was successfully added to your cart.

About

Script Pipeline discovers and develops writers of all levels for film and television, connecting them to producers, agents, and managers. Since 1999, several produced films and over $6 million in screenplay and TV pilot spec sales are credited to Script Pipeline’s unique, intensive process of long-term writer-to-industry facilitation. Contest finalists and “Recommend” writers work with Script Pipeline’s executives year-round, getting broader exposure for their work in addition to continuous, one-on-one development assistance.

Recent success stories include Screenwriting Competition winner Evan Daugherty selling Snow White and the Huntsman to Universal for $3 million and later taking the lead on studio films DivergentNinja Turtles, and the upcoming Rose Red from Disney. Evan was previously attached to write the limited series Esmeralda for ABC Studios, GI Joe 3 for Paramount, an adaptation of Myst for Hulu, and the Tomb Raider reboot. His contest-winning script Killing Season (formerly Shrapnel) was produced and starred Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro and John Travolta.

Tripper Clancy, the 2010 Screenwriting Contest winner, sold the road comedy The Ambassadors to 20th Century Fox and the pitch Winter Break, and was previously on board the comedy Stranded for Sony. Tripper is currently writing Hacker Camp for Hasbro and an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Art of Fielding. His action-comedy Stuber sold to Fox for the mid-six figures. Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) attached to star.

Micah Barnett, whose work was developed through Script Pipeline’s Workshop, sold The Rabbit to Warner Bros. for six-figures and a TV pilot, Ricochet, to NBC. Screenwriter Brian Watanabe had his Script Pipeline “Recommend” action-comedy Rogue’s Gallery (later titled Operation: Endgame), also initially developed by Script Pipeline, produced by Script Pipeline’s Chad Clough and Sean McKittrick (Get Out). The film starred Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Adam Scott (Parks and Rec), Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), and an ensemble cast.

In 2018, production wrapped on the Script Pipeline contest-winning screenplay The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (formerly Militia) written by Henry Dunham. Henry will make his directorial debut with the crime-thriller that stars James Badge Dale (Iron ManRubicon). The film makes its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Madhouse Entertainment signed Henry a few weeks after he was announced as the winner of the competition, with UTA following suit.

Screenwriting Contest finalist Jen Goldson saw her romantic comedy Off the Menu produced and released in 2018, starring Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Dania Ramirez (Devious Maids). Jen was introduced to director Jay Silverman at a Script Pipeline event—the screenplay went into production in less than a year. She has two other features in production, including her contest-placing dramedy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Andy Tennant (Hitch) set to direct.

The Devil in Evelyn, winner of the  First Look Project (Teleplay), was picked up for development by Mandalay Pictures in September 2017. Script Pipeline set up the co-writers, Ben and Tyler Soper, with meetings after extensive circulation to industry. Also in 2017: Howard Jordan Jr., runner-up in the Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition with the comedy Family Be Like, was staffed on the CBS series Superior Donuts. His first episode aired in January 2018.

Outside of its own writer successes, The Living Wake, Script Pipeline’s first produced film starring Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and comedian Mike O’Connell (Dr. Ken), received high praise when it made its festival debut in 2010. In conjunction with the newly launched Film Pipeline, Script Pipeline plans on producing more work in the future, both short-form content and feature films.

A number of original feature and TV projects are in various stages of development, and over 100 writers have signed with representation or had their scripts optioned as a result of facilitation. With execs actively expanding the Script Pipeline industry network on a weekly basis, Script Pipeline is continuously on the hunt for quality material. In 2017, 13,000 screenplays, pilots, and original pitches were submitted, making Script Pipeline the leading review outlet for writers worldwide.

*Industry requests to review material from Script Pipeline writers can be made here.

