What kinds of scary movies does the King of Horror watch?
Stephen King is a maniac. He has not only written hundreds of published works, making him one of the most prolific writers of all time, but he has managed to scare the bejesus out of his readers for well over 40 years with his dark and twisted contemporary horror/sci-fi/fantasy works. But he’s not only renowned in the literary world. He has made an indelible mark in the film industry with 64 of his novels and short stories being adapted into some of the most iconic horror films in history, including Carrie and The Shining. (Fun fact: The Shawshank Redemption was adapted from his 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.)
It makes you wonder what kinds of scary movies catches the attention of such a well-respected and aptly nicknamed author like the King of Horror. Well, Fandor has put together a list of a bunch of his favorite spooky flicks in the video below:
Over the years, I have interviewed over 40 Black List screenwriters. This month, I am running a series featuring one topic per week related to the craft of writing.
This week: How do you understand and work with the concept of ‘theme’?
The diversity of responses among the Black List writers I have interviewed is fascinating. Monday we explored various articulations of what ‘theme’ is. Tuesday we looked at some writers who begin the story-crafting process with theme. Wednesday we hear from writers who discover theme during the writing process. Thursday we considered writers who carry a concern about theme: Not to come off as “preachy”. Today writers who emphasize the importance of theme being personal.
Stephanie Shannon: “Theme is really important to me. They emerged in my research– learning about what made “Alice in Wonderland” different from other children’s stories and learning about what was really special about Lewis Carroll and what was going on at Oxford at the time. In my research I found so many interesting things to mine in the story. I think I ended up embracing the themes that also meant something to me personally. Father/daughter relationships are an important theme with me. I think it was important to me that the theme not only serve the story but also was something that was close to my own heart personally. I think those are always the stories that I want to tell, that I’ll end up telling the best.”
Brian Duffield: “Usually it’s a theme I want to explore because it’s really locked into my head as a person, as something I’m going through or struggling or interested with, so even if I throw out the characters or genre surrounding that theme a dozen times, the theme stays intact because it’s an itch I need to scratch.”
Seth Lochhead: “I leave theme to my subconscious (I’ll let it come out as I pursue the more tangible elements of the story — although according to my previous answers, tangible doesn’t seem to be one of my writing pursuits). If I’m obsessed with something, if I’ve noticed something, some illness in the world, some crack in reality, I let it in and if it wants to come out in my work so be it.”
Spenser Cohen: “Movies are there to teach us about the human condition, what it’s like to be in difficult or impossible situations… Every writer has their own life experiences, their own point of view, so the way they see the world often dictates the theme.”
Geoff LaTulippe: “The good news is that, in talented writers, I think theme comes out organically. It’s not something you have to force. But it is something you have to consider, or why are you writing the fucking thing in the first place? Why bother?”
You are more likely to write an empowered script if you have an emotional connection to its themes.
You can also reverse this: If you can identify your points of emotional connection to a story, there’s a good chance some of its themes are to be found there.
For Part 1 of this week’s series with Black List writers, go here.
Over the years, I have interviewed over 40 Black List screenwriters. This month, I am running a series featuring one topic per week related to the craft of writing.
This week: How do you understand and work with the concept of ‘theme’?
The diversity of responses among the Black List writers I have interviewed is fascinating. Monday we explored various articulations of what ‘theme’ is. Yesterday we looked at some writers who begin the story-crafting process with theme. Today we hear from writers who discover theme during the writing process.
Eric Heisserer: “Theme. That’s something that I have such a hard time engineering. If I were given nothing but the tool of ‘Here’s the theme. Write something with this theme,’ that’s an impossible task for me. I can’t start a story with that. I can figure out later on, after I’ve written a story, what the theme is. I can’t start with that in the forefront of my brain. It doesn’t work for me as a storyteller. I think other people can. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for anybody else. I’m just saying it’s not how I’m wired.
James DiLapo: “I think theme is immensely important, but for me, it’s not always readily apparent when I begin the process. With ‘Devils At Play’ we were talking about the idea of redemption, that there can be angels and devils inside our own personalities and societies. That, for me, is the theme of the story, but I didn’t know it when I began. Eventually the story itself will tell you what the theme is.”
Nikole Beckwith: “I think it definitely evolves over time. I’m sure that there are things that I carry around with me while I’m writing and they emerge on their own, I don’t say, ‘I’m going to write something that explores identity.’ That’s all I do, immerse myself in it.”
Aaron Guzikowski: “Definitely that they emerge whenever I’m writing the story. I definitely think a little bit about it at the beginning, but usually it’s more after you’re writing the story, the theme just emerges. If it’s a story that’s working, then themes generally just start to bleed out of it, and they just present themselves to you. They just appear.”
Julia Hart: “My students would always get frustrated when we would talk about the themes that the author was using. They would always ask, ‘Did they really think about all this before they started writing it?’ And I don’t think that they do or I don’t think that good writers do. Of course when you’re writing a cohesive world the themes are going to rise out of it.”
Lisa Joy: “I don’t necessarily start with theme, but by the time I’m done — I always have one. And often, writing a script shows me what my theme is and allows me to deepen my own thinking on that theme. Writing becomes, in its own way, a philosophical investigation into theme. Sometimes I go back, once I understand the theme more fully and use it in the rewrite to enrich the scenes.”
Chris Borrelli: “If you don’t have a theme as you write, then you are writing blind… Sometimes the theme presents itself. Usually other themes present themselves as I write, and I’ve had a theme or two change as I write, but still become something I care about…I want to say. That’s the jumping off point for me…something I care about…something I want to say.”
Justin Marks: “I think theme comes very late in outlining. I don’t think it comes immediately at the beginning. I think at the beginning it’s a character that you really like, or it’s a hook that you want to figure out. I don’t think it becomes a movie, though, until you find that theme. Until it centers on some idea that is not specific to the plot. I think you need to know theme before you start writing dialogue. I think you need to know theme before you start writing scene work.”
