How do you go from dreaming of being a screenwriter to one day waking up an Oscar nominee? Here are brief biographies of this year’s nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay to help answer that question.
This intellectual, sci-fi thriller was adapted by Eric Heisserer from Ted Chiang’s award-winning novella, “Story of Your Life.” Heisserer got his start when he sold his popular web series, The Dionae House to Warner Brothers. He then went on to make a name for himself in the horror genre with films like Final Destination 5, Lights Out and the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. Even with his success, he had to write Arrival as a spec script before he could get the film made. In 2012 the spec landed on the Hollywood Black List (the yearly compilation of the best unproduced spec scripts). Check out his thoughts on writing Arrival at Deadline.com.
Luke Davies, an Australian poet, novelist and screenwriter, adapts Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home. Davies is known for his film Candy, which he adapted from his own novel, and the period piece, Life about a photographer assigned to shoot James Dean for Life Magazine. Find out more about Lion in this Google Talk.
Noted playwright August Wilson adapted his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play. A self-educated, struggling poet, Wilson wrote his first play in 1978 and eventually wrote a cycle of ten Broadway plays, each set in a different decade of the twentieth century. Written in 1987 and set in the fifties, Fences is part of that cycle. Wilson wrote several screenplays for Fences before his death in 2005. However, the film’s twenty-nine-year journey to the screen began even earlier. There was almost immediate interest in the play, though by the late eighties it had stalled. The film’s early struggles are outlined in this 1991 New York Times article.
Well known on the film festival circuit, writer/director Barry Jenkins adapted Tarell Alvin McCraney’s story “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” Jenkins attended Florida State University film school and collaborated with several of his classmates on Moonlight. His previous feature, Medicine for Melancholy was also a festival favorite. Read an interview about the making of Moonlight at the Los Angeles Times.
Alison Schroeder graduated from USC and was a television writer (Mean Girls 2) when she heard about the Hidden Figures project. Having grown up in Cape Canaveral and working as a NASA intern she felt an affinity for the project and lobbied for the assignment. Take a look at her interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Schroeder’s co-writer, director Theodore Melfi has decades of experience making independent features but wasn’t truly noticed by Hollywood until he made St. Vincent with Bill Murray. He talks about the experience of making Hidden Figures at Deadline.com. Hidden Figures is based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Have you seen this year’s Oscar crop? Which are your favorites?