Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in History - August 2020 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    Sam
        Mendes

    • Happy birthday!

    Sam Mendes -

    Happy birthday, Sir Samuel Mendes! Mendes is perhaps best known for his directorial accomplishments, but he’s also a talented producer and screenwriter. He first directed plays before moving on to directing mega-hit films, including “American Beauty,” “Skyfall,” “Spectre,” and the latest Oscar-nominated film for best screenplay, “1917,” which he also co-wrote with screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

  • On this day in history

      Cécile
           Aubry

    • Born 92 years ago

    Cécile Aubry -

    The French screenwriter, director, actor, and author Cecile Aubry was born on this day in history in 1928. She got her big break as a dancer at the age of 20, and went on to act alongside Orson Welles in “The Black Rose,” and “Bluebeard,” which was one of the first French films in color. After having one child and divorcing her husband, Aubry admitted that she didn’t like acting much, and only did it so she could travel. She moved into writing children’s books and children’s television, including two popular shows, “Poly,” and “Belle and Sebastian,” in which her son had the leading role.

  • On this day in history

    John
              Huston

    • Born 114 years ago

    John Huston -

    Described as cinema’s “Ernest Hemingway,” John Huston was born on this day in history in 1906 and went on to make 37 feature films, almost of all which he also wrote. Huston’s background was in fine art, and he was known for crafting his scenes carefully by sketching them before he shot them, so most of his films required little editing in post-production. His best-known works include “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” and “The Man Who Would Be King.”

  • On this day in history

    Venice
         Intl. Film
              Festival

    • Happy anniversary!

    Venice Intl. Film Festival -

    On this day in history, Venice Film Festival debuted as part of the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. The Biennale is a showcase of art, dance, music, theater, and film, and has gained a reputation as one of the premier places to showcase artistic expression. The film festival, of course, is now also a famous fest in its own right. It has been the launchpad for many of today’s leading international filmmakers who’ve sought the prestigious Golden Lion Award and won – including recent films like “Roma” (Mexico), “The Woman Who Left” (Phillippines), “From Afar” (Venezuela), and “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” (Sweden).

  • On this day in history

        Chennai
                     Express

    screenplay by

    • Yunus Sajawal
    • Robin Bhatt

    Chennai Express -

    Screenwriters Yunus Sajawal and Robin Bhatt made history with their Hindi-language Bollywood film “Chennai Express” when it debuted on this day seven years ago. The action-comedy broke box-office records to become the highest-grossing Bollywood film at that time – both in India and in foreign markets, including the UK, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates, and it remains one of the top 20 highest-grossing films from India today. Sajawal has written several Bollywood blockbusters, and Bhatt has more than 60 film writing credits to his name.

  • On this day in history

    American
    Graffiti

    screenplay by

    • George Lucas
    • Gloria Katz
    • Willard Huyck

    American Graffiti -

    Did you know that it was Francis Ford Coppola who urged George Lucas to write the screenplay for “American Graffiti”? While the two were working on “THX 1138,” Coppola challenged Lucas to write something that would appeal to mainstream audiences. Lucas thought back to his teenage years and decided to document the cruising culture in 60’s Modesto, California. The main characters in the films represent Lucas at various stages of his life. Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck added to the semibiographical elements in the script after Lucas hired them to help write the film treatment. The film was initially titled “Another Quiet Night in Modesto.” “American Graffiti” is one of the most profitable movies ever made, having been produced on a $777,000 budget.

  • On this day in history

       Alfred
           Hitchcock

    • Born 121 years ago

    Alfred Hitchcock -

    “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was born on this day in history in 1899. His wife, Alma Reville, was born the day after and became a respected screenwriter herself. The pair collaborated on many of Hitchcock’s most famous films, including “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Suspicion.”  While Hitchcock often worked with other screenwriters on his movies, he closely monitored them and worked with them on the stories. He found the most joy in developing scripts and visuals and famously said, “Once the screenplay is finished, I’d just as soon not make the film at all. … When you finish the script, the film is perfect. But in shooting it, you lose perhaps 40 percent of your original conception.”   

  • On this day in history

        Ben
           Affleck

    • Happy birthday!

    Ben Affleck -

    Though actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck started his career much earlier, he really broke into Hollywood after co-writing and starring in “Good Will Hunting” with his longtime friend Matt Damon. The film won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Later, the pair established Pearl Street Films production company, with credits on films including “Manchester by the Sea,” and “Jason Bourne.” Although he’s had some real drama of his own in his personal life, Affleck continues to have a successful career, having appeared in more than 50 films so far.  

  • On this day in history

         James
            Cameron

    • Happy birthday!

    James Cameron -

    James Cameron is one of the most prolific auteurs in Hollywood, but early success did not come easy for him.  He started in community college in the early 70s to study physics but dropped out a year later. He wanted to write, so he picked up odd jobs being a truck driver and janitor so he could have free time to focus on screenwriting. After seeing “Star Wars” a few years later, Cameron was inspired to go all-in. He directed his first film in 1978, and went on to write and direct some of the world’s most successful movies ever, including “Avatar,” “Titanic,” and “The Terminator.”  

