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2018 Writers Lab for Women Screenwriters Over 40 Now Accepting Submissions

2017 Writers Lab participant Vigil Chime: Oscars/YouTube

If you know or are a female screenwriter over age 40, this is for you: The Writers Lab’s 2018 program is accepting submissions. Produced by Iris and New York Women In Film & Television (Nywift) and funded once again by Meryl Streep, The Lab is “part of the movement to amplify the female voice in narrative film.”

According to a press release, The Lab will consist of a four-day script development retreat for narrative features, including one-on-one mentorship for participants, panel discussions, and peer groups. It will be held at Wiawaka on Lake George, NY from September 25–29, 2018.

Applicants must identify as female and must have been born on or before February 28, 1978 in order to be considered. Submitted scripts must be full-length narrative screenplays written in English. Scripts penned by multiple writers are allowed, but only one writer can attend The Lab.

Past Writers Lab mentors
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

New Bechdel Test Reveals Lack of Latina Representation in Hollywood

  • PEOPLE.com
It’s been over 30 years since Alison Bechdel, a renowned cartoonist, created the Bechdel-Wallace Test with the intention of highlighting Hollywood’s persistent gender disparities on-screen. The original Bechdel test simply asked whether a film features two women talking to each other about something other than a man.

But the Bechdel Test mostly addresses the way white women are portrayed in film, and expectations of diversity and representation have changed since the 1980s.

This is why FiveThirtyEight, a politics and economics website with a data journalism perspective, reached out to 13 women in the film and television industry and asked them to devise their own tests.
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Dirty Girls Social Club: Starz Developing New Comedy Series

It's girls' night. Starz is developing the Dirty Girls Social Club TV show, based on the Alisa Valdes "Chica Lit" novel of the same name. Starz boss Chris Albrecht announced the new potential series at the premium cabler's Summer 2016 TCA presentation.Ligiah Villalobos has been tapped as showrunner. She will executive produce with Anne Thomopoulos and Lucia Cottone. The half-hour series, set in New York City, features six professional women who have been friends since college.Read More…
See full article at TVSeriesFinale »

Starz Developing Pole Dancing Drama Pussy Valley, 'Womanhood' Comedy Dirty Girls Social Club

Next stop: Pussy Valley!

(Yeah, Starz’s upcoming drama, announced Monday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, is about exactly what you think it is.)

The one-hour scripted series, currently in development, “takes an unflinching and unapologetic look at the lives of pole dancers working down in the Dirty Delta.” Creator/writer Katori Hall will executive-produce, along with Peter Chernin (New Girl), Jenno Topping and Dante Li Loreto (American Horror Story).

VideosAmerican Gods: Watch First Trailer for Starz’s Neil Gaiman Adaptation

Starz is also developing The Dirty Girls Social Club, a half-hour series about six working women — friends from college,
See full article at TVLine.com »

Starz Develops ‘Dirty Girls Social Club,’ ‘Pussy Valley’ & ‘Teresa’ TV Series

Starz is tripling down on diverse projects with female voices. The pay cable network announced Monday that it is developing “Dirty Girls Social Club,” based on Alisa Valdes’ best-selling novel, “Pussy Valley,” from playwright Katori Hall, and “Teresa,” based on a highly-rated, award-winning Mexican telenovela.

Read More: How The Outstanding New Starz Series ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ Gives Us A Female TV Antihero For The Ages

The new Starz projects were revealed during the network’s portion of the Television Critics Association press tour.

“Dirty Girls Social Club” is a half-hour series following six diverse professional women living in New York City who have known each other since college. Ten year later, through the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives, they still can only count on each other. Ligiah Villalobos (“Under the Same Moon”) will serve as showrunner. Anne Thomopoulos (“Rome”) and Lucia Cottone will serve as executive producers.
See full article at Indiewire »

13 Candidates In Race For Eight Seats On WGA West Board

The WGA West said today that 13 candidates will be vying for eight open seats in its upcoming board of directors election. Incumbents seeking re-election include former guild president Patric Verrone, Marjorie David, Jonathan Fernandez and Chip Johannessen. The others in the race are Keenen Ivory Wayans, Matthew Weiner, Ligiah Villalobos, David Slack, Ali LeRoi, Courtney Ellinger, Glen Mazzara, Zoanne Clack and Richard Keith. The guild will host its annual candidates'…
See full article at Deadline TV »

13 Candidates In Race For Eight Seats On WGA West Board

The WGA West said today that 13 candidates will be vying for eight open seats in its upcoming board of directors election. Incumbents seeking re-election include former guild president Patric Verrone, Marjorie David, Jonathan Fernandez and Chip Johannessen. The others in the race are Keenen Ivory Wayans, Matthew Weiner, Ligiah Villalobos, David Slack, Ali LeRoi, Courtney Ellinger, Glen Mazzara, Zoanne Clack and Richard Keith. The guild will host its annual candidates'…
See full article at Deadline Movie News »

Meet the 10 Talented Filmmakers Selected for Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Intensive 2016

For over 30 years Sundance Institute has been an iconic organization providing opportunities and resources to independent filmmakers and those that want to support them. Their two flagship programs are the renowned Screenwriters Lab and the Directors Lab, which allow up-and-coming artists to interact and receive mentorship from successful and acclaimed members of the film industry. To say that being part of one these programs is a once in a lifetime opportunity is an understatement. The proof is in the undeniable quality of the projects that are shaped during the labs and that eventually become part of the cinematic conversation.

While fostering talent is what Sundance Institute does best, they are one of the institutions that most diligently reinforces their commitment to provide opportunities for new voices that represent an eclectic array of backgrounds and experiences. In order to cast their net of support even wider, the institute offers numerous exciting programs beyond those that are already well-known in the filmmaking community. As part of Sundance Institute's Diversity Initiative, the Screenwriters Intensive is an invaluable resource that focuses on stories outside of the homogenous fare.

The program is a 1 1/2 day workshop for writers whose work has been encountered by the institute as part of their outreach for the Labs and which they find especially promising. The writers of 10 projects take part in a program whose elements include a hands-on writing workshop led by creative advisor Joan Tewkesbury (“Nashville”), a screening of a recent Sundance film followed by a candid conversation with the filmmaker, a reception with Sundance staff and the extended Sundance community, and one-on-one meetings with two creative advisors to get feedback on their script. With the Intensive, the Sundance Institute aims to present participants with creative tools that they can take back to their own work, provide a space for dialogue and information sharing about the creative process of making a film (and all of the joys and challenges therein), and foster community among storytellers and an ongoing connection with Sundance.

The screening this year was Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and has now been picked up for U.S distribution by Strand Releasing. Centered on the conflicted son of a Korean immigrant couple in Los Angeles, Ahn's subtle yet poignant narrative deals with issues of identity both sexual and cultural. For the second day of the workshop, the fellows had one-on-one meetings with celebrated figures in independent cinema: Miranda July, Jennifer Salt, Deena Goldstone, Patricia Cardoso, Pete Sollett, Dana Stevens, Tanya Hamilton, Ligiah Villalobos, Scott Neustadter, and Kyle Patrick Alvarez

The Screenwriters Intensive fellows come from uniquely different backgrounds, and their projects bring original stories that are sure to showcase new and inventive perspectives on the world. Get to know them and their stories as they are on their way to giving us a great batch of new independent films.

The application for the 2017 January Screenwriters Lab is currently open with a deadline of May 3. Applicants for the Screenwriters Lab are also considered for the Screenwriters Intensive, Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship, and the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Latino Fellowship, as eligibility allows. To learn more about the Sundance Institute's programs visit Here.

Khalik Allah

Project: "Kareem"

Khalik Allah is a self taught filmmaker and photographer. His work has been described as visceral, hauntingly beautiful, penetrative and profoundly personal. Photography and filmmaking are two overlapping circles that form a venn diagram in Allah’s mind; the area where they overlap is the space he inhabits as an artist. Allah’s cinematic vignettes document hardscrabble life at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem (New York City), most recently in his award-winning documentary Field Niggas, which screened at festivals worldwide.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

My project is in an incredibly early stage. I'm basically taking the last four years of my life as a photographer on 125th and Lex and adapting it into a fiction narrative.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The most important thing was the mutual inspiration we gave each other. The lab advisors helped us dig deeper into ourselves. Their faith in us was tremendous. I took away a new lease on my future.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I met with Miranda July on day two of the lab. Wow she was incredible. She read my entire script and gave me many productive notes. I was impressed that she gave me so much time. Plenty of useful information I can implement.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I must keep writing.