Declan O’Dwyer: “Thematically, I try to be governed by what my character is telling me it should be and not what I’m deciding it is on the outset, because it will grow and it will change as they grow and change.”
Daniel Kunka: “For me, theme is usually something I find as I write through the first draft. I probably have a general idea when I start, but theme becomes the unifying factor as I go. I always work better sort of discovering it rather than coming up with something early in the process or even before I start writing pages. That’s not to say it’s not there, but I don’t consciously make the decision ‘this is my theme.’ I think theme is directly related to voice. A lot of my themes are similar, because those are the stories I want to tell. And it’s not planned, it just is. Because of that I’ll sort of trust my theme to tag along with me until I’m done with the first draft, then the second draft is when I’ll go back in and add a few lines here or there to highlight some things that will help take the piece to the level I want it.”
Brad Ingelsby: “I don’t like to go into a script saying, ‘I want to write a story about forgiveness,’ and then try to fit forgiveness into every single scene. That feels maudlin and a bit silly to try to imbue every scene with a theme. It feels like a homework assignment and it doesn’t allow for much discovery or revelation. After all, you’ve already told yourself what the movie is about. You’ve limited yourself. What I prefer to do is say, here’s a character. I like this character and I know the journey I’d like him or her to go on. And then I write that journey, that arc, and then I let the audience or reader decide what the theme is. Let them take what they want from the story. If you say a movie is about forgiveness, then an audience or a reader is only looking for that theme in the material and there’s no discovery. But if you present them with a character on a journey, they’re able to take away from that character and that journey what they want. It’s less limiting, I think. Stories mean different things to different people.”
Justin Kremer: “With ‘McCarthy,’ people have said things to me on the thematic level — “oh, I enjoyed this thematic element of the script” — and I’m surprised by it. Often, that thematic element wasn’t even something that was intentional on my part. Reading is obviously inherently subjective and people can take away so many different things from a work. As long as you have a strong character and a clear arc, it tends to come together organically. Look at a classic like The Godfather, it can be this intimate father son story or an epic about American capitalism and the American dream.”
And why is theme so bloody damn important? How about this:
Stephany Folsom: “I think when I first find an idea that I’m not like, ‘Oh, gosh, let’s find the theme in this.’ But as I go through my steps to see whether or not this idea is going to be something that can actually make a good movie, one of my steps is, ‘What is going to be the theme?’”
Jason Hellerman: “I think theme is super important, but I let myself find what I’m afraid to talk about, and I let my fears and my own inhibitions dictate the theme of what I need to get off my chest.”
Chris McCoy: “A story theme is tremendously important, because it’s what you’re trying to say with the work as a whole. If there’s no theme, there’s nothing holding the script together.”
And there’s this:
Justin Marks: “Look at how Chris Nolan writes. Everything is written to theme. Everything comes back to that. That’s what makes the Batman movies so great is that they’re always about theme. Every scene is about guiding itself towards theme. When you don’t know what a scene is supposed to be about, the answer is theme. Yeah. I think if you’re getting away from it, that’s when you ask, why doesn’t this scene feel right? Or, why doesn’t this sequence feel right? Or, why does the third act feel right? Oh yeah, because it has nothing to do with my theme. It has nothing to do with what I wanted this story to be about in the first place. If a script starts to meander beyond theme, I think you lose your reader. Because they start to wonder, ‘Why am I reading this? What am I getting from this story?’ You’re getting theme. If you don’t get it, you’re not going to read it.”
Trust the process: If you go in the story… if you engage your characters… if you live in, then reflect upon the narrative… the themes will emerge.
Use your themes as a touchstone: For everything including how you approach scenes to how you handle character relationships to how you write scene description, from big to small, themes can help you expand your understanding of your story and focus how you convey it emotional meaning to a script reader.
How about you? Do you discover theme in your writing? How is theme important to you in your writing?
For Part 1 of this week’s series with Black List writers, go here.
Now open for submission for October 8–14, 2017 intensive writers workshop.
From the good folks at the Black List:
We are very pleased to announce that the opt-in period is now open for our 2017 Black List Feature Screenwriters Lab.
The Black List will invite six to eight promising non-professional writers to a weeklong, intensive writers workshop in Los Angeles, CA from October 8–14, 2017. All writers involved in the Lab will workshop one feature screenplay through one-on-one sessions with screenwriting mentors and in peer workshops. The weeklong program will also include attendance at several story-related events including screenings and Q&As with professional screenwriters and dinner with lit agents and managers.
The selection process will work like this:
The opt-in period will close at midnight on Sunday, August 27, 2017. On Monday, August 28, 2017, up to fifteen writers will be invited, based on the strength of their scripts as determined by the Black List, to submit a professional resume and one-page personal statement due on Thursday, August 31, 2017. From those personal statements, Lab screenwriting mentors and the Black List will select six to eight writers to participate in the Lab. Finalists will be notified on September 5, 2017.
Evaluations purchased before midnight on Thursday, July 27, 2017 will be guaranteed consideration. Please note, purchase of an evaluation is not required for consideration to participate in The Feature Lab.
Air travel (coach class roundtrip flights within the continental United States) and accommodations will be provided by the Black List. If you are accepted into the Lab, you will be required to board in the provided accommodations for the duration of the program. The Feature Lab is a residential program.
Writers are also available to opt-in for the Sloan Fellowship being offered in 2017:
The Black List’s 2017 Sloan Foundation Fellow at the 4th Annual Black List Feature Screenwriters Lab will be a science- and technology-focused writer with a science-rooted feature screenplay. Mentoring opportunities for the Sloan Fellow will continue throughout the year following the Lab. Writers will have the opportunity to be considered for this fellowship by selecting the “Sloan Foundation Fellow” option during the opt-in process.
Writers applying for the Sloan Fellowship are encouraged to have a science advisor for the project. Scripts that are selected for the short list will be asked to submit the name and title of the advisor, a brief description of their scientific area of expertise, and a statement that he/or she has read the script and attests that it is accurate. Writers are encouraged to submit this information in advance of the short list announcement as well.