Recent Success StoriesOpen Competitions

Upcoming Contest Deadline

October 5th, 2018 Screenplay and TV Pilot Competition

Receive News and Updates

Affiliate Services

Consultation and Fellowship Opportunities

Other Pipeline Competitions

Testimonials

“I've been blown away by the amount of work Script Pipeline has put into getting my script out there. It's remarkable the amount of industry reads I had after the announcement. Probably the best part: they're interested in not just the script that won the contest, but in you as a writer. From reading and circulating additional material to developing new concepts with you, the Script Pipeline team is a wonderful partner-in-crime, and I count myself lucky to have them by my side.”

Peter Malone ElliottScreenwriting Contest Winner (Junior)

“In the few days after the competition announcement, we had a slew of terrific meetings. . . . Script Pipeline allowed us, two unknowns from Australia, to come to LA, meet people in the industry, and begin relationships.”

Penelope Chai and Matteo BernardiniScreenwriting Contest Winner

“I cannot overstate the impact that Script Pipeline has had on my writing career. Winning the contest directly led to new representation, which in turn led to working with studios like 20th Century Fox.”

Tripper Clancy (Stuber)Screenwriting Contest Winner

“Script Pipeline was actually something a friend (who's very high up in the industry) introduced me to, and having her recommend it speaks volumes about how highly regarded a contest it is, even within the upper echelon.”

Henry Dunham (The Standoff at Sparrow Creek)Screenwriting Contest Winner

“In a matter of hours, Script Pipeline achieved what I’d been trying to do for years: they got my foot in the door. . . and changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined. ”

Justin Daries JamesTV Writing Contest Winner (Powerhouse)

“Script Pipeline introduced me to a manager and helped launch my professional career as a writer.”

Evan Daugherty (Snow White & the Huntsman, Divergent, Rose Red)Screenwriting Contest Winner

“Script Pipeline’s First Look Project was an awesome experience. From our first phone call, they became our personal champions and proceeded to surprise us again and again with the extent of their support. Thanks to them, we are now developing our pilot with Mandalay Entertainment. Entering this contest moved our careers forward in an unprecedented way and was the smartest thing we did all year!”

Ben and Tyler SoperFirst Look Project Winners (The Devil in Evelyn)

“The dedicated Script Pipeline staff root for you and your writing career every step of the way. They champion your work and sing its praises to exciting industry contacts. I've never been so honored to win a contest and will carry this achievement to push me through those tougher days of writing.”

Kay TuxfordTV Writing Contest Winner (Queen of Thieves)

“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. (Superior Donuts)TV Writing Contest Runner-up

“Being a finalist has immediately given me exposure to high-profile managers/producers that I could never reach directly on my own. I'm still blown away where my script has been requested. And I really appreciate that they don't simply blast the industry in a 'one and done' manner. Knowing they actually go the extra mile and tailor their pitches to people's tastes makes all the difference--you realize they care about and respect the writers.”

Gary KingScreenwriting Contest Finalist

“While I knew Script Pipeline would help circulate my script, the amount of attention they gave my pilot, my other material, and me was mind-blowing. I wouldn't be here without them.”

Sara MongeTV Writing Contest Finalist

“No one has done more for our screenplay and our writing career than Script Pipeline. They've worked tirelessly in connecting us to industry professionals over the course of six years, ultimately resulting in our script getting optioned.”

Debbie Chesebro & Tyson FitzGeraldScreenwriting Contest Winners (Prom Queen)

“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 LocherScreenwriting Contest Runner-up

“Script Pipeline helped me develop my pilot, found me representation, and played a key role in getting a very ambitious TV project to some of the top producers, showrunners, and even networks. Their continual support and guidance has been invaluable--they are second to none.”

Kevin JonesTV Show Idea Contest Winner / 2-Time Script Pipeline Screenwriting Finalist

“Script Pipeline has been a trusted and valuable resource for screenwriters seeking in-roads to the industry. Their staff is dedicated to finding talented writers and building careers.”

Shelly MellottFinal Draft

“There is no better place for writers than with Script Pipeline. Their attention and assistance on helping me guide my career is invaluable.”

Nir Paniry (Princesses)Screenwriting Contest Runner-up

“Couldn’t have signed with Mosaic without Script Pipeline. . . . Thanks for your help!”

