The Writers Lab selects 12 promising writers each year, from a competitive pool of submissions, to work with accomplished women mentors from the film industry. Participants spend four days at a retreat outside New York City working on their screenplays and their craft in one-on-one sessions with mentors, and gaining valuable tools and information in panels and workshops to achieve success for their projects and their careers.
The Writers Lab provides script development for women writers over the age of 40. It creates a springboard for scripts to reach the next stage of production and expands the diversity of narrative film The Lab was launched in 2015 By Kyle Stokes, Founder, and is presented by New York Women in Film & Television and Co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon.
Supported by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, The Lab is a four-day writers workshop that gives women screenwriters over the age of 40 the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established film professionals. Mentors and writers engage in a rigorous process of intensive script development through one-on-one meetings, panel discussions, peer workshops, and at group meals, Interactions are designed to inspire the artists; to prompt creative exploration; and, through revision, to cultivate first-rate cinematic stories.
About The Writers Lab 2020
The Writers Lab is pleased to announce the selected 12 participants, its most inclusive class ever, with half its winners identifying as diverse, and half its projects identifying as “genre” for its 2020 script development lab. For 2020, its sixth year, rather than a physical retreat, The Writers Lab will pivot and build a rich virtual experience for its twelve winning writers with intensified focus on pushing drafts across the finish line. Additionally, in 2020, The Writers Lab extends its support to its entire pool of applicants with new online resources, including podcasts and recorded talks with lab mentors and supporters, curated links, and more.
Launched in 2015, the program is the only lab in the world devoted exclusively to script development for women writers over the age of 40. The Lab is produced by co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon and New York Women in Film & Television, and supported by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Oprah Winfrey.
In these shifting, challenging times, audiences are savvier and hungry for new perspectives, especially narratives shaped by women. Amidst the global pandemic, submissions to The Writers Lab for women over 40 went up by 25%. Clearly, demand persists for this dynamic, prolific network of industry veterans and groundbreaking creatives that launches the work of women screenwriters in their prime.
The 12 participants of The Writers Lab 2020 are:
Nichole Abshire, Imposter Impersonator (family dramedy)
Charlotte Cameron, Throw Money (thriller)
Elise Greven, Silent Spring (science biopic)
Joey Day Hargrove, Highway to Heck (comedy)
Christine Hoang, Fly Girl (comedy)
Christine Autrand Mitchell, The Field (horror)
Carolyn Saunders, Island West (sci-fi)
Kelly Yoon Strathmore, Wing and a Prayer (coming of age)
Barbara Ward Thall, Little Sister (western)
Victoria Thomas, Street Food (drama)
Sandy Thomson, A Sharp Arrow (historical thriller)
Julie Zografos, Dark Quarry (mystery)
The Writers Lab also announces an expanded roster of influential, experienced filmmakers to mentor participants in development sessions, panels, and story-breaking workshops. Mentors include producers Anne Carey (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want), Shruti Ganguly (The Color of Time), Mary Jane Skalski (Hello I Must Be Going), Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth), Jamie Zelermyer (NYWIFT Board President and former Focus Features VP), and screenwriters Mara Brock Akil (The Game), Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon), Lisa Jones (Disappearing Acts), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights), Theresa Rebeck (355), Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Pat Verducci (True Crime).
Women’s Voices Matter
The Writers Lab is dedicated to developing narrative feature screenplays written by women over the age of 40. We feel it is critical to nurture the voices of mature women that have not been heard and are in danger of being lost entirely. We look forward to a new landscape where the female narrative is in equal proportion to the male narrative, and where shared stories strengthen our ties to one another and empower younger generations.
We are committed to female storytellers, yet we do not limit our search to stories about women. The Writers Lab seeks well crafted scripts, in all genres, exploring universal themes, using a full range of cinematic tools.
The Impact of The Writers Lab
Impact of the Lab to-date:
- Five writers have their first writer-for-hire jobs
- Three writers have their first manager and agent
- One writer won a teaching job at a university
- One of our inaugural scripts has been optioned by a production/financing company with a director attached
- One inaugural script has been optioned by an Oscar-nominated director
- Two writers were awarded the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship for screenwriting, and another was a finalist
The Writers Lab is produced by New York Women in Film & Television, with co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon, and has been supported by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey. It is presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild America, East, with in-kind support from The Black List, Film Fatales, Tribeca Film Institute, Roadmap Writers, Relativity Ventures, and Stony Brook Southampton + Manhattan. A special thank you to Final Draft for their product contribution.
Past mentors include Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Susan Cartsonis (Carrie Pilby, The Duff), Rachel Cohen (Stranger Weather, House of Z), Lisa Cortes (Precious), Amy Fox (Equity), Pamela Gray(A Walk on the Moon, Music of the Heart), Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Personal Velocity), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys), Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records, I Like It Like That), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent), Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, Ten Things I Hate About You), Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page), Pat Verducci (Disney/Pixar), Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon, Firelight).