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Script Pipeline

6th Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists

By | Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists
AnthonyHaynes

Anthony Haynes, creator of the comedy series Side FX.

Grand Prize Winner

Side FX (animated comedy)
by Anthony Haynes

Anthony Haynes became involved in creative arts as a teenager. What started as writing short films starring his friends grew to creating documentaries on hip-hop culture in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Making his directorial debut with “Nashville Tennessee Hip-Hop Producers and M.C.’s” in 2012, he was honored when it was selected for The Nashville Film Festival that same year.

It was Anthony’s love of storytelling that drove him toward animation. Self-taught in this field, he was able to showcase his talents to thousands simply by uploading his tales to the internet.

His passion for music can be heard in every project he is involved in. Whether it’s scoring his animated skits with exclusive music he has written, produced, and recorded himself, or working with and coaching local talent, he is humbly striving to become a dominant force in both industries.

View the animated series Side FX.

Runners-Up

My Dad is a Dragon (kids/animated) by Matt Linsky

The Quitter (dramedy) by Alec Whittle

Tiffany Rules (comedy) by Hannah Carrillo & Miki Ball

June 2015 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

WeekendBernies kubrick akira

Sony picked up Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs’ comedy Move That Body, described as The Hangover meets (Script Pipeline favoriteWeekend at Bernie’s with female leads in a bidding war. Blumhouse and Madhouse have teamed to produce Free Fall. The thriller, written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker, follows an estranged father and daughter clinging to a mountainside after an accident, making it a literal cliffhanger. 21‘s Allan Loeb sold Collateral Beauty, a drama about a depressed ad exec, with Rooney Mara and Hugh Jackman attached to star. Finally, Peter Scott’s college comedy Parents Weekend is moving forward at Lotus Entertainment.

Other script sales:

– In the worst case of development hell ever. . . . Stanley Kubrik’s Civil War drama The Downslope (originally written in 1956) is finally moving forward with Marc Forster attached to direct.

– Disney brought back Linda Woolverton to pen Maleficent 2.

– Marco Ramirez (DaredevilDa Vinci’s Demons) will adapt Akira for Warner Bros.

– Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) will adapt the nonfiction book Ashley’s War for Reese Witherspoon and Fox 2000.

– Anya Kochoff-Romano and Lily Hollander will write the Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve sequel, Mother’s Day. Garry Marshall to direct. Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Julia Roberts to star.

– Fox picked up Jason Micallef’s (Butter) pitch for Shadows, a cryptozoological sci-fi/horror franchise.

– Syriana writer/director Stephen Gaghan to write and direct a Charles Darwin biopic for Disney.

National Treasure – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

natltreasure

Let’s get this out of the way up front—National Treasure is not the best movie ever made. It probably doesn’t even cut into the top 100 adventure movies.

The concept deserves all the eye-rolling it generates: Benjamin Franklin Gates (yes, that’s really his name) races against a team of greedy mercenaries after discovering the Declaration of Independence boasts an invisible treasure map. However, National Treasure is just. . . fun. The creative team understood how goofy the underlying idea was (making well-placed jokes about it throughout) and played it as a tongue-in-cheek, family-friendly version of The Da Vinci Code. Substituting Christian lore with American history, scribes Cormac and Marianne Wibberley kept much of the structure intact. Gates (Nicolas Cage) jumps from city to city within the United States’ original 13 colonies, discovering clues and artifacts that both advance the treasure hunt and provide interesting tidbits of American history. The script never takes the concept too seriously, and neither does Cage or the other actors, who include Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Plummer.

The script itself does many things right. The story begins relatively early on. By page 21 we know the goal (find the priceless, historical treasure), the antagonist (the mercenary who betrayed Gates and is also after the treasure), and the first major obstacle (how will they get to the Declaration of Independence?). The script also gives us a nice ethical dilemma to help us become invested in Gates’ situation: since no government agency will believe him about the invisible map, he has to steal the Declaration of Independence himself before the mercenaries can, and in the process he becomes public enemy #1 for the FBI. Some of the plot points may strain credibility (the heist of the Declaration of Independence is just one example), but the Wibberleys do a good job of justifying the less-believable aspects. Most importantly, each character has clear goals, and their relationships are solid–the standout relationship is between Gates and his estranged father, Patrick Henry Gates, played by Voight. National Treasure didn’t win any Oscars and definitely shouldn’t have, but it’s well-structured entertainment.

