Women sitting at two dining tables

WIF | The Black List
Writing Labs

Developing the projects and skills of promising non-professional television and film writers through workshops and master classes.

Achieving equal cultural representation within our media narratives requires a representative number of skilled storytellers. The WIF Writing Labs, held in partnership with key collaborator and industry benchmarker The Black List, are designed to equip new television and screenwriters with knowledge to build and sustain their careers. These programs—an Episodic Lab and a Feature Residency—provide participants with support in craft, professional development, and networking toward advancing their livelihoods.

The Episodic Lab selects six to eight female TV writers and runs for four weeks, with sessions including script development, pitching, a mock writers’ room, and roundtables with established writers and industry executives. The yearlong Feature Residency consists of one-on-one mentoring with established screenwriters, peer workshopping sessions, and industry advice from decision makers and executives. Additionally, throughout the year, participants attend events and screenings that further expose them to the realities of life as professional screenwriters.

Episodic Lab advisors and master class teachers have included writers from series including “Watchmen,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Parenthood,” “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” and “The Dark Tower.” Feature Residency mentors have included writers of such films as LONG SHOT, LEGALLY BLONDE, BRING IT ON, THE KITCHEN, and WADJDA.

Applications to be announced; please subscribe to our newsletter or check back on this site for updates.

The Writing Labs are generously supported by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.


Episodic Lab Timeline

February 24: Applications open
May 22: Application deadline
Week of August 18: Interviewees selected
Week of September 4: Participants notified
October 3–4: Kickoff weekend
October 6: Lab begins (Tuesdays and Thursdays for 4 weeks)

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Writing Fellows

Feature Residency

Episodic Lab

Feature Semifinalists

Episodic Semifinalists

Katy Berry

Popcorn

Katy Berry

Popcorn

Logline:
Wanting to escape her oppressive home life on Long Island and fit in with ‘the guys,’ sixteen-year-old Jemma Bauer gets her dream job at the local movie theater only to learn the true price women pay for male approval.

Bio:
Katy Berry is a New York-based comedian, writer, and musical improviser who has traveled the world performing at venues including The Kennedy Center and multiple sold-out Edinburgh Fringe Fest runs, and was recently featured in The New York Times for her improvised cabaret show, ELECTRIC BITCH. In addition to live performances, Berry’s original writing and videos have been features on Vulture, Studio360, Bustle, Reductress, the Magnet Comedy Film Festival, NYC Web Fest, Chain Film Festival, and more.

Elizabeth Chatelain

Sundogs

Elizabeth Chatelain

Sundogs

Logline:
When Alex’s father dies and her family farm slips into debilitating debt, she takes her 12-year-old daughter Jenny with her to work on the North Dakota oilfields. But after the oil industry’s decline begins and Alex loses her job, she must decide which is more important: the farm, or her fragile relationship with her daughter.

Bio:
Elizabeth Chatelain is an award-winning writer and director from North Dakota. Her feature screenplay SUNDOGS participated in the Berlinale Script Station, the Hedgebrook Screenwriter’s Lab, and was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist, Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition winner, and Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition winner.

Zoe Cooper

Danny Corpse Walker

Zoe Cooper

Danny Corpse Walker

Logline:
In the wake of an apocalyptic event, a Native American woman must walk 300 miles with her sister’s corpse in order to perform a proper burial on their home reservation.

Bio:
Zoe Cooper is a screenwriter with a passion for dark comedy and all things horror. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Laci Dent

The Girl

Laci Dent

The Girl

Logline:
After a 13-year-old girl begins to experience peculiar bodily symptoms, she and her mother find themselves at the center of a dark practice tied to their ancestry and the Baptist church in rural Louisiana.

Bio:
Laci Dent is a writer, filmmaker, and production designer from New Orleans, Louisiana—receiving an M.F.A. in Directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. At UCLA, she received the Gina Prince Bythewood/Mara Brock Akil Four Sisters Screenwriting Award and founded the genre-driven production company, Nite Cloud Films.

Caroline Guo

Year of the Sheep

Caroline Guo

Year of the Sheep

Logline:
When a young Chinese woman brings her Asian-American girlfriend to meet her conservative family in the countryside over Chinese New Year, this unexpected guest forces them all to reconsider their relationships, values, and the true meaning of home.

