Seven screenwriters have been selected for Film Independent’s 20th annual Screenwriting Lab, an intensive four-week workshop designed to facilitate each writer’s unique voice through the development of a single feature screenplay. Eighty-five percent of this year’s participants are from communities underrepresented in film and over half the participants are women.
Fellows will workshop their projects over the course of the Lab under the guidance of Creative Advisors Rodrigo García (Nine Lives, HBO’s In Treatment), Pamela Ribon (Moana, Wreck-It Ralph 2) and Jeff Stockwell (Bridge to Terabithia). Additional guest speakers and advisors include Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Script Consultant Ruth Atkinson, Jelani Johnson of CAA and Virgil Williams (Mudbound).
“We are extremely proud that Film Independent’s 20th Screenwriting Lab is made up of seven bold, visionary writers whose diverse perspectives represent our continued commitment to fostering inclusion in the film industry. We look forward to nurturing their projects in the Lab and their careers as artists in the long term,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent.
For the seventh year, Film Independent will present the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Screenwriting Fellowship. This year’s Fellowship is being awarded to Margaret Hedderman who will receive a $10,000 grant to support the development of her script, The Code of the West, through the Screenwriting Lab.
Past Screenwriting Lab projects include Spirit Award Winner Andrew Ahn’s Spa Night, which premiered in competition at Sundance and won the Grand Jury prize at Outfest; Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award nominated Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which premiered in competition at Sundance and in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes; and Robbie Pickering’s SXSW winner Natural Selection.
The 2018 Screenwriting Lab participants and their projects are:
Title: At Risk
Writer: Jenny Halper
Logline: A ten-year-old budding scientist becomes obsessed with a turtle he believes has been alive since the time of the dinosaurs as his sister’s AIDS diagnosis turns his family into pariahs in their small New England town. Based on Alice Hoffman’s novel.
Title: Bury Me on Gold Mountain
Writer/Director: Li Lu
Logline: In 1872, a young Chinese woman fights to survive after being sold to an unknown man in a remote Idaho gold mining town.
Writer/Director: Miguel Nuñez
Logline: A romantic little fella leads a peasant revolt against the abuses of a foreign cotton company. On his odyssey to defend their right to the land, Hombrecito has kung-fu fights, is stalked by a ghost, and ends up as a misfit cowboy.
Writer/Director: Joshua James Richards
Logline: Teenage love and rebellion in a juvenile correctional facility.
Writer/Director: Ayten Amin
Logline: 12-year old Rabad lives in Zaqazig, a small conservative town in Egypt. After her older sister, Soad falls down an online rabbit hole with tragic consequences, Rabad embarks on a journey looking for answers.
Title: The Code of the West
Writer: Margaret Hedderman
Logline: A directionless musician takes her young son on a road trip to find his father – whom he imagines is a John Wayne-esque figure. They find him on a New Mexico ranch that’s under threat from energy development. The boy tries to save the day.
Writer/Director: Ellie Foumbi
Logline: An adopted Black Mennonite leaves the rural White community she was raised in and travels to an inner-city neighborhood to find her biological mother. In the process, she discovers what it means to be Black.