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Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista Starring in “Stuber,” Written by Script Pipeline Contest Winner

By | Slider, Success Stories

The action-comedy Stuber, written by Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner Tripper Clancy, attached Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) in December 2017, Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley) in March 2018, and the following month added Iko Uwais (The Raid. Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses) and John Francis Daley (Bones) producing.

20th Century Fox picked up the script, based on a pitch developed by Tripper and manager Jake Wagner (Good Fear), in April 2016.

Tripper was one of the Grand Prize Winners of the 2010 competition. Soon after, Script Pipeline execs linked him with Jake, initiating a long working relationship that has led to projects set up at Sony, Fox, Hasbro, Paramount, and Mandalay, where he’s adapting the acclaimed novel The Art of Fielding.

Submit to a Script Pipeline competition

Submit for notes and potential industry exposure

March 2018 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

        

Last month in spec sales, David Koepp sold his feature supernatural thriller You Should Have Left to Blumhouse Productions. The script, which Koepp will also direct, follows a screenwriter and his family for a week in a house they’ve rented, but mysterious things happen as he tries to finish the script for a horror movie sequel. The H Collective and Busted Shark Productions have teamed to produce Aaron W. Sala’s horror script The Beast. After a woman is stranded alone on an island, she has to face her worst fears. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. picked up Madison Turner’s untitled WWII spec about the 761st Regiment, an all black regiment that paved the way for military desegregation. Michael B. Jordan will produce. Millennium Films and Electric Pictures have picked up Adam Alleca’s Michael Zero, a sci-fi action that follows a man who has to hunt down his own clones, who were created to be soldiers but have decided to go after the corporate state that made them instead. Tim Blake Nelson is set to direct. Finally, Platinum Dunes and Skydance Productions picked up Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese’s action spec 6 Underground. Michael Bay to produce/direct.

Other script sales:

– After tumbling out of bed, stumbling to the kitchen, and pouring themselves cups of ambition, Rashida Jones and Pat Resnick signed on to script the 9 to 5 remake. Resnick also wrote the original film.

– Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers is making it to the big screen, with James Wan and Roy Lee producing.

– Ashleigh Powell has been tapped to adapt Melissa Albert’s YA novel The Hazel Wood for Sony and Columbia.

– Paramount picked up James V. Simpson’s sci-fi script Intruders about a family defending themselves from alien home invaders.

– Tracy Letts to adapt A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window. Scott Rudin will produce, Joe Wright will direct.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Pilot

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

Perhaps the most difficult part of creating a hit show is not only finding a unique story that could sustain (hopefully) multiple seasons of television but also anchoring the series on a protagonist audiences will continue watching. The best television shows (and oftentimes the most successful ones) strike a balance between those two criteria.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel hits both on the head. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino of Gilmore Girls fame, the series follows a Jewish housewife, the eponymous Miriam Maisel (or Midge as everyone calls her), as her life falls apart and she begins a career as a stand-up comedian in the late 1950s. The pilot opens on her wedding as she gives her own toast. Midge effortlessly brings down the room as she recounts how she met her husband—and also offends half the mostly-Jewish attendees when she reveals the eggrolls contain shellfish. Three years later, Midge supports her husband Joel, a wannabe comedian who can get laughs only when he steals Bob Newhart’s routine, and helps him with his act from the sidelines, keeping track of which jokes get the most laughs in the most Type-A way possible. However, their marital bliss quickly evaporates when Joel reveals that he’s sleeping with his secretary. From there, Midge has a bit too much to drink, wanders onto the stand-up stage, and absolutely nails it.

Right away, the show earns points for originality. Although the show is ostensibly about the very real stand-up scene of the late 50s (Lenny Bruce is a frequent character), Midge is a fictional character, and that allows Sherman-Palladino more opportunities to explore the sexism of the era, among other things. Midge’s point-of-view is one we rarely see on television, especially in this setting. As strong as the writing is, perhaps the show’s greatest asset is Mrs. Maisel herself, Rachel Brosnahan. Brosnahan oozes charisma and sells each of Midge’s jokes. This is one of the rare depictions of stand-up where the stand-up is actually, you know, funny.

The show has already won awards for its first season (most notably the Golden Globes for best comedy series and comedy actress) and deserves all the praise it gets. As a comedy series and a character study, you couldn’t do better.

Read The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Pilot

Screenwriting & TV Writing Competitions Deadline: May 1st, 2018

By | Slider

 Submit a Screenplay | Submit a Pilot

The annual Script Pipeline Screenwriting and TV Writing competitions continue a long tradition of connecting writers with top producers, agencies, and managers across both studio and independent markets.