Beginning today, writers who meet the below criteria can opt their scripts into consideration for the Labs selection process during the uploading process or the “My Scripts” portion of the website:
You are the sole and exclusive author of the feature screenplay submitted for consideration.
You have not received more than $ 100K in aggregate to date as compensation for film or television writing work.
If selected on August 28, 2017 as one of the up to fifteen writers invited to submit a professional resume and one page personal statement for additional consideration, you will deliver that personal statement by noon PST on August 31, 2017.
If selected for participation in the Lab program on September 5, 2017, you are available to participate in the Lab program in Los Angeles, CA on October 8–14, 2017.
Needless to say, we are excited by this opportunity to continue the educational work of the Black List with this singular opportunity to highlight and support up-and-coming television and film writing talent.
If you have any questions about the process, please check out our FAQ.
Make a note of the August 27th deadline and don’t miss your chance. We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles this fall!
The Black List
This will be the 4th Black List Feature Screenwriters Lab to go along with 5 mini-labs hosted in 2015. I have been a mentor at each one and am happy to report I will be participating again at this year’s event. Mentors at previous labs include Jessica Bendinger, Max Borenstein, Stephany Folsom, Derek Haas, Eric Heisserer, Brian Koppelman, Graham Moore, Billy Ray, Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, and Beau Willimon.
To get a sense of how impactful these labs have been for participating writers, go here to read observations from past selectees.
To learn more about the 2017 Black List Feature Screenwriters Lab, go here.
Over the years, I have interviewed over 40 Black List screenwriters. This month, I will run a series featuring one topic per week related to the craft of writing.
This week: How do you develop your characters?
Reading through all of the responses was a fascinating exercise. Once again, this group of writers demonstrates there is no one way to approach the craft. Their respective approaches to developing their story’s characters vary from highly intuitive, even instinctual to the conscious use of specific techniques and writing exercises. In all cases, the goal is the same: To make the characters come alive in the writer’s imagination and onto the printed page.
On Monday, we featured writers who start their character development process by focusing on real people. Tuesday writers zeroed in on brainstorming and the importance of asking questions about and to characters. Yesterday we checked in with writers who use biographies as a tool for character development. Today we see how some Black List writers use scene-writing to find a character’s voice:
Ashleigh Powell: “For me, how my characters speak informs a lot about who they are and how they see the world. Really nailing down that voice helps me shape their character traits from there.”
Spenser Cohen: “One thing that I do when I first start writing is to put the outline aside and just start trying to find the character’s voice. I’ll give myself space to explore, and I just let the characters go. No one’s going to see it. No one’s going to read it. There’s no pressure. It’s their story, and I let whatever happens, happen. I’ll often make up a scene that’s not in the outline and might not even make sense for the story… It’s almost like a rehearsal before you jump in and start doing the real work. Just exploring. Often in these rough passes the characters start to take shape.”
Julia Hart: “Just through writing the scenes of their dialogue. I write a ton and then I’ll cut a bunch of it out. I’ll write like seven lines where there needs to be one and just cut around that one right line and keep going. I find their voices by having them say too much, by writing down every thought that would be in their head and then cutting off the fat.”
No matter the writing, the goal is to get inside the character’s head:
Eric Heisserer: “If I need to develop the character further, typically that’s the harder work of trying to figure out what part of the story I’m not writing about. If I have to…and I hate it, but I’ve had to do this before…I will write act zero — what happens to a character before the story in my script begins — so I have a deeper understanding of where this character came from.”
James DiLapo: “Whenever I struggled with lines in “Devils At Play” I would stop and would run the whole story in my head from the character’s perspective, trying to feel what they are feeling and thinking how they would. It’s not always easy. I think that’s probably the hardest element of screenwriting. You have to find a way to stretch beyond your own understanding and become, for a moment, someone who is so foreign to the way you live your life. In my experience, however, the more you do it, the better you get at it.”
Feel free to write free. Free-standing scenes. Free-standing monologues. Give yourself “space to explore”. Write down “every thought” the character has and see what sticks.
For some writers, a character’s personality may shape their voice, however the inverse can work, too. Nailing down their voice can “shape” their character traits.
Do what you need to do to get inside their head. Feel what “they are feeling.” Think how “they would.” Write “act zero,” exploring what happened to the character before FADE IN. To riff off the name of this blog… go into the characters.
How about you? Do you write free-standing scenes to explore your characters? How do you go about finding a character’s voice? What do you do to get inside their head?
For Part 1 of this week’s series on character development, go here.
Posted to Twitter on Friday by Russia’s deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, the video shows the country’s space robot FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) accurately shooting twin pistols in a scene chillingly similar to images from The Terminator.
But rather than being displayed as a not-so-subtle warning to the entire human population of the planet, Rogozin instead claims via Facebook that it’s just a demonstration of the robot’s dexterity and use of algorithms to execute tasks. Read more…
Spring is the season for new life—and new grant opportunities.
Green is underfoot, which means green dollar bills could soon be at the end of your grant application! Below, find all the opportunities that grantmakers are offering up this Spring 2017.
There’s something for everyone on this list. The opportunities are organized by deadline, from late March through early June, and by category: documentaries, narratives, new media, and screenwriting. If you’re looking for a head-start on a different granting season, check out our most recent summer grants, fall grants, and winter grants roundups.
Note: An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative.
As always, use your best judgment when deciding to apply.
Reflections of writers who participated in 2013–2016 Black List labs.
Since 2013, the Black List has hosted 9 screenwriting labs. Recently Kate Hagen, director of community at @theblcklst, reached out to the writers who have participated in the labs to see how things are going. Quite well, as it turns out. Here are links to those reports:
Scripts optioned. Writers signing with reps. TV staff writing positions. Movies made. Nicholl winner. Lots of wonderful stories and in general, great to see the creative spirit flowing from these talented individuals.
I’m proud to have been a mentor at every single Black List writing lab event along with some incredible screenwriters who took time from their busy schedules to work with the lab participants.
