Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History - July 2022 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    North by
        Northwest

    screenplay by

    • Ernest Lehman

    North by Northwest -

    “The Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures.” That’s how screenwriter Ernest Lehman described the screenplay for North by Northwest, which debuted on this day in history in Chicago in 1959. It is now considered one of the greatest films of all time. Lehman and Hitchcock worked together on the main elements of the story, one of which was the idea of the hero being mistaken for a fake agent. That idea actually came from an American journalist who had told Hitchcock about spies creating fake agents during World War II. Hitchcock and Lehman bought that idea from the journalist for $10,000.

  • On this day in history

    Alice
         Guy-Blaché

    • Born on this day

    Alice Guy-Blaché -

    Alice Guy-Blaché was born in Paris, France on this day in history in 1873. She grew up to become a pioneer filmmaker and is believed to have made the first-ever film featuring an all-African American cast, called "A Fool and His Money." The film is preserved at AFI.

  • On this day in history

    Caché
         (Hidden)

    screenplay by

    • Michael Haneke

    Caché (Hidden) -

    Michael Haneke wrote and directed the French psychological thriller “Caché,” also known as “Hidden,” which premiered on this day in history at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival to enthusiastic crowds. The film follows a middle-class couple who find mysterious tapes on their porch that indicate someone has been filming them. The man, Georges, believes that the culprit is Majid, an Algerian orphan whom his family had planned to adopt when he was younger, but Georges objected at the time. Haneke layered the plot with overtones of guilt, childhood memories, France’s Algerian War, and colonialism. Haneke said he began writing the screenplay with one question in mind: How does someone confront the guilt of mistakes they made in childhood? The theme was universally appealing and won several awards at Cannes. It has since been named to the BBC list of 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.

    Read the screenplay transcription for “Caché.”

  • On this day in history

    Terminator 2:
            Judgement Day

    screenplay by

    • James Cameron
    • William Wisher

    Terminator 2: Judgement Day -

    “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” debuted on this day in history in 1991, and is considered one of the best sequels ever made. It was written by James Cameron and William Wisher, who completed the first 140-page draft just one month before a shooting script was given to the cast and crew. That quick turnaround and a fast production schedule would allow the film to be widely released on July 4, 1991.

  • On this day in history

      Seinfeld

    screenplay by

    • Larry David
    • Jerry Seinfeld

    Seinfeld -

    For “a show about nothing,” as it’s often described, “Seinfeld” sure left its mark on popular culture. The pilot was first screened on this day in history in 1989. As a popular comedian in the late 80s, NBC approached Jerry Seinfeld to write a sitcom, and so he turned to his friend Larry David for help. The pair decided to write a show about the minutiae of life, complete with a fictionalized version of Seinfeld and his friends living in New York City. As such, many of the episodes are based on the writers’ real-life encounters. T.V. Guide named “Seinfeld” the greatest show of all time in 2002. But, because its comedy is based on American cultural expectations and political incorrectness, it never reached the popularity around the globe that it did in the U.S.

  • On this day in history

    Marnie

    screenplay by

    • Jay Presson Allen

    Marnie -

    Screenwriter Jay Presson Allen wrote the final script for Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller “Marnie,” which premiered on this day in history in 1964. Allen based the screenplay on Winston Graham’s novel of the same name, which follows Mark and his marriage to Marnie, a thief who suffers from psychological distress, as Mark tries to clean up the mess Marnie leaves in her path. Allen was the third screenwriter to work on the script, following Joseph Stefano (who wrote Hitchcock’s “Pyscho”) and Evan Hunter (who wrote Hitchcock’s “The Birds”). Stefano was released from the project when Hitchcock found out that Grace Kelly would not be able to play the lead, while Hunter was fired from the project for disagreeing with the rape scene. When the film premiered, critics were harsh, but it has since gained critical acclaim as one of Hitchcock’s finest films. #thisdayinhistory #screenplay #filmmaking

    Read the screenplay transcription for “Marnie.”

  • On this day in history

      Forrest
    Gump

    screenplay by

    • Eric Roth

    Forrest Gump -

    On this day in 1994, “Forrest Gump” charmed audiences with a story told through eyes of a man with an IQ of 75. The script, originally written as a novel by Winston Groom, varied greatly in its adaptation for the screen by Eric Roth, focusing more on Forrest’s relationship with Jenny than the life events he was experiencing in the 60s.

