We’re thrilled to announce that soon we will be releasing the 2016 Hit List, comprised of top spec scripts of the year, as voted on by industry professionals. We can hardly wait to drop this year’s best of the best in specs and discover a new batch of talented writers and their incredible stories. So to hold us over, we’re taking a look back at some of the writers and scripts that made the Hit List in years past, showcasing just a few of our favorite success stories.
Yesterday, we revisited the 2012 Hit List, which included red hot screenwriter Brad Ingelsby and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Today, we proudly present the latest updates from some of the writers who made the 2013 Hit List. Tomorrow, we’ll check in with the writers from 2014!
HERE ARE A FEW STAND-OUT HONOREES FROM THE 2013 HIT LIST
Aaron Berg stormed onto the list with his spec SECTION 6, about the formation of MI6, which sold to Universal in a mammoth seven-figure deal. It is now in development with Grey Matter, Big Talk, and Marc Platt producing. Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) is attached to direct with Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) slated to star. Berg has also been busy penning the latest G.I. Joe sequel for Paramount, with MGM, Di Bonaventura and Hasbro attached to produce. Dwayne Johnson is set to return, with DJ Caruso on board to direct. Last on the docket is the adaptation of the video game Borderlands, currently set up at Lionsgate.
Jordan Goldberg and Alex Paraskevas made the 2013 Hit List with THE ASTERISK after previously being featured for the suspense thriller Sprawl. The Asterisk was sold to Warner Bros. Pictures and their other spec, The Gun Eaters went to Paramount and Oasis Media Group. Paraskevas has multiple projects of his own in development, while Goldberg has gone on to become an associate producer or producer for nearly all of Christopher Nolan’s films since 2005, including The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar.
Allison Schroeder swung onto our list of top specs with her action adventure tale, AGATHA, which is in development at Paramount with Disruption and Benderspink producing. Schroeder is also scripting Fox 2000’s adaptation of Hidden Figures, a book about a team of African American women integral to the success of NASA’s first space missions. The highly anticipated film is set for release this December, with awards buzz surrounding it.
Ben Ripley scored big when he penned the hit sci-fi thriller Source Code for Vendome Pictures, which he’s now working on a sequel for, but it was his spec EMPIRE that landed on the 2013 Hit List. The script is presently set up at The Mark Gordon Company with veteran editor Angus Wall attached to direct. He wrote Boychoir, an intimate drama, for Informant Media. The picture was released in 2014 with Dustin Hoffman in the lead. Ripley has been brought in to work on a number of high profile projects including Operation Zero for Universal, and the remake of Flatliners for Columbia Pictures.
Bill Kennedy landed on the list in 2013 for his crime thriller THE FIXER, about a money manager who gets into business with an LA drug dealer. The spec is in development with Fubar Films and Rumble Entertainment teaming to produce. Kennedy has been a staff writer on the hit Netflix show House Of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, as well as the NBC drama American Odyssey. He penned the Haley Joel Osment indie comedy Sex Ed and is working on adapting Matthew Mather’s novel Cyberstorm for Fox and Chernin Entertainment.
Daniel Kunka is perhaps best known for the action thriller 12 Rounds, produced by Fox Digital Studio and starring WWE star John Cena. He was listed in 2013 for his action spec THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE. He then began to churn out specs, with two set up in town. Yellowstone Falls, a sci-fi thriller, is set up at Cover Media and Misher Films with Gerard Johnstone slated to direct. Another sci-fi offering, Agent OX, is in development at Columbia and Original Film. Kunka has also been tapped to pen Warner Bros. adaptation of the classic video game Space Invaders and the period film Battle of New Orleans for Madhouse Entertainment and Endurance Media.
David Ayer’s entry onto the 2013 list was the World War II drama FURY, which was produced in 2014 and starred Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, and Logan Lerman. Ayer directed the film, which was nominated for numerous awards and landed on the National Board of Review’s Top Ten list. Before that, Ayer wrote and directed the scintillating cop thriller End Of Watch starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, and Anna Kendrick. He has been tapped by Warner Bros. to pen the remake of Sam Peckinpah western The Wild Bunch, which Will Smith is in talks to lead, and most recently wrote and directed the DC Entertainment Universe film Suicide Squad. Up next he’s directing and writing the Netflix film Bright.
David Feeney and John Quaintance have been staples of the sitcom world. Feeney has staffed on such series as 2 Broke Girls and New Girls while Quaintance has worked on Undateable, Bad Judge, and Clipped. The pair boy wrote for the Dana Fox series Ben & Kate starring Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson. Feeney and Quaintance were featured on the Hit List with their script DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS. The script was picked up by Pacific Standard as a starring vehicle for Reese Witherspoon and was produced by MGM Studios and New Line Cinema. The title was changed to Hot Pursuit and starred Sofia Vergara alongside Witherspoon, and was directed by Anne Fletcher.
Declan O’Dwyer has proven himself a master of storytelling as a director for years, helming episodes of several series including Robin Hood, Wire In The Blood, Merlin, and Atlantis. When he put pen to paper for his spec script BROKEN COVE, the industry took notice with script landing on the 2013 Hit List before being set up at ArtCastle Productions. He’s also set to direct.
Elijah Bynum hit the list with two specs in 2013, and sold both of them: HOT SUMMER NIGHTS to Flashlight Films, and MISSISSIPPI MUD to Darko Entertainment. The former script took top honors in its year on the Hit List and recently finished production. He also has another spec, In the Morning Blood, in development.
