EXCLUSIVE: In what marks the fourth year of the program, Cassian Elwes and the Black List founder Franklin Leonard have decided to expand the Independent Screenwriting Fellowship to sponsor not one but two unrepresented screenwriters this year with an all-expense paid trip to Sundance. The eligibility requires that their lifetime writing earnings not exceed $5,000 and that the screenplay has indie sensibilities. Writers have until November 5 to submit a script. However, Leonard strongly urges writers to opt in early by October 5 through an evaluation purchase.
What does that mean? While not required, it costs writers $25 to submit and $75 to have their scripts evaluated prior to the November 5 drop-dead date for submissions. “For writers who already who have their scripts hosted on the site, there is no further costs. All they have to do is opt in by November 5th,” said Leonard. Elwes and the Black List will cover the cost of the trip for the screenwriters to Sundance 2017.
After November 5, a short list of writers — 10 screenplays — will be shared with Elwes, who then will decide on two writers to sponsor at Sundance.
The Fellowship program started three years ago when Elwes brought one writer to the festival: Matthew Hickman, a former UPS employee who was selected on the basis of his script An Elegy for Evelyn Francis. He is now repped by WME and Writ Large. Last year, Boston-based screenwriter Mike Harden’sA Good Man was singled out and was later optioned by Mutressa Movies after an introduction by Elwes.
This year, Elwes couldn’t decide between two fledging writers whose work was very high quality, so he ended up bring both to Sundance. Those two writers were NY-based Kristina Zacharias and Altanta’s Terrell Garrett.
“That experience was so wonderful for all of us that it makes total sense to formalize this and now bring two writers every year,” Elwes said in a statement. “I can’t wait to read the finalists scripts and find this year’s fellows. I’m so grateful to the Black List for this opportunity.”
Added Leonard: “Obviously in the year since, the Black List has had a number of success stories that make me confident we can repeat the feat this year. I look forward to seeing the best of the submissions via the website and spending time with these writers at one of my personal annual highlights: Sundance.”
Elwes is also partnered with The Black List and with Christine Vachon, Lynette Howell, Women in Film, Vimeo, Indiegogo, and Twitter to present the Horizon Award, which will bring two young female directors to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival — all expenses paid.