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On The Rise: 10 Screenwriters To Watch In 2013

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
March 20, 2013 2:45 PM
49 Comments
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Screenwriters historically get a rough ride in Hollywood. If a film works, they're normally skipped over when it's time to hand out the credit; if it doesn't they're the first to be blamed. They're rewritten, fired, replaced, rehired, fired again, underpaid, made to do free drafts, generally abused, and disrespected. And then the star takes the credit for the best lines anyway. And yet, no movie that you love would exist without a screenwriter to come up with the damn thing in the first place; they're the most consistently and perplexingly undervalued part of the process.

As such, we like to give the writers some props from time to time, and having looked at some bright young actors, actresses, cinematographers and composers who are worth paying attention in 2013, we want to focus on the noble typewriter monkeys today. We've done this twice before, in 2010 and 2012, and our picks have gone on to find success with things like "Prometheus" and "New Girl," or be hired for high-profile projects like "Fifty Shades Of Grey" and "The Devil In The White City." Will our 2013 picks follow in their footsteps? We reckon they've got a damn good chance to do so. Take a look below, and let us know who you're keeping an eye on in the comments section.

Brian Duffield
It's probably safe to say that Brian Duffield had a rocky start to the week. His first produced film, the western "Jane Got A Gun," was supposed to start filming on Monday, but as has been well documented, director Lynne Ramsay failed to turn up for work. But given that, in the first place, the script managed (at one point) to attract not only Ramsay, but also Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Michael Fassbender, and given the quality of his earlier scripts, we have no doubt that the woes around the film are just a minor bump in Duffield's ascension. The Pennsylvania-born writer (who's an active and honest presence on Twitter, and a one-time contributor to awards site In Contention) broke through in 2010. While he was working in a clothes factory in Vernon, Cailfornia, his script "Your Bridesmaid Is A Bitch" managed, through friends, to make it into the hands of management/production company Circle Of Confusion, who snapped both it, and Duffield up, with the script landing on that year's Black List. Following a broken-hearted twentysomething who discovers that his sister has chosen his ex-girlfriend to be the bridesmaid at her wedding, it doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's a smart and funny take on the rom-com, with snappy dialogue and characters a few shades more complex than what you'd normally expect from the genre. It's set up at David Ellison's Skydance Productions, with "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil" helmer Eli Craig attached to direct. This led to some other spec script movement, including the action-comedy "Worst Honeymoon Ever," about a couple, one of whom is a superspy, and "Monster Problems," a "Zombieland"-ish post-apocalyptic comedy that's set up at Paramount with Shawn Levy producing. But it's 'Jane' that got into production first, at least until the recent hitch, and it's very different; a dark Western, that shows what a versatile writer Duffield can be. We suspect that, once the Ramsay controversy has become trivia, there's a lot more to see from the screenwriter.

Brad Ingelsby
At one point, Brad Ingelsby had one of the hottest scripts in town. His crime drama "The Low Dweller," another Black List hit, written while AFI grad Inglesby was working as an insurance salesman, sold to Relativity Media back in 2008, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star, and Ridley Scott considering directing. The latter didn't commit, ultimately, but commercials helmer Rupert Sanders came on board the next year. Ultimately the film -- a pitch-black, brutal and strangely poetic picture about a convict seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of a local crime lord -- didn't move forward in that incarnation. But after a few years on other projects, Inglesby heavily rewrote the script, and it ended up retitled "Out Of The Furnace," with "Crazy Heart" helmer Scott Cooper directing, and an impressive cast including Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana and Woody Harrelson. The film's now in the can awaiting release, and Ingelsby has been busy. He wrote a remake of Korean crime flick "Die Bad" for Marc Forster, adapted comic book "Sleeper" for Sam Raimi and Tom Cruise, and penned another crime flick, "Buried," that "Little Children" director Todd Field was considering at one point. More recently, he was also tapped for the remake of Gareth Evans' cult actioner "The Raid," although word's been quiet on that for a while. "Out Of The Furnace" is set to be his first produced screenplay, impressively, but we shouldn't have long to wait after that. Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman are starring in the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed father-son action thriller "All Nighter" this fall, while "Buried" has been retitled "Hold On To Me," and will star Robert Pattinson and Carey Mulligan, with Field stepping aside for "Man On Wire" helmer James Marsh. Good things come to those who wait, then...

Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman
The winners of previous Black Lists have come from a varied range of experiences, from first-time writers to industry veterans. So it's fitting that the first writing team to place first, Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, are quite the odd couple. Joseph is one of the most acclaimed playwrights of his generation, thanks to works like "Animals Out Of Paper," "Gruesome Playground Injuries" and the Pulitzer-shortlisted "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" which hit Broadway in 2011 starring Robin Williams. Rothman, meanwhile, is a screenwriter who leans towards the comic side of things, who'd previously sold screenplays "First Timers" and "Frat Boy" to New Line and Warner Bros respectively. The two were close friends at NYU, and have remained so since, partly due to their love of football, which led to the idea of "Draft Day," their Black List topper, revolving around the NFL Draft. Compared to "Moneyball" by many, the script, which focuses on a General Manager for the Buffalo Bills, was written in only a week, and swiftly sold to Ivan Reitman's company Montecito Pictures, and set up at Paramount. The project faltered at first, put into turnaround by the studio, but after placing first in the Black List, has been revived by Lionsgate, with Reitman and star Kevin Costner still involved. They've got another script, an adaptation of Alan Paul's book "Big In China," in the works at Montecito, and were recently hired to pen a remake of German comedy "Kokowaah" as a potential directing vehicle for Bradley Cooper.

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49 Comments

  • Sue | August 20, 2013 11:33 AMReply

    What about Brit Marling? Watch her....

  • __ | March 27, 2013 8:32 PMReply

    Olivia Milch. Daughter of David Milch. She's going to be big these next two years

  • Isabel | March 25, 2013 11:32 AMReply

    There is not one single female screenwriter to watch in 2013? I find that hard to believe.

  • EAD | May 7, 2014 10:31 AM

    Just enjoy the list, is that so hard or are your feminazi sences tingling?

  • Da Truf | March 24, 2013 1:38 PMReply

    This list is inconsequential...being dubbed "one to watch" by a film blog will not have any effect on the careers of the above writers. Their lives will go on and the industry will demand them as needed.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | March 23, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    here is the last amazing script i read

    http://www.mediafire.dot com/view/?ni15n668i8a65hk

  • M. Dunbridge | March 22, 2013 5:39 PMReply

    WTF?!?!? Only one woman, and she's half of a writing team? If the moving picture hadn't been invented in the twentieth century, I'd think this was 1800...

  • WAd | May 7, 2014 10:32 AM

    You're sexist for thinking men can't fulfill a list

  • ilya | March 22, 2013 6:54 AMReply

    I am overwhelmed by the number of women on this list.

  • Sasha Is Crazy, Everyone Knows It | March 20, 2013 10:19 PMReply

    Not enough Korean babies and a Negro born with his heart on the outside on this list.

  • Gob Bluth | March 25, 2013 10:29 PM

    Nail. Head. Hit.
    Very funny. I still can't believe there isn't an octopus on the list - Imagine how fast they can type!

  • Alan B | March 21, 2013 4:16 AM

    Yeah, don't try to be funny, OK?

  • Alan B | March 21, 2013 4:15 AM

    Yeah, don't try to be funny, OK?

  • Alan B | March 21, 2013 4:14 AM

    Yeah, don't try to be funny, OK?

  • Susan | March 20, 2013 7:06 PMReply

    Really? You couldn't find a single woman for this list?

  • ryan | March 20, 2013 7:30 PM

    Nicole Perlman is a woman, and she's super awesome!

  • ryan | March 20, 2013 7:28 PM

    Nicole Perlman is a woman, and she's super awesome!

  • ryan | March 20, 2013 7:27 PM

    Nicole Perlman is a woman, and she's super awesome!

  • gk | March 20, 2013 6:50 PMReply

    I'm not proud of the Sundance Institute for not asking the question "Why aren't there ANY woman on this list?" Incredibly disconcerting and reveals no change has come in the boys' club mentality. Congrats, Sundance, you're keeping the good ole boys club alive. #irritated #shameonSundance

  • Solid | March 22, 2013 1:06 PM

    The sense-changing typo - sentence in my comment should read "but men are only interested in stories about..."

  • Solid | March 22, 2013 1:03 PM

    @Please,Stop There are many more *produced* male writers than female writers. Not necessarily because the scripts by men are better but because the conventional wisdom (and possibly the truth) is that women will go see stories with either male or female protagonists but are only interested in stories about men (or male characters in women's bodies, e.g. Lara Croft, Ripley).

    I'd like to know on what you base your observation that there are many more competent male writers than female. I teach screenwriting in an MA scriptwriting program and I can tell you that the best scripts in class are just as likely to be written by female students as male.