Zia Anger

Project: "Despues De"

Zia Anger is a filmmaker and music video director. Her most recent short, "My Last Film," premiered at the 53rd New York Film Festival. In 2015, her short "I Remember Nothing" had its world premiere at New Directors/New Films and its international premiere at Festival del film Locarno. Other screenings include: AFI Fest, Denver Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Basilica Soundscape, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, and Vienna Independent Shorts. She has made music videos for various independent artists, including Angel Olsen, Julianna Barwick, and Jenny Hval, the latter of whom she also tours with, projecting live video and participating as a performer. Her music videos have been featured in various online publications including: Pitchfork, the Guardian, and NPR. In 2015, Anger was included in Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film" issue. She was a 2015 fellow in film/video from the New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her short film "Lover Boy." She holds a BA/Bs from Ithaca College and a Mfa from The School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

"Despues De" is about a missing white woman, a mother and daughter who try to find her, and the days leading up to her disappearance on a sorority vacation. It dissects the very particular mythological figures created by our tabloid crazed culture, white women's obsessions with themselves and each other, and the people and places who are alienated in their wake. I would say the project is creatively at the point where it's similar to someone in their late twenties, when you think "wow I know a lot, but fuck there is so much more and I'm open to that," as opposed to "I just turned 21 and I literally know it all." Artistically it calls for a certain amount of precision where high and low brow filmmaking techniques kind of collapse on to each other and end up smooching.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

Joan seems to have figured out a really simple way to help even the most stubborn of (non) writers reenter their work at a time when it might seem impossible. What's cool is that once you do it it's really easy to do again. I'm thinking that having this point of access will be crucial to the continued creative development of the piece, beyond writing and moving in to those difficult creative moments onset, in the editing room, all those places you normally forget everything you've already figured out.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Immediately it's exciting to sit the the same room with someone who speaks the same alien language as you but who has had the experience deal with people who don't. I think it was Bergman or someone who talked about how inadequate a script can be, considering it's just this middle step. I find myself so disillusioned with this middle step and constantly questioning what exactly it's supposed to function as. It's a good exercise to talk through what is important and what should be more developed and also where you can cut the fat.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Probably keep learning.

Chris Benson

Project: "Death of Innocence"

Christopher Benson, a journalist and lawyer, is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked as a city hall reporter in Chicago for Wbmx-fm, as Washington Editor for Ebony magazine, and as a speechwriter for Washington, D.C. politicians, including former Congressman Harold Washington and Eeoc Chair Clarence Thomas. He also has written for Chicago, Savoy, Jet, and The Crisis magazines, and has contributed to the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Most recently, he has written commentary on justice, race and media for the Chicago Reporter and the Huffington Post. His Chicago Reporter series on the wrongful murder conviction of Anthony Dansberry contributed to Dansberry’s release from prison (after serving 23 years) and earned Benson a Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary journalism. Benson also was a co-writer and associate producer of the Wttw Channel 11 documentary "Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender," and was named on two of the documentary’s three regional Emmy Awards, as well as another Lisagor Award. Benson is co-author with Mamie Till-Mobley of "Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America," the account of the 1955 lynching of Mrs. Till-Mobley’s son, Emmett Till, and the winner of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition. The feature adaptation of the book will be executive produced by Chaz Ebert and Shatterglass Films

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

Our project is titled "Death of Innocence" and it is the screen adaptation of a book I co-authored with the late Mamie Till-Mobley about the life and tragic death of her son, Emmett Till. Through this project that focuses on the brutal 1955 lynching of a 14 year-old kid, we want to help people make connections between the violent enforcement of racial segregation and the shooting deaths of young African American males by people who still are getting away with it in our contemporary moment. We also want to show how one person—in this case, Mamie Till-Mobley—can make a difference in the struggle for social and legal justice in America. This clearly is a challenge we still face and we need to learn lessons from some of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. That is what we are trying to show with this picture.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

One of the many things I have taken away from the first day of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab is that I have to take ownership of the characters who populate this story—even this story based on true events and real people. As a professional journalist, I have spent years trying to keep a distance from the issues I write about and the people who humanize those stories, who breathe life into them. Despite cynical public opinion, journalists do go after the truth. In screenwriting, we are going after the essential truth. What is the meaning of everything that appears on the screen? So, even in stories based on real events, we are not simply cataloguing a series of facts in a sequence of scenes. We are supposed to find the story that rises from all those facts. The essential truth. The true meaning. That will affect my screenwriting for some time beyond the successful completion of this project.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I have to say that the coordinators of the Sundance Lab experience clearly put a lot of care and thought into developing a perfect match of advisors and fellows. The second day discussions with my advisors was phenomenal. As with the Sundance organizers, they had read the script very carefully and approached my sessions with a devotion to maintaining the integrity of the story, and helping fulfill the purpose we had set out to accomplish. It was amazing to listen to the comments that reflected a deep appreciation of the characters, the story and even the potential impact of this piece. I was especially struck by the connection my advisors felt with the main character, Mamie Till-Mobley, and the advice I was given to develop her and her motivation to a level that will result in quite a powerful rendering. I can't wait to get started on the notes.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

My plan is to work with the notes I was given to consider ways to perfect the script. My advisors have indicated an interest in staying in touch on this, so that ongoing conversation will be great. The first step I am taking after the Sundance Lab is to engage in discussions with the other producers on our project to ensure that we all on the same page. Next will be to coordinate with the collaborators on the script to talk about the ideas that have emerged from the lab experience. Finally, I will begin to interpret it all on the page, and I am eager to see where the story takes me.

Shakti Bhagchandani

Project: "Purdah"

Shakti Bhagchandani is a screenwriter/director born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. She grew up in Dubai, in a melting pot of religion and culture, and cultivated her writing abilities with the help of her mother. She travelled to London to pursue a BA in English Literature at King's College London and while there she was awarded the prestigious Jelf Medal for her contributions to art and charity. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she interned at the Vineyard Theatre in New York, the Gate Theatre and National Theatre Studio in London, and the Antenna Theatre in San Francisco. She directed a number of student and semi professional plays, including "Fanny & Faggot" by Jack Thorne and "Pornography" by Simon Stephens. After graduation she moved to New York to pursue an Mfa in Screenwriting & Directing at Columbia University. She is currently in her thesis years, specializing in Screenwriting under advisor Trey Ellis. While at Columbia, she has worked on a number of shorts, and as a writer her last short "Khargosh" screened at Palm Springs International ShortFest and won the Satyajit Ray Award at the London Indian Film Festival. Her first feature screenplay, "Bidoun", was shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab 2015, and her current feature project "Purdah" has been selected for the Sundance Screenwriter's Intensive Lab in La. She recently wrapped production on her short "LostFound" that she wrote and directed, and is currently in preproduction for her next short "Tunisian Jasmine" which is set in the UAE.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. .

'Purdah' is a coming of age drama that follows a 16-year-old British Pakistani girl as she grapples with her burgeoning womanhood and her precarious sexuality in a world built on segregation and coercion. The project is currently in development.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The first day of the lab included one of the most invigorating writing workshops I've ever been a part of. Joan is a miracle worker! She guided us through a haze of snowploughs, dream sequences and inner monologues, and by the end of it I had somehow come up with about 20 new scene ideas. Characters I had neglected before were suddenly infused with new life and the possibilities for the story feels limitless. Andrew's film and the discussion afterwards was intensely inspiring and the perfect way to round off the day - he helped us believe that the future of our projects is entirely real and attainable.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?.

Patricia and Dana are wonderful! It was amazing to sit across from these incredible, passionate women - they were nurturing, encouraging and boundlessly generous with their advice. They talked about their own trajectories and experiences. They motivated me to dig deeper, to fine tune every detail, and to have faith in myself and the project. They came at my script from completely different angles, offering story notes, a ton of production thoughts, and advice on how to move forward with not only the script, but also my career.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Revise, revise, revise. And then revise again. The lab helped me see how much potential this story has and how much work it still needs. There is so much left to unearth and I'm excited to get started.

Reinaldo Marcus Green

Project: "Monsters and Men"

New York native Reinaldo Marcus Green is a writer, director, and producer. He is currently a thesis student at Nyu Tisch Graduate Film School and writing his first feature narrative, "Monsters and Men." Most recently, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film (2015). His latest short film "Stop," which he wrote, produced, and directed, premiered as an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015. His previous short film, "Stone Cars," shot on a micro-budget in South Africa, had its international premiere as an official Cinéfondation selection at the Festival de Cannes 2014.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

At its core, "Monsters and Men" is a story about perspective.

The film consists of three interlocking stories, each told through the point-of-view of three protagonists -- Manny, a street hustler, Stacey, a female police officer, and Zyric, a high school athlete.

When Manny captures an illegal act of police violence on his cellphone, he unwittingly sets off a series of events that will alter the course of each of their lives...

"Monsters and Men's" three chapters connect narratively and thematically, painting a portrait of modern-day Brooklyn -- a community caught in the crosswinds of crime, police corruption, and social instability.

We’re in the final stage of development, planning to shoot this summer 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. We hope to cast the net wide and far in order to provide opportunities for new undiscovered talent, and new exciting voices. The ideal cast would be a mix of professional and non-professional actors. New York is full of immense diverse talent we can’t wait to work with.

As a filmmaker, my goal is to tell powerful, urgently-needed and authentic stories. I see a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo of independent cinema, to craft entertaining stories with heart and meaning - films which possess social relevance, emotional complexity and thematic resonance.

Ultimately, its my hope to create a highly-compelling narrative feature, entertaining to watch, but one which will add to the social conversation about law enforcement, violence, and justice in America. We want to share that experience with audiences in other places in the world, by giving rise to growing communities who are often marginalized and whose stories are rarely seen in film.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

First and foremost, I felt very lucky to be a part of such an amazingly talented group of filmmakers, with a broad range of diverse projects, across all genres. It was fascinating to see where my script fits in the larger spectrum, and what I realized is that each and every story at the lab was an outlier. Each writer had a singular voice, a unique take on genre, character, story, and structure.

