Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist Jennifer Griffith Dunbar

Chicago Screenplay Awards Questionnaire

By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.

Who are you and where are you from? 

My name is Jennifer Griffith Dunbar. I’m originally from San Francisco; I’ve lived in NY, Madrid, Seattle, DC, and now make Boulder, CO, my home. 


Where and when did you come up with the idea for your screenplay?

I wanted to write something fun that was set in a place where I wish I could go right now: Italy’s Amalfi coast. I attended an all-girl school much like the one depicted in the script. The idea of a washed-up tennis star came to me one day and then I thought that seeing her start from scratch at her old school would offer comic potential.


Can you take us through your screenwriting process? 

I write one to two scripts per year, workshopped with my weekly writer’s group. I tend towards dramedies and accidental thrillers.


What made you want to become a screenwriter?

I was home with three little kids (my husband is a pilot) and couldn’t finish a novel I had started. When I heard Callie Khouri used Syd Field’s book to write Thelma and Louise, I dared myself to do the same thing with my first script. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve been doing it ever since.


Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?

Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach, John Hughes, Nancy Meyers, Kenneth Lonergan, Tom McCarthy, the Coen Brothers, Lynn Shelton, Michael Arndt, the Duplass Brothers, Tony Gilroy, Mike White, Michael Showalter, Greta Gerwig, Nicole Holofcener, Charlier Kaufman, Jill Solomon.  


Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one?

Too many to name but I’ve  seen Annie Hall, You Can Count on Me, all of John Hughes Movies, and The Bourne Identity too many times. Search Party has been my most recent binge-watch/obsession.  


What’s your favorite moment in cinema history?

When Audrey Hepburn dominated!


Who’s your favorite character in cinema history?

Annie Hall or Ferris Bueller


If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them? 

I would want to talk to John Hughes to ask about his inspirations and how he was able to nail the details of so many life stages with so much humor and grace.



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