Bio:
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Caroline Guo is a Chinese-American writer and director. A graduate of Northwestern University, Guo has published in film journals, co-written a Chinese-French feature film in development, places as a semifinalist for the Universal Writers Program, and wrote and directed the award-winning short film THE TEST in Beijing, China. Currently based in Los Angeles and working at MACRO, Guo is most interested in telling personal stories, especially of Asian and Asian-American women, to shed light on larger societal issues.

Michelle Steffes

Mad

Michelle Steffes

Mad

Logline:
When Henry, a charming, off-kilter hatter living in Victorian London, falls in love with Kitty, a brilliant, poetic noblewoman, he must find a way to win her heart and free them both from restrictive social convention while battling the effects of mercury poisoning and an increasingly consuming madness.

Bio:
Originally from North Carolina and now sheltering in place in Los Angeles, Michelle Steffes is an award-winning writer/director whose whimsical takes on reality earned her a spot in the short film and feature animation branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Steffes has worked as a development executive for Gary Ross, has participated in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, and is a current fellow in Disney’s 2018–2020 television directing program.

Krenée Tolson

Finding Phoebe

Krenée Tolson

Finding Phoebe

Logline:
A teenage girl sets her sights on becoming a spoken word poet in the underground poetry scene in Baltimore, Maryland in 1997. Her pursuit of her dream turns into a story of survival when her sexual abuser—and mother’s boyfriend—is released from prison.

Bio:
Krenée A. Tolson is a writer/producer/actor born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, currently residing in Los Angeles. Her authentic, gut-led approach to filmmaking uses a universal approach to exposing the unheard stories of the underrepresented.

Kim Garland

"The Resurrected"

Kim Garland

"The Resurrected"

Logline:
When a dead body comes back to life and then escapes from a Manhattan funeral home, the determined funeral director must track down the body to clear herself of wrongdoing.

Bio:
Kim Garland was raised in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, of Puerto Rican descent, and grew up as part of a funeral home family that lived above their funeral home. She worked her way through college covering the night shift at her family’s business and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing (and a whole lot of stories about the dead). She’s written and directed several films that have screened at film festivals and comic cons across the country. Garland focuses on dark stories set in dark worlds, with a particular love for horror, sci-fi, and thrillers.

Robin Hayes

"Fortune Bay"

Robin Hayes

"Fortune Bay"

Logline:
In the American territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Captain Owen Arthur Bradshaw and his descendants fight to claim their inheritance of a sugar plantation from a clan of billionaires while great events in history unfold between 1917 and 2017.

Bio:
Dr. Robin J. Hayes is an award-winning filmmaker who directed the documentary feature BLACK AND CUBA. A Yale alumna who studied at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she produced the off-off-Broadway play 9 GRAMS, which was directed by Emmy- and Obie-winner S. Epatha Merkerson. The Ford Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities have both funded Hayes’ work. Her book, A Love for Liberation, is forthcoming from University of Washington Press. Hayes is currently developing several projects including the Screencraft Film Fund semifinalist INSIDE EXILE, about iconic Black Panther Party leader Neal Cleaver.

Rosette Laursen

"Oh Monica"

Rosette Laursen

"Oh Monica"

Logline:
A scandal erupts at Freedom High when incoming freshman Monica Lewinsky develops a crush on popular school president Bill Clinton… and the rest, is history class.

Bio:
Rosette Laursen was born in a hut in Kauai and raised all over California. She was a professional ballet dancer for years before having the epiphany that she could combine her three favorite things—writing, TV, and comedy—into a profession. She immediately quit dance and started studying screenwriting at UCLA Extension while working as an assistant at a variety of entertainment offices and on television shows. Laursen is very happy to no longer be dancing on her toes for money, but has applied the aggressive discipline she learned from dance to her writing endeavors.

Jude Roth

"Homefront"

Jude Roth

"Homefront"

Logline:
A group of female veterans are struggling to salvage their lives in the American South when tragedy strikes amid their ranks, leading them to set out to help fellow veterans throughout the country.