The Lesson: “Come in from the side.”

During Day One at the lab, I felt I threw out any preconceived notions I had about my own script. It allowed me to digress and deconstruct without internally combusting. Joan Tewkesbury, a true master at her craft, went right to the core of who we were as human beings, ultimately going right into the core of who and what our scripts were all about, and what they have the potential to become. I think fear is something that holds most people back, the same fear that the world was once flat and we would sail off the edge. Joan refocused my center of gravity and provided me with tools to “access” that inner child, be playful and to keep digging.

Character is at the core of who we are and what makes us human. The digger we deep, the more we reveal about ourselves. I believe in that if I continue the excavation process, with delicate precision, and a gentle curiosity, it will serve me well in all my writing. I can’t be afraid to find out who I am underneath the surface, although sometime we bury things for a reason — because we don’t want to go there — there’s pain hidden in various forms. In writing, there’s a seemingly impenetrable darkness and then there’s light.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The opportunity to sit down with Peter Sollett and Tanya Hamilton was truly a special treat for me. Not only did are they both masters of their craft and highly-regarded writers and directors within their own right, I had been a big fan of their work before meeting them. Peter’s short film "Five Feet High and Rising," which he later turned into a feature, "Raising Victor Vargas" are two works that I admire deeply, and they have been a source for inspiration since the genius of the project.

Both Peter and Tanya are so sharp and so astute, it makes for brilliant analysis and conversation.

They have a slightly different approach to story, but essentially meet somewhere in the middle; Character. With both advisors, we really stepped back from the script — taking a birds eye view of what the film really means to me and how and what the best way to achieve telling it would be moving forward. We talked a lot about character, world, and theme.

Tanya and Peter both offered many ideas for “problem solving” — helping me hone in on areas in the script that could be refined and strengthened. It’s evident in their own work how much they care about the craft — both offering truly thoughtful insight and perspective into how each scene could advance the story. We discussed ways to deepen characters and how to build a compelling and complex world without compromising my voice, or the story I want to tell.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I think the simplest answer is to just keep writing. There’s still a ton of information to digest from the lab but the key is to not get bogged down in semantics, to move beyond the fear and paralysis that we create for ourselves. It’s time to problem solve, lock myself in a room and just write. More coffee please.

Jessie Kahnweiler

Project: "Meet My Rapist"

Jessie Kahnweiler has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, TMZ, People, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, Mashable, Buzzfeed, Elle, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, Indiewire, La Weekly, The Huffington Post, and The Independent. At the University of Redlands, Kahnweiler quickly began ditching class in order to make documentaries. For her thesis film, Little America, she hitchhiked across the country to explore the world of America’s truck drivers. After getting dumped, she wrote and co-directed the comedic short "Baby Love," co-starring alongside "Anchorman’s" David Koechner. Kahnweiler was selected for the 6 Points Artist Fellowship which inspired her comedic web series entitled "Dude, Where’s my Chutzpah?" Her short "Meet my Rapist," a dark comedy about running into her rapist at the Farmers’ Market, inspired her live show "The Rape Girl." Kahnweiler confronted her own white privilege in her viral hit "Jessie Gets Arrested." Her latest project, for which she serves as writer, director, and stars, is "The Skinny," a dark comedic series based on her 10 year relationship with bulimia. It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is produced by Refinery29 and Jill Soloway’s Wifey.tv Kahnweiler lives in La with her plants.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular. My project is called "Meet My Rapist" and it is loosely based on a short film I made of the same name a few years ago. After the short had it's 15 minutes online I was moving on to other projects but I felt this gnawing at my gut. I tried to ignore it, popped some advil, and went to yoga but that gnawing just wouldn't stop. That annoying painful gnawing was the beginnings of this script. I've been working on the script on and off for about a year. I'm at the stage where I need to take out most of the flippant jokes and get to the real meat of the matter - the heart, the pain. I need to live and cry this story out. Because the project is so personal it is easy for me to get lost in it. Sometimes I forget where I end and my characters begin. So being at the Sundance lab is great timing. I feel totes blessed.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

That I can't hide behind my jokes. After writing in a feeling state all day our amazing teaching Joan looked at me and was like "Your movie is a song and you gotta hit the bass notes." I was like Mic Drop. I love the challenge of making something that is a comedy based in the tragedy of human reality. That is my north star for this movie. I'm not sure if I will get there but that's where I'll be heading.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

It was incredible to take a deep dive into the script with women who so deeply understand screenwriting from the inside out. The feedback was never like "do it My way" it was more about ripping open the guts of the script and getting to that deeper level. Okay this happens but Why? Screenwriting can be so daunting like "I need write the perfect thing so I can get an agent so I can get hired etc. " and the process can be so lonely and daunting . But in both my sessions we just talked about human behavior and what makes people tick and it reminded me that filmmaking is magic and I'm really lucky to be here. Also a woman, it was inspiring to meet with other women who are living my dream. Who are feeling for a living. In both my sessions I laughed, cried, and go to ask as many questions I wanted it. It was basically my ideal Tinder date.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I'm going to keep working on drafts of the script, keep sharing it with people I trust, keep begging Sundance to let me come over and eat bagels, keep pitching it to anyone who will listen, keep crying, keep feeling, keep making my movie.

Allison Lee

Project: "Jawbone"

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Los Angeles, Allison Lee studied English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. She received her Mfa in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Upon graduation, she worked in development and production at DreamWorks and NBCUniversal. Lee has received grants from the Media Action Network and the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. She was also named a Project Involve fellow, and her short The Grizzly was produced by Film Independent. In 2015, she was one of five screenwriters who received a residency through the inaugural Hedgebrook Screenwriters Lab, where she was mentored by Jenny Bicks and Jane Anderson.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

"Jawbone" is about a Korean woman who undergoes drastic plastic surgery as a means to achieve what she and her peers view as success. After she gives birth to a daughter who looks nothing like her, her life begins to unravel and she’s forced to confront her past.

I am currently grappling with rewrites while meeting with potential producers and crew.

I see "Jawbone" as a hybrid of Korean cinema and American independent film. Korean movies relish the tension in tightly wound familial and social relationships. I think my personal connection to this fabric helps me discern and explore where the similarities and differences to American culture begin and end. I also think the best American independent films underscore the universality of specific personal stories, and I aspire to follow in this tradition.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

I felt transformed by the sessions with Joan Tewkesbury. She pushed us to bare our souls and delve into our histories to deliver stories that were truthful and specific. My biggest fear about "Jawbone" is that a few extreme events in the plot would read as absurdist melodrama. Relating these events back to some of my own crises helped me re-center the emotional truth of my characters and their journeys.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

It was crucial to work with filmmakers who knew the Sundance aesthetic and had weathered the challenges before us. I knew the script needed improvement but had a hazy vision of what it required. Tanya Hamilton’s notes were both encouraging and precise about galvanizing and concretizing the protagonist’s journey. Patricia Cardoso, with her directorial and producerial expertise, reminded me that my artistic flights of fancy should still be grounded in reality and be economical and pragmatic. The breadth of their approaches made me feel like I was getting the best of all worlds.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I am hustling on a rewrite ready to be seen by producers and representatives. Ultimately, I want to direct "Jawbone," and I am also working on a short film version.

Eliza Lee

Project: "A Beautiful Lie"

Educated in Canada and the Czech Republic, Eliza Lee began in Asia as a Dp trainee before returning to her first passion: screenwriting. She takes great pride in world building for her complex women characters. Lee’s feature, Maybe Tomorrow, about rock legend Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, is being produced by Michelle Sy ("Finding Neverland") and Sophia Chang (former artist manager for Wu Tang Clan), with Academy Award nominee Steph Green ("Run & Jump") attached to direct. Lee’s screenplay, "A Beautiful Lie," about crime novelist Patricia Highsmith, was honored at the 2015 Athena Film Festival, and was also selected for the 2015 Outfest Screenwriting Lab. In addition, she was a Cape 2015 Film & Television Fellow and was mentored by various executives from Sony, Paramount, and Fox, among others. Lee has several features and television projects in development. She is the 2016 Sundance Institute Asian American Fellow.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

When Strangers on the Train was published in 1950 and with the anticipation for it to be turned into a film by Alfred Hitchcock, Patricia Highsmith was catapulted into the literary spotlight. Here she thought was her opportunity to break free of the crime genre and finally write her Great American novel. Except, it was at the height of McCarthy’s witch hunt, and her Great American novel would become the iconic lesbian tale, The Price of Salt. In the book, Patricia defiantly gave her lesbian main characters a happy ending together, but faced with the real threat of being blacklisted, she is forced to publish it under a pseudonym. This decision would send her down a path of alcoholism, promiscuity and loneliness as she realized she would not have the happy ending she wrote.

With this story, I knew it had to come from the seminal moment in her life. And for me, it is when she braved writing The Price of Salt at a time where being who you are and believing in what you do can land you in jail, exile or financial ruin. She had to deny her nature, and coupled with a growing rage it would breed the infamous “monster” that would come to define her in her later years.