Burke Scurfield & Adam LedererTV Writing Contest Finalists

“I've been amazed at the quality and depth of the development my idea has received since winning the Great TV Idea Contest. I know my concept in a richer, deeper way than I did before thanks to Script Pipeline.”

Bryce McLellanGreat TV Show Idea Winner (Verge)

“Script Pipeline's care and attention for their finalists is unparalleled. Their network is vast and their reputation stellar. Thanks to Script Pipeline, less than two weeks after the end of the contest, I signed with a manager. I couldn't be more grateful for all they've done to advance my writing career.”

Andrew Martin RobinsonScreenwriting Contest Finalist

“The Script Pipeline team went above and beyond to help find the right home for my TV pilot. I didn't have representation, and yet they managed to get my script to one of the most sought-after studios. No other contest works harder for its finalists.”

Jenny RafteryTV Writing Contest Finalist

“The constructive feedback I received allowed me to take my screenplay to another level--the film won over 22 awards worldwide. I would highly recommend Script Pipeline.”

Mark Mahon, Writer/Director (Strength and Honour)Script Pipeline "Recommend"

“The best part of being a contest finalist is what happens after--getting read by industry members I couldn't access on my own, feedback on future projects, and a priceless ongoing guidance.”

Romi MoondiScreenwriting Contest Finalist and "Recommend"

“Script Pipeline gives the best notes. Whenever I'm struggling with a project, their staff never fails to provide feedback that elevates the story. They take their commitment to "Recommended" writers, contest winners, and finalists incredibly seriously, and do an amazing job of getting those scripts out into the world.”

Greg WayneContest Winner and "Recommend" Writer

“Less than a week after the competition was over, I scored a meeting with a manager for my finalist script. We hit it off right away, and I am now signed with a smart and talented rep who takes this industry and my writing seriously. For someone like me from a no-name town, who doesn't have any contacts, this is a huge opportunity. I can't thank Script Pipeline enough for their dedication and the exposure they are able to provide for writers.”

Charles StulckScreenwriting Contest Finalist

“My idea led to a messy first draft with loads of promise. But now, by way of a systematic scene-by-scene approach, Script Pipeline is helping me tweak that draft toward its fullest potential.”

Jason VaughnGreat Movie Idea Winner (Interlopers)

“Winning Script Pipeline's First Look Project and being a finalist in their TV writing competition has been a huge boost to my career. The Script Pipeline staff goes the extra mile promoting and championing their winners' work and have gotten me opportunities I would never have been able to get on my own. It's wonderful being a part of the Script Pipeline family, and I am proud to be counted as one of their winners.”

Diana WrightFirst Look Project Winner

“Every time Script Pipeline announces contest winners and finalists, I put those scripts at the top of my reading list. It's one of the most well-respected contests around--the entire team does such an impressive job.”

Andrew KerseyManager

“I can't say enough good things about Script Pipeline. It's a contest that truly cares about the writer. When you're a winner or finalist, you really feel like you joined a special tribe or family. They are supportive and very meticulous about the scripts they select. If you only can enter a few contests, make Script Pipeline one of them.”

Colin CostelloScreenwriting Contest Finalist and "Recommend"

“My advice to aspiring writers is to keep getting (and incorporating) Script Pipeline Development Notes on the same script until it earns a Recommend. Why? Because there are certain techniques that won’t make sense until your writing skills and the script itself reach a certain level. I did this with 2011 Script Pipeline finalist screenplay Diamond Payback, and it was the best screenwriting “course” I ever took.”

Craig Weeden (Painkiller Jane)Screenwriting Contest Finalist

“I can’t speak highly enough about the Script Pipeline team. The support they provided throughout the evolution of my latest action/comedy screenplay was invaluable. Script Pipeline truly cares about my success, not only promoting my work at every opportunity but also challenging me to push the limits of my skills. Thanks to their efforts, I am now working with a great manager and have an exciting new project on the horizon.”

