Script Pipeline - Home
---
Searching

Recent Success Stories

- Written by Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition finalists and First Look Project winners Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chagnaty, Searching released in August to tremendous critical acclaim. The innovative mystery/thriller was picked up by Sony earlier this year at Sundance for $5 million and stars John Cho. Aneesh makes his directorial debut.

The two are currently developing another feature, Run, through Lionsgate.

---
First Look Project

Producers Reviewing Screenplays and Pilots - Register by September 20th

 

SUBMIT A SCREENPLAY | SUBMIT A TV PILOT

The 7th Annual First Look Project fulfills the requests of studios, production companies, agencies, and top managers by finding unique, high-concept material across two main categories:

• Screenplay - divisions for Action/AdventureComedyDramaHorror/Thriller, and Sci-fi/Fantasy

• TV Pilot - divisions for Hour and Half-hour original pilots, any genre

One winner in each division receives a share of $15,000, industry circulation, and long-term development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team.

"The 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--the smartest thing we did all year!"
-Ben and Tyler Soper, First Look Project Winners (The Devil in Evelyn)

Supported by Good Fear Film + Management (Rings), Panay Films (Masterminds), Lakeshore Entertainment (Age of Adaline), Zero Gravity Management (Ozark), Silent R Management (reps the Academy Award-winning director of Moonlight Barry Jenkins), Madhouse Entertainment (Prisoners), CAA, and other Script Pipeline partners, the competition introduces the best scripts to major companies.

Unlike Script Pipeline's main Screenwriting and TV writing competitions, entries for First Look are judged equally on writing ability and commercial potential. The originality of the concept and a strong understanding of genre and marketplace trends will take precedence, as well as overall writing ability.

"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 Monge, Contest Finalist (SOS)

SUBMIT A SCREENPLAY | SUBMIT A TV PILOT

---

Free 10 min career advice calls and 20 percent off all WGA mentor services

Dave Kline (CO-EP on SNATCH) and co-founder of Script Pipeline, along with his colleague Chris Sey at WritersForWriters will be accepting writers for script and book consultations. A completed script is not required. We can customize the consults to fit where you’re at with your project- i.e. logline, treatment, script, financing etc…

All consultations during the month-long period will be discounted at 20% off. To schedule a session, please enter promo code WIMSP at http://www.writers-for-writers.com/consultations/

And we will be continuing to offer the free 10 min call where you connect with Dave or Chris to discuss what the consultations will entail or if you simply have questions about your writing. To sign up for a 10 min call please contact info@writers-for-writers.com.

Our Fellowships are once again open for Diversity, Female, and Indie Fellowships—To submit for a fellowship- click http://www.writers-for-writers.com/fellowships/. All fellowships are also 20% off with the code WIMSP.

The mission statement of WritersForWriters has always been for our WGA consultants and mentors to pay it forward to aspiring writers hoping to soon become WGA writers themselves. 

We look forward to reading!

Best,

Dave, Chris, Fior, and the team at Writers-For-Writers

Learn more about Writers-For-Writers

Follow Writers for Writers on Twitter (@writforwriters) and Facebook for updates and news about the industry’s push towards diversity.

---

Script Pipeline Interview - Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chagnaty

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.

Read the Full Interview

---

August 2018 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 Asiansis 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. Acmefor 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 Supergirlfor Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.

Read More Script Sales

---

The Sinner - Pilot

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 creating—and sustaining—compelling mysteries.  This is simply one of the best shows on television right now.

Read The Sinner Pilot

---

Script Pipeline Workshop Notes - Screenplays and Pilots

Established in 2000, the Script Pipeline Workshop is one of the longest-running notes services in the industry, offering feedback on screenplays, pilots, and pitches for film and television. Hundreds of writers each year, from beginners to professionals, benefit from the expertise of a small, seasoned group of development execs, many of whom are active writers and producers themselves.

Any genre or format accepted. We review everything from partially completed scripts to production-ready final drafts. Writers may also request a critique on supplemental materials (such as a TV show bible, synopsis, or logline), as well as follow up with their reader with additional questions on the feedback.

Together with our competitions, the Workshop is another outlet to funnel upper-echelon projects to an array of industry contacts and shepherd scripts into production.

*contest entrants receive a discounted rate on General Reviews; add-on notes available during registration for any competition

Development Notes | General Review

---

Upcoming Competition Deadlines & Dates

2018 First Look Project (screenplays and pilots) - Deadline: September 20th

2018 Great Movie Idea Contest - Early Deadline: October 15th

2018 Great TV Show Idea Contest - Early Deadline: October 15th

2018 Screenwriting Competition - Pre-register by December 31st

2018 TV Writing Competition - Pre-register by December 31st


Other Pipeline Competitions:

Film Pipeline - Short Films and Scripts
FINAL DEADLINE: September 23rd

Book Pipeline - Fiction, Non-fiction, Plays

Script Pipeline is a division of Pipeline Media Group, LLC