The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers them indispensable lessons in craft, as well as the means to do the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material.
Filmmakers typically begin their participation in the Feature Film Program with the January Screenwriters Lab, the only Lab for which there is an open application. Online applications for the January Screenwriters Lab are made available in the Apply/Submit section of the website beginning March 15 of each year and must be submitted online by May 1.
The January Screenwriters Lab is held in January, just before the Sundance Film Festival. The 2015 January Screenwriters Lab will be held January 16-21, 2015.
The June Screenwriters Lab is by invitation only and is held near the end of June, following the annual Directors Lab. The 2014 June Screenwriters Lab will take place June 21-26, 2014.
Click here for a Spanish language application.
January Screenwriters Lab applications available online starting: March 15 (for the following year's Lab)
Application deadline for U.S. filmmakers: May 1 (submitted online)
Application deadline for international filmmakers: June 15 (online). Click here for more specific information if you are an international filmmaker.
To Apply (U.S. Applicants):
The Screenwriters Lab supports writers and writer/directors developing their first or second narrative feature film. If you have previously had more than one narrative feature produced, you are not eligible to apply.
PLEASE NOTE: We have changed our application process! We hope these changes will make things easier on you as an applicant. In an effort to be more green and more efficient, we will now accept all application materials electronically ONLY. You will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of your application before officially submitting, and we will ask you to upload the first five pages of your script rather than mailing us a hard copy.
- Applications for the January Screenwriters Lab are available March 15 through May 1 the year before.
- When applying online, you will be asked to provide the following supplemental materials along with your contact information:
- A cover letter introducing yourself and your project. There are no strict requirements for this letter, but we'd like to get a brief idea of who you are, what your script is about, and how you think the Lab process could be helpful to you.
- An artistic statement describing your creative vision for the material, giving us a sense of where you are in the creative process. Here's an example of the type of information we're looking for: What is your personal connection to the material? What do you want an audience to take away from your film? How do you envision the realization of this script in terms of story, character, tone, and/or visual style? Is there a budget level you have in mind, and who makes up the audience you most want to reach? Why are you passionate about this story?
- A brief biography on yourself and up to two key creative team members (i.e.: director, producer, etc.). It is unnecessary to have anyone other than the writer attached, and each bio should be no longer than 500 words.
- A synopsis of the screenplay, no more than 1000 words.
- The first five pages of your script. Do not submit script pages from any other work. Please, do not attach the full screenplay.
- A $40 non-refundable processing fee, payable by credit card via the online application.
All of the above information must be submitted via the online application. We no longer accept hard copies of any materials. Candidates may submit up to three applications, though it is not encouraged to submit more than one - please complete a separate application for each project submitted.
To Apply (International Applicants)
We do accept open applications from international filmmakers, but during a different application window than U.S. applicants. An international applicant is a non-U.S. citizen living outside of the United States. The international open application window is May 5 – June 15; other than the later dates, application eligibility and requirements are the same as those for U.S. applicants.
If you have additional questions about applying for the Screenwriters Lab, click here for our FAQ.
Alumni and Advisors
Many groundbreaking artists have been supported by the Screenwriters Lab, including: Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar, Sean Durkin, Cary Fukunaga, Cherien Dabis, Craig Zobel, Josh Marston, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, Darren Aronofsky, David Gordon Green, Shirin Neshat, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Tamara Jenkins.
Click here for a full list of Screenwriters Lab alumni.
Creative Advisors for the Screenwriters Labs have included Scott Frank, Susannah Grant, Scott Z Burns, Frank Pierson, John August, Chris McQuarrie, Thomas Vinterberg, Atom Egoyan, Jeff Nichols, Naomi Foner, Mike White, Allison Anders, Walter Mosley, and Walter Bernstein, among many others.