Kristi HallFirst Look Project Winner

“One of the finest contests around. . . a showcase for original, dynamic screenplays.”

Haji OutlawScreenwriting Contest Runner-Up

“What a unique pool of talent brought together by this competition. . . . So excited and honored to be part of the Script Pipeline family.”

Allison BegalmanScreenwriting Competition Runner-up (B1)

“It's a competition that not only promotes creativity, but offers unparalleled support in development.”

Kurt ConetyGreat Movie Idea Contest Winner

“Having no connections to the industry and needing some quality feedback, I turned to high-level contests like Script Pipeline. From the day I became a finalist, they've championed my work and sent it to a long list of industry members. Even through reputation alone, I’ve gotten requests to read my script.”

Sommer RusinksiTV Writing Finalist

“In a vast sea of screenwriting competitions, Script Pipeline goes above and beyond. They don't view you as just another entrant, but a real person trying to get their voice heard in the industry.”

Melanie Schiele, Writer/Director (Butterfly Children)Screenwriting Contest Finalist

“I can't thank Script Pipeline enough for all the hard work put into this competition and the follow-ups. I only have a manager right now because of the work that they do.”

Tyler TheofilosScreenwriting Contest Finalist

“Script Pipeline took a chance on an idiosyncratic script, and it quickly became apparent they had given my work thoughtful consideration. I'm honored to be associated with them.”

Morgan von Ancken Screenwriting Contest Winner

“Script Pipeline was integral in taking our screenplay to the next level through the Workshop. Their feedback and constructive insights were invaluable, and the exposure we had to industry after we placed in the finals of the Screenwriting Contest was unrivaled.”

Jen Badasci & Christopher PoeScreenwriting Contest Finalist

“The team at Script Pipeline has been and continues to be immensely supportive of my writing career, and has genuinely made me feel like I’m part of a writing community committed to helping everyone get one step closer to living their dreams.”

Josh CheslerScreenwriting Contest Finalist

Script Sales

August 2018 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

Hollywood is starting to feel the affects of Crazy Rich Asians’ amazing box-office performance, and several projects with Asian-American or Polynesian leads were picked up in the second half of August. (It’s long overdue, but hey, we’ll take it.) Seven Bucks Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, ImageMovers are teaming to produce The King, with New Line Cinema distributing. Written by Randall Wallace, the spec is a biopic of King Kamehameha, who was the first to unite the Hawaiian Islands. Dwayne Johnson is set to star, Robert Zemeckis to direct, and both will produce. New Line also picked up Singles Day, a romantic comedy spec written by Lillian Yu. The plot is mostly under wraps, but it’s based on a Chinese holiday described as the anti–Valentine’s Day in which singles celebrate being unattached. And finally, Elyse Hollander’s untitled music spec found a home at Fox 2000. The story follows an Asian American college student who becomes a top competitor on a South Korean k-pop competition show.

Other script sales:

– And of course, Crazy Rich Asians is getting its sequel. Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim are returning to adapt Kevin Kwan’s novel, and Jon M. Chu is returning to direct. (And you’ve seen Crazy Rich Asians, right? If not, you should really get on that.)

– Jon Silberman and Josh Silberman have been tapped to write Coyote Vs. Acme for Warner Bros. Animation. It will be centered on the perpetually ill-fated Wile E. Coyote. Chris McKay (The LEGO Movie) will produce.

– Natalie Portman is set to star in and direct an untitled script written by Katie Robbins. The true story follows dueling sisters Esther Friedman and Pauline Friedman, who are perhaps best known as Ann Landers and Dear Abby.

– Elevation Pictures picked up the horror script Random Acts of Violence, adapted by Jay Baruchel and Jesse Chabot from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s graphic novel. Baruchel is set to direct.

– Central Films and Ross Katz Productions are teaming up for writer-director Oliver Stone’s drama White Lies. Benicio del Toro will star.

– Oren Uziel will script Supergirl for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.

