Michael Lee Barlin.com
Writer / Director / Producer
Stranger Than Pictures

Official Website of Screenwriter/Director Michael Lee Barlin



The Black List, 2015 

Bronze Medal Winner, Drama Category, 2015 Page International Screenwriting

Semi-Finalist, Sundance Feature Film Program

Finalist, California Women's Film Festival

Quarter Finalist, Cynosure Screenwriting Awards

Quarter Finalist, Fade-In Screenwriting Awards

Named one of the 'Top 100 Screenplays in The World' by the Telluride Indiefest

The powerful, authentic adventure story of an elderly Inuit (Eskimo) woman who is forced from her village to survive alone in the arctic tundra.

2015 Nicholl Fellowship Reader Feedback:

The story has an original premise which is a solid starting point for the movie. The strong beginning is followed by an intriguing middle and a satisfying ending. The story, even with its surreal visions, is linear and makes perfect sense. We’re on a journey with these characters which connects with us emotionally.

The voice of the script is distinctive, giving us a sweet story in the despite the characters’ extremely tough living conditions. The premise, story and characters are all new to us.

The characters in this script have a great deal of depth. Even though there’s not much dialogue, each character has his or her own unique voice. We come to care about them and we want to know what happens to them. The central character changes over the course of the story as she finds the love and acceptance that she missed from her own family. The dialogue and tone are consistent throughout. The way that the people speak fits the setting of the story.

Descriptions of the landscape and the people are really lovely. The dialogue reflects their culture, creating the drama of the story. The inner conflict experienced by the central character propels the story forward. Her actions and those of her companion move the story along. Those actions are a direct result of who they are.

This script genuinely makes us want to keep reading. First we’re drawn in by the exotic location and culture but we’re sustained by the emotions and attachments that develop between the characters. The theme of the accepting death so that younger people may live on the limited resources available is thought-provoking. This is a special screenplay.

Cynosure Screenwriting Awards Coverage:

A tender and compelling story about how an Eskimo woman comes to understand the necessity of the custom of her people, and why the aged must stand aside to provide for the young in a primitive, subsistence way of life.

But, instead of willingly doing the honorable thing, Isha's not ready to die yet, and struggles to live. She gets another chance for happiness when she meets a young man, just entering manhood, and they become close friends.

He saves her life, and she returns the favor. And when he brings her home to his tribe, she comes to realize that the old custom makes sense after all.

There's not enough food to go around, she's too old to be productive any longer, and she must leave in order to let the younger people survive, and enable the tribe to flourish.

Much of the second act has little dialogue, neither Tato nor Isha know the other's language. But it doesn't matter, the story is told beautifully in the images, the action and drama between the two.

Email me at
mleebarlin@gmail.com for more on FINAL JOURNEY...



A short comedy about two would-be thieves attempting to rob a gas station at the same time, only to find out they've foiled a third robbery already in progress and have become heroes.

Email me at mleebarlin@gmail.com for more on TWO WRONGS...


Animated Family Adventure

Placed in top 15% of Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition!  
Semi-Finalist - Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition!
Semi-Finalist - Screenplay Festival Competition!

'An adorable, fun, and action-packed script!  Super cute and engaging-- funny and entertaining all the way through.  This script is awesome.  A brilliant writing sample here with the potential to be a broad, commercially appealing film with strong market value.  This would make a wonderful film and a great Thanksgiving Day release!  Awesome job!   I loved it.'
--Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition Coverage

'A very marketable idea and a fun, fast read'
- Bob Tzudiker, Screenwriter of THE LION KING, TARZAN and ANASTASIA

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest weekends of the movie world-- especially for animated movies-- yet nobody has yet to release an animated Thanksgiving feature.  I think there's a big opportunity here...

Email me at mleebarlin@gmail.com for more on TURKEY DAY...



Placed in Top 15% of Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition!  

Forever pissed at his Dad for abandoning him at age four, a struggling thirty-year-old sees a glimmer of hope in reuniting with his Old Man when forced to join him on a cross country Harley trip, only to discover Dad’s got dementia and doesn't remember him…

"The script has a really interesting premise and a solid road trip plot that does a particularly nice job balancing emotional moments and themes with somewhat outrageous humor and sight gags. The narrative deals with pretty loaded concepts like abandonment and Alzheimer's disease but is careful not to get bogged down in the morose subjects and instead uses the heavy themes to create more light-hearted comic moments that still carry dramatic weight in the subtext."
--The Black List 

"The absurd style of comedy is great-- consistent and fresh.  The voice is original, with sharp dialogue, characters that jump out of the page, and expert pacing.  The story never slows down and there are great dramatic beats among the comedy in the right places to establish character and ground the whole piece."

- Matthew Richmond, ImageMovers - Screen Craft Studio Notes Coverage

".Entertaining buddy picture/road trip movie with strong character development and plenty of enjoyable story beats along the way."
--Screenplay Readers


Dark Comedy

Optioned Twice!! 
Quarter Finalist, FADE IN Magazine's Fade In Awards.

A story about four friends hired by a mob boss to bring a moving truck full of furniture from NYC to Las Vegas but who accidentally arrive with 47 dead bodies, 2 dead dogs and a chicken.  A dark comedy to end all dark comedies.

It's an idea I got while making my feature THE PIG FARM.  One day our props/camera truck was pulled over by the police because a parking light was out and while opening up the back of the truck, the officer was shocked to see we had a bucket of gory body parts.  We told him they were just props for a movie and he got very excited, chatted us up and let us go which made me wonder... if you ever did get caught with a dead body in your car/truck, all you have to do is say you're making a movie and the body is a prop and you may get away... :)

Anyway, out of that RIGHT WAY, WRONG TURN was born, and it's awesome (if I do say so myself).  This is my so-called 'whore' project-- the one that keeps getting interest from buyers and which has been already optioned twice.  I currently have all the rights again, so if you're interested in taking a look, just give me a shout.

Email me at mleebarlin@gmail.com for more on RIGHT WAY, WRONG TURN...