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"1st day of shooting LEARNING TO DRIVE - Action! - OMG! #BenKingsley and #Patricia Clarkson are speaking my lines!! #luckyme"
@SarahKernochan August 14, 2013
     written by Sarah Kernochan
In August 2013, Sarah's feature script LEARNING TO DRIVE, based on a New Yorker story by Katha Pollitt, went before cameras, starring Ben Kinglsey and Patricia Clarkson. Read more about it here: Deadline Hollywood

Article by Sarah in WGAW Written By

image of DVD cover of All I Wanna Do
All I Wanna Do

Originally titled "The Hairy Bird".
Also released as Strike!

Original screenplay by Sarah Kernochan
Director: Sarah Kernochan
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffmann, and Lynn Redgrave
With: Rachael Leigh Cook, Tom Guiry, Vincent Kartheiser, Monica Keena, Matthew Lawrence, Heather Matarazzo and Merritt Wever
Producers: Ira Deutchman & Peter Newman
Executive Producers: Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori & Nora Ephron

DVD Cover
image of DVD cover, The Hairy Bird, Australian release
image of The Hairy Bird cartoon character from the film All I Wanna Do had a difficult birth, overcoming the inertia of an industry which traditionally has had reservations about women running things, as well as for picayune reasons, like the tempest surrounding the original title --- "The Hairy Bird" --- which was deemed offensive and problematic by Miramax. In Canada, the film is called "Strike". Only the Australian release retains the original title. This film is Sarah's debut feature as director.

The premise of the film is simple: young women do better in a supportive environment: life is rarely so simple. In the story, Miss Godard's all girl academy has nurtured young female minds, but has also been subject to neglect, by the alumni, as well as by an indifferent 1960s society. The school must now comtemplate the unthinkable: merging with an all boys academy and going co-ed.

Available on DVD at Amazon.com

Download the Entire Script  »»   hairy-bird.pdf - (220K)
(contains the scenes edited out by Miramax)

Deleted Scene Video:
Verena confronts her father
Apple Quicktime format (12MB)
Windows Media format (13MB)

Read a full review of All I Wanna Do in the Village Voice.

See also the All I Wanna Do interview at Salon.com.

The Hairy Bird ad that ran in Variety
Trade Magazine Ad

Other All I Wanna Do Links:

All I Wanna Do Home Page
Redeemable Features Press Kit
Chinese Version DVD cover

Brief article at the Rosemary Hall website, the all girl boarding school Sarah attended.


Screenplay by Sarah Kernochan
Directed by James Lapine

Starring: Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Julian Sands, Emma Thompson, Georges Corraface, Anton Rodgers, and Ralph Brown

In the this film, the ball-busting nineteenth century French novelist George Sand sets her sights on the frail composer Frederic Chopin, pursuing him relentlessly. The harder she tries, the further he recedes, and the treachery of friends doesn't make her mission any easier. This is a witty tale of two opposite characters who come together as lovers, though the impossibilities seem endless.

Kernochan long nourished a serious passion for Chopin's music, but when she read an account of his 10-year relationship with George Sand, she felt this great romance was a potentially funny story. Here was a mannish woman pursuiung a womanish man, and at every turn the gender roles were reversed. When writing some of the romantic scenes, she even wrote the action and dialogue as befitted a man courting a woman, and then simply switched the names!

Upon completing the script, she gave it to her husband James Lapine to direct. Among others, he cast the then-unknown Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson in key roles, a bit of prescient casting which brought the film to a wider audience once those two actors' stars had risen. Now it enjoys an international cult following which has grown further since its re-release on DVD by MGM.

Available on DVD at Amazon.com

Download the Entire Script  »»   impromptu.pdf - (215K)

Full Review at Movieline

Impromptu Poster at Movie Goods

image of DVD cover of Impromptu

Films in which Sarah Kernochan is a writer:

image of DVD cover of Dancers

Available at Amazon.com


Herbert Ross (Director)
Nora Kaye (Producer)
Jack Brodsky (Producer)
Yoram Globus (Producer)
John Thompson (Producer)
Menahem Golan (Producer)
Sarah Kernochan (Screenwriter)
Earl MacRauch (Screenwriter)

Starring: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alessandra Ferri, Leslie Browne, Thomas Rall, Lynn Seymour

This was an odd assignment for Kernochan. She was to write a mirror story around the ballet "Giselle" and director Herbert Ross cautioned her not to write a lot of dialogue, and certainly no long speeches, because the movie was to star ballet dancers who could not be counted upon to act. The result was a 50 page script (leaving room for all the screen time devoted to sheer dancing) with nearly every scene under-written to a degree unnatural to Kernochan. She did, however, prevail with one long speech for Baryshnikov. He required 17 takes to get through it without flubbing the words!

The film was meant to be somewhat light and comic, with a bittersweet ending, but whatever comedy was present in the script was lost to the director's frame of mind. His wife, the great ballerina Nora Kaye, was dying of cancer throughout the shoot and post production. She had wanted very badly to do this last ballet project (following up "The Turning Point" which Ross made with her). She lapsed into final unconsciousness before the film was finished. So there is a rueful, sorrowful pace and tone to this film which was supposed to have been fun.

image of DVD cover of What Lies Beneath

Available at Amazon.com

What Lies Beneath

Claire: Michelle Pfeiffer
Norman: Harrison Ford
Caitlin: Katharine Towne
Mary: Miranda Otto
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Clark Gregg
Based on the story by Sarah Kernochan and Clark Gregg.

Kernochan wrote the original script for this film for Steven Spielberg. The premise of an empty-nest couple and a female ghost was meant to resemble his "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND" -- a realistic journey about making contact with the "other side," full of awe and wonderment as well as chills. Spielberg ultimately opted to do another movie instead, and the script was reworked for Robert Zemeckis as a horror movie. Kernochan decided to take only a story credit because the final version ranged so far afield from her own script, which had been partly based on her own close encounters with a ghost in her house.

image of DVD cover of Sommersby

Available at Amazon.com


Starring: Richard Gere, Jodie Foster, Bill Pullman, James Earl Jones, Lanny Flaherty
Director: John Amiel
Producers: Arnon Milchan and Steven Reuther
Screenplay: Nicholas Meyer and Sarah Kernochan
Music: Danny Elfman
Released by Warner Brothers

"This film was written as a remake of the French classic tragedy THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE, reset in the post-Civil War south. A soldier returns from that conflict to rejoin his wife on his devastated plantation. He seems much changed by his war experiences -- so changed that he may not even be the man he says he is! Kernochan was brought in to rewrite Nicholas Meyer's script as the film neared production. Jodie Foster was uncommitted because her role was weak. Kernochan not only reconceived her role but solved many confusing story points, leading to a shared screenplay credit."

image of DVD cover of 9 1/2 Weeks

Available at Amazon.com

9 1/2 Weeks

Director: Adrian Lyne
Producer: Antony Rufus Isaacs, Sidney Kimmel, Zalman King
Screenwriter: Sarah Kernochan, Zalman King, Patricia Louisianna Knop
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger, Margaret Whitton, David Margulies, Christine Baranski, Karen Young

Adrian Lyne's film, based on a novel of the same name, tracked a sado-masochistic love affair. Fraught with production problems, including the loss of its American financing just weeks before commencement of principal photography, Kernochan was brought in to do a quickie rewrite over a single weekend. One rewrite led to another until she had written a third of the script and won a shared screenplay credit. She claims however that she wrote none of the infamous sex scenes except the refrigerator food free-for-all -- which she says amounted to no more than "coming up with a menu."

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