Interviews

Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian

By | Exclusive Interviews

Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, who won the 2014 Script Pipeline First Look Project and placed as 2015 Screenwriting finalists for their script Animal Heist, have been steadily building the foundation for a phenomenal career. Their thriller Searching, starring John Cho, was picked up by Sony at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival for $5 million and released to massive critical acclaim. Their next feature, Run, will be produced by Lionsgate.

You originally thought of Searching as a short, and then turned it into a feature. Was the development process as grueling as one would naturally believe it to be? And how did you find a way to make the “gimmick” so. . . un-gimmicky? 

Aneesh: So the only reason we ever decided to expand it from 8 minutes to a feature film is because we found a way not to make it a gimmick. And ultimately, if I had to give one answer as to why it didn’t feel like a gimmick it’s because it was emotional. We had come up with the opening scene, the opening montage–in a weird way–to prove that even though this wasn’t the first film made taking place on screens, in a lot of ways, hopefully it would be the first one that felt cinematic. Something thrilling that makes you forget what you’re watching is on screens. And to us, if we could execute that for 90 minutes, let’s go in that direction.

But in order to do that, essentially we had to pay attention to story structure and make sure that whatever we were doing we never did it twice. We were following a very classic, almost basic screenwriting structure, but within that structure, constantly evolving every beat. So we told ourselves to, for example, never have two iMessage conversations. Like everything is happening once. We studied every button on a computer screen and asked what the emotional implication of this is, where in the story does this implication belong. . . .

If you had been in the position where you had to circulate this script cold to industry, as great as it is, do you think it would have had a tough time gaining traction? It’s just a script that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, right?

Sev: I think if I’m being honest and blunt: between my reputation as a producer, Aneesh’s job as a former Google director, making commercials, and the strength of the script itself. . . I have a feeling we probably could have found a decent amount of success. And also, not to mention, the prior success of Unfriended. Because this isn’t the first movie made on a computer screen. For us, just the sheer fact that it wasn’t a spec, it was always a writing assignment, made us never even think about that question. At no point in the months or years that Aneesh and I have been writing partners did we ever think, “let’s write a spec of a movie that takes place on computer screens.” This is entirely a result of Bazelevs [producers of Searching] liking us and asking us to present them something.

I don’t think I’ve seen a writer/director duo hustle on the marketing front as much as you two have. It’s crucial, and I know your bona fide motivation is fueled 100% by how much you believe in this film. And rightfully so. But given the storytelling logistics and the hurdles in carving out an identity for the film, was there ever a point in the development or production process, even in the days before Sundance, where you were like “is this even gonna work? Will audiences get it?” Did doubt ever start to creep in, or did you know for certain you had a hit on your hands before the Sony pickup?

Aneesh: Every day. Every day we wondered.

I mean, ultimately, our bet was that by basing this extremely unconventional visual style in a classic and studied and timeless structure, in a lot of ways, we would be making something that marries those two extremes, but at the end of the day, what we were trying to do was something that had never been done before. And when you’re doing that, you just don’t know if people are going to like it or if it’s going to be good. We had strong instincts, we had strong feelings that the final product would turn out well. But there were times at every stage of the process–whether it was in the writing, in the production, the pre-production, or in the year and a half we spent editing–where we were wondering “is this gonna be worth it? Is this something that’s actually gonna be capital G good?” As opposed to an interesting experiment.

And that was our bet, but it was a bet we were making. We really didn’t know until that first screening on January 20th [2018] at Sundance when we were like “That paid off. . . . All of that paid off.”

You were a finalist in the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting season and won the 2014 First Look Project (Action/Adventure) for a script called Animal Heist. It was clear to us you both had serious writing chops. But on the spectrum of genres, that script would fall somewhere around the polar opposite of Searching. How do you manage to find such a tremendous range?