  • On this day in history

       American
       Pie

    screenplay by

    • Adam Herz

    American Pie -

    Screenwriter Adam Herz wrote the screenplay for “American Pie” during a vacation in 1998, and it quickly moved to production for a summer 1999 release on this day in history. The writer’s experience only included a few T.V. sitcom spec scripts, but his agent encouraged him to try a feature film. The teen comedy film was crass, but audiences loved it, and it was a huge box office success. Three sequels followed.

  • On this day in history

    The Magnificent
       Ambersons

    screenplay by

    • Orson Welles

    The Magnificent Ambersons -

    Orson Welles wrote, produced, and directed “The Magnificent Ambersons,” which premiered on this day in history in 1942. He adapted the story from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Booth Tarkington, which follows a wealthy Midwestern family during the automobile age as their fortune starts to deteriorate. He first adapted the story for a one-hour radio broadcast, then later for the film. But the film version was heavily edited from Welles’ previous vision, with the studio RKO removing more than an hour of footage from the rough cut of the movie and revising the ending to be a happier one. Despite the changes, the movie as it was released is still considered one of Welles’ masterpieces, earning four Academy Awards nominations. #thisdayinhistory #screenplay #filmmaking

    Read the shooting script for “The Magnificent Ambersons.”

  • On this day in history

    TheOffice

    created by

    • Ricky Gervais
    • Stephen Merchant

    TheOffice -

    Before its massive success as an international T.V. franchise, “The Office” started as a relatively low-rated 14-episode sitcom on BBC Two. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant created the series about the daily lives of office employees at a fictional company, but the themes and stories were so universal that the show was eventually sold to 80 different countries for broadcast, with some networks even localizing the show and its characters. It was the first British comedy to be nominated for a Golden Globe award in a quarter-century, and the first-ever to win the comedy category.

  • On this day in history

    Orange Is The
     New Black

    created by

    • Jenji Kohan

    Orange Is The New Black -

    Jenji Kohan created “Orange Is the New Black” for Netflix based on the true-life memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,” written by Piper Kerman. It premiered on this day in history in 2013. A friend sent Kohan the book, and she set a meeting with Kerman to convince her to allow the adaptation. The show’s seventh and final season premiered in July 2019. To date, the show is Netflix’s most-watched series, winning several honors and nominations at the Golden Globes, the Emmy’s, the Writers Guild of America Awards, and a Peabody Award.

  • On this day in history

    Eyes
      Wide
    Shut

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick
    • Frederic Raphael

    Eyes Wide Shut -

    Stanley Kubrick hired screenwriter Frederic Raphael to co-write the adaptation of the novella, “Traumnovelle” by Arthur Schnitzler, which later become the film “Eyes Wide Shut” on this day in history in 1999. Kubrick first bought the rights to the novella back in the 60s but didn’t start writing the script until hiring Raphael. Some changes to the story were made, including moving the location from Austria to New York City. Kubrick passed away just six days after he showed the final cut of the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” to Warner Bros. Pictures.

  • On this day in history

      Mildred
    Pierce

    screenplay by

    • Ranald MacDougall

    Mildred Pierce -

    The film noir and thriller “Mildred Pierce” premiered on this day in history in 1945. Ranald MacDougall adapted the screenplay from James M. Cain’s crime novel of the same name. The plots are similar, following a divorced mother whose life starts to unravel as she works to support her spoiled daughter, but the murder only occurs in the film version of the story. Ranald earned his place in the scriptwriting industry by writing screenplays in his spare time while working as a page at Rockefeller Center. He’d submit the scripts to his boss under various pen names until finally getting hired as a staff writer for NBC Radio. #thisdayinhistory #screenplay #filmmaking

    Read the screenplay transcript for “Mildred Pierce.”

  • On this day in history

    Die Hard

    screenplay by

    • Steven E. de Souza
    • Jeb Stuart

    Die Hard -

    It's more than three decades since "Die Hard" burst into theaters in this day in history in 1988. The thriller, written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart, is still known as the epitome of action, and launched Bruce Willis' career, as well as four sequels, a comic book and video games.