While her male peers have enjoyed forgiving, pedestal descriptors like "troubled", "complex" or the genius "l'enfant terrible", Highsmith was shown no such generosity.

On top of that, I am struck how often pictures of her old age are published displaying her alcohol and anger ravaged face. We made that. Juxtapose those with photos of Highsmith at 21, so full of hope, vitality and ready for all the wonders of love, and it is clear - she was born this way. "A Beautiful Lie" is about a woman’s quest for love when it was a crime.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

Specifically, I learned I hide behind fiction or through my characters and not have to admit the narrative comes from a personal place. Through an incredibly safe and nurturing environment on the first day, Joan Tewksbury led us through a series of spontaneous and revelatory writing exercises that at first seemed random, but without time to allow the self-censor to kick in, the writing showcased how many more complex layers we can apply to our characters through our uninhibited sharing of our personal experiences. As a result, because the stories come from us, they are inherently going to be personal. It was like sleight of hand for the imagination.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The advisors were there to help us tell the story we want to tell. And the one-on-one sessions were focused solely on the writing, and was intended to be a dialogue. It was humbling to learn the tremendous amount of time they took to burrow deep into our scripts. I was thoroughly empowered by what these writers offered me, and excited that I could challenge such seasoned pros with my perspective and approach to telling a story. Ligiah Villalobos dared me to linger longer in emotional scenes and to take my pursuit for emotional truths for my character even further. While Scott Neustadter and I discussed much about memories as structure, he also pushed me to defy a note i have received that my character is “unlikable” and to allow her to have even more anti-hero moments. i concluded my last day at the Intensive with their voices unifying in the same sentiment: they have a good feeling the film will be made.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Through the Sundance Intensive, I have a clear idea of what is my next step, and that is to apply another layer of shading to my portrait of Patricia Highsmith. I’m anxious to keep the momentum going, and then take it out to talent. I’m going to realize this film.

Jimmy Mosqueda

Project: "Valedictorian"

Jimmy Mosqueda is a lifelong California resident, the son of two Mexican migrant workers, and a graduate of Stanford University. From an early age he showed a fondness for writing, starting his first journal at the age of five, which developed into a passion for writing short stories, poetry and eventually screenplays. While attending Stanford on a full scholarship, Mosqueda saw how social class and race influenced the experiences of his fellow students, which made him realize just how much the American educational system is intimately tied to those pillars. The intersection of race, class, and education remains an ongoing theme in his works. Today, Mosqueda lives in Los Angeles and writes full-time. His screenplays have placed in numerous contests, including as a finalist in the Austin Film Festival, Script Pipeline and TrackingB competitions, and as a semifinalist in the Nicholl Fellowship. He’s represented by Angelina Chen and Brooklyn Weaver of Energy Entertainment, and is actively developing projects for film and television.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

"Valedictorian" is dark teen comedy in the vein of "Election" and "Heathers." It’s about an ambitious teenage girl who do anything to be crowned valedictorian of her high school, including a little bit of murder. So, you know, just like real high school! I started writing this project about three years ago. It was inspired by my own school experiences, where everyone on the Honors track was super competitive and had their sights set on the Ivy League. Readers respond positively to the comedy and the heightened world of the script, which is great, but one thing I felt got buried underneath the multitude of drafts is the emotional core of the main character. So during the Intensive my main goal was to rediscover who she was and, building out from that, the reason why I wanted to tell this story in the first place.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The most important thing I learned from the workshop with Joan Tewkesbury is that creative development is not about brainstorming characters or story points. All of us have unique, personal experiences and emotions that can form the building blocks of a story. You really have to look inward and tap that raw data, or else run the risk of your story ringing hollow. A lot of artists understand this intuitively, I believe, but Joan’s workshop laid it out in such clear and simple terms. For my next draft of "Valedictorian," I’m going to use these techniques as a stress test, but in all honesty I want to go back and revisit every project I ever worked on using this approach now.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

My advisors were the bee’s knees, if I can be so blunt. My first session was with Scott Neustadter, who along with his writing partner has written a lot of films with teen lead characters. He very clearly understood what the script was, and gave very specific, actionable notes on how to improve what’s already there. I love how he was able to cut through and really get at the core issues of script, which were mostly the same issues I had going in. Scott is killing the screenwriting game right now. His insights were invaluable.

My second session was with Kyle Patrick Alvarez. We spent a lot of time talking about the main character, her motivation, her relationships, and how she “earns” the big moments/twists in the script. We also spent some time talking bigger picture about the industry and how to build a career in Hollywood, which was very much appreciated. Additionally, it was great getting the perspective of another Latino in the industry.

Both men were truly gracious with their time. I left both sessions feeling inspired!

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

After stepping off Cloud 9, it’s back to the computer and working on a new draft of "Valedictorian." In addition, I will also be tackling a new draft of the pilot version. It’s the same world and characters, but with a different engine that is geared towards episodic narrative. Many of the notes I got from Scott and Kyle apply to the pilot version as well, so it’s like getting two for the price of one!

Finally, I just want to thank everyone involved with putting together the Intensive: Ilyse McKimmie, Michelle Satter, Anne Lai, Shira Rockowitz and everyone at the Sundance Institute who made this possible. I am forever grateful for the experience.

Lotfy Nathan

Project: Untitled Bouazizi Project

Lotfy Nathan’s first film, the documentary "12 O’Clock Boys," played over 50 film festivals worldwide, including SXSW, Sundance Next Fest, Lincoln Center, Viennale, Hot Docs, London, and Copenhagen in 2013. It was ranked 7 in the BFI list of top 20 documentaries of 2013, and garnered Nathan an HBO Emerging Artist award. "12 O’Clock Boys" was subsequently picked up by Oscilloscope for a North American release in theaters, acquired by Showtime for television, and was optioned for a fiction remake by Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. Nathan is a 2015 grantee of the Creative Capital Foundation, a resident filmmaker at the Cinereach Foundation, and a previous awardee of the Garrett Scott development grant, the Peter Reed Foundation, the Grainger Marburg travel grant, and an Ifp fellowship.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is. Include details about your artistic vision for this project in particular.

The film is about Mohamed Bouazizi, the young Tunisian fruit vendor whose act of self-immolation sparked the Arab spring. It’s a love story, apolitical (as the subject of our protagonist was); about a young man’s steady undoing, and his final bittersweet act of defiance. The film will be shot on location, with cast selected locally besides the principles, and filmed with an immersive approach.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

We were encouraged to draw from very specific personal experiences, prompted by Joan It was incredible to learn these tools, which enable you to tap into vast resources from your own life that you can then apply to the writing- and so vividly. I think the writing exercises with Joan actually stirred a very unusual dream for me that night.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The advisors were very motivating. I left with pages of notes on my writing, tangible pieces of smart advice that will help inform the next draft.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Before getting back to work on the script I plan to do some other writing on the characters.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Film Independent Selects 2015 Screenwriter Lab Participants

Film Independent Selects 2015 Screenwriter Lab Participants
Read More: Attention, Screenwriters: 5 Lessons from the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab Film Independent has announced the screenwriters selected for its 17th annual Screenwriting Lab. The Lab is an intensive four-week program designed to help writers improve their craft and take their current scripts to the next level in a creative environment. During the Lab, Fellows participate in individualized story sessions, are advised on the craft and business of screenwriting and are introduced to established screenwriters, producers and film professionals who serve as guest speakers and creative advisors. This year's creative advisors include Maya Forbes ("Infinitely Polar Bear"), Ligiah Villalobos ("Under the Same Moon") and David N. Weiss ("Shrek 2"). Guest speakers include past Fellows Ana Lily Amirpour ("A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night") and Siân Heder ("Orange is the New Black"). Past Screenwriting Lab projects include...
See full article at Indiewire »

Film Independent Names 7 Screenwriting Lab Fellows

Film Independent Names 7 Screenwriting Lab Fellows
The intensive four-week program allows participants to take their scripts to the next level through story sessions and meetings with established screenwriters, producers and film professionals. This year's creative advisors are Maya Forbes ("Infinitely Polar Bear"), Ligiah Villalobos ("Under the Same Moon") and David N. Weiss ("Shrek 2"). Guest speakers include past Film Independent fellows Ana Lily Amirpour ("A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night") and Siân Heder ("Orange is the New Black"). For the fourth year, Film Independent will also be presenting the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Screenwriting Fellowship, which this year goes to Tom Huang, who will be awarded a $10,000 grant to develop his script, "Dealing with Dad," through the Screenwriting Lab. The 2015 Screenwriting Lab participants and their projects are: Title: "Dealing with Dad " ...
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Film Independent / Lmu unveil screenwriting Fellows

Tom Huang will be awarded the Loyola Marymount University School Of Film And Television Screenwriting Fellowship, granting him $10,000 to develop his script for the Screenwriting Lab.

The Lmu Film and Television alumnus, among seven writers and six projects selected, is one of the chosen participants for Film Independent’s 17th annual Screenwriting Lab.

This is the fourth year Film Independent will present the Lmu School of Film and Television Screenwriting Fellowship.

