Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History - September 2020 Roundup

  • On this day in history

       Being John
             Malkovich 

    screenplay by

    • Charlie Kaufman

    Being John Malkovich -

    Charlie Kaufman earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for “Being John Malkovich,” which debuted on this day in history at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. Kaufman originally wrote the spec script in 1994 and sent it around to many production companies, but to no avail. He later sent the screenplay to filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who, in turn, sent it to his daughter’s boyfriend, filmmaker Spike Jonze. Jonze also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director for the movie, and Roger Ebert called it the best film of 1999. John Malkovich himself had doubts about not only starring in the film but having his name in the film’s title, famously saying, “Either the movie’s a bomb … or it does well, and I’m just forever associated with this character.”

  • On this day in history

    Noah
           Baumbach

    • Happy birthday!

    Noah Baumbach -

    Happy birthday to two-time Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach! Baumbach is perhaps best known for 2019’s “Marriage Story,” and “Frances Ha,” which he directed and co-wrote with Greta Gerwig.  He knew he wanted to be a filmmaker from an early age, and he wrote and directed his first film, “Kicking and Screaming,” at just 26 years old.

  • On this day in history

         The Hurt
         Locker

    screenplay by

    • Mark Boal

    The Hurt Locker -

    Mark Boal wrote the screenplay for “The Hurt Locker” based on his real experiences as a journalist embedded with an American bomb squad in Iraq. During that time, he emailed director Kathryn Bigelow about what was happening and used those recollections to write the fictional story. The film debuted on this day in history at the 2008 Venice Film Festival and went on to win six Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay.

  • On this day in history

    The King’s
         Speech

    screenplay by

    • David Seidler

    The King’s Speech -

    Did you know that “The King’s Speech” may have debuted much earlier if it wasn’t for the Queen Mother? Screenwriter David Seidler stopped working on the story until the Queen Mother died in 2002. He had a stammer himself and had always been inspired by King George VI’s ability to overcome his stutter and give speeches. Seidler studied King George VI and his therapist, Lionel Logue, but couldn’t find much information about Logue, so he reached out to Logue’s son Valentine for research. Valentine agreed to release his dad’s notebooks, but only if the Queen Mother gave permission. She said she didn’t want the notebooks released in her lifetime. When she died, Seidler finished the story as a stage play, then later adapted it for the screen. Many of the lines were pulled from Logue’s real treatment diary.

  • On this day in history

    Juno

    screenplay by

    • Diablo Cody

    Juno -

    Diablo Cody wrote the 2007 coming-of-age film “Juno,” which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival to a standing ovation on this day in history in 2007. Cody won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the movie, even though the script started as a simple sample to show studios that she could write. Producer Mason Novick had first asked Cody to adapt her memoir, “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of An Unlikely Stripper,” but said that she had to show studios that she had the chops first by providing a sample script. Cody has said in interviews that she never thought “Juno” would be produced.

  • On this day in history

    Goodfellas

    screenplay by

    • Nicholas Pileggi
    • Martin Scorsese

    Goodfellas -

    “Goodfellas” is considered one of the best gangster films ever made, if not one of the greatest films across genres. Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi wrote the script based on Pileggi’s non-fiction book, “Wiseguy.” Pileggi was a crime reporter in New York, and Scorsese felt like his book detailed some of the most honest representations of mobsters he had read. The pair wrote 12 drafts before getting to a final script.

  • On this day in history

    The X-Files

    created by

    • Chris Carter

    The X-Files -

    “The X-Files,” created by Chris Carter, debuted on this day in 1993 and went on to become the longest-running science fiction series in US history. It followed FBI special agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, who investigate paranormal cases known as X-Files. Carter was tired of working on comedies, so he wrote the pilot for “The X-Files” after being inspired by a report that millions of Americans thought aliens had abducted them at some point in their lives. Carter said the Watergate Scandal also inspired him, and the 1970’s horror show, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

  • On this day in history

          Fist Full
       of Dollars

    screenplay by

    • Víctor Andrés Catena
    • Jaime Comas Gil
    • Sergio Leone

    Fist Full of Dollars -

    Clint Eastwood landed his first starring role in the Spaghetti Western film “Fistful of Dollars,” which debuted in Italy on this day in 1964. It was the first in a series of films now known as the Dollars Trilogy. The movie was written by Víctor Andrés Catena, Jaime Comas Gil, and Sergio Leone, and directed by Leone. Leone felt that although Hollywood was backing off of the Western genre, there was still plenty of room for more Westerns in Europe. He solidified his signature style with this film and launched Clint Eastwood’s career when the trilogy debuted in the US three years later.