  • On this day in history

      The Dark
         Knight

    screenplay by

    • Jonathan Nolan
    • Christopher Nolan

    The Dark Knight -

    “The Dark Knight,” written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, debuted on this day in history in 2008. The treatment and first draft were written by screenwriter David S. Goyer, who is given story credit on the film. It was the second film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, preceded by “Batman Begins,” and followed by “The Dark Knight Rises.” The film received a ton of attention ahead of its wide release after Heath Ledger – who played the Joker – died from an overdose. It became the highest-grossing film of 2008 and won many awards.

  • On this day in history

    The Blair Witch
     Project

    screenplay by

    • Daniel Myrick
    • Eduardo Sanchez

    The Blair Witch Project -

    The Blair Witch Project debuted on this day in history in 1999. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez conceived the story, and wrote a loose, 35-page screenplay with room for improvisation. The film is credited with bringing “found footage” technique mainstream and is considered one of the most successful independent films ever made. With just a $60k budget, it grossed $250m worldwide.

  • On this day in history

      Seven Brides for
    Seven Brothers

    screenplay by

    • Albert Hackett
    • Frances Goodrich
    • Dorothy Kingsley

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers -

    The musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” premiered on this day in history in 1954. Written by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Dorothy Kingsley, the story centers around a man who brings his wife home to his farm, only to have his six brothers decide that they want to get married, too. The trio of writers based the screenplay on the short story “The Sobbin’ Woman,” written by Stephen Vincent Benét. The film was selected for preservation at the U.S. National Film Registry for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. It went on to earn five Academy Awards, including Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay. The musical won one Oscar for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

  • On this day in history

    Inception

    screenplay by

    • Christopher Nolan

    Inception -

    “Inception,” written and directed by Christopher Nolan, debuted on this day in theaters in 2010. The complicated nature of the film delayed its sale; Nolan completed an 80-page treatment for the movie in 2002 but shelved the idea. After several years of working on the script here and there, Warner Bros. purchased it in 2009. Shooting began just four months later. 

  • On this day in history

    Wong
          Kar-Wai

    • Born on this day

    Wong Kar-Wai -

    Happy birthday, Wong Kar-Wai! Known for his unique style and internationally acclaimed films including “In the Mood for Love,” and “ChungKing Express,” Wong was also the first Chinese director to win Best Director at Cannes Film Festival. His contemporary stories usually center around romance and action, and he has more than 30 writing credits to his name.

  • On this day in history

      Jared
    Hess

    • Born on this day

    Jared Hess -

    Happy birthday to filmmaker Jared Hess! Hess and his wife Jerusha Hess are best known for their work on “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre,” which they co-wrote and Jared directed.

  • On this day in history

    Mad
    Men

    created by

    • Matthew Weiner

    Mad Men -

    Matthew Weiner received critical acclaim for his T.V. drama series, “Mad Men,” which debuted on this day in history in 2007 and aired on AMC until 2015. The show follows the goings-on of advertising agencies in the 60s and the changing social norms over that time period. Weiner’s pilot spec script landed him a writing job on HBO’s “The Sopranos” after it impressed the show’s producer. Weiner pitched his script to HBO and Showtime before AMC picked it up as its first original series.

  • On this day in history

    Song at
      Midnight

    screenplay by

    • Gaston Leroux
    • Ma-Xu Weibang

    Song at Midnight -

    The Chinese film “Song at Midnight” premiered on this day in history in 1935 in Hong Kong and is widely considered one of China’s first horror films. Ma-Xu Weibang wrote and directed the movie, based loosely on “The Phantom of the Opera” novel by Gaston Leroux. The story centers on a disfigured musician who punishes anyone who offends him. Ma-Xu Weibang reportedly edited the screenplay several times to make sure it would pass censorship laws in China at the time, which did not allow films that featured horror, gods, spirits, or superstition. The film’s theme centers on left-wing nationalist ideology and Chinese citizens’ anxiety about war in the 30s.