To learn more about the various Black List writing opportunities, go here.
How many of these books on filmmaking have you read?
There are many ways to learn the craft of filmmaking, not the least of which is good, old-fashioned book reading. But sifting through the massive titles to find ones that are any good can be a challenge, which is why this video from filmmaker JP Caldeano of Cinematic J is so helpful. In it, he lists five fantastic and well-received books that are definitely worth reading if you want to up your cinematography, screenwriting, or directing game. Check it out below:
Here are the books Caldeano names in the video:
Cinematography: Theory and Practice by Blain Brown
Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy
Screenplay by Syd Field
The Filmmaker’s Eye by Gustavo Mercado
Film Directing Shot by Shot by Steven D. Katz
Let’s just get this out of the way right now—Syd Field’s Screenplay—some of you hate it, some of you love it. Suffice it to say that some people learn a lot from the book while others don’t. Let’s leave it at that. (Jeez…screenplay book drama.)
Every year since I launched the blog in 2008, I do a week-long analysis of the recent year in terms of spec script deals. This week, we look back at 2016.
First, my usual caveat: Tracking spec script deals is not an exact science. To make the blog’s list, there almost always has to be some sort of article in the press verifying a deal, but even then that can get dicey because the term “spec script” is itself rather amorphous in meaning.
In the broadest terms, it applies to any deal made for a script written ‘speculatively,’ that is for no fees, just the writer’s own sweat equity with the hope of making a sale. Seems simple enough, but there is a lot of gray area:
Some deals get announced that are in effect handshake, no money arrangements.
Some deals are by professional writers with a preexisting relationship with a production group or studio, so that a tacit agreement was in place for the project from the get-go, even if nothing official until the script comes in.
Some deals are scripts that have been circulating for many months, even years in the process of being packaged, then finally get announced when the project receives a green light.
Some deals are option arrangements for as little as $ 5–10K, not what we typically associate with spec script sales (i.e., six figures).
There is no way to determine by any objective standard the precise number of spec script deals in any given year. However since I have been using the same sources of information and standards in tracking deals, it is possible to track trends as well as have at least some idea of what projects got set up in a twelve-month period.
Each day this week, I will provide analysis of the 2016 spec script deals:
Thursday: Agents & Managers
Friday: Top Sales
Saturday: First Timers
Here is the entire list of 75 spec script deals from 2016 including links to my blog posts covering each acquisition:
1. Title: Bury the Lead Logline: A talented journalist who, in his life-long quest for a Pulitzer Prize, fabricates the truth to create a compelling murder story. When his concocted conspiracy becomes real, right and wrong become entangled as he fights for his safety, career and family before time runs out. Writer: Justin Kremer Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: CAA Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Elston Films Date: 1/20/16 Notes: 2013 Black List script.
2. Title: Leverage Logline: Set in the summer of 1974, it wraps a murder mystery around the beginnings of modern Wall Street mergers-and-acquisitions hustlers evident in films like The Wolf Of Wall Street. Writer: Oliver Kramer Genre: Drama Management: Oasis Media Group Buyer: FilmNation Date: 2/4/16 Notes: Bought amid competitive situation.
3. Title: Smoke on the Water Logline: Set in the world of offshore boat racing, open water drug smuggling and the U.S. Coast Guard–exploring the “nautical narcotic highway” from Cuba to Key West. Writers: Trey Callaway, Rick Parks Genre: Action Agency: CAA Management: Rain Management Group, Silvera Management Prod Co: Thunder Road Date: 2/5/16.
4. Title: Horizon Line Logline: Follows a couple on a small airplane which loses its way over the Pacific Ocean. Writers: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken Genre: Thriller Agency: UTA Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Svensk Filmindustri Date: 2/10/16
5. Title:Malpractice Logline: In the vein of “Taken” meets “The Fugitive.” Writer: Tyler Marceca Genre: Thriller Agency: WME Management: Anonymous Content Buyer: Endurance Productions Date: 2/10/16 Notes: Option deal. Writer made the 2012 Black List.
6. Title: Burnt Offering Logline: Described as “Prisoners” meets “Silence of the Lambs” Writer: Tyler Marceca Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: WME Management: Anonymous Content Buyer: Armory Films Date: 2/10/16 Notes: Option deal. Writer made the 2012 Black List. This is his 2nd spec script deal of 2016.
7. Title: Miami, PI Logline: A young PI with a checkered past teams up with an ex-model/hot mess to solve the murder of a young girl in Miami. As they navigate the sleazy underbelly of Miami and follow leads pertaining to the murder, they find themselves in way over their heads as they begin to uncover clues linking a high-powered figure to a far-reaching conspiracy. Writer: Michael Diliberti Genre: Detective Drama Agency: WME Buyer: Endurance Media Date: 2/11/16 Notes: Writer made the 2011 Black List. Slated to direct the movie.
8. Title: Battle of New Orleans Logline: One of the greatest untold stories in American history featuring General and future President, Andrew Jackson, who reluctantly partners with world-renowned pirate Jean Lafitte to lead a ragtag team of soldiers against the indomitable British Army in the climactic battle of the War of 1812. Writer: Daniel Kunka Genre: Historical War Drama Agency: ICM Partners Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Endurance Media Date: 2/11/16 Notes: Writer made the 2014 Black List.
9. Title: Set It Up Logline: Two overworked assistants with nasty bosses try to get their supervisors out of their hair, by setting them up romantically. Writer: Katie Silberman Genre: Romantic Comedy Agency: CAA Buyer: MGM Date: 2/19/16.
10: Title: Samaritan Logline: 20 years after an epic battle left a city’s supervillain dead and its superhero missing, a young boy befriends the old man across the alleyway and as their relationship develops, the boy comes to believe the man is the hero in hiding. The truth, however, proves to be more shocking than the boy could have ever imagined. Writer: Bragi F. Schut Genre: Drama Agency: Verve Management: Realm Buyer: Bold Films Date: 2/18/16.