  • Please,stop | March 20, 2013 8:04 PM

    Maybe because there are way more man than women writers? And subsequently many more competent male writers?

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Iu | March 20, 2013 6:42 PMReply

    The list consists of 1/2 a woman. She shared her spot with a man.

    This world. *sigh*

  • Reed | March 20, 2013 6:24 PMReply

    Only one woman on the list - and no picture for her. Come on!

  • AA | March 20, 2013 6:17 PMReply

    Julia Hart should have been on here.

  • Alexa | March 20, 2013 6:10 PMReply

    You know what's lame? Having to do affirmative action for movie features. These guys didn't create the male-dominated film industry. I'm sure sex and race doesn't even factor in here, they're just looking at what's popping at the moment like they usually do.

  • oogle monster | March 20, 2013 6:49 PM

    True- but they overlooked some notable female writers who, as you put it are, "popping at the moment." I mentioned one below. So, yes in a way they certainly overlooked female writers who are very much having a moment and chose to include 9 men instead.

  • oogle monster | March 20, 2013 5:51 PMReply

    How the heck is the writer of Middle of Nowhere not on here?!!!!!!!!!!!!! And why the heck is Terrio on here? I'm not even saying this is sexist like the person below me- this is just lazy.

  • Eggman | March 20, 2013 5:50 PMReply

    I also don't see any female names named in the comments, either.

    Do the readers crying "sexist" actually think there are writers' names missing -- if so, why aren't those readers dropping names? Or is it just a quota-type thing? Because that doesn't help anybody.

  • Sasha Stone | March 20, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    Um. Yeah. Very sexist. Terrio?

  • Alan B | March 20, 2013 6:33 PM

    Damn this system.

  • Alan B | March 20, 2013 6:32 PM

    Damn this system.

  • Alan B | March 20, 2013 6:31 PM

    Thank God: Sasha Stone - who represents ALL WOMEN and EVERY APPROACH TO FEMINISM EVER - has explained THE TRUTH. You fools at The Playlist (which consists of male AND female writers) don't understand that you should have consulted with Stone before writing this article. And every article. She knows all and is all. Thank God she checked in to explain the rampant SEXISM of The Playlist. In fact, can Sasha please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please comment on EVERY article, because only Sasha Stone understands feminism.

  • Alan B | March 20, 2013 6:31 PM

    Thank God: Sasha Stone - who represents ALL WOMEN and EVERY APPROACH TO FEMINISM EVER - has explained THE TRUTH. You fools at The Playlist (which consists of male AND female writers) don't understand that you should have consulted with Stone before writing this article. And every article. She knows all and is all. Thank God she checked in to explain the rampant SEXISM of The Playlist. In fact, can Sasha please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please comment on EVERY article, because ONLY Sasha Stone understands feminism.

  • Alan B | March 20, 2013 6:30 PM

    Thank God: Sasha Stone - who represents ALL WOMEN and EVERY APPROACH TO FEMINISM EVER - has explained THE TRUTH. You fools at The Playlist (which consists of male AND female writers) don't understand that you should have consulted with Stone before writing this article. And every article. She knows all and is all. Thank God she checked in to explain the rampant SEXISM of The Playlist. In fact, can Sasha please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please comment on EVERY article, because ONLY Sasha Stone understands feminism.

  • YZZ | March 20, 2013 4:57 PMReply

    How is an Oscar winning A-lister "on the rise" and one to watch? Everyone knows Terrio is brilliant.

  • YZZ | March 21, 2013 1:15 AM

    That's not even accurate, Freinz. He worked on Heights. He's literally the hottest writer in Hollywood and has a rich blind deal at a studio. He's not "on the rise". He's made it x 10000. Could have given that spot to plenty of other, legitimately rising writers.

  • Freinz | March 20, 2013 10:17 PM

    90% of the population never knew who this guy was until he won an Oscar. He's had ONE produced screenplay in his career. Argo.

  • XX | March 20, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    weak, sexist list.

  • Arch | March 20, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    That's a list I hoped to see but wasn't sure would happened.
    I mean for some reasons (most notably the writer/director icon and the "script" issue in indie cinema) it almost seems to me screenwriting is on the verge of becoming a lost art.

  • Yss | March 20, 2013 2:49 PMReply

    Only 1 female screenwriter is on the rise? Sad.

  • ML | March 20, 2013 3:35 PM

    And she's paired with a guy, so it's like a 1/2 vote of confidence.

  • spassky | March 20, 2013 3:07 PM

    Was just about to say the same thing :(

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