10 screenwriters to watch

For Melisa Wallack, the path to a screenwriting career began, ironically, in document management. After graduating from college, Wallack and her sister started a company that handled paperwork for large companies in their home state of Minnesota. Eventually, they opened an office in Los Angeles, and Wallack moved out West.

“I started meeting a lot of writers,” recalls Wallack. “Then, about six years ago, I decided to give it a try myself.”

For her first script, “The Dallas Buyers Club,” Wallack teamed with writer Craig Borten to take on the true-life story of Ron Woodruff, a Texas AIDS activist who started a hugely effective yet illegal drug experimentation and treatment program before dying in 1992.

Pic is currently set up at Universal, with Brad Pitt attached to star and Marc Forster at the helm.

“Melissa’s a highly intelligent and extremely sensitive writer,” says Forster. “She has the skill of listening and then implementing ideas very well. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ has an incredible impact — it says something about a world and has a message — but at the same time it holds something back. Like all great scripts, it works on a subconscious level.”

Following the sale of “Buyers Club,” Wallack and Borten continued exploring fact-based dramatic material. They spent a year researching a project on industrial farming and also wrote a script-for-hire for the Firm about biological weapons in the 1960s.

The partnership ended two years ago, and Wallack has since been expanding her repertoire. Her new script, “Bill,” which she’s packaging and producing with husband Bernie Goldmann, is a dark comedy about infidelity, and she’s finishing another comedy about a private school teacher with a case of arrested development.

“Right now, I’m really drawn to comedies as well as character-driven dramas,” Wallack says. “Hopefully, my work can be a little bit of both.”

VITAL STATS
Age:
37
Birthplace: Wayvata, Minn.
Inspirations: “Unusual characters driven to do amazing things; people having uncommon, extraordinary lives that you wouldn’t expect them to have if you just met them on the street.”
Favorite unproduced script: “Bill,” a dark comedy
Agents/manager: Tom Strickler and Susan Solomon at Endeavor; Jill McElroy at BenderSpink

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