11. Title: Bravado Logline: The protagonist is a former soldier who believes the world is a good place and worth fighting for, but his optimism is tested in the most dramatic way possible after he returns home from the war and takes a job as a police officer. Writer: BenDavid Grabinski Genre: Action Agency: UTA Management: Kaplan/Perrone Buyer: Paramount Date: 3/3/16. Notes: Ticking clock offer and preemptive deal.
12. Title: Intrusion Logline: A woman moves with her husband to a small town in Maine after a cancer scare and becomes the victim of a strange home invasion. She begins to uncover a darkness underneath her seemingly idyllic new life. Writer: Chris Sparling Genre: Thriller Agency: UTA Management: Kaplan/Perrone Buyer: Good Universe Date: 3/15/16.
13. Title: The Caretaker Logline: Set in the future amid a violent robot uprising that pits man against machine, The Caretaker follows a life-like female android who chooses to protect a young girl. The bond forged along the journey to reunite the girl with her missing father may be the only thing that can stem the tide of war. Writer: Duncan Samarasinghe Genre: Science Fiction Thriller Agency: UTA Management: Old Soul Entertainment Buyer: Screen Gems Date: 3/16/16. Notes: Script was a 2014 Nicholl semifinalist.
14. Title: Bubbles Logline: The story of Michael Jackson’s life and history from the perspective of the pet Chimp which got a close-up view after being adopted by Jackson from an Austin, Texas research facility and given residence at the Neverland Ranch in 1983. Writer: Isaac Adamson Genre: Biopic Comedy Agency: CAA Management: Lee Stobby Buyer: End Cue Date: 3/18/16. Notes: To be produced by Dan Harmon as a stop-motion animated feature.
15. Title: Bright Logline: Contemporary cop thriller, but with fantastical elements. Writer: Max Landis Genre: Thriller Agency: WMEManagement: Writ Large Buyer: Netflix Date: 3/19/16. Notes: Sale price for screenplay: $ 3M. Part of a $ 90M package deal including Will Smith and Joel Edgerton to star, David Ayer to direct.
16. Title: Mid ’90s Logline: Follows a young boy coming up in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s learning life lessons with his skateboarding crew of friends. Writer: Jonah Hill Genre: Drama Agency: WME Management: LBI Entertainment Buyer: A24 Date: 3/30/16.
17. Title: Done It All Logline: A biopic of musician Merle Haggard’s life. Writer: Cliff Hollingsworth Genre: Biopic Drama Agency: N/A Management: N/A Prod Co: GMH Productions Date: 4/12/16. Notes: An option deal.
18. Title: Deeper Logline: Involves a former astronaut hired to take a submersible to the lowest point in the ocean. As the submersible gets closer to its destination, supernatural events transpire. Writer: Max Landis Genre: Action Supernatural Agency: WME Management: Writ Large Buyer: MGM Date: 4/12/16. Notes: Bradley Cooper attached to star.
19. Title: Stuber Logline: Takes place over one harrowing night in the life of an Uber driver named Stu. Writer: Tripper Clancy Genre: Action Comedy Agency: UTA Management: Benderspink Buyer: Twentieth Century Fox Date: 4/15/16. Notes: Reported mid-six figure deal.
20. Title: Women In Business Logline: The film, centers on two competitive women who are sent on a business trip to Canada. There, they hire a third woman off Craigslist to act as their intern, which derails their trip. Writer: Laura Steinel Genre: Comedy Agency: UTA Management: Principato-Young Entertainment Buyer: Twentieth Century Fox Date: 4/21/16. Notes: Bidding war. Emma Stone, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell attached to star.
21. Title: Man Alive Logline: Described as elevated science fiction Writer: Joe Greenberg Genre: Science Fiction Agency: Verve Management: Benderspink Buyer: Twentieth Century Fox Date: 4/22/16. Notes: Writer is a first-timer. Deal reported to be for six figures.
22. Title: Couple Up Logline: A married couple, verging on divorce, wishes they had never met. In an It’s A Wonderful Life-type scenario, they see what life would have been like had they never gotten together. Writer: Joshua Friedlander Genre: Fantasy Drama Agency: Paradigm Management: Industry Entertainment Buyer: Lionsgate Date: 4/22/16. Notes: Bidding is described as having been a “competitive situation”.
23. Title: Exposure Logline: Rosalind Franklin, an extraordinary scientist, is an expert at crystallography and takes the first photos that eventually lead James Watson to figure out the structure of the DNA in 1953. She never gets the credit she deserves and dies of cancer in 1958. Writers: Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi Genre: Drama Biography Agency: ICM Partners Management: Stagecoach Entertainment Buyer: Entertainment One Films International Date: 4/29/16. Notes: Auction that had studios in the competitive mix.
24. Title: Victim 321Logline: A jaded Chicago homicide detective wakes up in the body of an ex-con three days before his murder. He has 72 hours to unravel the conspiracy behind the victim’s death, or he’ll meet his own demise. Writer: Michael McGrale Genre: Thriller Agency: CAA Management: Craig Cook Buyer: Millennium Films Date: 5/4/16.
25. Title: Untitled Angela Davis Project Logline: Suspected 60s radical Angela Davis, accused of conspiracy in the murder of a federal judge, became the first woman on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, became an iconic symbol of an era. After fleeing from authorities, she is eventually captured and must exonerate herself from an all white jury during the racially turbulent early 1970’s. Writer: LaToya Morgan Genre: Biopic Agency: CAA Management: Echo Lake Buyer: The Firm. Date: 5/5/16.
26. Title: The Last Days of Night Logline: The miracle of electric light is in its infancy. Thomas Edison has won the race to the patent office and is suing his only remaining rival, George Westinghouse, for the unheard of sum of one billion dollars. To defend himself, Westinghouse makes a surprising choice in his attorney: He hires an untested twenty-six-year-old fresh out of Columbia Law School named Paul Cravath. The task facing Cravath is beyond daunting. Edison proves to be a formidable, wily, and dangerous opponent. Yet this young, unknown attorney shares with his famous opponent a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it? As he takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem. Writer: Graham Moore Genre: Historical Drama Agency: CAA Management: Think Tank Management Buyer: Black Bear Pictures Date: 5/10/16. Notes: Auction. Moore wrote the script on spec adapting his own book which is to be published in the fall.