Through a unique, long-term circulation process, Script Pipeline contest alumni have found representation, optioned their work, and had their scripts produced over the past 16 years as a direct result of Script Pipeline facilitation. The result thus far is $6 million in screenplays and pilots sold by competition finalists and “Recommend” writers since 2003.

“Without the momentum my win gave me, I don’t know where my screenplay would be. I owe Script Pipeline for everything.”
– Henry Dunham (writer/director)

Finalists are given exposure to Script Pipeline industry partners and the following:

  • $50,000 to winners
  • Development assistance with Script Pipeline execs
  • Personal introductions to managers, producers, agents, and others searching for new TV material, tailored to each individual project
  • Additional material review for potential circulation
  • Long-term circulation for all finalists (and select semifinalists)
  • Exclusive invitations to private writer/industry events hosted by Script Pipeline

“When I relocated from NYC to LA to pursue sitcom writing, everyone I met in the industry said it wasn’t about entering competitions, it was about entering the right competition. Script Pipeline was a turning point.”
– Howard Jordan Jr., TV Writing Contest Runner-up (Superior Donuts)

“With their rapidly expanding network of industry connections, Script Pipeline has continued to champion my script long after the competition, giving me invaluable access to industry circulation and promoting my career in ways that would otherwise be out of my reach.”
– Ashley Locher, Screenwriting Contest Runner-up (End of Life)

Submit a Screenplay | Submit a Pilot

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Script Pipeline Contest Winner Sold “Snow White & the Huntsman” to Universal

By | Slider

Script Pipeline execs Chad Clough and Matt Misetich connected Evan Daugherty with management after his script Shrapnel won the 2008 Script Pipeline Screenwriting CompetitionSWATH later sold to Universal and grossed $400 million worldwide.

Evan went on to write the hugely successful films DivergentTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other upcoming studio projects, including a reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise with MGM and Warner Bros. producing. In addition to TV series in development, Evan is writing and directing Ink and Bone for Dimension Films.

From Evan: “Script Pipeline helped launch my professional career as a writer.”

Filming in 2018: Script Pipeline Contest Winner “Incident”

By | Slider, Success Stories

Henry Dunham’s The Incident at Sparrow Creek Lumber wrapped production in April 2018 with an ensemble cast featuring James Badge Dale (Rubicon), Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker), Happy Anderson (Mindhunter), Robert Armayo (Game of Thrones), and Gene Jones (The Hateful Eight). Dallas Sonnier, Jonathan Brownlee, and Amanda Presmyk producing. Dunham is making his feature directorial debut.

The project, originally titled Militia, won the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition. Henry was connected with representation less than a month after contest results were announced, signing with Pipeline industry partner Madhouse Entertainment.

“Without the momentum my win gave me, I don’t know where my screenplay would be. I owe Script Pipeline for everything.”
– Henry Dunham (writer/director, Militia)

The script was a unanimous pick amongst Script Pipeline staff for top honors. Both CEO Chad Clough and Senior Executive Matt Joseph Misetich pegged the screenplay as a fresh, relevant spin on the genre, and an “unquestionably strong calling card” for the up-and-coming Dunham.

“Couldn’t be happier for Henry,” said Misetich. “One of the most astute young writers I’ve met. He has such an incredible head start now. . . . Looking forward to seeing his career evolve in the years to come.”

Read Henry’s Script Pipeline interview

Submit to a Script Pipeline competition

Submit for notes and potential industry exposure

Get Out and Call Me by Your Name – Screenplays

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

  

The Oscars took place over this past weekend, and Get Out and Call Me by Your Name walked away with the screenwriting prizes, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay respectively. Although the scripts couldn’t be more different—the first, a horror movie with a deeply disturbing commentary on racism in America, and the second, a heartfelt tale of first love and first heartbreak—both provide valuable lessons for any writer.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out follows a young black man on a weekend trip to meet his girlfriend’s parents. Although the script begins as a humorous satire in the vein of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, things quickly escalate, and the parents’ true motives are slowly revealed in a plot reminiscent of The Stepford Wives. Peele expertly blends horror and social commentary—it’s a movie with something to say, and the message makes the horror more horrifying and vice versa. Grounding the story is main character Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya in an Oscar-nominated performance), who is an empathetic center to the story. The success of a horror movie hinges on whether the audience cares about the characters, and the awkwardness of the comedic early scenes help create an endearing protagonist (shortly after Chris meets the parents, Peele wrings a lot of laughs from awkward lines like “I would’ve voted for Obama a third term if I could’ve”). Once the insidiousness lurking underneath the parents’ smiles is revealed, the audience legitimately fears for Chris and his life, which is a hard feat in the horror genre, especially for a first-time director.