Bio:
At the age of nine, Jude Roth dabbled in crime by stealing stacks of notebooks because she desperately needed to write—but couldn’t tell anyone. (Now, she tells everyone.) Growing up in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the “Plastics Capital of the World,” Roth experienced the effects of big business on small-town America, inspiring her to write personal stories against grander political backdrops. Her scripts have been finalists in the Sundance Episodic Lab and HUMANITAS New Voices program, and have earned her spots on the acclaimed WeForShe WriteHer List and The Black Lists’s “Featured” category. (And she’s also very sorry about the whole stealing thing.)

Anna Salinas

"Inside Cunt"

Anna Salinas

"Inside Cunt"

Logline:
When a depressed twenty-something suddenly starts intercepting Russian spy signals through her vagina, she’s pulled into a dangerous world of global intrigue.

Bio:
Salinas is a Lantix writer, filmmaker, and comedian, and the creator of the viral Instagram webcomic Bad Comix by Anna, which chronicles her struggles with anxiety, depression, and cheese. She is a regular writer/performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade and one half of the all-Latina sketch duo John Baxter—whose comedy videos have been featured in various publications including MashableWhoHaha, and Vulture. Salinas holds an M.F.A. in screenwriting from UCLA and is a 2018 Sundance New Voices Lab fellow.

Gillian Weeks

"Political Science"

Gillian Weeks

"Political Science"

Logline:
A mother and daughter, both fallen politicos, battle for power in the dirtiest swamp of all: the political science department of an elite college.

Bio:
Gillian Weeks has turned to narrative film and television writing after a decade in the documentary space. In 2018, the Tribeca Film Institute awarded Weeks a Sloan Grant to write her first feature, THE NEW MIRACLE, which chronicles the invention of in vitro fertilization. A year later, she was selected as a 2019 Sundance Institute fellow for the same project. In addition, Weeks is now developing several original drama series. Before writing full-time, she oversaw series development for Alex Gibney’s Jigsay Productions, helping create series including Netflix’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” and “The Family,” Showtime’s “Enemies,” and AMC’s forthcoming “Hip Hop.” Weeks graduated with a B.A. in Political Economy from Williams College and Oxford University.

Shireen Alihaji

Blue Veil

Shireen Alihaji

Blue Veil

Logline:
In the wake of 9/11, a young Muslim teen, Amina, and her father Muhammad move to a small town to rebuild their American Dream in a time of heightened Islamophobia. The hopes of a new home and a life of anonymity become virtually impossible after Muhammad wins the lotto.

Carrie Anderson

On Water

Carrie Anderson

On Water

Logline:
When a group of marginalized teenagers want to learn to row and win Philadelphia’s elite interschool regatta, they must take on the oldest boathouses in America and teach their coach, who’s angry her Olympic dream was shattered by cancer, to rise above life’s injustices. Based on a true story.

Erica Bardin & Susan Graham

Peach Valley

Erica Bardin & Susan Graham

Peach Valley

Logline:
After the unexpected death of her father, a young teacher returns to her ultra-conservative hometown and finds that her mother has joined the board of a women’s health center that, in the name of genetic legacy, has implemented extreme and violent measures.

Clea DeCrane

Fainting Spells

Clea DeCrane

Fainting Spells

Logline:
After hearing about an unexpected death, an aspiring marine biologist experiences a series of fainting spells that upend her life. As they progress into hallucinations, she’s forced to deal with her grief or risk losing consciousness forever.

Suzanne Faber

All Things Falsely

Suzanne Faber

All Things Falsely

Logline:
The true story of a forgotten heroine—likely the woman who inspired Joan of Arc—who leads an army, fights in armor, and defeats the forces of France only to be locked away, falsely declared “mad” by a jealous English King, while her oppressor—a fanatic as brutal as he is pious—ends up canonized. Set against a backdrop woven of misogyny, violence, superstition, even fake news, her story is eerily resonant today.

Lauren Fields

Frat Star

Lauren Fields

Frat Star

Logline:
After Dylan, an irresponsible mess, is kicked out of her sorority partly due to her entitled, frat-bro ex-boyfriend, she winds up moving into the LGBTQ rainbow dorm since it’s the only available housing on campus. She teams up with new LGBTQ friends to go undercover and pledge her ex-boyfriend’s fraternity to take them down from the inside.

