There is a well-known refrain imparting that it takes some “breaking down” to build something (or someone) up—figuratively speaking, of course. At the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, that notion is nothing short of creed. It’s become a not-so-veiled secret of the Lab that, contrary to its name, writing is strongly discouraged, if not altogether forbidden. Instead, the five-day writer’s workshop is a chance for independent screenwriters to rigorously and honestly explore their feature film scripts with the support of established writers and without the pressure of producing any new writing. It’s a formula that would surely attract skeptics if it weren’t so effective, though it’s undoubtedly raised the eyebrows of more than a few Fellows.
The application for the 2016 January Screenwriters Lab opened earlier this week, meaning we’re looking for scripts from U.S. and international filmmakers developing the first or second narrative feature film. To get you inspired—and just for the sake of nostalgia—let’s take a look at 9 filmmakers who cut their teeth at the Screenwriters Lab.