As great a horror script as Get Out, Call Me by Your Name is an equally great romantic drama, though the scripts couldn’t be more different. Adapted by James Ivory (director of such classics as A Room with a View, Howard’s End, and Remains of the Day) from André Aciman’s novel and directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name follows the 17-year-old Elio who falls for his father’s older male research assistant in Italy in the 1980s. Like Get Out, this story is firmly grounded in character, and the chemistry between the leads (played by Armie Hammer and Oscar-nominated Timothée Chalemet) leaps off the page—and the screen. Although the stakes aren’t as high, the scenes of flirtation and seduction build with the characters’ emotions always at the forefront. It’s a bittersweet story of first love, and the story’s larger moments, particularly a third-act monologue from Elio’s father (a brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg), feel earned because of the care Ivory, Aciman, and Guadagnino put into these characters.

So if there’s one takeaway from these two very different stories, it’s character. Strong characters and strong relationships give audiences something to connect with and help make narratives compelling, whether the story is a bittersweet love story set in the 80’s or a disturbing racial horror movie with tinges of science-fiction.

Read the Get Out Screenplay

Read the Call Me by Your Name Screenplay

February 2018 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

Michael De Luca Productions picked up two sci-fi specs this month: Infinitum by Marc Guggenheim, which is described as a sci-fi love story similar to Memento, and Varietal by Adam Bloom, which is a psychological sci-fi thriller centered on a married couple. Infinitum landed at Sony while Varietal went to Universal. Legendary Pictures has teamed with LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment for Taylor Materne’s sports drama spec Hustle. The story follows a basketball scout who travels to China and brings back a Chinese streetball phenomenon. Annapurna Pictures and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gloria Sanchez Productions have picked up Booksmart, a teen comedy written by Katie Silberman. Booksmart follows two friends on the eve of graduation who set out on a night of fun after realizing they spent their entire high school years focused on their educations. Olivia Wilde is set to direct. Finally, Studio 8 and Scoop Productions picked up Naked Is The Best Disguise, a sci-fi spec written by Graham Moore (Oscar-winning writer of The Imitation Game). Moore is set to direct as well.

Other script sales:

– John Logan to adapt Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci biography for Paramount and Appian Way. Leonardo DiCaprio to produce, possibly star.

– Simon Farnaby will write the Action Man adaptation for Paramount Players and Hasbro Studios.

Game of Thrones show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce a new trilogy of Star Wars films for Disney and Lucasfilm.

– Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner have been tapped to script the sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which they also cowrote.

Atlanta writers Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori are set to write the House Party remake for New Line Cinema.

– Stephen Chbosky to direct Dr. Seuss, a biopic written by Jonathon E. Stewart and Eyal Podell.

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Jay Silverman

By | Exclusive Interviews

Script Pipeline met director/producer Jay Silverman (The Cleaner) in 2015 and connected him and producer Bethany Cerrona with Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest finalist Jen Goldson (Everything’s Gonna Be Okay). Jay went on to produce Jen’s romantic comedy Off the Menu in 2017. The film premiered in 2018 and stars Santino Fontana and Dania Ramirez. It’s available on Amazon and iTunes.

You started your career as a photographer. How did you make the transition to the film/TV industry? Was it a logical next step given the types of connections you were making and the work you were doing, or did it take sort of a leap?

Yes, I started as a photographer doing advertising. My speciality was working with people and celebrity endorsements. The transition into film started in the 90s when I began doing what I called hybrid filmmaking. It certainly seemed natural to offer live action along with my photography when a famous person’s time on commercial sets are always so limited. It was a huge leap at the start, but my clients enjoyed the synergy and the creative control I gave them. I decided to make the move to feature directing with Girl on the Edge (2015), which was a very personal story. The motivation to make it  was one of wanting to share my experience of healing and to show others who have children who suffer trauma and PTSD that there are answers. . . there is hope. Everything I had done in my career and life up to this point prepared me for the opportunity to tell this story. It felt like such a natural transition, and now telling purposeful films has become my calling.

What were some of the early hurdles in becoming a director (for TV, commercials, or otherwise)? When crossing between different formats, which of course can be a challenge creatively speaking, what drew you to each? And now, with decades of experience, has a preference emerged? Or is directing just directing, no matter the medium?

I always enjoyed problem solving throughout my career, especially when a client would ask for the impossible. Universally, most challenges for TV and commercials involved trying to retain a focused creative vision while dealing with limited budgets and quick turnaround. In the 80s, I got my first studio and was fortunate to solve creative challenges without having to go outside of a studio. This control proved invaluable working in independent filmmaking and selling TV shows. Hence, the reason in 2000 I acquired my stages in Hollywood.