Hernany Perla made a name for himself in the development world prior to landing on the Hit List, after which he soon found his scripts Blink and 2013 nominee REVELATION moving into development as well. Perla continues to build his resume as a producer, on films like The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nightingale with David Oyelowo. Perla’s script Torture Man, which he adapted from the book by Warren Adler, is currently in development with Grey Eagle Films and he’s also writing Day One for MGM.
Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing flew onto the Hit List with THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. The film was made by 42 and Imposter Pictures, with IM Global as the studio. The Andre Ovredal-directed pic wrapped this year with stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox, and is currently awaiting release. The pair continued their feature writing partnership, penning The Boy Who Drew Monsters for New Line Cinema and Atomic Monster, Cropsey set up at DreamWorks Studios and Kennedy/Marshall Company, and a previous draft of the newest Friday The 13th film for Paramount and Platinum Dunes. Goldberg is also currently in development of the DC series Krypton for the Syfy Network.
Ian Shorr’s CAPSULE and SPRING FALLS earned the talented scribe two spots on the 2013 Hit List. Capsule has since sold to 20th Century Fox with Hutch Parker Entertainment producing and Matthew Hoene set to direct, while Spring Falls landed at Bellevue Productions with John Zaozirny producing. He has two other spec scripts currently in development as well: Re-up and Substitution, the latter of which is set up at Warner Bros. He’a also a staff writer on the current CBS series Training Day, based on the 2001 film.
Since the spec SPINBACK was highlighted on the Hit List writer John Swetnam has been very busy. 2013 saw the feature release of his script Evidence from FilmEngine, Marc Platt Productions, and Bold Films. The film starred Stephen Moyer and was directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi (another Hit List alum). He followed up penning Step Up All In for the massive dance franchise from Summit and Offspring Entertainment, which starred Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan, and Into The Storm for New Line Cinema, Broken Road Productions, and Village Roadshow Pictures. The film starred Richard Armitage and Matt Walsh and was directed by Steven Quale. Next he’s directing Spectrum, starring Lucas Till, and writing the script for In Service at Paramount and Bad Robot.
REMINISCENCE showed the industry Lisa Joy’s skill at feature writing, but she has made a career in television having staffed on ABC’s Pushing Daisies and USA’s Burn Notice. This year her sci-fi adaptation Westworld, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Anthony Hopkins, premiered on HBO and is taking the world by storm. Coming up, her spec is set up as Legendary and she’s writing the current draft of the new Battlestar Galactica film, as well as a spinoff Spider-Man film about a female character.
Lucas Carter landed on The Hit List with his feature script CAMDEN. The spec is currently set up at The Exchange and Intrigue and has Laurence Fishburne and Evan Peters attached to star. Intrigue is also in development with Carter and Olive Bridge Entertainment on the TV pilot All In, on which Carter is an executive producer. His other projects include penning the script for The Gun Show at Paramount and executive producing two other TV series: Blowback for the CW and Elements for USA.
After making the Hit List with PATIENT Z, Mike Le sold Dark Summer and Amnesiac, both of which were released last year. Meanwhile, Patient Z was renamed to Patient Zero and is currently awaiting release via Screen Gems, starring Natalie Dormer, Matt Smith, and Stanley Tucci. His spec Desert Eagle has been set up at Universal with Tyrese Gibson set to star. The pairing with Gibson continued to be fruitful with the actor producing and starring in Extortion at Universal, which Le was brought in to rewrite, and his other spec Boom is set up at HQ Pictures and Rocklin Entertainment.
Mike Maples penned the Emmy-nominated Lifetime movie Miracle Run starring Mary-Louise Parker and a young Zac Efron. Maples’ thriller PADRE was included on the 2013 list and is set up at Screen Gems and The Exchange. He has specialized in adaptations of late, penning the scripts for The Samaritan, and The Ugly Little Boy for Warner Bros, with Demi Moore set to star.
Buena Vista Pictures
Peter Dowling landed on the list for his thriller HIGHRISE, which is currently in development at Fox 2000 and Jon Shestack Productions. Dowling penned the Jodie Foster hit Flightplan as well as the Samuel Jackson vehicle Reasonable Doubt. He also ventured into the director’s chair for the 2008 indie thriller Stag Night, starring Vinessa Shaw and Brackin Meyer. He is currently working on a slew of projects including the thriller The Diplomat, The Offer for Disney, and Speed Tribes for Columbia.
Spenser Cohen stormed on to the 2013 Hit List with his sci-fi/thriller EXTINCTION, now set up at Good Universe and Mandeville with James McAvoy starring and Ben Young directing. His 2012 Hit List spec, High Value Target, an actioner about a battle between spec ops agents and Somali pirates, is in development at Vinson and Millennium. Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) is set to direct with Jason Statham attached to star. Another one of his specs, Moonfall, is currently being developed at Universal with Roland Emmerich directing.
A former assistant to manager David McIlvan, Stephanie Shannon won the 2013 Nicholl Fellowship with her spec QUEEN OF HEARTS, a biopic focusing on the tumultuous love life of Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. OddLot Entertainment and Brillstein Entertainment are set to produce with Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) attached to direct. Shannon is currently penning Imperative Entertainment’s adaptation of E. Lockhart’s teen drama We Were Liars.
Zak Olkewicz quickly found success after making the Young & Hungry List, selling his first spec just one month later. His follow-up, INK AND BONE, landed on the Hit List and was picked up by Dimension and is being directed by fellow Young & Hungry alum Evan Daugherty. Zak hit the market with the pitch Elimination in 2013, which sold to 21 Laps and Fox Searchlight later that year. He then started 2015 with a bang, signing on to adapt Malignant Man and he has two other specs, Marked and Don’t Move, also in development.
Missed the previous recaps? Check the links below to read up on some of the highlights from previous years!