The workshop is a four-week programme designed to help writers by providing individualised story sessions and connecting them with industry professionals. This year’s creative advisors include Maya Forbes from Infinitely Polar Bear, Ligiah Villalobos for Under The Same Moon and David N Weiss from Shrek 2.

2015 Screenwriting Lab participants and their projects are: Thomas Huang for Dealing With Dad; Linda Yvette Chavez for Fieras, Puja Maewal for Jaya; Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs for The Midwestern; Q. Terah Jackson for Rustin; and Ani Simon-Kennedy for The
See full article at ScreenDaily »

4th Annual Nhmc MediaCon: Focus On Latino Writers

The Nhmc MediaCon is an entertainment conference uniquely designed to advance the image and careers of Latinos in media, and this year the event will take place on July 9, 2015 at the Sheraton Hilton in Universal City.

Here is an in depth piece on Nhmc MediaCon published by LatinHeat

This year the 4th Annual Nhmc MediaCon will turn its focus on writers, from pitching the idea to securing a literary agent to monetizing your content on the internet. MediaCon is a one-of-a-kind event that convenes national media advocates, industry executives, celebrity talent and media insiders to discuss the role Latinos are playing in trends and emerging issues in the entertainment industry.

The panel session Literary Managers: The Path to Representation will be followed by a special networking session with the panelist which include Tracey Murray, Literary Partner/Manager, Industry Entertainment Partners; Eddie Gamarra, Literary Manager/Producer, The Gotham Group; Jairo Alvarado, Literary Manager/Producer, Circle of Confusion; Geoff Silverman, Literary Partner/Manager, Cartel Management and moderator Ligiah Villalobos, Writer/Producer ("Go Diego Go," "Under the Same Moon")

The Executive Producer Panel speakers are "Bordertown" (Fox) Supervising Producer Valentina Garza; Virgil Williams, Co-Executive Producer ("Criminal Minds"), Rashad Raifani, Executive Producer ("Allegiance") and will take inside the world of developing the show, producing and monetizing your project on the internet.

Rounding out the full spectrum of the writer’s journey is a look at the future of digital content distribution, the internet. Speaking on this topic will be Doug Greiff, MiTu, a multi-channel network on YouTube, which exclusively targets Latino audiences; Stacie de Armas, Nielsens’ VP of Strategic Initiatives & Consumer Engagement; and Omar Ponce, writer/director, MiTu.

For more information and to register Click Here

About Nhmc: The National Hispanic Media Coalition (Nhmc) is a media advocacy and civil rights organization for the advancement of Latinos, working towards a media that is fair and inclusive of Latinos, and towards universal, affordable, and open access to communications.

The Nhmc is one of the biggest advocates for Latinos in the entertainment industry. One of their most successful programs is the Nhmc Television Writers Program. Created in 2003 and is an intensive scriptwriters workshop that prepares Latinos for writing jobs at major television networks. Modeled after the previously successful Hispanic Film Project, the program is a direct response to the lack of diverse writers in primetime network TV. To take Nhmc TV Writers Program graduates to the next level, Nhmc has also created the Nhmc Pitching Lab and the Latino Scene Showcase.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Meet the Diverse Participants of the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive 2015

Despite the numerous opportunities out there, most aspiring filmmakers looking for support and mentorship know that the Sundance Institute’s January Screenwriters Lab and June Directing Lab have been two of the most important talent development initiatives in the independent film world for over 30 years. The great quality of the projects that have been workshopped and propelled through these programs have given us some of the most iconic films and filmmakers in recent memory.

But the institute’s commitment to provide opportunities for new voices that represent an eclectic array of background and experiences goes even further with other, lesser known, initiatives that have the potential to become turning points in the artists' careers. Of these, one of the most exciting programs is the Screenwriters Intensive, which is part the Sundance Institute's Diversity Initiative. This is of course a resource that is not only valuable, but crucial as we try to become a more inclusive society that is appreciative and welcoming of stories that exist beyond the mainstream, homogenous noise.

The Screenwriters Intensive is a 1 1/2 day workshop for writers whose work has been encountered by the institute as part of their outreach for the Labs and which they find especially promising. The writers of 10 projects take part in a program whose elements include a hands-on writing workshop led by creative advisor Joan Tewkesbury (“Nashville”), a screening of a recent Sundance film followed by a candid conversation with the filmmaker, a reception with Sundance staff and the extended Sundance community, and one-on-one meetings with two creative advisors to get feedback on their script. With the Intensive, the Sundance Institute aims to present participants with creative tools that they can take back to their own work, provide a space for dialogue and information sharing about the creative process of making a film (and all of the joys and challenges therein), and foster community among storytellers and an ongoing connection with Sundance.

This year the film screened was Rick Famuyiwa’s “Dope,” which premiered earlier this year in Park City and won a Special Jury Prize for Editing. Following the screening Famuyiwa shared anecdotes about the film’s production and the perseverance needed to stand by the core values of his project in spite of outside opposition. Later that evening, during a casual and highly interactive reception, the fellows had the chance to discuss their latest breakthroughs and newly found questions regarding their personal projects with the institute’s staff and other members of the independent film community. Chatting with them, and having witnessed some of the poignant exercises Ms. Tewkesbury uses in the past, there is not doubt in my mind that this was a groundbreaking experience for the entire group.

The following morning the fellows returned to the institute’s L.A offices to have on-on-one conversations with two advisors from a group of talented and achieved professionals that included Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“The Stanford Prison Expriemnt”), Patricia Cardoso (“Real Women Have Curves“),the aforementioned director Rick Famuyiwa (“Dope”), Deena Goldstone (“Identity Theft”), Tanya Hamilton (“Night Catches Us”), Felicia Henderson (“Gossip Girl”), Elgin James (“Little Birds”), Craig Johnson (“The Skeleton Twins”), Kyle Killen (“The Beaver”), Adam Bhala Lough (“Bomb the System”), Joan Tewkesbury herself, and Ligiah Villalobos (“Under the Same Moon”).

The Screenwriters Intensive fellows come from uniquely different backgrounds, and their projects bring original stories that are sure to showcase new and inventive perspectives on the world. Get to know them and their stories as they are on their way to giving us a great batch of new independent films.

To learn more about the Sundance Institute's programs visit Here

Tara Anaise

Project: "Bombay Stories"

Tara Anaïse is an award-winning writer/director whose first feature, "Dark Mountain," was released by Gravitas Ventures in August of 2014. Other recent work includes the upcoming thriller "Housekeeping," on which she’s a producer, and which is set to be released by Lions Gate in late March of 2015. Her short films have screened at festivals worldwide. Tara is currently developing several new projects, including a post-apocalyptic road movie with a female lead who drives a muscle car and kicks a**, and a romantic drama set in Mumbai in both 1968 and the present day that’s loosely based on her own family’s history. She holds an Mfa in film production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She can make a mean pumpkin mezcal cocktail and according to an Amazonian curandero, her spirit animal is the black jaguar. She lives and works in Los Angeles

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

"Bombay Stories" is a drama centered around an Indian man returning to the city of his birth after decades of living abroad. When tragedy strikes, he recalls the summer of 1968—at that time, he was twenty-one and having a heartbreaking affair with a married woman right before leaving Bombay, and his entire family, behind for his new home in New York. It’s a story about the complexities of familial relationships and the question of whether or not it’s possible to return home.

It’s very loosely inspired by my own family’s history—my father’s side fled Sindh during the Partition of India in 1947 and rebuilt their lives in Mumbai (which at the time was called Bombay). Then my father left Mumbai (of his own volition) for the U.S. And then I fled the east coast for Los Angeles. I like to say I come from a long line of fleers.

The project is in the development stage. Currently working on a rewrite of the script and I’m planning on directing.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

Don’t take the easy way out. There are certain things I know about my characters and I can write them easily and I can write them well. But the most interesting aspects of a character come from the places we know the least. Don’t be afraid to go down the path that’s half in shadow, this is the kind of exploration that leads to the heart of the thing. I’ll definitely be using Joan’s writing exercises to further develop all of my characters. I’ve never done anything like what we did during her seminar. She had us make lists of things drawn from our own personal experiences – three times in your life you’ve known something was wrong but did it anyway, three places to which you never want to return, three times you’ve felt lost, and so on—and then take one item from each list, put the items on our protagonist, and quickly write a short story about the whole thing. It’s a concrete way to use instances from one’s own life to get to the root of the character.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Going into day two was exciting but nerve-wracking. I woke up at 5am wondering how my advisors were going to react to my script (I tend to expect the worst.) Luckily, no one ripped my script up into tiny pieces and threw it back at me. Adam and Tanya were both really great. They had good things to say about the script, along with insightful suggestions for improving it, which I’m going to explore in the next draft. We talked about the writing process. We talked about production. We talked about navigating the industry. Getting advice from two talented, experienced filmmakers who’d been through this many times before was incredibly helpful, not just for this project, but for my career as a filmmaker as well.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

The first thing I’m going to do is take some time to really get at the heart of each and every character. Then I’ll tackle the rewrite and when the script is ready, I’ll reach out to producers.

