10 Screenwriters to Watch

Shauna Cross is inspired by all the “girl writers” working these days: “It’s completely badass,” she says. “I root for the girls. I’m a total girl’s girl.”

It’s no wonder, then, that her script “Whip It!” found a home at femme-powered Flower Films, Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen’s shingle.

To be helmed by Barrymore and to star Ellen Page, pic is an extension of Cross’ personal penchant for roller derby (her skate name is Maggie Mayhem). The scribe started playing the amateur sport a few years ago.

“There were three leagues in the country,” she recalls of the time when she first assembled her team. “No one knew how to roller-skate, but I thought these girls are cool and it’ll be fun to drink with them. It’s like being in a sorority, if sororities made you feel good about yourself.”

Her friend, fellow scribe Kirsten Smith, told her to write about it. The project started as a book. Cross imagined it as a coming-of-ager set in the roller derby world in her hometown of Austin, Texas. Her pitch sold to a publisher almost immediately, and she simultaneously shopped the movie version as well. (It got set up at Warner Independent with Flower, but was put into turnaround and landed at Mandate Pictures.)

Says Barrymore: “It’s amazing when you can find a writer who is not only grounded in reality but can springboard into the world of fantasy so gracefully.”

Cross went to film school at the U. of Texas before heading to Los Angeles in 2001. She says she’s had “little options here and there on specs,” but “Whip It!” is her first big splash.

Even after seven years of hustling, though, she’s taken a rather positive approach to Hollywood: “I’m really obsessed and inspired by the theme that you can get through this business without being an asshole,” she says. “That’s the coolest rebel to be. I try to cling to my wide-eyed naivete. Snarky and glib only goes so far.”

SHORTHAND

Age: 32

Influences: “People who shape-shift and take risks that pay off in huge way.”

Favorite unproduced script: “Whip it!” (though it is set up with Flower Films and Mandate Pictures)

Up next: “Live Nude Girls,” the true story an early-’90s group of exotic dancers in San Francisco who formed a union to improve their work environment.

Reps: Agents: Cliff Roberts, Carolyn Sivitz, David Lubliner at WMA; manager: Seth Jaret at Jaret Entertainment; attorney: Karl Austen at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

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