27. Title: The Gun Show Logline: An action comedy in the vein of Ride Along meets Demolition Man, the spec focuses on a famous top cop who wakes up 20 years after a shootout and gets reinstated to solve the case that killed his old partner. He’s a bull in a china shop, as 2016 is a very different time than the 1990s world he was used to. To teach him the ropes, he’s paired with his old partner’s son, who is a risk averse traffic cop. Writer: Lucas Carter Genre: Action Comedy Management: Echo Lake Entertainment Buyer: Paramount Pictures Date: 6/2/16.
28. Title: 17 Bridges Logline: The thriller follows a disgraced detective in the NYPD who is given a shot at redemption. Thrust into a citywide manhunt for a cop killer, he begins to undercover a massive conspiracy that links his fellow cops to a criminal empire and must decide who he is hunting and who is actually hunting him. During the manhunt, Manhattan is completely locked down for the first time in its history — no exit or entry to the island including all 17 bridges. Writer: Adam Mervis Genre: Thriller Agency: Paradigm Management: Grandview Buyer: STX Entertainment Date: 6/2/16.
29. Title: Burn Run Logline: When an intelligence leak dangerously exposes a covert mission in Afghanistan, a grieving CIA operative and his translator must find their way out of the desert, outgunned and hunted by elite special forces. Writer: Mitchell LaFortune Genre: Action Agency: Paradigm Buyer: Thunder Road Pictures Date: 6/6/16. Notes: Writer is a former Army sergeant and intelligence analyst with the 82nd Airborne Division.
30. Title: Backward Falling Logline: A man and a woman who fall in love as they literally fall backward through time, sometimes landing in the same time period and sometimes losing one another for years. They struggle to stay together while trying to understand what is happening to them and why. Writers: Byron Willinger, Phillip De Blasi Genre: Science Fiction Romance Agency: Verve Buyer: Storyscape Entertainment Date: 6/8/16. Notes: Low-six figure deal.
31. Title: Reason of StateLogline: A taut political thriller unfolding over 24 hours inside one of the world’s most famous addresses: 10 Downing Street. Writer: Matthew Orton Genre: Political Thriller Agency: WME, The Agency Management: Grandview Buyer: Black Bear Pictures Date: 6/10/16. Notes: 2nd spec script sale by Orton.
32. Title: Do No HarmLogline: An ambitious surgeon’s life takes a dangerous turn when she indulges in an a air with a doctor whose god complex challenges her own. Writer: Julia Cox Genre: Thriller Agency: APA Management: Allison Doyle Buyer: Paramount Pictures Date: 6/17/16. Notes: Script made the 2015 Black List.
33. Title: Moonfall Logline: An unlikely band of misfits must unite to save humanity when the moon falls out of orbit and hurtles towards earth. Writers: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, Spenser Cohen Genre: Science Fiction Agencies: CAA, WME Buyer: Universal Pictures Date: 6/24/16. Notes: Seven figure deal.
34. Title:Trigger Warning Logline: The script is described as a female First Blood with John Wick thrown in for good measure, where the reluctant heroine reveals herself in a small town. Writers: John Brancato, Josh Olson Genre: Action Agencies: Paradigm, Claire Best & Associates Management: The Gotham Group Buyer: Thunder Road Pictures Date: 6/23/16.
35. Title: MaryLogline: A struggling family buys an old ship at auction with high hopes of starting a charter business, only to discover her horrifying secrets on the isolated open waters. Writer: Anthony Jaswinski Genre: Thriller Agency: Paradigm Management: Circle of Confusion Buyer: Tooley Productions Date: 6/24/16. Notes: Competitive bidding situation.
36. Title: Porter RockwellLogline: The story is set in the Utah territory during the mid-1800s gold rush. Rockwell, who became a U.S. Deputy Marshal, reluctantly leads a family of prospectors into the mountains, where they are ambushed and he is left for dead. Fueled by vengeance, Rockwell treks through rugged and snowy terrain to hunt down the gang that kidnapped a rebellious young girl. Writer: Antonio Macia Genre: Period Western Agency: Paradigm Management: Management 360 Buyer: Hyperion Media Group Date: 6/29/16.
37. Title: The Fall Logline: In the midst of an alien invasion, a freshly divorced couple must survive a dangerous real-time journey on foot from downtown Atlanta to the suburbs, where their young children are home alone. Writer: Pete Bridges Genre: Science Fiction Agency: Verve Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Amblin Entertainment Date: 7/7/16. Notes: Writer is from Australia.
38. Title: Besties Logline: A woman finds a long-lost love note then sets off on a road trip with her three best friends to break up the wedding of her childhood crush. Writers: Cassie Daniels, Mark Bartosic Genre: Comedy Agency: Paradigm Buyer: DreamWorks Date: 7/22/16. Notes: Bidding war, low-to-mid-six figures.
39. Title: The Wedding Year Logline: A female millennial who isn’t sure she is the marrying type has her relationship and commitment issues put to the test when she is invited to 15 weddings in the same goddamn year. Writer: Donald Diego Genre: Romantic Comedy Agency: WME Management: Think Tank Management Buyer: Lakeshore Entertainment Date: 8/4/16.
40. Title: Red Widow Logline: The story follows superspy Sara Drake, who traded in her legendary career for a normal life eight years earlier and went completely off the grid. Forced back into action after a rogue special ops team murders her husband, Drake embarks on a bloody quest for vengeance that leads to the highest rungs of government, uncovering a secret that could shake the foundations of American democracy. Writer: Matt Altman Genre: Spy Thriller Agency: APA Management: Parallax Talent Management Buyer: STX Entertainment Date: 8/5/16. Notes: Competitive bidding.