Read the National Treasure Script

View More Produced Scripts

April 2015 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

HG WellsMulanJack-and-the-beanstalk-antahkarana

April was a slower month for script sales. Sony purchased Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton’s pitch for The Wells Initiative about a young H.G. Wells who literally experiences events that will inspire his stories. Universal has picked up A Meyers Thanksgiving, a spec comedy written by David E. Talbert about an estranged family’s first Thanksgiving after the matriarch died. OddLot bought Adam R. Perlman and Graham Sack’s rom-com spec Septillion to One, which follows an FBI agent who has been transferred to the Texas State Lottery’s fraud unit. Finally, Disney has acquired a live-action, period drama Mulan spec by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek.

Other script sales:

– Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan to write/direct a live-action Jack and the Beanstalk for Disney.

– Universal outbid Disney and Paramount to purchase Josh Gad and Jeremy Garelick’s untitled musical comedy. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz to provide the music.

– Warner Bros. acquired the pitch Principia, a historical thriller with Christian Contreras attached to write.

– Sean “Diddy” Combs to produce Brightmore Elementary (described as South Park in Detroit) for FX with Chip Hall and Chris Powell to write.

True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga to direct and Brokeback Mountain’s Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry to pen a drama based on the true story of Joe and Jadin Bell.

Project by Script Pipeline “Recommend” Writer in Development with Gene Simmons Prodco

By | Success Stories

Gene-Simmons

Temple, written by Script Pipeline “Recommend” writer Matt Savelloni, will be produced by WWE Studios and Kiss legend Gene Simmons under their new Erebus Pictures banner, which plans to finance and produce horror films. Simmons will also star in the horror/thriller. Temple centers on a team of operatives trapped inside a military compound after its AI is disabled, leading to “strange phenomena” as they unlock the mystery of the previous team’s disappearance.

Matt, who signed with a Script Pipeline partner (manager Andrew Kersey), has another action feature in development, Exile to Babylon.

Submit to a Script Pipeline competition

Submit for notes and potential industry exposure

Josh Chesler

By | Exclusive Interviews

JoshChesler

– Josh Chesler, writer of Chasing Ghosts starring Tim Meadows (SNL) and co-writer of Underground (Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition finalist), currently in pre-production with LAConfab Entertainment. His latest projects include the surreal adventure screenplay David P. Boorman and the Quest for Good News and the TV series Extractors, co-written with Paul Connor. Chasing Ghosts will be available for digital download and on VOD and DVD April 21.

Have your career goals always leaned toward film and writing?

From as early as I can remember, I was interested in writing and telling stories. I started reading at a very young age and began voraciously devouring books as well as movies. In junior high, I wrote a lot of short stories just for fun–most of which are thankfully stored on obsolete media that can never be recovered.

Then in high school, I had the good fortune of being able to take some film classes, which really changed my life and opened my eyes to what movies can be capable of–watching Kubrick, Godard, Hitchcock, and Lynch films at 14 was eye-opening, to say the least. That led me to apply to USC film school, where I majored in Film Production and really began to focus on writing in a whole new way. I came out of school determined to write and direct the kinds of films I wanted to see.

The first script you wrote: what were some of the most crucial things you learned early on?

Well, that first script wasn’t unlike those first short stories–a great learning experience, and a chance to fail in private. I had an amazing writing teacher at USC who guided me through that first feature, and I learned a ton with regards to structure, tone, and style. But what I hadn’t learned yet was how to really connect to my work, and tell stories that mattered to me.

It wasn’t until my fourth script (which was actually an early version of what became Chasing Ghosts) that I started to feel confident in my writing process and truly able to stand behind my work. Coming out of film school, my friends and I were convinced we’d sell that first or second script and be working screenwriters within a year. But the truth is, you have to earn it, and you have to develop your craft to the point where you’re ready for that career.

From initial concept until it went into production, what was the evolution of Chasing Ghosts from your side of things? What pieces had to come together to get the film made?

CGShot

Tim Meadows and Toby Nichols in the dramedy Chasing Ghosts.

It was quite a journey! In 2012, I sent the script, at that point titled The Autumn Children, to producer Molly Mayeux. She liked the script and saw a lot of potential in it, so we worked to develop it as a possible project for a production slate she and our Executive Producer Jay Walters were putting together. After a challenging but rewarding year of rewriting (and rewriting and rewriting), we finally landed on the script that became Chasing Ghosts. From there, the producers hired our fantastic director Joshua Shreve, who they had worked with on a previous project. His involvement really got the ball rolling, but of course his input led to even more rewrites, as he started putting his own stamp on the film.

