Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

On The Rise: 10 Screenwriters To Watch In 2013

Features
by Oliver Lyttelton
March 20, 2013 2:45 PM
49 Comments
  • |

Chris Terrio
If you're familiar with any of these guys, it's probably Chris Terrio, seeing as he just won an Oscar about four weeks back for his work on Ben Affleck's "Argo." But the 36-year-old Harvard grad is still a relative newcomer, and is yet one of the most sought-after writers around, so we'd be fools not to include him here. Terrio started out as an assistant for James Ivory, of Merchant Ivory fame, before winning some acclaim by directing and writing the short "Book Of Kings." This led him to financing for his feature directorial debut, "Heights," which rode an impressive cast (including Glenn Close, Isabella Rosselini, George Segal, James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks and Rufus Wainwright) to a Sundance premiere in 2005. The film (based on Amy Fox's play) picked up decent notices, but was mostly ignored on release, but nevertheless, it managed to get Terrio more screenwriting work, even though he'd only contributed additional material to "Heights" (making "Argo" his first proper screenwriting credit). Terrio's subsequent work included a version of "Richard II" at Merchant Ivory that Jude Law circled for a while, but Terrio finally got his big break after getting the "Argo" gig, the script landing on the Black List as a result. And in the two years between then and the film reaching the screen, the writer's been unfathomably busy. He penned a remake of French thriller 'Tell No One" for Affleck, has a spy thriller called "Weather Service" in development, and took on another true-life tale with "A Murder Foretold," based on the murder of a man in Guatemala, who left behind  a videotape implicating the country's president in the death. There's lots more on the way, too. Terrio's best screenplay to date, a real shift in tone, is period drama "The Ends of The Earth," which David O Russell and Jennifer Lawrence are reteaming on, while he's also got a crime movie with George Clooney and Paul Greengrass, and earlier this week he signed up to reunite with Affleck on American revolutionary drama "Bunker Hill."

Jack Thorne
Jack Thorne is someone who's been bubbling under for a little while, coming on our radars quite a few years back, but has exploded into activity in the last year or so with several projects set to hit between now and the end of 2014. Thorne started off as a playwright, and after some time with the Royal Court Theatre's Young Writers Programme, debuted his breakthrough play "When You Cure Me" at the Bush Theatre in London in 2005 (other ones have followed, including "Fanny and Faggot," "Bunny," "2 May 1997" and,most recently, a new version of "The Physicists"). This brought him to the attention of Brian Eisley, who was in the process of creating a new teen series that would end up being called "Skins." As well as launching the likes of Nicholas Hoult, Kaya Scodelario, Jack O'Connell and Daniel Kaluuya, it served as a breeding ground for writers like Thorne, who penned a number of the show's best episodes. Other TV work followed, including two that Thorne created, the excellent "Castoffs" and the even better "The Fades," while he teamed up with Shane Meadows for movie spin-offs "This Is England '86" and "This Is England '88." But at the same time, he was starting to break into movies. His coming-of-age drama "The Scouting Book For Boys" is something of a Playlist favorite; wrenching and dark and beautifully made, it sadly never got a U.S. release, despite being one of the better recent British films, but it's led to a lot more movie work. Aside from a "Skins" movie, Thorne debuted a short film, "Jonah," at Sundance this year, and is credited on both the Nick Hornby adaptation "A Long Way Down," and Kevin Macdonald's end-of-the-world romance "How I Live Now," starring Saoirse Ronan. There's more where that came from too. He penned the post-apocalyptic young adult adaptation "Blood Red Road," and a TV movie of Stephen Kelman's "Pigeon English" for Ridley Scott, a version of the novel "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" for Warner Bros, and most recently, was hired for magician movie "Mortimer Wintergreen" by Johnny Depp's company, with Depp likely to star. And when you've got Johnny Depp's attention, you know you're made...

S. Craig Zahler
While things are moving quickly for the 2012 victors, Joseph and Rothman, topping the Black List doesn't necessarily automatically lead to instant fame. S. Craig Zahler, for instance, placed first on the second-ever list back in 2006 with his Cormac McCarthy-infused Western "The Brigands Of Rattleborge," but it's only in the last twelve months or so that things have really lifted off for him. 'Brigands,' widely regarded as one of the best unproduced screenplays of the last decade, is a rule-breaking western epic about a gang who plan to rob a town during an almighty storm, and its unique voice, fascinating characters and twisty plot certainly put Zahler on the map. The script was optioned by Warner Bros, but got stuck in development hell, but Zahler has stayed busy. He was hired by Tobey Maguire to pen a "Robotech" movie, developed a western series at Starz entitled "Men of the Dusk," and wrote two novels: "A Congregation of Jackals" and the imminent "Wraiths Of The Broken Land." But of the movie gigs, nothing quite moved forward, with the exception of little-seen horror "Asylum Blackout." But 2012 saw a flurry of activity. First, Michael Mann became attached to his present-day crime thriller "The Big Stone Grid," then "Oldboy" and "Stoker" helmer Park Chan-Wook gave 'Brigands' a new lease of life by coming aboard, then he set up a martial-arts series called "Downtown Dragons" at FX, and has a directorial debut called "Bone Tomahawk" in the works, to star Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant and Richard Jenkins. That looks like it could be the first into production, so it could turn out that we come to know him better as a director than as a writer, but seven years after he break through, it's clear he's as much in demand as ever.

Honorable Mentions: There are plenty of other writers to keep an eye on in the near-future. For instance, the most recent Black List featured names like Sean Armstrong ("A Country Of Strangers"), Young Il Kim ("Rodham"), Richard Wenk ("The Equalizer'), Justin Rhodes ("The Join"), Josh Campbell & Matt Steucken (an untitled project at Bad Robot), Allan Durand ("Willie Francis Must Die Again") and Patrick Aison ("Wunderkind," "Echo Station"). Meanwhile, writers who have acclaimed projects in theaters recently, or in the near future, and look to go on to greater things, include Kay Cannon ("Pitch Perfect"), Neil Cross ("Pacific Rim," "Luther"), Chris Galletta ("The Kings Of Summer"), Aaron Guzikowski ("Prisoners,"), Joby Harold ("All You Need Is Kill,") and Vera Blasi, whose "Pontius Pilate" has Brad Pitt circling. Anyone else you feel deserves a mention? Let us know in the comments section.


Features
  • |

More: Features, On The Rise Features

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

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 :(

Email Updates