41. Title: Genesis Logline: Story details are being kept under wraps, but the script is being described as a sci-fi thriller with action elements Writer: Andrew Baldwin Genre: Science Fiction Thriller Agency: CAA Management: Anonymous Content Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 8/9/16. Notes: Writer has had two Black List scripts: 2008 and 2011.
42. Title: The Ridge Logline: The Battle of Takur Ghar and the daring rescue of a fallen Navy Seal behind enemy lines Writer: Joel Carpenter Genre: Action Drama Agency: N/A Management: N/A Production Company: Imprint Entertainment Date: 8/9/16. Notes: Based on the memoir “Two Wars”.
43. Title: Ida Tarbell Logline: The script follows Tarbell as she digs into the Rockefeller oil empire through public documents to unearth the truth behind Standard Oil. Rockefeller would find himself against a formidable foe, the 45-year-old teacher and journalist Tarbell, who later also would pen a profile of the businessman. Tarbell’s exposé ended up not only changing the way others thought about journalism but also put a microscope on Rockefeller’s vast empire. Writer: Mark McDevitt Genre: Period Drama Agency: UTA Management: Think Tank Management Buyer: Amazon Studios Date: 8/15/16 Notes: 2015 Black List script.
44. Title: Life Itself Logline: A multi-generational love story that weaves together a number of characters whose lives intersect over the course of decades from the streets of New York to the Spanish countryside and back. Writer: Dan Fogelman Genre: Drama Romance Agency: WME Management: Management 360 Buyer: FilmNation Entertainment Date: 8/16/16. Notes: Competitive auction.
45. Title: The Ark Logline: An engineer who, after the death of his wife, has a vision to construct a ship capable of sustaining life in space. When the build happens to coincide with the coming end of the world, the engineer realizes there may be a larger story at play. Writer: Daniel Kunka Genre: Drama Agency: ICM Partners Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: NBC Date: 8/27/16. Notes: Kunka is a two-time Black List writer.
47. Title: Civil War Logline: The true story of the bitter battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973, which became a hotbed of dispute for both sides of the gender equality movement that continues to this day. Writer: David Kukoff Genre: Drama Agency: ESA Management: Peter Heller Buyer: FilmNation Date: 9/6/16.
48. Title: Inner CityLogline: Described as Michael Clayton meets The Verdict, Gilroy’s new flick follows Roman J. Israel (Denzel Washington), a liberal lawyer in Los Angeles. For years people have taken credit for his hard work, but when the partner at his firm has a heart attack, he becomes the new front man. This leads him to discover less-than-moral actions the firm has taken over the years and what to do going forward. Writer: Dan Gilroy Genre: Legal Thriller Agency: CAA Buyer: Sony Pictures Entertainment Date: 9/22/16. Notes: Denzel Washington attached.
49. Title: American Rebel Logline: Based on the true story of Deborah Sampson, who risked her life during the Revolutionary War by disguising herself as a man and joining the Continental Army. Writer: Christopher Cosmos Genre: Historical Drama Agency: Paradigm Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Pascal Pictures Date: 9/23/16. Notes: High six figures. First timer.
50. Title: Untitled Talk Show Project Logline: A late-night talk show host who’s at risk of losing her long-running show hires her first female writer. Writer: Mindy Kaling Genre: Comedy Agency: CAA Management: 3 Arts Entertainment Buyer: Fox 2000 Date: 9/28/16. Notes: Emma Thompson attached to star.
51. Title: The Silver Arrow Logline: An international heist thriller about a group of thieves in the search of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow, a legendary pre-World War II racing car. Writer: Nika Agiashvili Genre: Heist Thriller Agency: N/A Management: N/A Buyer: Green-Light International Date: 9/28/16. Notes: Six figure deal.
52. Title: Operation Prince of Freedom Logline: A group of ragtag Marines are attacked by a Taliban insurgency while escorting a politically incorrect C&W star across Afghanistan. Things take an unexpected turn when the Marines and Taliban alike are forced to unite against an invasion of alien bugs. Writers: Michael Kvamme, Jordan Dunn Genre: Comedy Agency: Verve Management: Mosaic Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 9/29/16.
53. Title: Federal Offense Logline: Three best friends lose a drug kingpin’s stash before finding themselves on the lam from gangsters, bounty hunters and the law after breaking their foul-mouthed grandfather out of his nursing home. Writer: Connor Martin Genre: Comedy Agency: APA Buyer: Boundless Pictures Date: 10/3/16. Notes: First-time writer.
54. Title: The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High YoLogline: A family man in the midst of a midlife crisis embarks on what he hopes will be a dream sailing vacation. He ends up shipwrecked in the Atlantic Ocean with a charming but unhinged sea captain who is off his meds. Writer: Ben Bolea Genre: Adventure Comedy Agency: WME Management: Bellevue Productions Buyer: LD Entertainment Date: 10/7/16. Notes: Mid-six figures.
55. Title: Silent Night Logline: It’s 1941 in Berlin — the heart of the escalating Nazi empire — as a brutal serial killer roams the blacked-out streets, targeting young women. Determined to keep the nation focused on the war effort, Nazi leadership tasks homicide detective Alex Lang with tracking down the murderer. Writer: James Luckard Genre: Drama Thriller Management: Pacific View Management Buyer: Fox International Productions Date: 10/14/16. Notes: Writer is a first-timer.
56. Title: The Price of Liberty Logline: An American diplomat in Kazakhstan after the fall of the Soviet Union discovers a massive stock of enriched uranium, and it’s a race against time to get it out of the country before potential terrorists get to it first. Writer: Michael Russell Gunn Genre: Drama Thriller Management: Principato-Young Entertainment Agency: WME Buyer: Participant Media Date: 10/18/16. Notes: Based on a true story.
57. Title: Northeast Kingdom Logline: When a vigilant and determined young woman witnesses the betrayal and murder of her father during a smuggler’s drop, she calls in the help of a mysterious female assassin to seek revenge against all those responsible. Writer: Alex R. Johnson Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: Gersh Management: Zero Gravity Management Buyer: Paramount Date: 10/24/16.