  • On this day in history

      Spirited
    Away

    screenplay by

    • Hayao Miyazaki

    Spirited Away -

    The animated film “Spirited Away” was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli. The film debuted in Japan on this day in history in 2001 and became the most successful film in the country’s history. It was rewritten in English by screenwriters Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt to allow the English dialogue to match the character’s Japanese language lip movements. Walt Disney Pictures bought the North American distribution rights. In the U.S., it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

  • On this day in history

       Saving
          Private Ryan

    screenplay by

    • Robert Rodat

    Saving Private Ryan -

    Garnering 11 Oscar nominations including Best Screenplay and 5 Oscar wins, “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the most influential war films in part because of its realistic portrayal of the trauma and violence of war. Robert Rodat wrote the screenplay, which centered around the effort to bring home the only surviving brother from a family of soldiers fighting in WWII. The film premiered on this day in history in 1998.

  • On this day in history

        Meshes of the
       Afternoon

    screenplay by

    • Maya Deren

    Meshes of the Afternoon -

    The 14-minute “Meshes of the Afternoon” debuted at some point in 1943, though an exact release date is unknown. Maya Deren is credited with writing the movie and developing the camera movements and effects used in the experimental short. She worked with her then-husband Alexandr Hackenschmied to direct and perform in the film, which centers on a woman who falls asleep with vivid dreams. The viewer is left to wonder if the events are all happening in her real life. The film is historically relevant because of Deren’s use of specific cinematic devices to convey a deeper meaning, repeated imagery, and subjective and objective camera angles. Her work inspired many filmmakers after her, including David Lynch in “Lost Highway” and “Inland Empire.”

  • On this day in history

    Plan 9 from
      Outer Space

    screenplay by

    • Edward D. Wood, Jr.

    Plan 9 from Outer Space -

    Have you ever heard the phrase, “it’s so bad, it’s good?” The sentence is commonly used to describe Edward Wood’s film “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” which debuted on this day in history in 1959. The story follows an alien plot to stop humans from building a weapon that could destroy the universe. Though the film was independently created, the script seems to be written as an epic, which would have required a lot of money to produce from a big studio. But, critics say that was the beauty of Wood’s work: even if he couldn’t afford to make the movie the way he wanted, he tried anyway. His efforts resulted in a film that bordered on absurd and terrible, and “Plan 9” has become a cult classic.

  • On this day in history

    High
    Noon

    screenplay by

    • Carl Foreman

    High Noon -

    “High Noon” is a Western film written by Carl Foreman that premiered on this day in history in 1952. In its first year in existence, the U.S. National Film Registry selected the movie for preservation, and the storyline and ending scenes have inspired countless films since. The movie debuted during the second Red Scare and the Korean War, and Foreman was blacklisted from Hollywood and sold his share in the production before the film was released. Foreman admitted to being a former member of the Communist Party, but he wouldn’t identify other members when the House Un-American Activities Committee questioned him.

  • On this day in history

    The Life and Death
    of Colonel Blimp

    screenplay by

    • Michael Powell
    • Emeric Pressburger

    The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp -

    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger wrote, produced, and directed the British romantic drama war film “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,” which debuted on this day in history in 1943. The screenplay uses an extended flashback sequence to tell the story of a soldier who rises through the ranks of the British military. It’s a satire on the British army, particularly those in charge. Prime Minister Winston Churchill attempted to have production shut down on the film after hearing of its characterizations of the army officer. Once he saw a draft cut, he relented. Critics said the movie examined what it means to be English and that it may be the greatest English film ever made. It sits at number 80 on Empire’s List of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. #thisdayinhistory #screenplay #filmmaking

    Read the screenplay transcript for “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.”

  • On this day in history

    Stanley
       Kubrick

    • Born on this day

    Stanley Kubrick -

     “Everything has already been done. Every story has been told, every scene has been shot. It’s our job to do it one better.” – Stanley Kubrick, one of the most influential filmmakers ever, was born on this day in history in 1928. The director, screenwriter, and producer is most well-known for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a science-fiction film that pioneered special effects and realistically simulated space flight. Other films include “Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Shining,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Full Metal Jacket.”