Marisa Forrest

Skyfoxes

Marisa Forrest

Skyfoxes

Logline:
TOP GUN meets OCEAN’S 8—A former Navy pilot-turned-plane thief recruits an all-female crew to steal a U.S. fighter jet for international gangsters.

Ivette Garcia Davila

The Cuban Millie Crisis

Ivette Garcia Davila

The Cuban Millie Crisis

Logline:
With her marriage on the rocks, an uptight Cuban-American plastic surgeon recruits her two estranged best friends, a conservative Southern belle and a tough-as-nails Puerto Rican, to search for her family’s long-lost treasure in Cuba, but they must shift gears when a sexy con man gets in their way.

Suzanne Griffin

The Sleeping House

Suzanne Griffin

The Sleeping House

Logline:
When eccentric artist Carl Hoffman falls madly in love with Susannah, his brother’s mysterious new wife, Carl discovers she shares a dark history with his own late wife, a survivor of the Soviet Gulag. Now, Carl and Susannah must destroy the demons of the past before they can destroy their love.

Gabriela Lugo

Pixie

Gabriela Lugo

Pixie

Logline:
A spunky Latinx teen goes on a road trip to try to find Antonio Banderas, the man she believes is her father, in order to coerce him into giving her twin sister a kidney, but along the way she discovers family is more than blood or organ donation.

Adetoro Makinde

The American Can

Adetoro Makinde

The American Can

Logline:
Based on a true story set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a disillusioned Marine veteran, John Keller, must confront his inner demons and a racial standoff to save the people trapped in his apartment building before violence erupts… or worse.

Caitlin McCarthy

Wonder Drug

Caitlin McCarthy

Wonder Drug

2019 Academy Nicholl Top 50 script/Top 10 female writer and 2018 Black List “Featured Script”

Logline:
The story of DES, a “groundbreaking” synthetic estrogen prescribed to millions of pregnant mothers, that became one of the biggest medical disasters in history.

Leslie Nipkow

Salt of the Earth

Leslie Nipkow

Salt of the Earth

Logline:
In 1953, blacklisted film director Herbert Biberman assembles a motley gang of fellow outcasts and heads to the desert where, despite an inexperienced crew, untrained actors, obstruction, mayhem, angry vigilantes, and Hedda Hopper, they manage to make the first American independent film. Based on a true story.

Selina Ringel

#LikeMe

Selina Ringel

#LikeMe

Logline:
When Ana, an insecure Latinx high schooler, gets a magical phone that allows her to body switch with the people she’s been idolizing on social media, she realizes nothing is what it seems.

G. Michelle Robinson

Plaçage

G. Michelle Robinson

Plaçage

Logline:
New Orleans, 1825: It was not uncommon for a White man to enter into an open and consensual common-law union with a free woman of color—the practice was called Plaçage. Emilie’s whole life, she’s been told this was her path because of her racial mix, but not fitting squarely in the White nor Black worlds, she’s determined to find her own path in the burgeoning new Missouri Territories.

Jamie Severson

Guilt

Jamie Severson

Guilt

Logline:
During the final days of the Second World War, an SS Officer newly assigned to a Nazi death camp struggles between duty and conscience when confronted with the realities of his choices.

Heather Spiegel

February

Heather Spiegel

February

Logline:
When her wayward sister unexpectedly moves in with them, an emotionally unavailable New Hampshire school teacher and her devoted boyfriend are forced to confront hard truths about their seemingly perfect but ultimately dysfunctional relationship.

Ivana Strajin

The Immigrants

Ivana Strajin

The Immigrants

Logline:
In 1993, an immigrant engineer driven by pride hangs by a thread as she builds a new life with her toddler in Canada, after being separated from her husband, conscripted to fight in a war back home.

Alexia Verbeke

From Rio with Love

Alexia Verbeke

From Rio with Love

Logline:
Fifteen years after her sister’s rape and death, a resourceful young woman seeks vengeance upon the man responsible, who’s inches away from being appointed Director of the FBI.

Gillian Weeks

Let There Be Life

Gillian Weeks

Let There Be Life

Logline:
Bob Edwards, a brilliant underdog from Yorkshire, England, sets out to create the world’s first “test tube baby” in 1978, defying the moral and medical establishment and leading to the birth of in vitro fertilization—and 8 million people (so far).

