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March 14, 2022

Women in Film NY Announce Writer's Lab

The Writers Lab is open for submissions for its 2022 program for women screenwriters over the age of 40. With the continuing demand for content in all formats from diverse voices, the Lab will once again include pilot scripts as well as narrative features. Feature and pilot writers selected for the November 2022 retreat 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, thus expanding the diversity of new content.

Submissions are open through March 30, 2022. Learn more and apply at

Established in 2015, The Writers Lab is the only program in the world devoted exclusively to script development for women writers over the age of 40. Produced by co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon and New York Women in Film & Television, the Lab is supported by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, and the Kurtz Family Foundation. In 2021, the founders partnered with Untamed Stories, created by Julia Berg and Ruth Spencer, to launch two new labs for residents of the UK & Ireland and Europe.

Mentors and Guests at the 2021 US lab included Priya Amritraj (Hyde Park Entertainment), Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want), Suzanne Farwell (The Intern)  Amy Fox (The Connors), Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon), Rita Hsiao (Mulan), Anne Hubbell (Paint It Black), Lisa Jones (Disappearing Acts), Jennifer Levine (Untitled Entertainment), Riva Marker (The Kids Are All Right), Amber Sealey (No Man of God), Mary Jane Skalski(Hello I Must Be Going), Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth), Pat Verducci (True Crime), Tracey Scott Wilson (The Americans), Jamie Zelermyer (NYWIFT Board President and former Focus Features VP). 

The 2022 Lab will focus its programming on providing tools and strategies for talented writers to develop their projects and navigate the ever-shifting landscape of professional opportunities. Additionally in 2022, the Lab expands support for its alumni and its entire pool of applicants, with rewards to applicants who place, and augmenting its online resources and virtual programming with additional podcasts and video recordings. Partners include the Writers Guild of America, East, The Black List, Cinequest, Falco Ink, Film Fatales, Filmarket Hub, Population Media Center, and Roadmap Writers.

The Writers Lab alumni have gained recognition: Two TWL films premiered in 2021; fiveTWL films are in contracts; fifteen writers landed writer-for-hire jobs, ten writers have signed with managers or agents, two TWL writers won The Academy Nicholl Fellowship. 

Amidst the global pandemic, in 2021 submissions to The Writers Lab for women over 40 increased by 30%. Submissions of genre scripts, particularly sci-fi and horror, were higher this year, as well as stories focused on politics, scientific innovation, sex work and human trafficking, and religion. Clearly, women writers over 40 have a wide range of rich and radical stories to tell.

“We continue to be astounded by the quality of the submissions, which are stronger every year - not just the increased volume, which tells us that women have been writing in lockdown, but also the depth and breadth of their creativity in cinematically depicting today’s twisted, glorious world,” said The Writers Lab co-founder Elizabeth Kaiden.

​​“Even during times of crisis, unique opportunities do exist,” said New York Women in Film & Television Executive Director Cynthia Lopez.“Shaped by the current civil rights movement, media companies and creative talent are radically reimagining how to create and distribute work. The Writers Lab, as always, is. We are thrilled that, even during a pandemic, women writers, directors and showrunners will be working together to support diverse creative talent.”

The Writers Lab is putting together an expanded roster of influential, experienced filmmakers to mentor participants in development sessions, panels, and story-breaking workshops. Mentors confirmed for 2022 include:

  • Priya Amritraj (Hyde Park Entertainment)

  • Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want, Where the Heart Is, The Duff, Carrie Pilby)

  • Suzanne Farwell (The Intern, It’s Complicated) 

  • Amy Fox (The Connors, Equity)

  • Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon, Music of the Heart, Conviction)

  • Rita Hsiao (Mulan, Toy Story 2)

  • Anne Hubbell (Paint It Black, Keep the Change)

  • Lisa Jones (Disappearing Acts, The Wedding)

  • Jennifer Levine (Untitled Entertainment)

  • Riva Marker (The Kids Are All Right)

  • Amber Sealey (No Man of God)

  • Mary Jane Skalski (Hello I Must Be Going, The Visitor, The Station Agent)

  • Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Memoirs of a Geisha)

  • Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth, Disobedience)

  • Pat Verducci (Disney/Pixar, True Crime, Smoked)

  • Tracey Scott Wilson (The Americans, Respect)

  • Jamie Zelermyer (Focus Features, Boys Don’t Cry, Before/During/After)

Partners include the Writers Guild of America, East, The Black List, Cinequest, Falco Ink, Film Fatales, Filmarket Hub, Population Media Center, and Roadmap Writers. A special thank you to Final Draft for their product contribution.

Co-Founded by Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon with Kyle Ann Stokes, and produced with New York Women in Film & Television, The Writers Lab is dedicated to developing narrative scripted content written by diverse women over the age of 40. With industry veterans, the Lab elevates the work of women screenwriters in their prime through mentorship, advocacy and exposure. Alumni have been staffed in writers rooms, signed with managers and agents, landed deals and moved their scripts into production. In addition to the flagship US Lab, TWL now produces two labs for women writers over 40 residing in the UK & Ireland and Europe. 

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) advocates for equality in the moving image industry and supports women in every stage of their careers. As the preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York, NYWIFT energizes women by illuminating their achievements, presenting training and professional development programs, awarding scholarships and grants, and providing access to a supportive community of peers. NYWIFT brings together nearly 2,500 women and men working both above and below the line. NYWIFT is part of a network of 50 women in film chapters worldwide, representing more than 15,000 members. NYWIFT is a nonprofit 501c3 public charity.

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