April was a strong month for writers. Voltage Productions and Chris Morgan Productions are teaming to produce Luke Paradise's action/mystery spec The Prodigal. The feature follows a soldier who returns home to investigate his estranged brother's death. Universal has picked up Todd Rosenberg's drama spec All My Life. The script follows the true story of Solomon Chau and Jennifer Carter, an engaged couple who raise money to fund the wedding of their dreams after Chau is diagnosed with liver cancer. Melissa Stack's untitled comedy spec, about an older woman who goes on vacation with her much-younger boyfriend's family, has found a home at Twentieth Century Fox. Stack will also direct. Sony and Immersive Pictures are moving forward with Noah Griffith and Daniel Stewart's Fragment. The sci-fi/thriller, based on Griffith and Stewart's 2015 short, follows a crashed Air Force pilot who follows a mysterious radio beacon to discover something not of this Earth.
Other script sales include:
– M. Night Shyamalan to write/direct Glass for Universal, Blumhouse, and Blinding Edge. The movie will serve a dual sequel to Shyamalan's Unbreakable and Split.
– After landing on 2016's Black List, Elyse Hollander's Madonna biopic Blonde Ambition has found a home at Universal, with Brett Ratner producing.
– Summit Entertainment and Atomic Monster are signed on to produce Brad Keene's thriller Smart House. Not to be confused with the Katey Sagal–starring TV movie, this Smart House is based on an idea from James Wan and will follow a family in witness protection whose smart house goes into self-defense mode when assassins strike. Wan to produce, and Alexandre Aja to direct.
– Philip Gawthorne set to write Universal's adaptation of Chrononauts, a comic book series created by Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy.
– James Gunn will write/direct the third movie in his Guardians of the Galaxy series for Disney and Marvel.
– John Ridley to write/direct A Needle in a Timestack, a sci-fi/time travel drama based on Robert Silverberg's short story, for Miramax.
– The Jim Henson Company and Tristar have tapped Jay Basu and Fede Alvarez for the spinoff/remake of the 1986 masterpiece Labyrinth. Alvarez to direct, and Basu to write from a story by him and Alvarez.
– Universal picked up Night School from Kevin Hart, Matthew Kellard, Harry Ratchford, Joey Wells and Nick Stoller. Hart came up with the idea and will also star/produce. Tim Story in talks to direct.
The Library – Produced Scripts
World building is an essential element to any pilot. Some shows require more than others (e.g., shows with deeper mythologies like The X-Files or Fringe demand more groundwork in the pilot than a typical sitcom would), but at minimum, the audience needs to have some sense of the show's setting before they can truly connect to the pilot's story and agree to spend twenty or more hours with the series.
"Offred," the pilot episode of The Handmaid's Tale (written by Bruce Miller and Ilene Chaiken and based on Margaret Atwood's novel), eschews many of the finer details of how this dystopian, authoritarian state of Gilead, a near-future version of New England, came about. We do get some hints—there was an infertility epidemic and many characters speak of the radiated outlands—but instead of overwhelming us with specifics, the pilot opts to paint a compelling picture of life inside this world, particularly from the perspective of the women. In short, most women have little freedom. Unless your husband is among the elites, you are expected to perform a specific function in life. The Marthas are the housekeepers, the aunts are older women in charge of the handmaids and are tasked with reeducating them, and the handmaids themselves are concubines for the elite men whose wives are infertile. Each woman's role is highlighted by her attire: Marthas wear light blue, aunts wear tan, and handmaids wear red.
The show is seen through the eyes of Offred (Elizabeth Moss), a handmaid. We are introduced to her as she, her husband, and their daughter attempt to flee from the nascent Gilead to Canada, but in the process, her husband is shot and she is captured. Years later, she serves as a handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford, and her new name Offred cements her role in society—she is no longer an individual, just "of Fred," one of his belongings. Offred has been separated from her daughter, and she believes that her husband is dead.
Much of the episode plays almost like a horror movie, with religious fundamentalism run amok. Much of Gilead's practices are grounded in warped interpretations of Bible verses, and dissenters such as Catholic priests, doctors, and homosexuals are hung, their bodies placed on display in public. The handmaids are forced to chide a rape survivor with chants that it was "her fault" and that God let it happen to "teach her a lesson." In another scene, the handmaids are forced to beat a criminal to death. However, these scenes aren't haunting or terrifying because of their content. Instead, the pilot achieves that through the characters' reactions, or rather lack or reactions. They're forced to go through these scenes almost matter-of-factly. This is life now.
By the end of the episode, we see a framework form for the show moving forward. Offred allies with a fellow handmaid (Alexis Bledel's Ofglen), and we learn her real name: June. But plot aside, the real draws for the show are the acting (which is universally excellent) and the themes at the heart of the story: identity, feminism, misogyny, authoritarianism, fascism, fundamentalism, to name a few. Needless to say, there's much to unpack within the series. The show itself (as well as the book it's based on) is well-crafted and, at times, disturbing. To put it simply, this is prestige television worth watching.
Script Pipeline develops writers for film and television, connecting them with top producers, agents, and managers. This process has thus far resulted in over $6 million in writer spec sales and several produced films, including Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which grossed over half a billion dollars and spawned a sequel, and the indie dramedy The Living Wake, starring Jesse Eisenberg.
For over 17 years, the company has bridged the gap between up-and-coming writers and influential executives. Through annual writing and idea contests, Script Pipeline continues to offer its alumni unprecedented access to the industry by creating connections that lead to representation, option agreements, and produced films and TV series. View recent success stories and notable alumni.
As of 2016, the company reviews, on average, 13,000 screenplays, pilots, and original pitches each year, making Script Pipeline one of the leading outlets for new writers worldwide.