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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.

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“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

“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

“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)

“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

“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 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

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

Kurt ConetyGreat Movie Idea Contest Winner

“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

July 2018 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

July was a slower month for script sales. David M. Crabtree’s script Plane has found a home at Mandalay Pictures. The thriller follows a traveling salesman who is trapped alone in a small airborne plane after the pilot dies. John Moore (Behind Enemy LinesA Good Day to Die Hard) is set to direct. Twentieth Century Fox is moving forward with the comedy Stoned Alone, an adult version of Home Alone that follows a stoner who misses his flight and must deal with thieves inside his home. Kevin Burrows and Matt Mider are on the script, based off an idea from Fox’s Matt Reilly. Ryan Reynolds will produce, and Augustine Frizzell will direct. Screen Gems and Brownstone Productions have picked up Savion Einstein’s comedy Superfecundation, which is a rare situation that occurs when twins have two different fathers. Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman will produce. Makeready, Hillman Grad Productions, and De La Revolución Films will produce Lena Waithe’s crime thriller Queen & Slim. Based on an idea by James Frey, with a story by Waithe, Andrew Coles, Michelle Knudsen and Frey, the story follows a black couple on a first date who kill a police officer in self-defense and have to flee to Cuba. Melina Matsoukas will direct, and Daniel Kaluuya will star.

Other script sales:

– Erin Cressida Wilson has been tapped to write the Indecent Proposal adaptation/remake for Paramount. The 1993 film was written by Amy Holden Jones and based on the novel by Jack Engelhard.

– Patrick Ness will write a Rumpelstiltskin movie for Sony. Peter Dinklage is set to star and produce.

– Disney has picked up Ola Shokunbi and Lindsey Reed Palmer’s pitch Sadé. The film will follow a young African girl named Sadé who accepts her newly discovered magical warrior powers to protect herself and her people, and Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) will produce.

– Liz Hannah and Jennifer Niven are adapting Niven’s YA novel All the Bright Places for The Mazur/Kaplan Company and Echo Lake Productions. Brett Haley will direct, and Justice Smith and Elle Fanning are set to star.

– Michael Younesi to write/direct the family adventure MakerForce 5 for Studio71.  The story follows five kids who band together to fight off a mysterious invasion that happens after all of their town’s parents suddenly disappear.

–  Focus Features and Carnival Films & Television are teaming for the Downton Abbey movie, to be written by series creator Julian Fellows and directed by Brian Percival.


Heidi Nyburg

By | Exclusive Interviews

Heidi Nyburg followed up her top 10 finalist placing in Script Pipeline’s TV Writing Competition with a win in the 2017 Script Pipeline First Look Project for her pilot Silicon Curve. The series is loosely based on the story of her mother working in the male-dominated 1970s Silicon Valley. Soon after her win, the pilot garnered attention from producers and managers. She writes both features and TV material.

You’ve worked in entertainment for a while, but what made you jump into screenwriting? 

If by “for a while” you mean directed a few shorts and produced a feature in college, then yes, I am clearly an industry veteran. The truth is I started late, I did things backward, got the job first, then went to college. I have always loved writing, and while working as an analyst at Netflix, I took a weekend TV writing class at a community college in Cupertino. I knew that having story ideas wasn’t enough, it’s all in the execution, and I wanted to create something real. Later, I went back to college and studied television and film at San Jose State University. I took a screenwriting class there, and the first week, the professor used my scene as an example in class. We cast it, did a little table read, and everyone laughed in the right places. It was fun. I think I still have the audio recording because I thought it was really special to have that opportunity, and I’m kind of sappy like that. Looking back, it was pretty awful, so much description. I wrote my first feature in that class and then was invited to take the masters class as an undergrad.

But I think it was taking the UCLA professional programs in both TV and film that really solidified it for me. I had some fantastic teachers. The late John Sweet was an inspirational mentor to me, and Chuck Kim in the TV writing program. Both were instrumental in helping me elevate my writing. They asked good questions, which really pushed me to get to the root of the stories I was writing.

Although you’ve written features, it’s been your pilots that have cracked through (at least with Script Pipeline). For up-and-coming writers who kind of straddle the line, writing features and TV material equally, what are some of the key takeaways that help you transition between both? 

I started out writing features, and I’ll always be drawn to writing them. You get the entire story, it’s full circle. But I think I’ve focused on TV more because of the fantasy, the dream, of being able to see what the characters do next. I know none of my shows are shows yet, but I firmly believe that if you are going to do something, do it with the intent and the belief and the work ethic to make the end goal happen. That’s a super long and wordy way of saying act as if. If I’m writing a show, I’m writing the bible, too. I’m doing everything possible to make it a thing. Writing television offered more for me in terms of building a long-term world and characters I’d want to follow. And transitioning back and forth, I found that writing for TV has improved my feature writing. Learning to write act breaks in television and then transferring that technique to film scripts has helped me tremendously to create scenes that push the story forward. Even if you’re writing for streaming or premium cable where there are no commercial breaks, you still write to them, so that skill translates really well to film. I think every good film does that, every scene should be compelling enough to work as an act break.

