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Seeking fresh talent

The Middlebury Script Lab is looking to mentor and support the next generation of screenwriters. Our tuition-free program provides emerging screenwriters a place to focus intensely on their craft with the support of accomplished industry professionals.

When

January 17–22, 2020

Where

Idyllic Middlebury, Vermont, home to Middlebury College.

Overview

Bring your story to Vermont

Six emerging screenwriters—the Fellows—will be invited to spend one week at Middlebury, in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. The Script Lab covers all the expenses except for the travel costs.

The idyllic New England town of Middlebury will welcome screenwriters developing their first or second feature script or their first television series. You will live and work in individual, comfortable rooms and find your inspiration in the crisp Vermont outdoors (town shuttles can take you up the mountain for a ski break!).

Writers, producers, script consultants, and agents—the advisors—will be offering their mentorship in workshops, master classes, and one-on-one conferences. Ample individual time is built into the week’s schedule, allowing fellows to make real progress on their screenplays.

We are particularly looking for talented emerging writers who have encountered extraordinary obstacles in their pursuit of a screenwriting career.

Send us your work

We are looking for compelling, exciting screenplays that have a completed first draft (75–120 pages). The screenplay should be the writer’s first or second feature script (no more than one other feature screenplay produced or sold) and fit the scale of an independent production. For TV content, we request a full pilot script for 60-minute shows or the first two episodes for 30-minute shows, accompanied by a show bible. We accept all genres but we prefer serialized over episodic content. Writers who find brainstorming and discussion helpful will get the most out of the Script Lab.

The screenplay should be written in English, in any genre, and must be the original work of the author (no adaptations). Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are over 18 years of age on January 1, 2020.

The application process is handled via FilmFreeway and we initially ask that you send us the first 10 pages of your script accompanied by additional materials (as described in the FilmFreeway application). If you are selected as a finalist for the second round of evaluation, we will ask for the full script(s) to be submitted no later than November 1, 2019.

If you are selected as a Fellow, you must arrive in Middlebury on January 16, 2020, after 3 p.m., and attend all the days of the Script Lab. Checkout is on January 23, 2020.

People

The Middlebury Script Lab was initiated through the Ron and Jessica Liebowitz Fund for Innovation and it is currently organized and sponsored by Middlebury College through its Envisioning Middlebury initiative.

Middlebury College, located in Middlebury, Vermont, is a liberal arts college with a tradition of social engagement, entrepreneurship, and innovation. In addition to its undergraduate college, Middlebury is home to a number of other exceptional schools and programs, including the Middlebury Language Schools, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, and the Bread Loaf School of English.

Notable Middlebury alumni in the entertainment industry include writer/director Michael Tolkin (The Player), writer/producer Shawn Ryan (The Shield), producer Andrew Peterson (Howl, Thin Ice), Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, Red Sparrow), and filmmaker and digital entrepreneur Ryan Koo (founder of nofilmschool.com).

Ioana Uricaru

Ioana Uricaru

Director and Middlebury College Professor

MFA in film production and PhD in critical studies from the University of Southern California.

Ioana Uricaru directed and cowrote the feature Lemonade, which premiered in the official selection of the Berlin Film Festival in February 2018 and was selected in numerous other festivals (including in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival). She previously directed the short film Stopover (2011 Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival) and codirected the omnibus feature Tales from the Golden Age (2009 Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival). Uricaru was a fellow at the Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs and a resident of the Cannes Cinefondation. She is currently in development with the feature Paperclip (recipient of the Sloan Sundance Commissioning Grant and the Berlin Prize). Uricaru is also a script consultant (Beyond the Hills, by Cristian Mungiu, Best Screenplay Award, Cannes Film Festival).

David Miranda Hardy

David Miranda Hardy

Middlebury College Professor

BA from the University of Chile and MFA in filmmaking from Temple University (as a Fulbright Scholar).

Assistant Professor of Film and Media Culture David Miranda Hardy is a Chilean filmmaker and sound designer with an MFA in film from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he resided for five years on a Fulbright Scholarship. He has taught sound for film, screenwriting, and directing in Chile, Cuba (EICTV), and the U.S.

Miranda Hardy is the head of the Contents Department at Filmosonido Chile, where he was the showrunner for Bala Loca (Stray Bullet, 2016), a 10-episode miniseries broadcast by Turner-owned Chilevision. The show was nominated for Best Series at the Platino Awards 2017 and is now distributed by Netflix.

Past advisors

Shawn Ryan

Creator of hit series The Shield, The Chicago Code, Last Resort, Timeless; writer and executive producer (The Unit, Lie to Me, S.W.A.T.).

Hawk Ostby

Academy Award-nominated screenwriter (Children of Men, Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens).

Ben Frahm

Screenwriter (The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection) and script consultant (How to Train Your Dragon), assistant professor of screenwriting at Syracuse University. Ben leads the Script Lab’s structure and pitching workshop.