One huge hurdle I had was trying to sell The Cleaner to AMC after developing it for five years. It came as a shock to learn that even though this was my baby, I would never receive “created by” credits. The fact that we had offers for this show twice in two months proved it was a great idea, but not being treated fairly was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

To be a good director in both TV or film, you need to be a good listener–so many creative people are involved in such detail on a film that it’s important to be open to their expertise and knowledge. It’s about taking all the best ideas to make the project better and to collaborate. Also, it was very helpful that I am knowledgeable in every trade on the set. I’m very hands-on and am never afraid to lift a hammer or hang a light or learn to compromise with budgets.

You met writer Jen Goldson at our 2015 Script Pipeline event, and it seemed like her screenplay Off the Menu was optioned instantly. What was it about the script that stood out? 

First,  I believe a person’s passion is the most critical to sell anything. Jen not only had a great pitch that made her stand out, but she totally displayed a desire to want her project in the hands of a filmmaker with equal passion. My producer Bethany Cerrona brought the script on the heels of my last film, which was a serious drama. Timing is everything, and I was excited to jump into this contemporary love story, as Jen’s writing style was very engaging, funny, and inspiring.

Off the Menu went from Jen’s initial pitch to you and exec Bethany Cerrona, to production, to finished film in about two years. Quick, certainly, relative to the frustratingly slow-ticking industry clock, where it can take a while get a project produced. Naturally, it’s easier for a lower-budget indie to hit that fast lane, however what were some of the crucial pieces that had to fall into place? Or was it fairly straightforward? If anything is ever “fairly straightforward” in filmmaking. . . .

Every film is different and presents its own set of challenges. After optioning the script, we met with Jen several times about small changes. Just coming off my last film with new wisdom and experience, we had to figure out a way to get this wonderful script produced affordably without sacrificing the story.

Will Newman, one of my producers, had warned about the cost of having too many characters and locations when making a indie. We mandated early on that to keep the authenticity of the story, it had to shoot, at least partially, on location in New Mexico, so that decision pushed many other decisions into the forefront. Being that Javiara’s kitchen was a character itself, our Production Designer Bonnie Bacevich was able to have full creative freedom on my stage. This decision not only saved us loads of time and money but helped me fulfill my creative vision without all the distractions of using a practical restaurant location. Careful thought and consideration was made to the changes needed to be made to the script to scale down for the budget, which kept faithful to Jen’s original story.

The cast of Menu really seemed to click on-screen. Especially the leads. How did Dania Ramirez and Santino Fontana come on board?

We had an amazing casting director, Nick Anderson. The script went out to Dania and we both met for coffee, and she was excited because she too loved cooking. I knew she would make a perfect fiery chef, and she loved the script, so the timing was perfect.

Around the same time, we were introduced to Santino via Skype from NYC and he also loved the script. And as luck would have it, he was able to fit us in between his show Crazy Ex Girlfriend and his Broadway opening. Once we had Dania and Santino, the rest of the cast fell into place fairly easily.

Every director and producer is different. Everyone leans toward certain themes. But what motivates you to continue directing and producing? What excites you most about the future of the industry?

I’m totally drawn into filmmaking by my desire to share inspiring stories. It’s beyond words how fortunate I was that my first film Girl On The Edge has changed so many young people’s lives.

I’m committed to working on purposeful films with social messages. It’s critical for me to make films that matter. Films have the ability to cross all borders, to bring hope and unite people. Off the Menu gave me the opportunity to tell a hopeful, sweet story about love and family that unites people from opposite worlds through food.

Along those same lines, where do you see us headed as an industry overall? Thanks to the emergence of more platforms seeking content, are you beginning to see a shift in the type of content distributed, or that has a strong chance at getting distribution on an indie level? 

I think all these new digital ways of sharing content are likely how most small films will survive, but it’s a bit of a wild west. . . with so many new films/TV shows getting made, it’s harder to cut through the clutter and get noticed. With Netflix and Amazon changing the game, we are seeing so many interesting voices that wouldn’t have been possible before in the traditional models.

I’m optimistic that if you have a good story and solid production values, your film will find an audience.


Jay Silverman

Jay has excelled as a leading director and producer specializing in award-winning film and television. In addition to directing and producing Off The Menu, Jay directed and executive produced the award-winning feature Girl on the Edge, starring Peter Coyote, Taylor Spreitler and Gil Bellows. The film premiered on Showtime. Jay also co-created and executive produced A&E’s The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt, an hour-long drama based on a real life interventionist who uses unorthodox methods to save lives of those who battle addictions.

Jay lives and works in Los Angeles and has three daughters.