I guess the takeaway is to let the lessons from one platform of writing spill over into your other writing. Be fluid about it and see what serves the story best. If you have a feature you’ve written that feels like it has more there, try rewriting it as a pilot. It worked for Sam Esmail with Mr. Robot.

Writers are bound to receive tons of advice. Some of it. . . well, probably unsolicited. Who were the figures that motivated you to keep it up–and more importantly, what guidance did they impart that continues to carry you through from script to script? How does a writer decide what advice to take and what advice to abandon? There can only be one direction, after all. At some point do you just trust your gut instinct?

I’ve been pretty lucky in that everyone around me has been supportive and encouraging. From my neighbor who listens to pitch after pitch on our walks, to friends who read drafts. And my husband, who has read everything I’ve written more times than I have and who has gotten quite good at giving serious notes. To put it diplomatically, he’s very objective. He reads my work like a loveless stranger; no holds barred. It’s kinda sexy, actually.

The least supportive person has been me. You know that voice that pops up? The “you’re not good enough” voice. “Who do you think you are? You’ll never be Shonda Rhimes.” Yes, that voice can be painfully specific. I spend some time pushing that stuff away. Ultimately, though, whenever I’ve thought of giving up, some bright spot will reveal itself, and I’ll laugh about ever contemplating it. I think this goes for anything you do that’s competitive and requires a person to keep trying harder: you reach a point where it’s more difficult psychologically to not pursue the goal than it is to pursue the goal. Giving up is always harder. It’s the death of a dream, and who wants that?

Advice to take or to abandon (I’m going to take that to mean notes). . . . I’m just gonna say it: I love notes. Notes are a gift. Whether at face value or for the note behind the note. The fact that someone took the time to read words that came out of my head still blows my mind. Most notes are incredibly helpful, and all notes have a spirit of the note that has something to reveal.

As for deciding whether or not to use a note, I think about it a lot. I play the change out in my head, play out the ramifications. Some of the best notes have been ones where initially I’m almost repulsed by the idea, something that feels really backward. Sometimes it’s a note I’ve given myself. Something doesn’t feel right about a plot point, but I’ve been living with it so long it’s like a comfortable old sofa. So do the hard work, try to apply the note, make the change that seems impossible. Every single time, the story will be better for having done so. Even if you don’t end up using the feedback, the exercise of trying to use it will always be useful. I think the important thing to remember when receiving notes is to listen graciously. Every person who reads your work has a whole world they bring to the table, different perspectives, experience. Take it all in and decide what works best for the story.

And yeah, at some point it is a gut instinct. But most of the time, for me, it involves some insomnia. What if it doesn’t work? Ah, but what if it does?

Silicon Curve stood out to us on a number of levels regarding the writing, but also conceptually. It’s very “right now.” And such a stellar role for an actress. What made you decide to pursue it as a series? How much did your childhood and your mother’s experiences play a factor, maybe not in the direction of the plot, but the themes and some of the character inspirations.

Initially, I pursued the story because I kept noticing that the people talking about the birth of technology in the Valley were mostly men. And that’s not meant to sound anti-male-accomplishment at all. Yay men. It’s just that I knew, first hand, that there was a lot more story to tell. Growing up in Silicon Valley with aunts, a grandmother, and a mother who worked in tech meant that I knew those stories very well, and I thought wow, this is something people really don’t hear much about.

Plot-wise it felt much more like a series. It has that snapshot in time quality, it’s historical, it’s recognizable, the politics are there. The women and men in this story are growing and changing along with the country and society, sometimes quickly which causes a backlash, so there are growing pains. And I think looking back on those years, we are afforded an opportunity to see what has changed and what hasn’t changed. And of course, the advancing technology is there, but more importantly, I think the characters are what drives the story, their actions and their reactions to the world.

A lot of the stories in the pilot and in the bible are based on personal experience, but there was also a ton of research involved. In terms of themes, there’s a lot going on. The pilot touches on what it’s like to be the only person you can depend upon and the alone-ness of single parenthood. The fear of leaving something not great in exchange for the unknown. I think these questions and themes are relatable. And I’ve had people say don’t make Jill (the protagonist) stay with Randy (her husband), he’s so wrong for her, we won’t like her. But she kind of has to work that out for herself. And I think that makes her more interesting. What will compel her to leave or to stay? Will she be able to be alone or will she be in relationship after relationship? I think some of those answers will come from experiences in my life, and the way things played out for my mom.

Character-wise almost every person came from an impression of someone I knew, but then I intensified that impression and often combined them with another person. And Valerie is based on a friend from high school. And yeah, I hope you’re right, I hope Jill is actress bait. She’s flawed and I think she’d be a lot of fun to play. She’s inspired by an incredibly strong woman. A woman who had only been in the country a short time, had two small children, and was trying to make it all work but also trying to have a life of her own. I think a lot of people can relate to the push-pull of wanting more, against the odds.

What do you feel is the best starting point for a writer who just finished the first draft of their script? With Silicon Curve, for example, what was your next step? Is there any hesitancy when you decide the script is ready and it’s time to circulate it to industry, platforms like Script Pipeline, etc.?