Shelby Farrell

Project: "Deidra and Laney Rob A Train"

Shelby Farrell is a screenwriter from Memphis, Tennessee. She is a graduate of Emory University where she was awarded the Kikag screenwriter award and the American Film Institute Conservatory where she finished an Mfa in screenwriting. She was recently featured in the Tracking Board's 2014 Young and Hungry List. She currently writes interactive games for Pocket Gems and is in preproduction for her feature "Deidra and Laney Rob A Train." She is repped by Gersh and Principato-Young.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

"Deidra and Laney Rob A Train" is a dramedy about two teenage sisters who start robbing freight trains to support their family after their mother goes to jail. This script was my thesis screenplay for AFI and was featured on the Tracking Board's 2014 Young and Hungry List. Sydney Freeland (Sundance Alumni, "Drunktown's Finest") is attached to direct. Currently our reps are approaching select producers with the project, and we are really excited to see where it goes from here.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

All of the writers and I were pushed to find inspiration from our own past experiences during writing exercises. Through this process, I think we all realized that our screenplays are more autobiographical than we perhaps wanted to believe. Not that I've ever robbed a train, but I could.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Having professional advisors is always a blessing. Their feedback was especially useful in this stage because so many people I work with have read multiple drafts. Having fresh eyes on the script really gave me a new perspective. Also since the advisors are independent filmmakers and Sundance alums they really know what we are going through at this stage of development. I also got great advice on what's coming in the next few months as we get this story off the page.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

As far as this project goes, I feel like the script is in a really good place, but I also know that rewrites never end, and I'm excited to use the notes I received for future drafts. I'm also planning on using the writing exercises we learned in Joan Tewkesbury's workshop as I develop my newer projects. Joan taught us some character development tools that can be applied to any project in any stage.

Jared Frieder

Project: "Three Months"

Jared Frieder is a graduate of the Columbia University fiction writing program and his stories can be found in The Collective Press and The Newer York. His screenplay, "Three Months," has taken the top screenwriting prizes at the Austin Film Festival, the Screencraft Comedy Screenplay Contest, and the Big Bear International Film Festival Screenplay Contest. "Three Months" was also chosen for the 2014 Outfest Screenwriting Lab and was the featured script on The Black List online last November. He is currently developing his animated half-hour pilot, "Marathoners," with Bento Box Entertainment. He was accepted to USC’s Screenwriting Mfa on the Edward Volpe Endowed Scholarship before leaving to work on the ABC Family drama, "Chasing Life."

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

My project, "Three Months," tells the coming-of-age story of Caleb Kahn, a queer Ziggy Stardust-loving teenager from Miami who is exposed to HIV the weekend of his high school graduation and has to wait three months to be tested for the disease. It's a comedy, it's a love story, it's a tale of resilience, and it's a deconstruction of how people in crisis sludge through great periods of waiting. The screenplay has been a passion project of mine and I am very grateful to the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, the Screencraft Comedy Screenplay Contest, and the Big Bear International Film Festival Screenplay Contest for awarding "Three Months" their respective grand prizes. I've also been spoiled by the Outfest Screenwriting Lab and the Sundance Intensive for allowing the script to be workshopped with their brilliant advisors (and some of my all-time heroes.)

After Austin, one of the festival judges (screenwriting phenom, producing master, and all around baller, Oren Uziel) came on board to help bring the script to the screen, along with my management company, Haven Entertainment. We're in the beginning stages of seeing this story come alive and it's pretty much the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The most important lesson I learned from the Intensive's first day is that Joan Tewkesbury is my spirit animal. The second most important lesson I learned from Ms. Tewkesbury (sweetly nicknamed Tewks by the generous souls of Sundance) is that I tend to use jokes as a means of concealing truth and authenticity (something my protagonist does as well. Let's just say I was channeling.) She helped me crack the comedy facade and delve deeper into character, getting in touch with Caleb's fears, insecurities, and dreams. I'm confident that Tewk's direction will not only take Caleb and "Three Months" to the next level, but also elevate my storytelling in the future. And for that, I will forever be in Ms. Tewkesbury's debt.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Sitting down with Kyle Killen was intimidating at first (he's a certifiable story genius who wrote "The Beaver" and created shows like "Lone Star.") But Kyle tapped into my protagonist in ways that previous advisors couldn't. He helped me dissect Caleb, bringing out deeper layers of his character. We then discussed and determined the most effective way of braiding these emotional undercurrents into the narrative. It's safe to say that my mind was blown.

Kyle Alvarez (esteemed director and fast friend) took a different approach and guided me through "Three Months" from a director's perspective, helping me think about casting, locations, and how aspects of the script would translate on screen. Having mentors come at the project from different angles was really enlightening. Again, I feel incredibly spoiled and grateful.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Post-Intensive, I'm taking another pass at "Three Months" (because apparently you're never done writing, or that's what they keep telling me.) I'm stoked to take my Sundance notes and weave them through the script where I see fit. Then it's off to the producers for feedback and hopefully the hunt for a director and cast will commence. Also, there will be thank you notes. Lots and lots of thank you notes: to Sundance, to Tewks, to the Kyles, and to the universe for giving me this opportunity.

David J. Lee

Project: "Found"

David J. Lee spent years as an It professional who dreamed of becoming a performer. He finally made the leap and began working as a professional actor who curiously kept getting offers to direct. Finally he gave in, dropped it all, and proceeded to pursue his Mfa in Film Production at USC where, of course, everyone became more interested in his writing. Dave received USC’s First Film Screenwriting Award in 2013, and his thesis script, "Found," was a top 50 Academy Nicholl semi-finalist. His university-produced short, "Paulie," directed by Andrew Nackman, went on to win the Best Film, Audience Award, and Best Writer prizes at the 2014 NBC Universal Short Cuts Festival. Dave was a 2014 Cape New Writers Fellow; he is working on the feature version of "Paulie" while making eyes at the TV world.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

My feature film script is a crime thriller called “Found”. It’s the story of a night worker at a storage facility whose odd, illicit habit of breaking into storage lockers – and her talent for understanding people's lives through their belongings – force her into action when she discovers evidence of a child abduction in one of the units.

“Found" was my thesis script at USC and was a top-50 Nicholl semi-finalist in 2013. Prior to being accepted into the 2015 Sundance Intensive, it had been selected for the 2014 Cape New Writers Fellowship.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

Obviously, at this point I'm many drafts into my script, which means that I'm in a much different mindset than I was when I was originally coming up with the story. It’s a very analytical, left-brain process. Joan Tewkesbury led us through a series of writing exercises which brought me back to that original creative place, which helped me get a new perspective on my characters.

I guess if you’re looking for a specific lesson, it would be, “If you need a fresh perspective, don’t be afraid to put your characters in seemingly irrelevant situations, just to see how they play out, because you’ll be surprised at the relevant places you end up. At the very least, you often end up learning something new about your characters."

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

I was amazed and honored at how much time each advisor had put into their notes. Time is gold for these folks, and they gave us so much of it. It seemed that most of them had received tremendous support from the Sundance Labs or from programs similar to them when they were younger, so they were all there that day out of a desire to give back.

It’s valuable to receive notes from professionals in that these are folks who have more experience than you and a valuable perspective from having worked within the system, and I received some fantastic, insightful feedback that day. At the same time, they’re only perspectives. A note from a working professional may warrant extra consideration, but ultimately, if it doesn’t resonate with you, then it just doesn’t. In the end you weigh those comments against all the other feedback you’ve received over time.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

Keep writing. I’m encouraged by the attention this script has received. When I get it to a place where I’m happy with, then I’ll start looking into getting it made.

Channing Godfrey Peoples

Project: "Miss Juneteenth"

Channing Godfrey Peoples received her Mfa from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Originally from Texas, she spent her childhood in community theater and has been storytelling ever since. Her films are character driven stories that focus on the resilience of the human spirit, often featuring African-American women at a turning point in their lives. At USC, Channing was awarded funding to direct her documentary, “Carry Me Home”, about the celebratory aspects of African-American Funeral Traditions.

Her narrative Thesis Film, “Red”, is a King Family Foundation Recipient, Jury Award Winner for Directing at the Directors Guild of America Student Film Awards, Panavision New Filmmakers Grant Recipient and nominated for Best Short at Pan African Film Festival and the Africa Movie Academy Awards. Channing won “Best Director” at the Nevada International Film Festival and was honored at the Lois Weber Film Festival in Texas. She wrote, directed and starred in “Red”, which is currently on the festival circuit, most recently screening at Champs-Élysées Film Festival in Paris, France. Channing served as a Time Warner Artist-in-Residence at Howard University in Washington DC. She believes in community involvement and mentors children interested in the arts. Channing is developing her first feature film, “Miss Juneteenth."

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

In Texas, slaves were informed they were free, two long years after 1863's Emancipation Proclamation declared American slaves free. That day was June 19 th, 1865, also known as “Juneteenth”. Today, many communities celebrate the Juneteenth holiday with beauty pageants acknowledging young African-American women who are the descendants of slaves. My story, "Miss Juneteenth," is about one of these women.