Sev: What we’ve worked on, or written, or will make is always going to be less about the genre and more about the experience of the read and the “watch” of the movie. We’re really drawn to engaging and propulsive stories that have a real momentum and don’t waste time in getting the story started. But at its core, there always has to be a gooey center of heart. I think that’s reflected in Searching, and it was certainly reflected in Animal Heist (for you and the other two people who ever read that script). Our next one we have set up (Run) is also a thriller, but the one we want to do beyond that is not necessarily a thriller, and we have so many more that, hopefully, we get a chance to make someday. They’re all going to be different genres, but they’ll always be connected by the fact that they’ll be engaging, propulsive, and still have a big emotional core at its center.

Should writers only pursue stories they’re passionate about, or, what now seems like a generic tip, should they stick to a certain genre? Personally, I think the latter has always been patently false–and frankly, really bad advice–but it’s subjective. How does one give themselves a chance to get noticed?

Aneesh: Good question. No screenwriters I know are like “I can only do one thing.” We all grew up on a love of movies, not a love of genre, for the most part. Slumdog Millionaire is one of my favorite movies ever, and it’s not a thriller, but it feels thrilling. As a brand, I do think establishing yourself early on in your career (which is where I think we are right now) is important, but the brand doesn’t have to be the same answer everyone else has. There just has to be something very specific. For us, every single thing we’ve done has dealt with parents and kids. Whether it’s Animal Heist or the Google blast commercial Seige or Searching or our next movie, which is a mother and daughter, and the one after that about a father and son. . . . Within that, hopefully, we have stories that are, as Sev said, propulsive.

I think it’s an easier sell to anybody when you can package yourself in some way, but you don’t have to be limited by the connotations the word “brand” gets you. You can create your own definition of what that is and make it understandable and clear from your work.

Safe to assume, any great script or pitch that crosses your field of vision, you’ll want to jump on. But when pursuing new projects, do you have a preference between developing material yourself from the ground up, or finding new scripts to produce or direct?

Sev: I think we’re open, but because we knew in the middle of making Searching what our next script would be and are now about to embark on that journey, we already know what the one beyond that’s going to be.

But we’re human at the end of the day. Aneesh and I had a pretty frank conversation with each other a few months ago. We realized that, even though we had a spreadsheet with literally a hundred ideas–what we call “story molecules”–we should be more realistic and remember that, besides being writing partners, Aneesh is a director and I’m a producer, and there’s only so much somebody can direct or produce.

This might seem so far off your radar right now, but: you totally have to make Animal Heist. We recall it getting good feedback from industry, however it was admittedly a tricky one to place given the type of premise. Elevate and reframe as an animated feature. . . ? An option, anyway.

Aneesh: Honestly, yeah. I think we could go in any direction. I mean, looking back on it, Animal Heist was the first thing we wrote together. It was the first time we both got excited about something, and we learned a lot from the entire experience. Not only on what to write and how to write, how to work together, but also what not to do. What to avoid. One of the things I look at now about Animal Heist is “yeah. . . that’s a harder sell.” With Searching, I can pitch it to you–it’s a thriller, this is what it’s about, it’s a very clear package. Animal Heist is a lot different. Is it a PG movie? It is a G movie? Is it a PG-13 movie? Is it live-action or animated? There are a lot of questions up in the air.

I think absolutely it can be an animated film. In fact, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that. At this point, whatever anyone wants to take it as, let’s go in that direction. What I love about that script is the impression of “what exactly is this?” has taught us to answer that question on every single film from now on. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say, too, that without Animal HeistSearching wouldn’t exist. Aside from the fact that it was our first time working together, it’s a huge-scale heist movie with so many machinations and moving parts. All of those elements are very much present in Searching. The complexity of figuring out how to pull off a heist movie is probably not that much harder than having to pull off the actual heist. And with Searching, the main thing is that it’s a mystery, and what are mysteries if not puzzles? So it prepared us to be disciplined, how to reveal each piece.

Humility aside–because everyone realizes Searching is destined, on some level, for cinema history–what’s the dream project you would love to be a part of and is now (or can be) within reach?

Sev: I’ll let Aneesh answer this one.