59. Title: Hummingbird Logline: A female black-ops assassin discovers she’s more than just a hired gun but an entirely new breed of weapon. Writer: John McClain Genre: Action Agency: UTA Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: Fundamental Films Date: 10/27/16. Notes: First time writer.
60. Title: The Post Logline: Script deals with the Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and how the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenged the federal government over their right to publish them. Writer: Liz Hannah Genre: Historical Drama Management: Echo Lake Entertainment Buyer: Pascal Pictures Date: 10/31/16. Notes: First time writer.
61. Title: YubaLogline:Yuba is a gritty Western with two main characters, set in the Gold Rush era. At that time, the Yuba river valley often was cited as the most lawless lands of the Old West. Writer: Eamon O’Sullivan Genre: Western Drama Agency: UTA Management: Energy Entertainment Buyer: Netflix Date: 11/2/16. Notes: Writer is a first-timer.
62. Title: Furby Logline: Centers on Furbys, owl-like creatures with speaking capabilities in dozens of languages. Writers: Daniel Persitz and Devon Kliger Genre: Family Comedy Agency: WME Buyer: The Weinstein Company Date: 11/4/16. Notes: Based on the Hasbro toy line.
63. Title: Palmer Logline: An ex-con returns to his hometown and forms an unlikely bond with a young boy abandoned by his junkie mother. Writer: Cheryl Guerriero Genre: Drama Management: Heroes and Villains Entertainment Buyer: Route One Entertainment Date: 11/8/16. Notes: This is an option deal.
64. Title: Turned On Logline: A brilliant but awkward engineer creates an android to fill in for her in life’s difficult situations. But things soon spiral out of control when the robot self-actualizes. Writer: Charlie Kesslering Genre: Comedy Agency: CAA Management: Mosaic Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 11/10/16. Notes: Kesslering was an assistant to James Corden. Paul Feig producing.
65. Title: Free Guy Logline: A bank teller stuck in his routine discovers he’s a background character in a realistic, open-world action-adventure video game and he is the only one capable of saving the world. Writer: Matt Lieberman Genre: Action Comedy Agency: WME Management: Madhouse Entertainment Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 11/15/16.
66. Title: Holland, Michigan Logline: A Midwestern housewife suspects her husband is having an affair. As she peels back the surface of her seemingly perfect life, she learns her husband might be leading a dark, secret life. Writer: Andrew Sodroski Genre: Thriller Dark Comedy Agency: CAA Management: Pacific View Management Buyer: Amazon Studios Date: 11/15/16. Notes: Script topped the 2013 Black List.
67. Title: Countdown Logline: A boy fascinated by space travel recruits his friends and an eccentric NASA engineer to hatch an unbelievable plan to try and save his dying father. Writer: Steve Altiere Genre: Science Fiction Agency: APA Management: Hung Entertainment Group Buyer: Electric Entertainment Date: 11/16/16.
68. Title: Scarletville Logline: When a deadly criminal shows up in the deceptively-quiet, small town of Scarletville, a diner owner named Hank must spin a series of dark and twisted stories in order to delay the felon long enough for the law to arrive. Writer: Jason Young Genre: Thriller Agency: Paradigm Management: Circle of Confusion Buyer: Centropolis Entertainment Date: 11/23/16. Notes: Young is a 2016 Black List Feature Writers Lab participant. His script was discovered off the Black List website. He is also a Screenwriting Master Class alumnus.
69. Title: Love in the Time of Dick Pics Logline: A romantic comedy about the illusion of choice — and just how hard it is to find the right person in a sea of options that range from polite, to lewd, to nude. Writer: Nicole Larson Genre: Romantic Comedy Agency: ICM Partners Management: Levity Entertainment Group Buyer: Sony Pictures Entertainment Date: 11/23/16.
70. Title: The Englishman Logline: Set in the shadowy underworld of the Stasi, East Germany’s infamous Ministry for State Security, an ambitious young Stasi officer is handed his chance to advance within the system by unmasking “The Englishman,” a peerless assassin whose identity is unknown to even those who hire him. Writer: Luke Garrett Genre: Drama Thriller Agency: ICM Partners Buyer: Working Title Date: 12/7/16.
71. Title: Highway One Logline: A single mother, a retired soldier who returned from Afghanistan with combat skills as well as injuries and PTSD, must resort to extreme measures when her daughter is kidnapped during a cross country trip they take to start a new life. Writer: Anthony Jaswinski Genre: Action Thriller Agency: Paradigm Management: Circle of Confusion Buyer: DreamWorks Date: 12/7/16.
72. Title: The Aeronauts Logline: based on the true story of balloon pilot Amelia Wren and scientist James Glaisher who, in 1862, embark on an extraordinary journey to discover the secrets of the heavens. In the process, they fly higher in an open balloon than anyone ever has — either before or since. They make breathtaking discoveries, but as they ascend to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, they are forced into an epic fight for survival. Writer: Jake Thorne Genre: Action Adventure Agency: WME Buyer: Amazon Studios Date: 12/8/16 Notes: at least six companies vied for the project. Amazon came out on top with what is believed to be a potential seven-figure deal.
73. Title: The State Logline: The script is an international action thriller about a father in a desperate race to rescue his son. Writers: Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvan Genre: Action Thriller Agency: CAA Management: Oasis Media Group Buyer: 20th Century Fox Date: 12/8/16 Notes: A pre-emptive purchase.
74. Title: Pics or It Didn’t Happen Logline: Female-driven thriller for the Instagram generation Writer: Abby McDonald Genre: Thriller Agency: Paradigm Management: Exile Entertainment Buyer: Tooley Productions Date: 12/9/16.
75. Title: 3–1–2 Logline: Hopeful millennials seek their true potential while surviving the extreme violence of inner-city Chicago, the 3–1–2. Writer: Ike Smith Genre: Drama Agency: Original Artists Buyer: Universal Pictures Date: 12/15/16.
If I got any information wrong or missed a sale, please email me.