Turquoise Jones is a former beauty queen, “Miss Juneteenth 1999”, who lost her pageant's top prize of a college scholarship when an unplanned pregnancy lands her back home tending bar at an aging juke joint. Today, she is a single mother to a teenage girl, who she struggles to keep from going down the same wrong path that she took. She has enrolled her disinterested daughter in this year’s Miss Juneteenth pageant and is fighting to keep her in it.

The project is in development and is based in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. Neil Creque Williams ("David’s Reverie") is attached as Producer.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

On our first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab, Joan Tewkesbury lead an incredible writing workshop that challenged me to look deeper into the emotional journey of my story. I was seeking a way to take my script to a deeper emotional level and the workshop certainly aided that endeavor. The lesson for me was to connect to my characters through personal experience and emotion and not be resistant to other possibilities for my story.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The advisors were incredible and I am in awe of their insight and accomplishments. I was delighted to receive feedback from professionals whose work I have long admired. They provided constructive feedback and challenged me to think of the script in new ways. I also enjoyed exchanging ideas with the other fellows at the Intensive and I was delighted to be surrounded by such diverse talent.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I am now revisiting the script with a renewed intensity. I will be directing my film, "Miss Juneteenth," so my producer, Neil Creque Williams and I have identified our locations and begun preliminary casting. Our next step is crowdfunding and to continue to apply for support.

Maya Perez

Project: "Umwana"

Maya Perez is a screenwriter and fiction writer. She is a consulting producer for the Emmy Award- winning television series "On Story: Presented by Austin Film Festival," now entering its fifth season on PBS, and co-editor of the book On Story: Screenwriters and Their Craft (University of Texas Press, October 2013). She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College and is a Michener fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She grew up in Kenya, Zambia, and the United States and lives in Austin, Texas.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

My project is a feature script, "Umwana," a domestic drama about an American teen who goes to rural Zambia to meet and live with her father and his family. More foreign to her than the cultural differences is the experience of being a member of a family.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

It was great to be reminded of the importance of specificity when depicting characters, and also, how to pull from personal experience without making your characters reflections of yourself. In the workshop we were assigned numerous writing exercises and, though initially intimidating, it was stimulating to be assured there's no limit to the new stories we can quickly craft from scratch. We often think of time as the enemy, in that we don't have enough of it in which to do the work. But sometimes I think I give myself too much time. Some of my better, more visceral writing has been generated under the gun, so to speak.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

One of my advisors hit me with a barrage of questions as soon as I sat down - What is Cassie feeling here? What does Joseph look like? Is it what she expected? What if this happened? What if that happened? So many questions that I started doubting the story's weight altogether. But she kept on and wouldn't let up, so I just wrote them all down until I finally had an answer and then another and eventually realized I know exactly what this story and these characters are about. I had to be sort of beaten down and thrown off balance in order to find the railing. It was terrific. Another advisor - who fortunately came right after - grabbed my shoulders and said he would stalk me until I made this film. He offered to make introductions to agents, managers, producers, and to be there for every draft and question I might have along the way. It was an invaluable experience, to sit down with these talented, professional writers who had read my script so closely and had such constructive questions and encouragement. It felt as though they were as invested in its success as I am.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

My proposed new opening to the script was met with enthusiasm, so I'll make that change, do another revision on the script, and then submit it for the Screenwriters Lab. It was a finalist last year, so hopefully it will go through this year and I'll be able to take advantage of a full week at the Lab to prepare it for production. One of my advisors generously sent me the look book he's using for his current project, and I'm making one of those for "Umwana" as well as researching what shooting on location in Zambia will entail.

Rodrigo Reyes

Project: "Charlie"

Rodrigo Reyes was born in Mexico City in 1983. Supported by the Mexican Ministry of Film, his acclaimed 2012 feature documentary "Purgatorio" featured visceral and intimate portraits of the Us- Mexico border. The film premiered in competition at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival and Guadalajara International Film Festival, touring more than 40 festivals including MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, and winning several jury prizes including the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. "Purgatorio" has been released theatrically on over 100 screens throughout Mexico, touring Latin America, Spain, and over 30 American cities. In 2013 Filmmaker Magazine named Rodrigo one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and in 2014 he was awarded the Tribeca Film Institute Heineken Voices Grant for his upcoming documentary "Sanson And Me," as well as the Canon Filmmaker Award for his hybrid peach picker portrait "Lupe Under The Sun," currently in post-production. Rodrigo attended Uc San Diego, as well as colleges in Madrid and Mexico City, earning a degree in International Studies. He currently lives in California’s Central Valley where he works as an interpreter in the California Superior Court.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

"Charlie" is a story about a mother and son living in the heartland of America, who hide a dark secret that is tearing them apart, threatening them with destruction. It’s a twisted, existential fairy-tale that tackles estrangement, loneliness and violence in a unique way. Aside from Sundance, the film has received the support of Nalip’s Latino Media Market.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

I was surprised by some of the tools used in the labs. There was an element of tapping into the subconscious using semi-dada techniques that really clicked with me. The key was coming in with an open mind.

Before the Labs, I felt the project was close to a final draft. That has since been atomized and torn apart at the hinges, which is fantastic, actually. The Intensive helped me pull away from the rut I didn’t know I was in and look at my script with a naked, honest perspective.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Often as independent filmmakers we feel threatened by the industry, their perspectives are senses as criticisms instead of critiques. The Lab did a great job of inviting you to a conversation, not a lecture or a dictate. I felt I could take the advice that honestly connected with me and integrate it with my script, while also fielding key questions to the advisors in a safe space.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

It’s all in my hands now. I have to integrate the conversations, critiques and perspectives gleaned from this process into a new draft.

Luke Uriah Slendebroek

Project: “Sophia/Gordita”

Luke Uriah Slendebroek is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television Mfa directing program. While at UCLA, Luke's films have been awarded The Hollywood Foreign Press Award, The Four Sister’s Award, The Carroll Sax Award in Motion Picture and Television Production, the Edie and Lew Wasserman Film Production Fellowship, and two Motion Picture Association of America Awards. Luke has directed a short documentary for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and he has directed a short film for the Oscar-winning producer and director Robert "Bobby" Moresco as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration at UCLA. He has also directed a number of industrial films for Fortune 500 companies. Luke's films favor the underdogs, involve fantastical worlds, and tend to explore that brief period between childhood and adulthood.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

“Sophia/Gordita” is a coming of age western based on the incredible true story of teenage madam that served the migrant farming communities of the midwest.

Aleksandar Marinovich has stepped on board to help produce the film. Currently we are raising money to finance the film with a goal of shooting in September, 2016.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The Sundance Intensive was an amazing and immersive experience. The writing techniques I learned during the two days will be crucial as I dive into the next draft of my screenplay entitled “Sophia/Gordita”. Through this workshop, I feel confident to tackle the issues of my screenplay and to dig deeper into motivations that drive my lead character, Sophia.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Patricia Cardoso and Ligiah Villalobos were incredibly generous to offer their guidence and direction on my screenplay “Sophia/Gordita”. Their feedback, although at times challenging, pushed me to dig deeper into the character of Sophia. What really drives her to make the choices in act one that sends her life into a downward spiral during the subsequent acts? As I work through these issues, the outcome will hopefully be a character that no one has ever seen before on the screen, an anti-hero for a new generation.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

I plan on doing another rewrite utilizing the tools and techniques I learned from the Intensive. After the next draft, I will get more feedback from my producer and my film collective, Vices of Reason. Once I get a draft that I’m comfortable with, I’m going to get the script in the hands of anyone that’s willing to read it as well as continue to raise money to finance the film.

Vivian Tse

Project: "These Animals"

Vivian Tse is a filmmaker making both narrative and documentary films. She was a Colonist at the 2013 Nantucket Screenwriting Colony with her feature script "Joe Boy," which was also selected for the 2014 Ifp Transatlantic Partners Program. Tse participated in the 2014 Pov Hackathon with the transmedia documentary film "The Angola Project." Originally from San Francisco, she graduated from the University of Southern California.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

"These Animals" is the story of an astronaut's last year on Earth after she agrees to crew a one-way mission to Mars. It's about what the last year of someone's life would be like if she made a decision with stakes that high, what happens to her family and the people around her, the people she loves and who love her.

We're currently in the development stage, trying to put the financing together. Sundance and the A3 foundation was kind enough to give us a grant. And we're in post on a short version of the project which we shot late last year.

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

It took a bit of processing but the most rewarding lesson, or at least the one that stuck with me most, was using yourself to dig deeper into your character's journey. Which sounds obvious and certainly its something you're already doing as a writer with everything you write, but you can always go deeper. learning that there is always more to dig up, more of you to add, which is horrifying and invigorating at the same time.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

The advisors were amazing. They're very passionate - it's great. i found it invaluable, even when I didn't agree with the notes. it lets you know how people are reading, understanding and thinking about your story. their perspective was so helpful and it helps to look at my characters and my story in a new way. writing can be very isolating so it's always great to talk to someone who is doing what you're doing. and they share their war stories, telling you to reimagine a scene because they did something similar and it went to shit so don't forget to think about this or that, or that space ships are expensive so maybe try to stay out of a ship as a location. i don't have any space ships in the film but you get my point.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

A re-write for one, casting, financing the rest of the film. Keep pushing forward, hustling, like everyone does, until you make your film.

