Film Independent Selects 12 Fellows For 2010 Screenwriters Lab
LOS ANGELES (August 18, 2010) — Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, has announced the 12 screenwriters and film projects selected for its 11th annual Screenwriters Lab, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America, West. Taking place in Los Angeles from August 12 until September 16, the Screenwriters Lab is an intensive six-week program designed to help writers improve their craft, and take their current scripts to the next level in a nurturing, yet challenging creative environment. Screenwriter and producer Meg LeFauve resumes duties as this year’s Lab Instructor, and Lab Mentors and Guest Speakers include Nicole Holofcener (Please Give), Erin Cressida Wilson (Chloe), José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries), Josh Olson (A History of Violence), and Kay Schaber-Wolf (WGAw).
“Our Labs have always attracted a high level of talent from different backgrounds and disciplines, and this year is no exception,” said Director of Talent Development Josh Welsh. “With expert guidance from Meg, Nicole, Erin, José, and Josh, our Lab Fellows will not only hone their screenwriting skills, but also move their current projects closer to production.”
In the Screenwriters Lab, Fellows are advised on the craft and business of screenwriting under the tutelage of the Lab Mentors, and are also introduced to established screenwriters, producers and film professionals who serve as one-on-one advisors. The Screenwriters Lab is provided free to accepted screenwriters, and upon completion, they become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support including access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings, on-staff Filmmaker Advisor, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. In addition, Lab Fellows are eligible to join the Indie Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America, West. Recent projects developed through the Lab include Philip Flores’ The Wheeler Boys, which premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival; Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, which premiered at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival; Erin Cassidy and Bruce Pavalon’s We Are the Mods, which won the Best Screenplay award at the 2009 Outfest Film Festival; Beth Schacter’s Normal Adolescent Behavior, which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival; Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey, which premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival; and Minh Nguyen-Vo’s Buffalo Boy, which was Vietnam’s entry to the 2006 Academy Awards.
The 2010 Screenwriters Lab participants and their projects are:
1. County Line – A rural North Carolina sheriff attempts to dissolve his corrupt alliance with the top local drug dealer; however, when he suspects that his counterpart is the serial rapist and killer who has recently been terrorizing an entire county, the Sheriff has to figure out how to catch him without causing his own downfall.
Tina Mabry is a writer/director with a MFA in Film Production from USC’s School of Cinema-Television. While participating in Film Independent’s Project: Involve, Mabry finished developing and writing her short film, Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, which she went on to direct. The film has been screened in more than 50 film festivals worldwide and has won multiple Jury and Audience Awards as well as a Best Director award. Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan aired on Showtime, BET J, and was voted the #1 film on the season finale of LOGO’s The Click List 2: Best in Short Film. Shortly after graduating from USC, Mabry co-wrote a feature screenplay entitled Itty Bitty Titty Committee, directed by Jamie Babbit. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (2007) and won Best Feature Narrative at SXSW (2007). In 2008, Mabry participated in the FIND Directors Lab with her feature film, Mississippi Damned. While playing on the festival circuit, Mississippi Damned has garnered an impressive 11 awards from participation in 13 film festivals, including awards for Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay at the Chicago International Film Festival (2009). Mabry was named among the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker Magazine in July 2009 and was recognized by Out Magazine as one of the most inspirational and outstanding people of 2009. Mabry was recently featured in Advocate as part of their Top Forty Under 40 issue, which features the top 40 individuals who are raising the bar in their respective fields.
Morgan R. Stiff is a writer/director with a MFA in Film Production from USC’s School of Cinema-Television, and received her BFA from NYU in Dramatic Writing in 2002. While attending USC, she was chosen as a participant of Film Independent’s Project: Involve. As a producer, Stiff has produced fiction and documentary films, as well as promotional videos. Projects include Porcelain (2004), which is currently being distributed by Iron Rod Motion Pictures, Inc.; Hip Hop Homos (LOGO Networks, 2004); and the award-winning Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan (Showtime, LOGO, BET J, 2005). As an editor, Stiff has worked on tributes, music videos, fiction films, and documentaries, with those projects including Hope’s Choice (Showtime, 2004) and the award-winning documentary, One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story (Ovation TV, 2009), which she also produced. In 2007, Stiff participated in the FIND Producer’s Lab with Mississippi Damned and went on to produce and edit the award-winning and critically acclaimed film. She is also the Chief Production Officer of Morgan’s Mark, a production company dedicated to bringing marginalized stories to the mainstream.
2. Dandekar Finds Home – After being forced into retirement, a kindly Indian man goes on a search to find the beloved car his well-meaning daughters have traded away.