We officially went into pre-production in March of 2013, and we were racing to get the film started while still casting for our pivotal lead roles. It was only when Tim Meadows signed on and we found the amazing young Toby Nichols for our lead role of Lucas that we knew we had a real movie on our hands. By May, we were shooting.

I also became an Executive Producer on the film, which has been an incredible gift and learning experience, as I got to be on set every day and work closely with the director and producer through every edit, sound mix, film festival, and distribution plan. Now, we can’t wait for people to finally see it!

You and your writing partner, Paul Connor, have placed as a finalist in the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition with a mystery/thriller (Underground) and the Great Movie Idea Contest with a romantic comedy. What genres do you gravitate toward?

As a writer, I always strive to challenge myself with each new project, whether that be a different genre, world, or storytelling style. That said, I find myself naturally being drawn to stories of characters who are trying to figure life out and who find themselves thrust into a situation that forces them to evolve, grow, and find new answers. I love filmmakers like Cameron Crowe, Richard Linklater, and David O. Russell who mix comedy and drama fluidly to tell stories of the human condition.

So in that sense, even if I’m writing (or co-writing) a thriller or action-heavy script, I’m always coming at it from that angle, and looking for the human connection inside of a story and concept. For example, Paul and I have a TV show we’ve created called Extractors, which is a large-scale action/drama, but at its core it’s a story about people who are given a second chance at life.

What are the biggest challenges (and blessings) when working with a writing partner?

It’s a great experience working with someone who shares your taste in film and sense of narrative, where you’re working together to find the best way to tell a story that you both believe in. Paul and I complement each other in different ways–I tend to think big picture while he is incredibly detail-oriented. We elevate each other’s ideas and push each other to be better. So in that sense, it’s a really great working relationship.

The challenge of writing with a partner, any partner, is that you are not the same person, and arguments and disputes will inevitably rise. Sometimes it’s over where to put a comma, and sometimes it’s over your entire third act. These “healthy debates” can actually serve your script and improve your story, but you do have to be prepared for that being a part of the process. The other challenge is just that you are subject to each other’s schedules, and it’s not always easy to be in the same room when you want to be, so you have to develop different ways of working together while trying to stay on the same page.

All that said, you’ve probably noticed that I also write on my own. Chasing Ghosts is an example of a film that is incredibly personal which I couldn’t imagine writing with any partner, however close we are. I just finished a new feature spec that is also quite personal and idiosyncratic, and it just felt like the type of movie I needed to write by myself. Certain genres and stories lend themselves better to collaboration than others, and Paul and I fully realize that we both have many stories to tell.

ChasingGhostsNow that you have a writing credit on a produced film, have other opportunities risen as a direct result?

Actually, it’s interesting because we haven’t shared the film with too many people yet, so it’s been kind of this big secret that we’ve had for the past year. Having the film released really changes the conversation: now it’s a movie that’s out there in the world, and it’s a real tangible thing as opposed to a file on someone’s computer. I’m looking forward to people’s reactions to the film and hope that it serves as a great writing sample for me on future work.

Outside of that, the script that Paul and I were Script Pipeline finalists on, Underground, now has a production company attached, and we’ll be co-directing the film. So we’ve been working closely with the producers on developing the script and moving into the early stages of pre-production. We’re hoping to get it up in front of the cameras by early next year.

Is there a single, best piece of advice for other writers looking to get their screenplays produced on an independent level? Or is there really no special formula?

The indie world is really thriving these days. There is so much you can do on a much smaller budget today, compared to when I got out of film school. Chasing Ghosts is a great example. We made the film for under a million, but we attracted top talent like Tim Meadows and Frances Conroy because they loved the script.

So while it’s a cliche, it’s actually true that it all comes down to the story you’re telling. If you write a great script that can be produced on a small scale, you have a real chance at getting that movie made and getting A-list actors interested, because actors are hungry for great roles that are few and far between in many of today’s movies.

I think my best piece of advice would be to try to find the types of producers who gravitate toward the kinds of stories you want to tell. There are many independent producers out there who are eager to nurture new voices and tell original stories, and it’s worth seeking them out. Organizations like the Sundance Institute (not just the festival) and Film Independent are great places to begin.

The other option, of course, is finding an economical way to just make your film yourself. It’s amazing how many films are now being funded by Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and people are making incredible films for a fraction of the budget you used to need. The key is to stay passionate about your own project and your story and have that come through on the page–and with every person you talk to about the project. As the writer, your greatest power is your own voice.

