LOS ANGELES—Today, Laugh Out Loud, the multi-platform comedy brand founded by Kevin Hart, and the Sundance Institute, the nonprofit film organization behind the Sundance Film Festival and labs, announced the launch of Women Write Now, a screenwriting fellowship designed to champion the next generation of Black women in comedy. Through mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition, this immersive program will offer a selection of talented writers the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentorship and professional guidance from leading Black women in comedy and to see their original comedic screenplay produced by LOL Studios.
In an effort to bring visibility and opportunity to Black women both in front of and behind the camera, LOL has brought on Meagan Good (The Intruder, Think Like a Man), Bresha Webb (Run the World), and Gabrielle Dennis (A Black Lady Sketch Show), who will each step behind the camera as director of one of the short films.
“Black women have contributed to some of the industry’s most successful and innovative film and television content. Yet, opportunities for this group are still few and far between; especially in comedy. With Women Write Now, we’re not just shining a light on a problem, but also illuminating a path to long-term solutions," says Laugh Out Loud President and COO Thai Randolph. “This project is another in our mission to cultivate, empower, and amplify diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. We’re honored to partner with Sundance Institute to elevate the voices of talented Black women because we know that when you invest in women of color, it pays off in dividends.”
The selected projects, whose above- and below-the-line crews will be primarily staffed by traditionally underrepresented talent, will premiere at a private screening during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. To further spotlight the screenwriters and bring their projects to an engaged global audience, Laugh Out Loud will distribute the films across LOL Network, which reaches over 100 million global consumers across platforms including Peacock, PlutoTV, Tubi, Roku, Snap, YouTube, Facebook, Xumo, and more.
As part of the fellowship, Laugh Out Loud, will host a two-week screenwriting lab designed to help the selected writers develop their short scripts and receive guidance on how to thrive in the business well beyond the fellowship. Black-ish writer and TV veteran Yamara Taylor has signed on as Lead Screenwriting Mentor for the lab, providing one-on-one mentorship and support for the fellows as they get their scripts production-ready. Additional creative advisors and a selection committee will be announced at a later date.
“Our collaboration with LOL speaks to the core values of the Sundance Institute mission,” says Michelle Satter, Founding Senior Director of the Institute’s Artist Programs. “Seeking the boldest and most promising independent voices and inviting them to hone their skills with established writers and industry figures, ensures a rich and thriving group of rising creatives. We are especially excited to support and amplify Black female comedy writers through this partnership”.
Submissions for the fellowship will be accepted between July 8 and August 5 at womenwritenow.com. Approximately ten finalists will be invited to interview with a jury panel consisting of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, as well as executives from Laugh Out Loud and Sundance Institute. From that group, a maximum of six writers will be selected to take part in the fellowship which includes individualized mentorship and creative and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 stipend, a four-night trip to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and a first look deal with LOL Studios.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES & ELIGIBILITY
Women Write Now is looking for applicants who meet the following criteria:
- Identify as Black or African American
- Identify as women
- Are 18 years or older at the time of application
- Are an emerging non-union writer
- Are based in the United States and legally authorized to work in the United States
Applicants are to submit one screenplay for an original comedic short film. Screenplays must meet the following criteria:
- Screenplay length: no shorter than five (5) pages and no longer than ten (10) pages. This does not include the title page.
- Limited to one (1) main location (INT or EXT); and no more than five (5) speaking roles
- Written in English
- Screenplay may not be written by more than one (1) writer.
- Include a title page displaying only title of screenplay and name of credited writer (not included in the 10-page limit)
- Be original; all rights must be wholly original with and owned by the writer
- Be submitted electronically as a pdf file and must meet all standard screenplay format guidelines
Submissions will be evaluated with the following criteria:
- STORY: The screenplay must effectively convey a rich, compelling, and comedic short-form story.
- CHARACTERS: The story must introduce interesting, nuanced, and authentic characters that are grounded within the world the writer has crafted.
- ORIGINALITY: The characters, structure, and ideas must feel unique with a sense of boldness and risk.
- COMEDY: Above all else… MAKE US LAUGH!
- Applicant is at an appropriate stage in their career to benefit from this fellowship.
- Applicant has expressed compelling reasons why they wish to participate in the Fellowship and has articulated their career goals.
About Laugh Out Loud
Laugh Out Loud is a comedy brand and multi-platform entertainment company dedicated to keeping the world laughing together. Founded by comedian, actor, and producer Kevin Hart, LOL delivers the best in comedic content and experiences across its multiple divisions—LOL Audio, LOL Network, LOL Studios, and LOLX. From stand-up legends to the next generation of comedic talent, LOL curates comedy’s boldest voices to produce original scripted and unscripted series, stand-up specials, radio shows and podcasts, live broadcasts, experiential activations, and more. LOL content is distributed to a diverse, global audience of more than 100 million fans across the LOL OTT Network of FAST Channel partners including Pluto, Peacock, Tubi, Roku, Xumo, Redbox, and more. LOL Audio has access to an additional 100 million listeners via partnerships with SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora. Known for content such as Cold As Balls, What the Fit, Comedy in Color, Die Hart, and more, the company has amassed more than 1 billion video views across its digital platforms, and has worked with brand partners such as AT&T, Headspace, Lyft, Old Spice, P&G, Viacom, and more. Find us online at laughoutloud.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat via @lolnetwork.
About the Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute's signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. The Sundance Institute has supported such recent projects as The 40-Year-Old Version, Clemency, I Carry You With Me, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, Time, Minari, Boys State, Pariah, American Factory, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams, and Fun Home. Join the Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.