Leena Pendharkar is an award-winning writer and director whose feature film debut, Raspberry Magic, is currently making its way around the festival circuit, and will be released in theaters and VOD (Amazon, Netflix) later this year. Her short films, both docs and narrative fiction, have won numerous awards including 1st Prize at EarthVision Film Festival, a Bronze award at WorldFest Houston and 1st Prize at the Kansas City Filmmakers’ Jubilee. Her short film, My Narmada Travels, was picked up for broadcast on Al Gore’s network, Current TV. She has also worked extensively in interactive media, and was recognized for her work with the Wired Magazine Excellence in New Media award. She teaches filmmaking at Loyola Marymount University and Otis College of Art and Design and holds a Masters in Documentary Film Production from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
3. Hey, Hey Johnny – When Will Kennedy finds a dead body outside his bedroom window, the search for the anonymous boy’s identity forces him to discover what it means to be alive, what it means to be in love, and what it means to lose both.
Nicolas Citton is a writer/director who recently completed his studies at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. While in school, he co-created the comedy series, This Space for Rent, which was developed with the National Screen Institute of Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. The show aired on CBC Television, and was nominated for numerous awards. This past year, Citton’s feature, That Burning Feeling, was selected for The Canadian Film Centre’s Comedy Lab and developed alongside Just for Laughs Canada. The project is currently in pre-production with Resonance Films. Nicolas has several television and film projects presently in development, including Lust for Life, another comedy series with CBC Television.
4. In From the Cold – A family races for the edge of communist Poland while being pursued by a Russian agent, 48 hours before martial law is announced and the borders close.
Dominika Waclawiak is a political refugee who escaped with her parents from Communist Poland in the early 1980′s. Since then, she has become a director, writer and visual effects artist, graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s in Architecture and is a former National Science Foundation Young Scholar. Her Visual Effects credits include: the upcoming true stereoscopic feature, Yogi Bear, Night at the Museum: The Battle for the Smithsonian, Land of the Lost, The Incredible Hulk, Evan Almighty, Superman Returns, The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Oscar-winning films, Happy Feet and The Golden Compass. She has production designed and art directed various independent shorts, music videos and spots for Nickelodeon, MTV and Good Machine. Waclawiak’s directorial debut, a 35mm stop-motion animated short Piekni was completed in 2007 and went on to play at the Slamdance Film Festival, Anarchy Division, Beverly Hills Film Festival and dozens of other national and international film festivals. The film is currently distributed by Ouat Media in Toronto, Canada. In 2008, she was one of 8 women selected for AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, where she wrote and directed her third narrative short, the VFX fantasy, Gosia’s Witch. Her first feature script, In From the Cold, was a finalist in the 2010 Sundance Screenwriting Lab and is a current quarterfinalist for the Nicholl Fellowship. She is currently writing a feature screenplay, which she is also set to direct, tentatively titled The Sixth Victim, for producer Tracy Mercer (Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman). Waclawiak has studied art, photography and architectural design in Iceland; Norway, in conjunction with the University of Oslo; Sweden, Denmark, Poland and throughout Italy. Her paintings and photography have been exhibited in various galleries in Los Angeles, Rome and New York City.
5. Look for the Light – A modern day Faustian legend, Look For The Light is a psychological thriller about a war photographer, his spiritual degradation and his search for redemption.
Topaz Adizes is a writer/director and studied philosophy at UC Berkeley and Oxford before turning to film. He has directed a number of award-winning short films including Laredo, Texas (Sundance 2010), Trece Años (Sundance 2009) and City (Winner of Aspen Shorts Film Festival 2007). Americana, his first feature documentary, shot around the world from Hiroshima, Tirana, Belgrade, Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul and Havana, explores American identity in a global context. Adizes has also had valuable experience learning from Steven Spielberg on Munich, Ridley Scott on Kingdom of Heaven, and P.T. Anderson on There Will Be Blood.
6. Skirt – When beautiful, brilliant, ambitious Allie goes to work for a fast-paced political campaign, she finds herself caught romantically between her older female boss and a rakish male colleague.
Chris Mason Johnson is a writer/director and studied filmmaking at Amherst College. Beforehand, Johnson had a successful career as a dancer in major ballet and modern companies, including William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet and White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. After college, Johnson worked as a Script Analyst and Editor for Miramax, Dimension, Fine Line, ABC Family and Disney, and rose to the position of Head of Development at Open City Films in New York (Three Seasons, Chuck and Buck). Johnson made several short films before he co-wrote, directed and produced his first feature film, The New Twenty (2009), which won Best Director/First Feature at Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, Best Screenwriting at FilmOut San Diego, Best Lead Actress at Outfest, and was the Closing Night Presentation at Montreal’s prestigious image+nation Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The New Twenty had a limited theatrical release in the U.S., was broadcast on MTV Logo, released on DVD by Wolfe Video, and is currently available on iTunes and Netflix. In addition to Skirt, a romantic comedy that won the Grand Prize in the Cynosure Screenwriting Competition (for stories with women and minority protagonists), Johnson is also developing Static, a psychological horror-sci-fi set in a small California town. He was a mentor in Film Independent’s Project:Involve and has taught screenwriting at Amherst College and Rutgers University.