Submit to a Script Pipeline competition

Submit for notes and potential industry exposure

5th Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists

By | Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists
SimonAndy

From left: Simon Chong, Toots and Cornelius (obviously), and Andy Farrant

Grand Prize Winner

Cornelius & Toots: Paranormal Investigators (Animated Comedy)
by Simon Chong and Andy Farrant

Simon Chong was born in Wales but now lives in London, where he is creative director of his own animation studio, Headspin Media. Also a London resident, Andy Farrant writes, hosts, and produces videos for his YouTube channel, Outside Xbox, which has hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Long-time friends, Simon and Andy’s first collaboration is Cornelius & Toots: Paranormal Investigators and the project is a very hands-on production, with Andy writing, Simon animating and directing, and both of them providing many of the voices throughout.

They intend to keep making episodes for as long as there are people who want to watch them. View more Cornelius and Toots episodes.

Finalists

Full Court Press (Drama) by Erica Clethen

Mr. Doom (Animation/Comedy) by Nick Watson

Spaceship Earth (Sci-Fi) by Corey Spanner

7th Great Movie Idea Contest Finalists

By | Great Movie Idea Contest Finalists

Grand Prize WinnerMattTolbert

The Starter Marriage (Romantic Comedy)
by Matthew Tolbert

Matthew Tolbert is an award-winning screenplay, comic strip, comic book, short story, and greeting card writer. And beer snob. His works have been syndicated and published nationwide. Proving that espresso works, he has written for Marvel, Malibu, and other comic book companies, has had science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction short stories, and poetry published in a variety of magazines, and greeting cards produced for Gibson Cards, Allport Editions, and Beyond.com.

The Starter Marriage, a romantic comedy, is his first feature length screenplay. Present writing projects include his fifth script (this one is on Leif Eriksson) and a nasty email to his cable company.

Finalists

Download Me (Sci-Fi/Comedy) by Mel Hamill

Hell Week (Comedy/Horror) by Monica Byrnes & Toria Sheffield

VMS (Sci-Fi/Action) by Alexander Janko

Tomb Raider Reboot Hires Script Pipeline Writer

By | Success Stories

LaraCroft

MGM and Warner Bros. hired Script Pipeline writer Evan Daugherty in February 2015 to pen the new Tomb Raider film. Graham King (The DepartedArgo) producing. Instead of a sequel to the 2001 Angelina Jolie version, the new plot will feature a younger Lara Croft on her first adventure.

Evan found representation with manager/producer Jake Wagner after winning the 2008 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition. Adaptations are nothing new for Daugherty: his resume includes recent feature releases Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Divergent, in addition to in-development TV series projects Esmeralda (ABC), Midnight Mass (NBC), The Foundation (Fox), and Five Ghosts (SyFy).

Submit to a Script Pipeline competition

Submit for notes and potential industry exposure

January 2015 Script Sales

By | Script Sales

Zombies vs RobotsCatGone GirlThe Jetsons

2015 started out strong for former Script Pipeline Finalist Matt Altman, who sold his sci-fi/action spec Sam & Liz: A Killer Love Story to Relativity Media. Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street) has been hired to rewrite Zombies vs. Robots, based on the comic book by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood. January was also a good mention for comedy with Barry Sonnenfeld signing on to direct Nine Lives by Dan Antoniazzi and Ben Shiffrin in which a businessman finds himself in the body of the family cat. Aaron Buchsbaum and Teddy Riley sold their comedy pitch Psych to Sony and Columbia. Bobby Farrelly has signed on to direct the comedy One Night Stan, written by Kevin Barnett, Chris Pappas, and Mike Bernier. Benderspink and CBS Films are producing Senior Year by Andrew Knauer and Arthur Pielli, a comedy about a high school cheerleader who wakes up from a coma after twenty years and decides to go back to school to become the prom queen.

Other script sales:

Gone Girl team Gillian Flynn and David Fincher will pen and direct (respectively) an adaptation of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

– Edgar Wright is moving forward on his action/comedy Baby Driver, which is centered on a young getaway driver for bank robbers.

– In news related to the two biggest Star franchises: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung to write the third Star Trek, and Chris Weitz will script the as-of-now untitled Star Wars spinoff.

 Selma director/co-writer Ava DuVernay will write, direct, and produce a drama with elements of mystery and romance set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina.

– Matt Lieberman will adapt The Jetsons for the big screen.