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On The Rise 2012: 5 Screenwriters To Keep An Eye On In The Next Few Years

by Oliver Lyttelton
April 10, 2012 11:59 AM
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On The Rise Screenwriters

Unlike in theater or television, writers generally get the short end of the stick in the movie business. When a film doesn't work, the script is blamed, when it does work, the director gets credit. Writers get fired, rehired, fired again, rewritten and screwed out of credit. But that's not to say that once they get the momentum behind them, a screenwriter can't become just as talked about as actors, actresses and directors around Hollywood watering holes and meeting rooms.

As such, following our picks for the potential stars and starlets on the rise, we've chosen five screenwriters who look like they're going to be in demand over the next few years. We last ran one of these nearly two years ago, and all five of our picks have gone on to big things -- Emma Forrest has David Yates and Emma Watson adapting her memoir "Your Voice In My Head"; "Prometheus" writer Jon Spaihts just got hired to reboot "The Mummy"; Michael Diliberti is writing "Little White Corvette" for Emma Stone; Brian K. Vaughan is adapting Stephen King's "Under The Dome" for Showtime, and Liz Meriwether created the smash-hit sitcom "New Girl." Will our latest choices follow in their footsteps? We'd wager that they certainly will.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
When you have several of Hollywood's hottest, edgiest directors falling over themselves to work with you, you know you're in a good place, and that's where Andrew Baldwin has landed in the last few years. Not even out of his twenties yet, the writer is a Cornell and AFI grad whose first script, a compelling Western called "The West Is Dead," about a band of outlaws set against the construction of the Hoover Dam, saw him make the Black List in 2008, and he was subsequently snapped up by CAA. It's a muscular, taut piece of work, uninterested in being on-trend, and while the film has not been made, he's continued to work steadily. In 2010, he sold "Red Asphalt," a top-secret 3D thriller, to Lionsgate, and it soon saw Timur Bekmambetov attached to direct. But it's the past six months that's really seen a flurry of activity: The writer's latest "The Outsider," about a former WW2 prisoner-of-war who rises through the ranks of the Japanese Yakuza, placed fourth in the 2011 Black List, and is set up at Warner Bros with producer John Linson ("Sons of Anarchy"), who conceived the idea, and his father Art ("Fight Club") on board. And only a few weeks ago, the film landed one of the hottest directors in town, Daniel Espinosa, and is chasing one of the most in-demand actors, Michael Fassbender. Around the same time, he also became the latest writer -- following Alex Garland and "Gangster Squad" scribe Will Beall -- to take a stab at "Logan's Run" for Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. It remains to be seen if he's the one who will bring it over the finish line, but it's another indicator that he's a serious talent to watch.

Kelly Marcel
Kelly Marcel
While the show only lasted a season, Fox's dinosaur drama "Terra Nova" provided a hell of a calling card for British writer Kelly Marcel, especially considering that she wasn't involved with the show past the pilot, and that she only wrote it as a lark for her father ("Hawk The Slayer" scribe Terry Marcel). Prior to that, Marcel, who started off as an actor, was best known for writing a musical version of "Debbie Does Dallas" at the Edinburgh Fringe, and for an uncredited, although extensive rewrite of Nicolas Winding Refn's "Bronson." It was on that film that she befriended star Tom Hardy and the pair founded a theater company together, and also wrote a pair of TV comedy-dramas together: "Kickapoo Dust," which was set up at Channel 4 and "Candy chops" which went to the BBC. It was around that time that she penned "Gondwanaland Highway," the script that would become "Terra Nova." That took her to L.A., where she ended up selling it to Fox and Steven Spielberg, and the following week, sold a second pitch, the death row drama "Westerbridge," to Showtime. She elected to develop the latter, leaving "Terra Nova" to go on its own path, and while "Westerbridge" hasn't yet made it to screens, she hasn't looked back since. Her script "Valerio," about a legendary Italian bank robber, made the 2010 Brit List, and has Kevin Macdonald gearing up to direct soon, but last year saw her write the script that looks to put her on the A-list: "Saving Mr. Banks," about the relationship between Walt Disney and "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers, placed on the 2011 Black List, and sold earlier this year to Disney, which attached "The Blind Side" helmer John Lee Hancock, with the filmmakers targeting no less than Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson for the leads. And Marcel is ludicrously busy going forward: there are two more TV shows set up at Channel 4, "Trans Alice" and "Amazing Grace"; another at the BBC, a contemporary version of "Medea"; she's executive-producing yet another at HBO titled "The Madonnas Of Echo Park"; she's penning a top-secret project for Ben Stiller (which she describes as "a dark comedy... a very different character for Ben"); has a film called "Reunion" set up at Working Title and is adapting the book "Mr. Chartwell," a biopic of Winston Churchill which physicalizes his famous depression as a six-foot-seven black dog. And what have you done with your day?

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  • Yes | April 12, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    Chillax my friends

  • charlie | April 11, 2012 3:59 PMReply

    No matter what they look like, they seem like a group of quality up-and-coming writers. Chill out a bit guys

  • scissor | April 11, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    You got a problem with white, educated, talents writers who work their asses off? Stop spending all your time on these social web sites and get to work you HEATHEN.

  • Yod | April 11, 2012 12:15 AMReply

    No midgets from Greenland on this list? Prejudiced!

  • Costofgavras | April 10, 2012 7:22 PMReply

    Valerio is with James Marsh not Kevin MacDonald fyi

  • Tom | April 10, 2012 3:00 PMReply

    OMG they're all white! OMG only one woman! Who gives a shit? I hate diversity for diversity's sake. Despite the unfortunate prejudices that remain, feminist women and non-whites can and will be recognized for quality work. They just need to do it.

  • vdigital | April 10, 2012 5:23 PM

    wow. you are so out of touch you might actually be comatose. in which case, i guess congrats on being able to read/write while in a coma?

  • Zack | April 10, 2012 3:20 PM

    Hear that, ungrateful negroes and ladies? A man thinks you're being silly. I guess that settles it.

  • Kob | April 10, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    At least there's a woman on the list...that's progress, right?

  • Julian Walker | April 10, 2012 12:47 PMReply

    I kinda expected them to be all white...damn, I was right

  • easy company | April 10, 2012 12:39 PMReply

    no mention of dante harper??
    he wrote hancel and gretel,all you need is kill and is now writing foundation

  • DavidK | April 10, 2012 12:35 PMReply

    Hottest screenwriters, all white -- absolutely shocking.

  • Ronnie D. | April 15, 2012 7:01 PM

    Get over yourself.

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