10 Contemporary Screenwriters

By: Laura Huie

Screenwriting is a practice that takes time, effort, and support; which is all the more reason to see how other screenwriters have successfully brought their scripts from page to screen. Read on to learn more about ten contemporary screenwriters who are making their unique mark in Hollywood and some useful insights on how they got there.

 Shiwani Srivastava (Wedding Season)

Shiwani wrote Wedding Season which ranked among the top ten Netflix films when it was first released in August 2022. Her modern romantic comedy comes from real-life incidents. “It shows the pressure of growing up in a community like that and sometimes the way that everybody is in each other’s business,” says Srivastava. “I realized I missed having some of that.”

She started her writing career as a freelance journalist, copy editor, and copywriter before taking a screenwriting class in San Francisco and entering multiple competitions. She placed in the top 10% of the Nicholl Fellowship which led her to connect with representation and producers at Netflix. In fact, Wedding Season was actually the first screenplay that Shiwani finished.

“It wasn’t at all an immediate success. I don’t think [my script] broke through to quarterfinals or semis or anything…I used the contest to get notes and keep revising.” – Shiwani Srivastav

 Katy Brand (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande)

Brand’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande debuted on Hulu in June 2022, starring Emma Thompson. The film’s premise revolves around a retired widow who hires a sex worker Leo in order to achieve orgasm after an unfulfilling marriage.

“The scenario itself interested me in the sense of two interesting people, two very different people, in quite an extraordinary situation and what would happen in that scenario,” she says. “But also just the wider subject matter of making a comedy about sex and shame and societal pressures and just things that we all feel.”

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Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (Everything, Everywhere All At Once)

One of the biggest and most celebrated movies of the year was Everything, Everywhere All At Once. Since its release in March 2022, the film has grown a cult following with its genre-bending multiverse story. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert often referred to as “The Daniels”, wrote and directed EEAATO.

About the conception of the film, “The Daniels” said, “There was a moment when we decided it could be an ode to kung fu movies and that style of action, which we love. We could cast those actors that we admire. Then the family would be Chinese American, which would be something we hadn’t gotten a chance to explore in our work. That was when we’re like, “Let’s write that. I think that sounds exciting.” 

Evan Dodson (Terms of Endearment)

Evan became the youngest writer on The Black List when he was 21 years old. Now, he’s writing the remake of Terms of Endearment, along with Little Richard for Apple, and a film called Two Butterflies for Amazon.

The new take on this original Terms of Endearment involves a Black family in the 1980s and 1990s. Evan’s screenplay focuses on historically important factors within the Black community and Oprah Winfrey is in talks to be the lead. But before this, Dodson wrote his first feature Two Butterflies. “I was a sophomore in college at the time, and it started the entire trajectory of my career.” Dodson’s hard work paid off with Viola Davis set to star in the film. 

 Akela Cooper (Malignant)

Akela Cooper was one of the top ten on Variety’s Screenwriters to Watch List in 2021, and she has penned multi-faceted horror films such as Malignant, alongside writing and producing credits for Luke Cage, American Horror Story, and more.

She started out by getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, then earning a Masters in Screenwriting at USC. Akela has been a part of two prestigious writing programs; the CBS Writers Fellowship and the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop.

Now, she is set to write the sequel to The Conjuring entitled Nun 2, and she recently finished writing the film. This is what she has to say about horror and comedy in filmmaking: “One of the things I love about horror and comedy is that they are two genres that thrive on an uncontrolled audio response from the audience. It’s a laugh or it’s a scream, and they’re both similar.” 

 Stefani Robinson (Chevalier)

Stefani Robinson has written on critically acclaimed television shows such as FX’s Atlanta and What We Do in the Shadows. Most recently, she has released her own film titled Chevalier based on the life of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a master swordsman, violin virtuoso, and composer who delighted the courts of 18th-century France.

She started out as an agency assistant before leaving her job in 2016 when she was asked by Donald Glover to come on board for the now award-winning series, Atlanta. As the only female at the writers’ table, she used her position to successfully represent witty and thoughtful narratives that open up doors for Black and female creators to tell their own stories.

“Screenwriting has traditionally been a boy’s club, race aside… Although it’s created notions about women — women who are writers, comedians, and content creators are challenging that idea, slowly but surely.” – Stefani Robinson

 Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale)

Samuel D. Hunter is the screenwriter behind the recently acclaimed film The Whale, starring Brendan Fraiser and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Hunter’s interest in film and playwriting initially began in high school. “I started making short movies with my parents’ camcorder when I was a teenager growing up in the ’90s in north Idaho. I would enlist my friends as actors and edit the movies by hooking together two VCRs.”

In 2014, he won the MacArthur Genius Grant for his work as a playwright and adapted his award-winning play into an A24-produced film.

Sarah Conradt (Mother’s Instinct)

Sarah Conradt’s adaptation of the Belgian film Mother’s Instinct has wrapped up production this year and stars both Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain in the leading roles.

Conradt grew up with an eclectic taste in films as a child, citing Sophie’s Choice and Jacob’s Ladder as inspirations.

“It’s always been important for me to leave a story on a note of hope. I love looking into the dark, and going deeper into the tangle of emotional layers, but I think we all need to see that light at the end of the tunnel — maybe now more than ever.” – Sarah Conradt

Other projects include an adaptation of the Italian thriller The Double Hour, while her script for Dead of Winter was recently set up at Netflix.  

 Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island)

Joel Kim Booster is an actor, comedian, and screenwriter, whose most recent project is a unique rom-com titled Fire Island. The Hulu film received widespread critical and social media praise for its representation and fresh take on the genre, putting gay Asian American men at its center.

“There’s an immense amount of pressure as a creator from a couple of marginalized communities creating a story about being a marginalized community within a marginalized community,” he says, referring to LGBTQIA+ and Asian American people. “I knew that it was going to either be completely ignored or dismissed, or it would find its audience and really hit with them. And I think that a little bit of both has happened.” 

 Alan Yang (Loot)

Alan Yang was a writer and producer for the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, for which he received his first Emmy nomination. Yang also co-created the Netflix series Master of None, which premiered in 2015 to critical acclaim. He also is a co-creator and writer for Apple TV’s 2022 series Loot, starring Maya Rudolph.

With an already robust career in comedy television, Yang is a contemporary screenwriter that infuses humor with heart and honesty while representing and championing other Asian American voices out there. With the release of his film Tigertail on Netflix, he says, “I’d like to see Asian-Americans in a wider variety of roles. Obviously it’s natural to make movies about our families and our heritage, because that’s an important part of our lives. I just made a movie like that, and there’ll be more movies like that, and I think that’s wonderful.”

We hope that has given you some screenwriting inspiration. Now it’s time to write your story!

Laura Huie is an experienced writer and editor involved in comedy-drama screenwriting, fiction editing, and full-time marketing copy. Laura is also a freelance article writer for Shore Scripts and has worked with Script Pipeline on their live Symposium series. She is one-half of screenwriting duo, Bloom & Huie. Together, they have written multiple television series as well as a feature-length film. Their mission is to write honest and witty female stories wrapped up in unbelievable worlds. 

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