Peter Liguori

President and CEO of FX Networks and chairman of entertainment for Fox (1998-2009). Producer of independent cult classic Big Night.

Andrew Peterson

Producer (Howl, Thin Ice), executive director of Film North, director of programming at Provincetown Film Festival.

Ryan Koo

Writer-director (Amateur), Web series creator (The West Side, Webby Award for Best Drama Series); founder of the filmmaking website No Film School.

Lia Langworthy

Writer (The Shield, General Hospital, Soul Food).

Alex Smith

Writer-director (Walking Out, Winter in the Blood, The Slaughter Rule), script consultant, former creative director of the University of Texas Film Institute.

Larry Andries

Writer and producer (Six Feet Under, Boomtown, Alias, Supernatural, HBO’s The Pacific, BET’s Being Mary Jane).

Antonio Macia

Screenwriter (Affluenza, Anne B. Real, Holy Rollers), professor of screenwriting at the AFI Conservatory.

Jeff Bushell

Writer (The Bernie Mac Show, What I Like about You, Beverly Hills Chihuahua).

Eliza Hittman

Writer-director (It Felt Like Love, Beach Rats), winner of the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Brad Becker-Parton

Producer (Beach Rats).

Application

Applications will be submitted through FilmFreeway. You will first submit an initial application; then, should you be selected for the second round of evaluation, we will ask for your full screenplay/TV pilot.

Round one applications should include the following:

  • The first 10 pages of your final script or pilot as a PDF file

  • A one-page synopsis of your screenplay/a summary of your pilot for TV projects

  • An outline or treatment of the entire script (5–8 pages)/a show bible for TV projects (detailed explanation of the bible’s contents is included in the application)

  • Complete answers to the questions within the application

Deadlines

  • August 10, 2019: early deadline

  • September 10, 2019: regular deadline

  • October 5, 2019: late deadline

  • Notifications of finalists: rolling basis before October 20, 2019

  • November 1, 2019: deadline for applicants selected for final round to submit full draft

  • Final notifications of acceptance: December 1, 2019

FAQs

Students walking in snow

Am I required to provide proof of citizenship/residency?

No, we will take you at your word that you satisfy the requirement. We cannot make visa arrangements or offer support if you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Should my industry contacts call you to provide references?

No. We are only considering your writing and your personal statements. No references are necessary, nor would they make a difference.

How much do I have to pay?

Fellows’ only costs will be travel costs to Burlington, Vermont (or to Middlebury if you are driving).

What if I don’t have access to Final Draft?

You can use other software that provides similar formatting, compatible with the industry standard (such as Celtx or Scrivener).

Can teams submit?

No, only individual writers or writer-directors can submit. However, in the case of TV projects, a writing partner can be included in the Lab activities for a fee that covers room, board, and administrative expenses. If you are selected as a TV Fellow and wish to use this opportunity, please let us know upon your acceptance.

Are adaptations eligible?

Not at this time—only original works are eligible.

Is there an age limit?

Applicants must be 18 years or older.

Can I bring my partner/children?

You may be able to bring your partner if we can accommodate you in a double room. However, there is a fee for covering the partner’s room and board. Please contact us if you are interested in this option. We are sorry that we cannot accommodate the presence of Fellows’ children at this time.

Where can I direct additional questions?

Please contact us through our form or email us at screenwriters@middlebury.edu.

What if I can’t upload my PDF on FilmFreeway?

Email us and we’ll arrange an alternative solution.

Who are the workshop advisors?

Established industry professionals—writers, directors, producers—as well as agents or script consultants will offer advice and feedback tailored to your project. We strive to invite advisors who can contribute specifically to the selected projects.

What kind of activities will happen at the workshop?

Activities will fall into three broad categories:

  • Group workshops (for Fellows only)
  • Master classes, Q&A sessions, and talks (open to a larger audience)
  • One-on-one advising specific to each project

On the last day, there will be a public reading of screenplay excerpts.

And of course there will be plenty of time to write.

How will I be notified of acceptance and other important information?

Via email, so please make sure you give a current, working email address in the application.

I don’t have professional film experience. Can I apply? 

Yes. We are very interested in writers with great potential who for some reason or another have never had a chance to be discovered. We are also interested in writers who practiced in another medium and are now looking to make a transition to screenwriting.

I don’t know where to upload my script pages, additional materials, or full script on FilmFreeway.

The application asks you to enter three additional documents (cover letter, artistic statement, personal statement) as answers to questions in designated rubrics. The first 10 pages of your script should be uploaded in the “script” section of your project. The treatment should be uploaded through the “add files” options of your FilmFreeway project. If you already have a completed script and you upload it in the “script” section from the beginning, we will read only the first 10 pages initially; if you make it to the final round we’ll read the whole script.

Who is a finalist and what is the difference between a finalist and a Fellow?

If your project is selected for the second and final round of evaluation, you are a finalist. You will be notified of this status before October 20 and will be asked to submit the full script to us by November 1. Six of the finalists will be invited to become Fellows and participate in the Script Lab.