Kate Stayman-London is a writer and a current candidate for an MFA in Writing for Film and Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her first solo screenplay, a baseball sex comedy called Slump Busters, was awarded the Frank R. Volpe Scholarship and the National Association of Theater Owners Scholarship. She was also selected by Steven Bochco for his five-person pilot class based on her spec episode of Dexter. Before moving to Los Angeles, Stayman-London worked in Washington, DC (and on campaign trails across America) as a political operative for the labor movement, ending with a stint as Deputy Field Director for the AFL-CIO’s 3+ million retirees. Stayman-London has strong roots in playwriting: at Amherst College, she studied with acclaimed playwright Connie Congdon, and she’s currently writing the book for the next musical from this year’s Ovation Award winner, Erin Kamler.
7. The Stones – In modern-day Tehran, a progressive youth-culture exists underground, but when a gay Iranian/American boy visits his motherland for the first time, he quickly learns the high price of rebellion in the hard-line Islamic regime.
Ana Lily Amirpour, a writer/director/producer, made her first film at the age of twelve: a horror movie starring the guests of a slumber party. She comes from a varied background in the arts, including painting, sculpting, and playing bass and singing in a rock band. Her feature-length script, The Stones, was grand prize winner of the 2007 Bluecat Screenwriting Competition, participant in the 2009 Tribeca All-Access program, and winner of the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Fellowship. She has directed award-winning short films and music videos, and will direct The Stones as her debut feature film in 2010. Her 2008 short film Six and a Half, screened at festivals worldwide, including Slamdance, Nashville, Brooklyn, and Milan, and was a Golden Ace winner at the Las Vegas International Film Festival. Her 2009 short film True Love, a comedy about sex and relationships, won the Audience Award at the 2010 Milan International Film Festival; and her most recent film, Ketab ‘The Book,’ which is an excerpt from The Stones, will screen in 2010 in New York in connection with the Tribeca All-Access program. Amirpour was recipient of the Dini Ostrov Award in Comedy Writing in 2008 and is most recently a participant of the 2010 Talent Campus at Berlinale. She finished her MFA in 2009 at the UCLA School of Film and Television. She is co-founder of Los Angeles based production company, Say Ahh… Productions, creators of cutting-edge film, TV, music video, and web content.
8. Things We’ve Made – Set in the near future, a human clone shattered by the recent diagnosis of a genetic disease, embarks on a journey to find his original donor and the cure that can save him.
Trevin Matcek is a writer/director and has made movies since he was 10 years old. A graduate of USC’s Film Production program, his first 35 mm short Sylvia, won the Gold Award for Best Student Short at Houston Worldfest and played at over a dozen festivals around the world. After working several years in post-production, Matcek began directing and editing music videos for bands such as Spoon and Clearlake. In 2003, he directed “The District Sleeps Tonight”video for The Postal Service, which was Fuse TV’s #3 Video of the Year and nominated by the Music Video Production Association for Best Video under $10,000. Most recently, he has worked on campaigns for NFL Sports and Sony’s PS3 (Webby® award-winning). In 2008, IFP selected Matcek’s script Things We’ve Made as an Emerging Narrative Finalist and was recently accepted in Film Independent’s Directors Lab. Matcek is also part of the Dublab Collective, helming Vision Version videos for artists The Excepter and Baby Dee.
9. Working Man – After losing his factory job, an aging assembly line lifer returns to work at his closed plant only to become an unexpected and reluctant hero.
Robert Jury has written feature film screenplays for Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, and HBO Films. Jury is a past winner of the Walt Disney Studios Writers’ Fellowship and a member of the Writers Guild of America, West. He has worked in feature development for production companies with deals at Touchstone Pictures and Warner Brothers. He was a freelance segment producer for ESPN and BET, a production coordinator for Universal Studios Florida and a stage manager for ABC Sports. Jury has also served as managing editor for a magazine, coached high school football, taught art to kids and produced a video for the American Alligator Association.
10. Xanadu – An inveterate tomboy doggedly tries to win over the new girl in town, despite the uproarious machinations of her flamboyant older brother.
Susan Austin is a writer and valedictorian graduate of UCLA film school, where she was recognized for her films Voodoo and Tighter, winning the Peter Stark Memorial Scholarship and the Gene Reynolds Award. She worked as a script reader for Silver Lion Films and Penny Marshall’s Parkway Productions before returning to UCLA for an MFA in Screenwriting. Austin is currently directing a documentary This American Death, which examines why a “good death” is difficult to achieve, and continuing work on two features including her latest screenplay Viveka, about a white American woman who gets hooked on the idea of an arranged marriage.
ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, are comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry leader, or a film lover. With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent offers free Filmmaker Labs for selected writers, directors, and producers; provides cut-rate services for filmmakers; and presents year-round networking opportunities. Film Independent’s mentorship and job placement program, Project:Involve, pairs emerging culturally diverse filmmakers with film industry professionals. Film Independent produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, celebrating the best of American and international cinema and the Spirit Awards, a celebration honoring films and filmmakers that embody independence and dare to challenge the status quo.