TWL UK & I is co-founded by Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon in partnership with UK development producers Julia Berg and Ruth Spencer of Untamed Stories and supported by Dirty Films, the independent film and television production company headed by Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini with development producer Georgie Pym.
TWL UK & I will be produced in association with Birds’ Eye View, the not-for-profit which champions the female perspective in film, headed by Mia Bays, and New York Women in Film & Television. The Lab is supported by Screen Scotland, Screen Skills Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and Ffilm Cymru Wales & BFI NETWORK with funding from the National Lottery. The US programme, produced by co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon and NYWIFT, is supported by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Oprah Winfrey.
The Writers Lab, the only programme devoted exclusively to script development for woman-identifying writers over 40, brings the co-founders of its pioneering Lab to writers in the UK and Ireland with a new virtual programme held 10-13 June 2021, with Post-Lab virtual mentoring sessions in the months following.
Submissions of both Features and Pilots (both 1-hour and ½-hour) will be accepted for consideration. Up to 12 writers residing in the UK and Ireland will be selected to participate in an opportunity for unique and emerging voices reflecting the diversity of the populations across Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Writers selected for the Lab will work one-on-one and in group sessions with acclaimed screen industry leaders to develop their scripts and their craft, and to build tools and strategies to achieve success.
Founded in 2015 in New York, The Writers Lab US in October, 2020, welcomed its sixth and most inclusive class to date, with half of selected participants identifying as historically underrepresented, and half of the projects identified as genre. With demand for streaming content from diverse voices skyrocketing globally, the Lab expands in 2021 to include pilot scripts as well as narrative features to further TWL’s mission of amplifying the oft-unheard voices of women over 40.
Alumni have gained recognition post-Lab: Eight have landed writer-for-hire jobs; seven signed with managers or agents; two have won The Academy Nicholl Fellowship; four TWL US projects have been optioned or moved into production, and the Lab will see the emergence of its first completed project in 2021, Alyson Richards’ horror film The Retreat.
Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton & Coco Francini, DIRTY FILMS said: “The incredible work that The Writers Lab are doing in providing a platform for underrepresented creative voices resonates deeply with all of us at Dirty Films, so we jumped at the opportunity to support their expansion to the UK and Ireland. We’re excited to see the results of this year’s lab and we look forward to working with Untamed Stories, NYWIFT and The Writers Lab to discover some of the amazing untapped talent in this region.”
Elizabeth Kaiden, TWL co-founder said: “Julia and Ruth of Untamed Stories are an astounding force whose vision and energy is infectious. We’re thrilled to be working with them and look forward to welcoming this new cohort of writers into our community of exceptional, experienced and diverse alumni.”
Mia Bays, Director At Large, Birds’ Eye View said: “We are delighted to be a part of The Writers Lab UK & IRELAND 2021 and the mission to amplify the oft-unheard voices of women over 40 – addressing ageism and sexism in the screen industry – an industry that, not surprisingly, overlooks the many benefits to being an older writer – such as more life experience and a greater understanding of human motivation. We cannot wait to unite with this strong network of collaborators and lift up the talent we know are out there and can thrive in these encouraging conditions.”
Cynthia Lopez, NYWIFT Executive Director said: “New York Women in Film & Television is excited for this groundbreaking Signature Program to reach women in the UK & Ireland. In recent years, and especially during COVID-19, it’s clear that women creatives in film and television can connect across geographic divides to draw strength and power from each other and build community that transcends location.”