem, which was the source for Disney’s 1998 animated feature. The update came about when unproduced screenwriters ELIZABETH MARTIN and LAUREN HYNEK heard BenderSpink producer Jake Weiner was looking for four-quadrant stories based on public domain IP. They got a meeting with him and pitched ten ideas; he picked Mulan. Sticking to the original Chinese story without referencing any Disney-owned elements, the duo turned in their spec script twelve weeks later, which Weiner sold to Disney in 24 hours. Disney then hired Rise of the Planet of the Apes scribes RICK JAFFA and AMANDA SILVER to rewrite the script, reincorporating some elements from the animated version. Jaffa & Silver also served as writers on Jurassic World and were involved in writing the two upcoming Avatar sequels for James Cameron.

(registration deadline: Friday, August 7)

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

Click the Register Now button for instructions.

Directed by New Zealander Niki Caro (Whale Rider), Mulan features an all-Asian cast including Liu Yifei (The Forbidden Kingdom) in the title role, Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Jason Scott Lee (The Jungle Book), Yoson An (Dead Lucky), Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha), Jet Li (The Expendables), Rosalind Chao (The Joy Luck Club), and Tzi Ma (The Farewell) as Mulan’s father.

The film had its Hollywood premiere on March 9, ahead of planned March 27 release. That release was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mulan has been rescheduled to open in theaters on August 21.

Rated PG-13. 115 minutes. 100 pages. Drama, Action/Adventure.

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.

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.

July 10 – Dunkirk

RegisterNow(registration deadline: Friday, July 7)

Meet on the Fox Studios backlot on July 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay DUNKIRK.

Logline: WWII Allied forces mount a mission to rescue 400,000 soldiers surrounded by the enemy after the Battle of Dunkirk.

Screenwriter: Writer-director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN gained acclaim for his second feature, Memento (2000), a noir thriller told in converging timelines as a man with short-term memory loss attempts to hunt down his wife’s killer. His Dark Knight trilogy has grossed more than $2.4 billion worldwide and his screenplays for Memento and Inception have both been nominated for Academy Awards. Dunkirk is his first film since 2014’s Interstellar, and his first film based on true events.

The film, which will be told from three perspectives (air, land, and sea) and will contain as little dialogue as possible, stars Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow in the Dark Knight trilogy), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and Harry Styles of One Direction in his acting debut.

Producers and Production Companies: As with all his films since Batman Begins, Nolan produced Dunkirk with his wife, Emma Thomas, through their London-based production company Syncopy, which also produced Man of Steel, on which Nolan shares a story credit.

Release Date: July 21 (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13. 107 minutes. 130 pages. Historical Drama, War, Action.

DANIEL P. CALVISI will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Dan is a story analyst, speaker, screenwriter, and the author of Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay, Story Maps: TV Drama, Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays, and Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He is a former Story Analyst for major studios like 20th Century Fox, Miramax, and New Line Cinema. He coaches writers, teaches webinars on writing for film and television with The Writers Store, and speaks at writing conferences and book signings. He lives in Los Angeles and holds a degree in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. To learn more about Story Maps and how you can work with Dan, visit ActFourScreenplays.com.