Diego Velasco & Carolina Paiz

Project: "Los Invadidos"

Diego Velasco and Carolina Paiz, a husband and wife writing team, are currently working on "Los Invadidos," a thriller which Velasco will also direct.

Writer/director Diego Velasco was born in the Us and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. Diego’s short, "Cédula Ciudadano," got him invited into the Fox Searchlab program after winning the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. In 2003, Diego moved to Los Angeles and formed Open Studios with his wife, a production company meant to make the films they wanted to see in the world. In 2010, Diego made his feature debut with "La Hora Cero" (The Zero Hour). Set in Caracas during the 24-hours of a controversial medical strike, the film followed La Parca, a tattooed hit-man, as he takes an elite hospital hostage in an attempt to save his wounded girlfriend and her child. The film became the highest grossing Venezuelan film of its time. It has won over 35 awards at International festivals and secured distribution in five continents. Currently it has been optioned for an English language remake. In November of 2011, Diego was featured as one the Ten Mover and Reshapers of Latin American Cinema by Variety Magazine.

Growing up in Guatemala during the civil war, Carolina Paiz spent much of her time indoors, reading and watching television, escapes which later provided the foundation for her career as a writer for film and TV. At 15, she left Guatemala for Kent, a boarding school in Connecticut, where she was the first non- native English speaker to be awarded the Robert S. Hillyard award for her achievements in creative writing. Carolina went on to study English and Latin American Studies at Tulane University. The short stories she wrote there were later published by the Caribbean Writer. One of these, Sleep Comes Suddenly, was honored with the Canute A. Brodhurst Award. In 2006, she landed a position as a staff writer on ABC’s "Grey’s Anatomy." She later went on to write on NBC’s "Lipstick Jungle," CBS’s "The Defenders," Fox’s "Gang Related" and currently, Fox’s "Runner." She also developed a series for Fox, "Queen Of the South," based on the hugely successful Spanish novel. Between television projects, Carolina co- wrote and produced the Venezuelan feature "La Hora Cero," the highest grossing Venezuelan film in history.

Describe your project briefly and at what stage in the creative process it is.

The film follows a couple that has just lost their only child and now find themselves on different sides of the spiritual debate. They’re forced to face their problems when they inherit a remote farm in the Venezuelan plains. Hoping for a new start, they soon learn the farm has been invaded by squatters and that there’s more to reality than what you can see…

Briefly tell us about the most important or rewarding lesson you took from the first day of the Screenwriters Intensive Lab. How will this impact the future development of your project?

The first day was revelatory. By doing exhaustive and highly personal writing exercises that we then shared with the entire class, we both realized that we hadn't fully tapped into our own fears and desires in writing the characters in our feature. We realized there was far more of us in these characters than we'd anticipated and that embracing that would actually deepen them. Rewriting the script now, the characters have come to life by simply putting ourselves in their shoes.

Tell me about your experience during day two and your interaction with the advisors. How important was it for you to get feedback from a professional in the field that has gone through some of the same creative challenges as you?

Our advisors were completely different and had very different points of view on the script, yet both sets of notes complimented each other quite well at the end of the day. Their points of view were enlightening. We had exhausted our resources by asking for notes from every trusted friend and colleague that we knew, and we'd gotten to the point we were afraid they'd stop taking our calls for fear that we'd make them read the script again. We were desperate for fresh eyes from people that didn't know us, didn't know the project, and had no emotional stake in any of it. But what made it truly amazing was the fact that we got to dive in with such skilled writers, and such generous people, and that they truly took the time to give us deep and insightful notes.

Now that you've gone through this learning experience, what are some of the next steps you will be taking as you continue to develop your project?

We are currently rewriting the script as per what we've learned and hope to begin our search for financing soon!
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

2013 Humanitas Prize Finalists Announced

Twenty-seven writers including John Gatins, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were named finalists in nine categories for the 39th annual Humanitas Prize. The writers will compete for $95,000 in prize money to be handed out at the annual luncheon September 20 at the Montage Beverly Hills. The Humanitas Prize was created to honor TV and film writers for telling stories, which “truly and deeply explore the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens,” the org says. Of the finalists, executive director Cathleen Young said, “These gifted storytellers made us laugh and cry and ultimately, brought us closer together as a family by deeply exploring what it means to be human!” Click over for the full list of nominees: Feature Film Category Flight Written by: John Gatins Django Unchained Written by: Quentin Tarantino Silver Linings Playbook Written by: David O. Russell Sundance Feature Film Category Fruitvale Station Written by:
See full article at Deadline TV »

Cuba Gooding Jr. Joins Hallmark’s Crew Nine

Cuba Gooding Jr. received a profile boost recently thanks to all the attention directed at his upcoming World War II film Red Tails including a Veterans Day appearance at a New York Jets game. Gooding Jr. joined Terrence Howard and Nate Parker in director Anthony Hemingway’s drama about the Pentagon in 1944 putting into action the first African American military aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen. Gooding Jr. maintained the career momentum by joining Crew Nine, a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie about a counselor at a youth detention center who trains troubled teens how to battle forest fires and other natural disasters. Variety reported today that Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) wrote the script and Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records, I Like It Like That) joined the project as director.
See full article at Upcoming-Movies.com »

Cuba Gooding Jr. Joins Hallmark’s Crew Nine

Cuba Gooding Jr. received a profile boost recently thanks to all the attention directed at his upcoming World War II film Red Tails including a Veterans Day appearance at a New York Jets game. Gooding Jr. joined Terrence Howard and Nate Parker in director Anthony Hemingway’s drama about the Pentagon in 1944 putting into action the first African American military aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen. Gooding Jr. maintained the career momentum by joining Crew Nine, a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie about a counselor at a youth detention center who trains troubled teens how to battle forest fires and other natural disasters. Variety reported today that Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) wrote the script and Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records, I Like It Like That) joined the project as director.

Cuba Gooding Jr. Joins Hallmark’s Crew Nine

Cuba Gooding Jr. received a profile boost recently thanks to all the attention directed at his upcoming World War II film Red Tails including a Veterans Day appearance at a New York Jets game. Gooding Jr. joined Terrence Howard and Nate Parker in director Anthony Hemingway’s drama about the Pentagon in 1944 putting into action the first African American military aviators, the Tuskegee Airmen. Gooding Jr. maintained the career momentum by joining Crew Nine, a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie about a counselor at a youth detention center who trains troubled teens how to battle forest fires and other natural disasters. Variety reported today that Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) wrote the script and Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records, I Like It Like That) joined the project as director.
See full article at Upcoming-Movies.com »

NBC Teams With Kenny Ortega For Latin Dance Studio Drama

Exclusive: NBC is developing a Latino family drama with dance elements executive produced by top choreographer/director Kenny Ortega and The Event executive producer Steve Stark. Ortega is also set to direct the untitled project, about a multi-generational Hispanic family running a Latin dance studio in Miami. Ligiah Villalobos (Under The Same Moon/La Misma Luna) has been hired to write the script, with Todd Robinson serving as a non-writing producer. Ortega, Stark and Robinson developed the world and the characters on the show, drawing on personal stories centered around their families and their connection to dance. Universal Television is producing with studio-based Steve Stark Prods. This is the second high-profile project this season about a Latino family in Miami, joining Fox’s dramedy written and executive produced by Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez. Paradigm-repped Ortega, director of the hit High School Musical franchise
See full article at Deadline TV »

Writers Guild Foundation Elects New President And Seven New Trustees

At its recent annual general meeting the Writers Guild Foundation elected Barbara Corday as its new President. Corday, who with her writing partner Barbara Avedon co-created the groundbreaking television series Cagney & Lacey, was the first woman to become president of a major television production entity (Columbia Pictures Television); she later become head of prime-time programs at CBS, again the first woman to do so. Most recently she was chair of the Film and Television production arm at the USC School of Cinema and Television. Corday replaces Chris Brancato, who has served the maximum number of terms. The board also elected seven new trustees to the board. The new trustees are: publicist Craig Bankey, screenwriter Lowell Ganz, agent Nancy Josephson, and television writer-producers Marta Kauffman, Bill Lawrence, Jan Oxenberg and David Shore. Trustees are elected for three year terms. Most Foundation trustees are members of the Writers Guild of America, west.
See full article at Deadline Hollywood »

Lucky 8 Added to Film Independent's 2009 Screenwriting Lab Edition

  • Apparently Sundance isn't the only kid on the block for Screenwriting Labs, Film Independent (the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival) have announced eight lucky projects that get to take part in “an intensive five-week incubator designed to help writers improve their craft, and take their current scripts to the next level in a nurturing, yet challenging creative environment.”The eight participants (see after the jump) will be mentored by The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' producer Meg LeFauveMeg LeFauve
[/link] will be joined by guest speakers: Allison Anders (pre-prod with Smile Now Cry Later) , Shauna Cross (wrote the novel and screenplay for Whip It!), Rodrigo Garcia (Mother and Child is having its world preem at Tiff), Dito Montiel (in pre-prod with The Brotherhood of the Rose), Kay Schaber-Wolf, Michael Sucsy (in pre-prod with The Goree Girls), and Ligiah Villalobos (scribe for La misma
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »
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