  • On this day in history

    Bugs
        Bunny

    created by

    • Tex Avery
    • Bob Givens

    Bugs Bunny -

    The world first met Bugs Bunny on this day in history in 1940, when the character first debuted in “Wild Hare.” Tex Avery and Bob Givens are credited with creating the animated cartoon character with the Brooklyn accent and flippant attitude. Bugs Bunny has since appeared in hundreds of films, T.V. shows, comics, video games, commercials, and the Warner Bros. logo, and he’s even got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  • On this day in history

       Alice in
          Wonderland

    screenplay by

    • Lewis Carroll

    Alice in Wonderland -

    Did you know that the film “Alice in Wonderland” was initially going to be a live-action film mixed with animation? Walt Disney first tried to adapt the story, based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books, in the 30s, but shelved the idea until 1946 after Paramount released its own version of “Alice in Wonderland.” The first theatrical release of Disney’s version in 1951 was a big failure, so Disney aired the film on T.V. as one of the first episodes of “Disneyland.” Audiences there loved it, and the film went back to the theaters a second time, where it was a huge success.

  • On this day in history

    The Fellowship
    of the Ring

    written by

    • J.R.R. Tolkien

    The Fellowship of the Ring -

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” was published on this day in history in the U.K. in 1954. It was the first volume in the three-volume epic, “The Lord of the Rings,” and went on to be adapted as a film trilogy, which is one of the most successful trilogies of all time. Tolkien’s stories, including “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion” are connected through their fictional histories, languages, and tales about Arda and Middle-Earth. His books are credited with bringing the fantasy genre back to life, and he’s widely known as the “father” of modern fantasy. 

  • On this day in history

    The Constant
    Gardener

    screenplay by

    • Jeffrey Caine

    The Constant Gardener -

    Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Constant Gardener,” which premiered on this day in history in 2005. The story is based on John le Carré’s novel of the same name and centers on a British diplomat who goes to Kenya to try to solve the murder of his activist wife. The film is known for its gripping, suspenseful storytelling, based on similar cases involving pharmaceutical companies operating in Kenya. Author le Carré is quoted at the end of the film as saying that his story was not based on a single corporation or person, but that his story is also far tamer than what’s happening in real life. The movie was a box office success and earned four Oscar nominations total, winning one for Rachel Weisz as Best Supporting Actress. #thisdayinhistory #screenplay #filmmaking

    Read the screenplay transcript for “The Constant Gardener.”

You may also be interested in...

On this day in history

The Wire

created by

  • David Simon

This Month in Filmmaking History - June 2022

The Wire, June 2, 2002 - David Simon's "The Wire" debuted on this day in history in 2002 on HBO. Simon is a former police reporter, and his writing partner Ed Burns is a former homicide detective. Simon wanted to create a show that offered a realistic portrayal of law enforcement and its interactions with various city groups in Baltimore, Maryland, including schools, government, and media. The show wrapped up in 2008, and although it wasn't a massive hit with critics at the time, it's now considered one of the great television shows for its portrayal of real, urban life. Big, June 3, 1988 - Gary Ross and ...

On this day in history

SpongeBob
     SquarePants

created by

  • Stephen Hillenburg

This Month in Filmmaking History – May 2022

SpongeBob SquarePants, May 1, 1999 - Marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg created the "SpongeBob SquarePants" cartoon series, which debuted on Nickelodeon on this day in history in 1999. It went on to be one of the most successful American animated series in history. The series follows a sea sponge and his friends, and many of the stories are based on Hillenburg's textbook about undersea life, called "The Intertidal Zone." It was renewed for a 13th season last year and has spawned three film spinoffs and more than $13 billion in merchandising revenue. The Celebration, May 2, 1998 ...

On this day in history

Nickelodeon

  • Happy anniversary!

This Month in Filmmaking History - April 2022

Nickelodeon, April 1, 1979 - Nickelodeon, which was one of the first cable channels for children, launched on this day in history in 1979. Many of its animated TV shows and scripted series have become pop culture icons, including "SpongeBob SquarePants," created by the late Stephen Hillenburg, and "All That," which helped launch the careers of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. The name, Nickelodeon, comes from the first five-cent movie theaters, called nickelodeons. 2001: A Space Odyssey, April 2, 1968 - Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick wrote the screenplay for "2001: A Space Odyssey," which debuted on this ...