I think the best place to start when you’ve got a solid first draft–like professional, no typos, on point with the formatting and act breaks–is to submit to contests. Despite any hesitancy, if you’ve done your best, I think at some point you just have to jump in. I sought out contests that have a reputation for giving good notes. Script Pipeline was one of the first contests I entered. And when I say good notes, I don’t mean notes that just tell you all the positive things about your work. I mean solid, constructive, sometimes uncomfortable notes that help you grow and better your story.

From the polished, ready-to-move-forward draft, I kept entering and rewriting and moved from quarterfinalist, to semifinalist, up the ranks until I won a couple of times. Eventually, you get to a place where the notes are from execs or a manager and they say OK, let’s leave it alone, we have it where we want it. That can be a little scary because I’m the kind of person who would reach into the television to tweak the dialogue if I could. And then always be working on the next thing.

Full disclosure: you have a family, you have kids. . . not unlike a lot of working writers. It isn’t just about carving time to write, we realize. It’s about carving time and getting in the right frame of mind. Everyone has their own creative system. What’s yours?

For me, it’s all about compartmentalizing. I’ve always got this side brain thing going, like a backburner always thinking about the script rewrite, or the new pilot. It helps to honestly identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, I know I’m a morning person, so I save mornings and afternoons for writing and use nights for things like online classes or webinars or emails. It helps to surround yourself with people who don’t mind non-sequitur talk about your script. Ideas come when they come, so I jot down notes in my phone a lot, bits of dialogue, a conflict to work out, a new scene.

As for getting in the right frame of mind, for me, that’s a luxury I can’t afford. It’s work. Yes, it’s work that I love but, nonetheless, it’s work that needs to get done no matter what my frame of mind is. There are much better writers out there who are always in the right frame of mind, so I have to put myself there no matter what else is going on. I give myself deadlines, sometimes contest deadlines, fellowship deadlines, and now, get new pages to the manager deadlines. Also, I learned a trick from a guy I met who wrote for Rolling Stone, he said he always quits working for the day while he’s in the middle of writing a scene. Quit while you have something going so that when you come back to the page, you are instantly engaged in a scene that is already on its way. It works for me. Also typing with my kids on my lap is an undervalued skill that I’m hoping becomes an Olympic sport because I’m getting kind of good at it.

And lastly, I think it’s important to make a commitment to yourself to push forward, to find the time to work on your craft and not give up.

Heidi Nyburg

A television and film writer originally from Silicon Valley, Heidi attended the UCLA Professional Programs in both screenwriting and writing for television and studied with Richard Walter and John Sweet. She focuses on dramatic one-hour shows that explore themes of independence, grief, and sometimes, murder. Her pilots and features have placed in several respected contests, including her feature Mock Draft, which made the top 10% at the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, and Silicon Curve, based loosely on the career of her mother, which won the 2017 Script Pipeline First Look Project. Heidi has written and produced sketches and short films and produced a feature film, the coming of age comedy Always Learning, currently seeking distribution. She is managed by Sonia Gambaro of Pollinate Entertainment.

Follow Heidi: Twitter

Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

A Quiet Place – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

There’s no way around it: To make an effective horror or thriller movie, you need tension. Lots of it. (You also need characters the audience will care about, but that should be a given for any screenplay.) One of the classic horror set pieces is the killer stalking a potential victim, who then hides in the closet or in the bathroom or under the bed and struggles not to make a single sound. Dozens of movies probably just popped into your mind with that brief description. But what if that classic horror moment became the premise of an entire feature?

A Quiet Place, written by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski and directed by Krasinski, makes that premise a reality. In the near future, Earth has been attacked by extraterrestrials and most of the world’s population has been wiped out. The catch? These aliens have ultra-sensitive hearing, so if you’re too loud—well, good luck with that. The result is ninety of the tensest minutes in film history. Suffice it to say, there’s a reason this movie became a surprise hit upon its release. (It holds 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and 84/100 on Metacritic, and it made over $300 million on a $20 million budget.)

One of the screenplay’s greatest assets is its willingness to ask what’s the worst that could happen. The answer: Make one of the main characters pregnant and have her go into labor early. How many birth scenes have you seen on film? And how many of them feature a woman who has to remain absolutely quiet or else face certain death? Yeah…. And it doesn’t help that once the baby’s born, all the newborn wants to do is cry.

Although this draft of the script is an earlier one (this draft is Woods and Beck’s spec script that caught Krasinski’s attention), the bones are all there. It’s a quick, electric read—because the story necessitates it, the script lacks much dialogue, so it comes in at a brisk 67 pages. It’s easy to see how the script attracted Krasinski in the first place, and why Emily Blunt (Krasinski’s real-life wife) agreed to star in it with him.

In recent years, horror movies have experienced a strong creative resurgence (see Get Out, Hereditary, Annihilation, and the Unfriended movies for some of the most recent ones). A Quiet Place undoubtedly earns a place on that list and will surely go down as bonafide classic in the genre. Read the script and see the movie. It’s a masterclass in effective cinematic tension.

Read A Quiet Place‘s Script