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August 25 at 8:04pm

Update: Screenwriter Labs & Writers Colonies

By Ted Hope

Hmmm…. Is the Facebook community more activist, participatory, and just generally helpful than the blogging world? These comments came in on my FB page via my inquiry here on behalf of a filmmaker about other labs & colonies.

Producer Jack Lechner pointed out:

The colonies aren’t labs — they’re just places to write. There’s no mentoring or criticism involved, although colonists sometimes present their new work to each other.

Cornelia Ravenal made a comment that:

Waiting to be accepted by one of the more prestigious labs often takes 2 or 3 tries, as in years. Best guidance to get started immediately is John Truby’s book THE ANATOMY OF STORY: 22 STEPS TO BECOMING A MASTER STORYTELLER or his genre CDs. In fact, anything he offers at http://www.truby.com is useful.

Filmmaker Rodney Evens added:

Hi Ted- I just finished the Binger FilmLab’s Director’s Coaching Programme which was fantastic (http://www.facebook.com/l/;www.binger.nl). They also have a screenplay development program as well which is 6 months.

I can also recommend Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Hambidge, the Vermont Studio Center and the Edward Albee colony (in Montauk during the summer). I have also heard good things about The Millay Colony, Ucross, Djerassi and Blue Mountain Center but haven’t been to those. Chateau de La Napoule in the south of France is great and people have also said good things about Sacatar in Brazil. http://www.facebook.com/l/;resartis.org is a good website for international residencies and here is a book for domestic places:


I write a lot at art colonies and residency programs and find it very helpful to get away from the distractions of everyday life. They definitely work for me.

Jade Wu these additional Screenwriting Labs & Colonies recommendations:

Film Independent (LA) – many projects graduate to production and festivals(LA Film Fest and Spirit Awards)

IFP Narrative Lab (NY) – a younger program, but has helped projects move to the next level and most have played the festival circuit

BlueCat Seminars (throughout U.S. cities) – the contest is run by Gordy Hoffman (Love Liza) and has garnered reputable status. Didn’t do the seminars, but I placed as Semi-finalist – no cigar in the reality scheme of things, but I was thrilled nevertheless. Ballast won a BlueCat Award.

Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship (and they pay you to learn). I was a Fellow in the Daytime Drama Series Writing Program.

Marilyn Horowitz, whose on FB, is a great teacher/mentor. She’s teaches at NYU, in addition to her own seminars (private/group/online).

The answer really depends on what this filmmaker expects/wants out of a lab and where he/she falls on the writing level scale. “Learning how to write” and “developing a screenplay” are very different goals.

Screenwriter Caitlin McCarthy (and TFF blog contributor) said:

The Atlanta Film Festival Screenwriters Lab is amazing. They accept six people each year. I participated in their inaugural lab in 2007 with Joy Lusco Kecken and Michael Lucker as my mentors. I can’t think of any other screenwriting labs out there, other than what’s been posted. This is why more labs are needed in the industry for up-and-coming screenwriters who want to develop their craft and find mentors. Without labs, budding writers are on their own. MacDowell and Yaddo won’t accept budding writers, from my experience. They seem to want more established artists with at least one produced work. The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts is supposed to be more “budding writer” friendly, but I’ve never applied to it, so I don’t know how it really is. The San Francisco Film Society has a Djerassi/SFFS Screenwriting Fellowship which provides a one-month residency for emerging or established screenwriters in the Santa Cruz Mountains. But it doesn’t provide mentors like the labs. More labs, please!!! The fact that no one can rattle off a list of labs here speaks volumes. The film industry as a whole is not actively trying to mentor new talent. The question is WHY? So no one new can break in unless by some miracle these days? Makes you wonder….

Not bad, considering we have yet to have a comment directly here. Dang.

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