Stephanie Westendorf

Tupac is Alive on Discovery Island

Stephanie Westendorf

Tupac is Alive on Discovery Island

Logline:
A Native American girl caught in a custody battle goes on a trip with her foster siblings to find her idol, Tupac, but ends up stranded in a mysterious abandoned theme park.

Krystal White

Black Mozart

Krystal White

Black Mozart

Logline:
The true story of a blind slave with gifts that would awe thousands, but who would never be free.

Haley Bartels

"Barbary"

Haley Bartels

"Barbary"

Logline:
San Francisco, 1896: A shy postmortem photographer and a brazen actress are led to a grisly murder scene and must brave the city’s Barbary Coast—a viper’s nest of corrupt politicians, Chinese tongs, and dangerous brothels—to unravel a series of killings that hit increasingly close to home.

Lynda Brendish

"The Woodhill"

Lynda Brendish

"The Woodhill"

Logline:
The true story of Victoria Woodhull’s radical 1872 bid for the presidency, 50 years before women had the vote—and the sex scandals, hubris, and patriarchal powers-that-be that prevented her success.

Vanessa Bretas & Julia Lucas

"Help"

Vanessa Bretas & Julia Lucas

"Help"

Logline:
Follows the burgeoning, unlikely friendship of a first-generation part-time babysitter, an undocumented domestic worker, and their wealthy employer. The series unravels the upstairs/downstairs narrative to reveal the more complicated intimacy of domestic work.

J.A. Campanelli

J.A. Campanelli

Monisha Dadlani

Monisha Dadlani

Annelise Dekker-Hernandez

"Please Help Me"

Annelise Dekker-Hernandez

"Please Help Me"

Logline:
Two college students coming to terms with their own mental health issues and dealing with them in dramatically different ways move in together, becoming each other’s unlikely support system as they try to enjoy the alleged best years of their lives.

Andi Delott

Andi Delott

Chastity Dotson

Chastity Dotson

Casey Gates Frey

"The Bump"

Casey Gates Frey

"The Bump"

Logline:
In an alternate-present reality where all men have become barren (turns out cell phones in pockets were a bad idea), couples must audition for a reality show called “The Bump” to compete for the greatest prize of all: insemination.

Laura Germano

"Hissy Fit"

Laura Germano

"Hissy Fit"

Logline:
After the harrowing death of their bandmate, an all-female punk band repurposes their trauma into “protest music” as they rise through the ranks of the misogynistic punk scene and attempt to publicly destroy those who have wronged them. But not all causes are noble and not all secrets stay buried.

Julia Harter

Julia Harter

Ellie Hayden

"Relative Distance"

Ellie Hayden

"Relative Distance"

Logline:
When Earth’s scientists finally crack father-than-light travel, a disparate team of experts take on the mission to recontact humanity’s long-isolated colonies—relics of a bygone age of one-way space travel.

Lauren Jacques

Lauren Jacques

Chelsea Javier

"Halloween Club"

Chelsea Javier

"Halloween Club"

Logline:
Set in 1998 Los Angeles, a young woman takes a job at a year-round Halloween outlet, where she secretly investigates the store’s dark past, including an unresolved murder, with help from a group of eclectic employees.

Kelsey Joseph

Kelsey Joseph

Michela M. Smith

"Bury the Lede"

Michela M. Smith

"Bury the Lede"

Logline:
As she struggles to investigate her principal’s mysterious murder, Nellie Cruz (17) and her ragtag student newspaper staff battle fake news and Nellie’s own teenage urge to believe rumors.

Shani Am. Moore

"War & Peacekeepers"

Shani Am. Moore

"War & Peacekeepers"

Logline:
A rookie U.S. lawyer treks to Africa to solve the mystery of her brother’s death, but the conflict she encounters puts her at risk of the same fate.

T. Siena

"Border Dogs"

T. Siena

"Border Dogs"

Logline:
In an old mining town near the border, a mixed-race Coyote/pawn shop owner must become ruthless to protect his family from the border agents, drug lords, and vigilante patriots who have converged on his native land.

Elizabeth Stamp

Elizabeth Stamp

Kim Tran

Kim Tran

Lindiwe Muller-Westernhage & Dale Watson

Lindiwe Muller-Westernhage & Dale Watson