The first ever Writers Lab, a program targeting female screenwriters over 40, took place at Wiawaka on Lake George, New York from September 18-20, 2015.

Elizabeth Kaiden

The first ever Writers Lab, a program targeting female screenwriters over 40, took place at Wiawaka on Lake George, New York from September 18-20, 2015.

The group of mentors included Caroline Kaplan (“Boyhood,” “Time Out of Mind,” “Personal Velocity”), Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blonde,” “Ten Things I Hate About You”), Jessica Bendinger (“Bring It On,” “Aquamarine”), Mary Jane Skalski (“Win Win,” “The Station Agent”),Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Secret Life of Bees,” “Beyond the Lights”),Lydia Dean-Pilcher (“The Lunchbox,” The Reluctant Fundamentalist”), Meg LeFauve (“Inside Out,” “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”), and Darnell Martin (“Cadillac Records” and “I Like It Like That”).

Launched by New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers dedicated to championing the female voice in narrative film, was funded in part by Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, and with the collaboration of the Writers Guild of America East.

Kirsten Smith
Kirsten Smith

Motivated by its screenwriting members who were frustrated with the paucity of development opportunities, IRIS founders Elizabeth Kaiden, Kyle Ann Stoke, and Nitza Wilson approached NYWIFT to support a screenwriting Lab exclusively for this demographic and The Writers Lab came into being.

I spoke with IRIS cofounder Elizabeth Kaiden to follow up about the first Writers Lab.

Kouguell: How many screenplays were submitted for consideration?

Kaiden: There were approximately 3,500 screenplays submitted. The selected participants were Sarah Bird (“Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen), Vanessa Carmichael (“The American”). Tracy Charlton (“Raised Up”), Kellen Hertz (“Ashburn”), Anna Hozian (“Anchor Baby”), Lyralen Kaye (“St John the Divine in Iowa”), Jan Kimbrough (“The Glastonbury Cow Party”), Billie Jo Mason (“The Cargo”), Peres Owino (“Basketweaver”), Gretchen Somerfeld (“Face Value”), Janet Stilson (“Jaguar Trail”), and Kim Turner (“It Goes Like This”).

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Following Up The Writers Lab for Female Screenwriters Over 40