Announcing the 2019 Writers Lab Participants

New York Women in Film & Television and The Writers Lab co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon are proud to reveal the 12 screenwriters to participate in The Writers Lab, which celebrates its fifth year. The program has also unveiled their roster of mentors.

The Writers Lab launched in 2015 and is the only lab in the world devoted exclusively to script development for women writers over the age of 40. It creates a springboard to the next stage of production and expands the boundaries of today’s commercial narrative film. Many past participants have seen their scripts optioned and/or are actively working in writers’ rooms.

“I am so proud The Writers Lab has thrived and grown in these five years, and has functioned as a springboard for so much promising talent. As the supply catches up with the demand from an audience previously ignored in film history, the prospects grow ever brighter – Brava Divas!”

~ Meryl Streep


Congratulations to this incredible group of emerging talent and to The Writers Lab for continuing to build a space for women to work with one another and develop the stories they want to tell. As more stories by and about women ripple outward, more opportunities are created for women on both sides of the camera.”

~ Nicole Kidman


“You might have noticed that the industry is in a rut. Our mission is to put women in the driver’s seat to haul this rig out. The stories we’re seeing this year are topical and boundary-pushing – immigration, sex, female-driven thrillers, fantasy and magical realism, and out-of-the-box indies – these topics are on the minds of women over 40.”

~ Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon, The Writers Lab co-founders


“The Writers Lab is an example of our long-standing commitment to intersectional inclusion. We are so proud of the community of The Writers Lab participants – past and present – that has been created and continues to thrive.”

~ Cynthia Lopez, NYWIFT Executive Director


The Writers Lab is supported by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, and is produced by New York Women in Film & Television with co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon.  It is presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America, East, with in-kind support from The Black List, Falco Ink, Film Fatales, Relativity Ventures, Roadmap Writers, Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing & Film, and Tribeca Film Institute. A special thank you to Final Draft for their product contribution.


This year’s mentors include

Susan Cartsonis: A top grossing producer (What Women Want, Where the Heart Is, The Duff, Carrie Pilby) 

Shruti Ganguly:  Award-winning producer, writer and director (The Color of Time, Initials S.G.)

Lisa Jones: Author and Screenwriter (Disappearing Acts, The Wedding)

Theresa Rebeck:  Playwright, Screenwriter (Jessica Chastain’s upcoming 355, Trouble, Catwoman), Television Writer, Novelist

Mary Jane Skalski: Producer (Hello I Must Be Going, The Visitor, The Station Agent)

Robin Swicord: Academy Award nominated screenwriter (The Curious Case of

Benjamin Button) whose work includes Memoirs of a Geisha, Little Women and others

Pat Verducci: Writer / Director (True Crime), Professor, Script Editor, Story Consultant


The Lab is an intensive four-day script development retreat for women screenwriters over 40.  Meeting one on one and in panels with outstanding female film professionals, as well as in peer groups and directed discussion sessions focused on craft and the industry, talented writers examine and refine their work while building a unique and powerful community.


The 2019 Writers Lab Participants

Tara Orr Brenninkmeyer
The Fledgling
A grieving woman moves with her family to a remote Bavarian village in search of quiet and stability – but instead throws herself into the search for a missing infant.


Susan Brunig
The Surveillance of Ordinary Things
A middle-aged, suburban housewife in existential crisis decides to run away and end it all, only to stumble upon an unplugged community that reminds her of the artist she once was.


Tricia Cerrone
The Skeleton Watch
An apprentice watchmaker in Geneva’s elite industry has 48 hours to find her stolen masterpiece and solve a murder before that timepiece is used to reprise the terrorist act that killed her father.
Twitter: @TriciaCerrone  (same for all social media)


Meg Waite Clayton
The Last Train to London
The true story of Truus Wijsmuller, a Dutch woman who faced down Adolf Eichmann and beat the odds to rescue thousands of children from Nazi-occupied Vienna.
Twitter: @megwclayton


Jiwon Lee
At Sea
When an African deckhand on a superyacht picks up a beautiful migrant girl, envy and resentment boil over into violence and retribution on the deceptively calm waters of the Mediterranean.
Twitter: @Jwlb


Ann LeSchander
Picking Up Porter Douglas
An aspiring singer is thrilled when she is hired to drive opera star Porter Douglas to his sold-out concert in upstate New York – until the carousing tenor goes AWOL.
Twitter:  @AnnLeSchander


Julie O’Hora
Extreme Closeup
A divorced photographer whose sex life and career have withered rejuvenates both when a forbidden younger man reappears in her life.
Twitter: @julieohora


Alyson Richards
The Retreat
When a lesbian couple rents a remote idyllic cottage with friends, their vacation turns into a bloody battle against murderous locals


Miatta Ronca
Blue World
A former super soldier, now settled into an ordinary life, becomes an unstoppable force after a classified government program sends a top agent to kill her husband and kidnap her son.
Twitter: @funnymiatta


Kenyetta Raelyn
After a Guatemalan woman kills a local cartel member to protect her family, she flees with her daughter to the U.S. border, only to find the treacherous journey leads her into a nightmare of immigrant incarceration and exploitation.
Twitter: @kenyetta.raelyn


C.C. Webster
Little Buffalo
A young girl’s attempt to find her voice in her parents’ world of debauchery and drugs leads her to become the adult on the ground – and to uncover a damaging betrayal.
Coming of Age
Twitter: @twoseas23


Elizabeth Ziemska
Hunt Relic
On the eve of WWII the feral daughter of a huntmaster, living in an ancient lodge in Poland’s Primeval Forest, must cater to a hunting party of Nazi luminaries.
Twitter: @Ziemska
Instagram: @crittaceous

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