Aneesh: Oh yeah, I know why Sev let me answer this. . . because the answer is very simple. It’s Mission Impossible.

Mission Impossible is one of the big reasons I make movies in the first place. I grew up going to watch those movies, and I am a completely unchained Tom Cruise fan. Everything that he does is gold. I think he’s the last movie star, and it would be an honor of honors to have a chance to make (hopefully) the final Mission Impossible movie with him. A Mission Impossible that makes you cry would be really, really cool.

Sev: You want to have, like, Logan but Mission Impossible.

Aneesh: It would just be called Ethan, I think.

Sev: What about Mission Impossible: Animal Heist?

Aneesh: . . . we could think about it.

It’s different for every person in the industry. For you two, what is the absolute ultimate peak career mark? Or–is there a peak?

Sev: Man, I don’t know. . . .

I think that’s a problem Aneesh and I probably both share, in that we both tend to be perfectionists. That mark? I would have probably told you two years ago it’d be to write a script together that gets into Sundance, and now the mark has changed, and it’s going to keep changing. It’s part of what drives us. And it’s hard to ever feel as accomplished as you can be–there’s always more to do.

If I can have a filmography that’s mainstream–specifically mainstream–and progressive, that would be awesome. Putting out pure emotion and getting rid of the negative connotation surrounding the word “mainstream” would be great. Most of what we get these days is just recycled, manufactured material, but if we can push mainstream back in an original direction and in an emotional direction, I think it would be a very cool achievement.

But. . . ask us again in 6 years. In the context of achievement, if you had asked us this question 5 years ago, the answer would have been to write something that would get the attention of a script competition. The first competition we submitted to was you guys [Script Pipeline]. I specifically remember we entered having no clue whether we were halfway decent writers, and then I’ll never forget the day where, Matt, I think you called me directly and I was like, “yo, did you call the right number? Are you sure?” I called Aneesh right after and said “dude, we won.”

It was completely “okay, cool. . . we may not suck at this, and we can probably keep going.” Thank you guys for being the first people who ever told us that we could put a couple words together.


Follow Sev: Twitter | Instagram

Follow Aneesh: Twitter | Instagram

Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

The Sinner – Pilot

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

Within the first 15 minutes of The Sinner, you know who the killer is. There’s no doubt about it—you see it happen, and dozens of witnesses see it too. Although a mystery, The Sinner isn’t as interested in the whodunnit, but the whydunnit. And centering the series on that aspect helps make The Sinner a taut, suspenseful, unpredictable thriller.

Written and developed by Derek R. Simonds and based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, the story opens with Cora (a spellbinding Jessica Biel in a powerhouse performance that’s currently up for an Emmy) going through a typical day. We get a subtle sense that she’s unhappy, troubled in some way, and our suspicions are confirmed almost immediately when she stabs a stranger on a crowded beach in broad daylight. From there, the question becomes why she did it, and detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) is the man pursuing it. Flashbacks and interviews slowly piece together some of the details.

The most important part of any mystery is, obviously, the mystery. That’s why we’re here in the first place, right? It’s a simple statement, but in practice it’s much harder to pull off. The audience needs to care about the mystery, and if the audience doesn’t care, it’s like that proverbial tree in a forest: If no one wants to know the answer, does the story make an impact? Fortunately, Simonds and Hammesfahr have crafted a gripping thriller with many of the genre’s requisite twists and turns, but the answers to the central mystery are centered in Cora. Without spoiling too much (in general, viewers are too sensitive and tend to be spoiler-averse to a fault, but spoiling plot points in a mystery is simply sociopathic), Cora quickly proves herself to be more victim than sinner, and the story becomes as much a psychological character study as it does a mystery.

Originally set up at USA (the channel) as a limited series, the first season proved to be a success, and the show was quickly picked up for a second, with Pullman’s detective returning to investigate another murderer. Both seasons are worth checking out, especially for any writers interested in how to create—and sustain—compelling mysteries.  This is simply one of the best shows on television right now.

Read The Sinner Pilot