  • On this day in history

    Monty Python's
              Life of Brian

    screenplay by

    • Graham Chapman
    • Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
    • Terry Jones, Michael Palin, John Cleese

    Monty Python's Life of Brian -

    Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” debuted on this day in history in 1979 to both fanfare and protests. The story followed a Jewish boy born on the same day, and next to his neighbor, Jesus Christ, and the confusion that ensues. The comedy was a big box office success, but some religious groups protested the story as blasphemous. Still, it’s considered one of the best comedy films of all time to this day for hitting just the right notes of the hilarity Monty Python was known for, and irreverent satire. The final line in the movie, “I said to him, ‘Bernie, they’ll never make their money back on this one,’” was a jab at the film’s original backers, who pulled financing one day before production began. Former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to fund it instead, saying it was a movie that he’d like to see.

  • On this day in history

                Ring
                 Lardner Jr.

    • Born 105 years ago

    Ring Lardner Jr. -

    At one point, Ringgold Wilmer “Ring” Lardner Jr. was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood, earning $2,000 per week (approximately $23,000 today) while working for 20th Century Fox in the late 40s. But his fall from success was swift when he was blacklisted from Hollywood for holding communist views, along with the infamous Hollywood Ten. He continued to write though under different pen names and with fellow blacklisted filmmakers, penning “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot,” and other TV shows. Later, he’d be taken off the blacklist for getting public screenwriting credit on “The Cincinnati Kid.” He won two Best Screenplay Academy Awards during his lifetime for “M*A*S*H” and “Woman of the Year.”   

  • On this day in history

    Bambi

    screenplay by

    • Felix Salten, Perce Pearce, Mel Shaw
    • Vernon Stallings, Carl Fallberg
    • Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright, Larry Morey

    Bambi -

    Earlier this year, Disney announced it would bring the 1942 animated classic “Bambi” back as a live-action adaptation. The original story from Disney’s fifth animated feature was adapted from the book “Bambi, a Life in the Woods,” written by Felix Salten. Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, and Ralph Wright all helped write the final screenplay, which some of the writers recall going off on tangents many times. From an ant civilization destroyed by Bambi, to talking autumn leaves and a family of grasshoppers, there were so many elements eventually cut from the film to get the classic that we know and love today.

  • On this day in history

            The Big
               Sleep

    screenplay by

    • William Faulkner
    • Leigh Brackett
    • Jules Furthman, Raymond Chandler

    The Big Sleep -

    The version of “The Big Sleep” that debuted on this day in history in 1946 was actually version two, but audiences wouldn’t see the first version until 1997 when it was discovered in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay based on Raymond Chandler’s novel by the same name. After finishing the film, which went unreleased, it was re-scripted and re-shot to take advantage of the chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a couple whom audiences had grown to love. But the already confusing script was now made even more confusing by the scenes that were cut to re-work version two, and to this day, the screenplay is known for its complicated and convoluted plot.

  • On this day in history

    Tim
         Burton

    • Happy birthday!

    Tim Burton -

    Tim Burton’s films are almost always instantly recognizable. His gothic and fantastical style is consistent across movies such as “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Corpse Bride,” and he often works with the same actors (Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter) and composer (Danny Elfman). As a child, Burton was introverted but found happiness in writing, painting, and making stop-motion animation films – he made his first film at the age of 13. He was heavily influenced by Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, which you can see in his work today. And, in addition to films, his artwork has been featured at museums around the world, including most recently at an October 2019 exhibition at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

  • On this day in history

         Roman
           Holiday

    screenplay by

    • Ian McClellan Hunter
    • John Dighton
    • Dalton Trumbo

    Roman Holiday -

    Though he’s given credit, Ian McClellan Hunter didn’t actually write “Roman Holiday,” which debuted on this day in history in 1953. And, though he’s given credit now, Dalton Trumbo was never recognized as the official screenwriter on the film until 2011. John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo actually wrote the script, but Trumbo had been blacklisted from Hollywood for being named as a communist, so Hunter stepped in to cover him and agreed to send Trumbo his fee. Nine years ago, Trumbo and Hunter’s sons fought to have the record corrected through The Writers Guild of America and won, 58 years after the film premiered.  

  • On this day in history

      12 Years
         a Slave

    screenplay by

    • John Ridley

    12 Years a Slave -

    “12 Years a Slave,” written by screenwriter John Ridley based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, is a true story about a free African American man who is abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s. The biographical drama received nine Oscar nominations and won three, including the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Following the win, rumors swirled that Ridley and director Steve McQueen had been fighting over credit on the script, with McQueen asking for shared credit, and Ridley declining. Later, Ridley said the Writers Guild of America’s rules were solely responsible for the credit given to him alone.

  • On this day in history

    Michael Jackson:
              BAD

    screenplay by

    • Richard Price

    Michael Jackson: BAD -

    Considered one of the greatest music videos of all time, “Bad,” performed by Michael Jackson, is more of a short film featuring some of Hollywood’s most celebrated filmmakers. Screenwriter and novelist Richard Price (“The Night Of,” “The Wire”) wrote the screenplay for the 18-minute video, and Martin Scorsese directed it. Wesley Snipes appeared in the video, too. The story of the song and the video was inspired by a true story that Jackson came upon, which described a poor teen who tried to overcome poverty by going to private school but ends up being killed when he goes back home. The video also had “West Side Story” influences.

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