Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in History - January Roundup

  • On this day in history

    The Phantom

    screenplay by

    • Victor Sjöström
    • Selma Lagerlöf

    The Phantom Carriage -

    “The Phantom Carriage, a Swedish fantasy film, debuted on New Year’s Day 1921, and to this day is recognized for its special effects, narrative structure, and influence on later renowned filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman. That narrative structure was the work of Victor Sjöström and Selma Lagerlöf, the latter of which was a Nobel-prize winning author. The film was based on her book Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! Sjöström reportedly took just eight days to write the script, but post-production was lengthy because of the use of special effects to create the ghosts in the film.

  • On this day in history


    • Happy Birthday!

    Todd Haynes -

    Happy Birthday, Todd Haynes! Todd is a screenwriter, producer, and director. He’s received acclaim for several of his films, including “Poison,” which won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and later “Far From Heaven,” which scored four Oscar nominations including the nomination for Best Screenplay.

  • On this day in history


    • Born 128 years ago

    J.R.R. Tolkien -

    The father of modern fantasy was born on this day 128 years ago. Author J.R.R. Tolkien is best known for “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings,” which brought the fantasy genre back into the limelight. Tolkien was also a professor, and Queen Elizabeth II appointed him Commander of the Order of the British Empire nearly 50 years ago. His stories, of course, will go down in pop culture history thanks in part to the film adaptations of his books, including “The Hobbit” trilogy and “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy.

  • On this day in history


    • Happy Birthday!

    Mel Gibson -

    Filmmaker and actor Mel Gibson celebrates his birthday today. While he’s experienced his fair share of controversies, he’s also experienced a lot of creative success in Hollywood for acting, producing, and directing. In addition, he has writing credits on two of his well-known directorial projects, “The Passion of the Christ” and “Apocalypto.” Gibson won Oscars for Best Picture, and Best Director for the ’95 box office hit “Braveheart.”

  • On this day in history

        Film Festival

    founded in

    • January 1978

    Sundance Film Festival -

    The Sundance Film Festival has taken place every year since 1978, but it wasn’t always in January. The festival started as a fall event before organizers realized more people might take an interest in visiting Utah during the height of ski season in January. Since then, the festival has helped launch the careers of many independent filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s now the largest and most prestigious independent film festivals, and it takes place again this year, January 23 through February 2.  

  • On this day in history

    Man With a
    Movie Camera

    screenplay by

    • Dziga Vertov

    Man With a Movie Camera -

    Credited with pioneering many of the effects used in the film, Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s “Man With a Movie Camera” debuted on this day in history in 1929. The film doesn’t have a screenplay, per se, but rather scenarios made up of real-life people and situations in Kyiv, Moscow, and other 20s Russian locales. In it, Vertov uses dissolves, slow motion, stop motion, split screens, double exposure, and more effects that filmmakers rely on for storytelling today. In 2012, BFI’s Sight & Sound Poll named the film the eighth greatest ever made.

  • On this day in history


    created by

    • David Chase

    The Sopranos -

    Named the best-written T.V. show of all time by the Writers Guild of America, “The Sopranos” first aired on HBO on this day in 1999, until its final episode in 2007. David Chase created the show after 20 years of producing and writing stints on T.V. shows, including “Switch,” “I’ll Fly Away,” and “Northern Exposure.” He drew upon his own life growing up in New Jersey and said he used his own family as inspiration for the dynamic we see in the Soprano family.

  • On this day in history

    The Treasure
         of Sierra

    screenplay by

    • John Huston
    • B. Traven

    The Treasure of Sierra Madre -

    “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” written originally by B. Traven and adapted for the screen by John Huston, is considered one of the first major Hollywood films to be shot on location in Mexico. The story follows two men who travel to Mexico to find gold. Huston’s original screenplay had to be changed before shooting to meet the Motion Picture Production Code, which took a strict stance on profanity.

  • On this day in history


    • Happy Birthday!

    John Carpenter -

    Happy Birthday, John Carpenter! Carpenter is a screenwriter, producer, director, and composer, perhaps best known for his successes in the horror genre. Most notably, Carpenter wrote and directed “Halloween,” as well as “The Fog,” which he co-wrote with Debra Hill. He won an Academy Award early in his career for a short he co-wrote, composed music for, and edited while at USC, called “The Resurrection of Broncho Billy,” and he’s gone on to win dozens of awards for his work since.

  • On this day in history

        Edgar Allan

    • Born 211 years ago

    Edgar Allan Poe -

    One of the first American writers to focus on short stories, Edgar Allen Poe was born 211 years ago today and forever left an imprint on American writers. Poe was also a poet, and many of his stories centered around mysterious or grim themes. He’s influenced many filmmakers whose work we watch today, including Alfred Hitchcock, who said he was inspired to make suspense films because of Poe’s stories.

  • On this day in history


    created by

    • Vince Gilligan

    Breaking Bad -

    “Breaking Bad,” created by Vince Gilligan along with several other writers throughout its five seasons, debuted on this day in history in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the USA 12 years ago. Considered a neo-western crime drama, the T.V. series won dozens of awards and is considered one of the greatest shows of all time. It also spawned a spinoff series and a film, which premiered on Netflix in late 2019.

  • On this day in history

       Sergei M.

    • Born 122 years ago

    Sergei M. Eisenstein -

    Filmmaker and theorist Sergei M. Eisenstein was born on this day in history, 1898. He’s best known for his silent films “October” and “Battleship Potemkin,” as well as the “Ivan the Terrible” trilogy. Eisenstein pioneered montages in movies and wrote two books on the method that filmmakers still reference today.

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Richard Hooker
    • Ring Lardner Jr.

    M*A*S*H -

    “M*A*S*H” debuted on this day in history in New York City in 1970. Written by Ring Lardner Jr., based on the novel by Richard Hooker, the film was nominated for five Oscars and won for Best Adapted Screenplay. The comedy war film is about the medical team at a mobile army surgical hospital set during the Korean War, although the subtext is about the Vietnam War. The film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for the U.S. National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

    Dr. Strangelove or:
    How I Learned to Stop Worrying
    and Love the Bomb

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick
    • Terry Southern
    • Peter George

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb -

    “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” first showed in the United States and the United Kingdom on this day in history in 1964. The satirical comedy, written by Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern, plays on Cold War nuclear fears between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It was originally meant to be a drama, but Kubrick said he couldn’t help but see the comedy in the absurd nature of the story.  

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