  • On this day in history

    Scooby-Doo,
         Where Are You! 

    created by

    • Joseph Barbera, William Hanna
    • Joe Ruby, Ken Spears

    Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! -

    The world fell in love with Scooby-Doo, the Great Dane, when the animated mystery comedy debuted on this day in 1969. “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” aired for just two seasons and 25 episodes, but the show cemented itself in pop culture with its beloved characters and often repetitive plot lines. Later episodes would be produced in 1978, followed by “Scooby’s All-Stars,” and “The Scooby-Doo Show.” Joseph Barbera, William Hanna, Joe Ruby, and Ken Spears created the show.

  • On this day in history

    The Golden
    Girls

    created by

    • Susan Harris

    The Golden Girls -

    Susan Harris created “The Golden Girls,” a television sitcom about four older women who live together in Miami, Florida. The original idea came from a parody skit to promote “Miami Vice,” called “Miami Nice,” that poked fun at older people living in Miami. The senior vice president of NBC was in the audience during filming and was so amused that he asked producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas to pull a pilot script together. Their regular writer was unavailable, so Witt asked his wife, Susan Harris, to write the script.  She stayed on for four episodes before head writers Kathy Speer and Terry Grossman took over.

  • On this day in history

    A Streetcar
    Named Desire

    screenplay by

    • Tennessee Williams
    • Oscar Saul

    A Streetcar Named Desire -

    The film version of “A Streetcar Named Desire” debuted on this day in 1951, four years after the stage play premiered on Broadway. Tennessee Williams worked on adapting his original play for the screen with writer Oscar Saul, and the pair changed several elements of the story. What didn’t change though was the original Broadway cast. Except for the role of Blanche DuBois, the cast from the play kept their roles for the film. Marlon Brando, who was mostly unknown at the time, rose to stardom in Hollywood thanks to the movie. The play won a Pulitzer, and the film won dozens of awards and was later selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

    Cannes
    Film
    Festival

    • Happy anniversary!

    Cannes Film Festival -

    The first official Cannes Film Festival began on this day in 1946 and lasted until October 5, with 21 countries showing their films. Its origins are even earlier, though. As early as 1938, France wanted an answer to the Venice Film Festival, so they created their own event. Officials selected the city of Cannes since it was already a popular resort destination, and the first festival was slated for September 1939. Early that month, though, France and the UK declared war on Germany, and the festival had to be canceled. It was relaunched in 1946.

  • On this day in history

    Sunrise

    screenplay by

    • Carl Mayer

    Sunrise -

    Carl Mayer wrote the story for the 1927 silent film, “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans,” based on a short story by Hermann Sudermann called “The Excursion to Tilsit.” The film was one of the first to feature a synchronized musical score and sound effects soundtrack, and it went on to win the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Many critics consider it to be the best film of the silent era.

  • On this day in history

    The
       Departed

    screenplay by

    • William Monahan

    The Departed -

    William Monahan wrote the screenplay for the Irish gang crime film, “The Departed,” which debuted on this day in New York City in 2006. The story takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, and follows an Irish mob and a police department who infiltrate each other. Monahan’s script earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, as the storyline was a remake from a 2002 Hong Kong film called “Internal Affairs.”

  • On this day in history

       Beauty and the
        Beast

    screenplay by

    • Linda Woolverton

    Beauty and the Beast -

    Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” premiered in New York on this day in 1991. Linda Woolverton is credited with the screenplay, based on a story by Roger Allers, which was based on the original 1756 fairy tale. It went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture and was the first animated film ever to win that category.

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