The collaboration between the organizations provides mentorship and career opportunities to six rising women screenwriters over the course of a year, the Feature Residency kicked off with a three-day intensive this past weekend in a Los Angeles and included mentors Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadja), Jessica Bendinger (Bring it On), Andrea Berloff (The Kitchen), Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Scott Myers (Go Into the Story, the official blog of the Black List), Liz Hannah (Long Shot), and Kiwi Smith (Legally Blonde). The participants will continue in mentorship, script work, and career development for the next twelve months. The Residency is supported by Airbnb and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
For the Annual Feature Lab, six writers were selected from over 1,000 submissions via the Black List website to participate in a residential workshop in Los Angeles from August 4–10. Each writer will workshop one screenplay through peer groups and one-on-one sessions with working professional screenwriting mentors, including Victoria Strouse (Finding Dory) as well as the aforementioned Kiwi Smith, Jessica Bendingr and Scott Myers.
The Residency participants and their projects are:
Sylvia Batey Alcalá
SICK – When a violent contagion begins to spread, a director and actor take solace in their production of OTHELLO and fall deeply in love, even as the outbreak threatens to destroy what they’ve created.
Sylvia Batey Alcalá is an award-winning writer-director-actor-hyphen enthusiast, whose most recent film, THE SPECTACULAR SUMMER OF WEREDOG AND AMY, took home the Hollyshorts Audience Award. She has worked as a Writers’ Assistant on The CW’s “Legacies,” and lives in Eagle Rock with her husband and two dogs, Tesla and Indiana Bones.
THE LIMPING LADY – The true story of Virginia Hall, the legendary female spy from World War II, and her escape across the Alps with a wooden leg, several injured POWs in tow, and the Nazi army closing in behind them.
Devi Gowni is a writer, director, and political organizer who has worked with organizations such as March and Rally LA and Human Rights Watch to craft and execute campaigns centering around advocacy. Having worked at the intersection of storytelling and activism for most of her adult life, her aim is to tell powerful, inclusive, and commercial stories with lasting human impact.
JESSE IS A FRIEND – Jesse, a 17-year-old Filipina and awkward tomboy, is in deep unrequited love with her best friend, Roxanne. After Roxanne shows interest in a new girl, Jesse will have to move their semi-romantic friendship to the next level before Roxanne moves on without her.
Alyssa Lerner is a queer, Asian-American writer and director heralding from Poway, CA. Since receiving her M.F.A. in Writing for Film and TV from the University of Southern California, her work has garnered a number of accolades, including the Best TV Pilot screenplay award at the L.A. Comedy Fest, finalist placement at the NBCUniversal Short Film Fest, winner of the Inside Out Film Festival Pitch Competition, and the audience award for Best Short at the Frameline43 International Film Festival with her directorial debut BUBBLE.
TAMINEX – When a deadly pandemic plunges the city into an anti-immigrant panic, a young Iranian woman must go outside official channels and venture into the underbelly of a corrupt society to procure the only drug that can save her boyfriend’s life and her own—Taminex.
Anya Meksin is an award-winning writer-director whose work has been supported by Film Independent, IFP, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Open Society Institute, SFFILM, ScreenCraft, NYTVF, the Big Vision Creators Program, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the National Academy of Sciences. Born in Russia, Meksin immigrated to the U.S. as an asylum-seeking refugee before receiving a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from Columbia University, where she also taught non-fiction filmmaking.
MADAME – Based on the true-life story of the legendary Madame Claude (Fernande Grudet), from her childhood in Nazi-occupied France to the origins of her brothel and its mid-century heyday. Serving illustrious clients such as Marlon Brando, Gianni Agnelli, and the Shah of Iran, in Paris and L.A., Madame Claude managed to elude authorities until third-generation police detective Martine Monteil, eager to boost her career, decides to take her down.
Erin Rodman spent many years rolling calls, making lists on buck slips, and reading on the weekends as a development assistant at DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox, and writing coverage as a story analyst at Parkes MacDonald, Netflix, and Paramount. She currently has a feature and two series in development at Stampede Ventures, co-wrote two episodes of the upcoming Miso Film/Viaplay series “Seizure,” and is a 2019 WritersForWriters Female Screenwriting Fellowship winner. Erin has an M.F.A. in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University and a Master’s Degree in film and television theory from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
TAKE CARE – Struggling to follow up her debut bestseller, a Korean-American novelist reluctantly returns home to care for her cancer-stricken brother. As she gets entangled in the chaos of the family she left behind, they all confront the ugly truth that facing mortality doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in people.
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bo Shim is a Korean-American writer based in Los Angeles. She has received the Alfred P. Sloan Writing Grant and the Writers Guild Initiative’s Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting, and most recently participated in the inaugural Women In Film Production Program.
The Feature Lab participants are:
EMPIRE WAIST – When a shy, overweight teen’s talent for fashion design is discovered by her fat and fabulous classmate, she must choose to put her designs on display for the world to see, or return to a life of sewing in the shadows.
Claire Ayoub is a writer, director, and producer who creates empowering, educational, and entertaining content for women and girls through her production company, Try Anyway Productions. Claire launched her career in NYC’s comedy scene as a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater before writing for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and creating two web series: “A Series of Comebacks” (2015) and “Your Hair Looks Great Today” (2018).
THE INNOCENT AND THE VICIOUS – When a young woman’s family is brutally murdered by Nazi officers, she and two friends embark on a dangerous mission to exact personal revenge. Co-written by Nick Kreiss.
Dominique Genest is an L.A.-based writer and producer who has worked in independent film, television, and branded content. Originally from Canada, Dom is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School.
John C. Hoffler Jr.
THREE SUMMERS – A coming-of-age story about an entitled English boy who discovers young love and familial values after stumbling through a magical garden—and his corresponding journey to save his surrogate family during World War II.
John C. Hoffler Jr. is an Atlanta-based camera assistant with credits on such projects as Netflix’s “Ozark,” DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and the upcoming HBO series “Watchmen,” and is a participant of the 2017 Black List / Cassian Elwes Sundance Fellowship.
BROKEN KEYS – Trying to flee his war-ravaged Middle Eastern neighborhood for Europe, a musician struggles to rebuild his piano after it is destroyed by terrorists.
Jimmy Keyrouz is a Lebanese/Mexican writer-director. His short film NOCTURNE IN BLACK won the Gold Medal at the 43rd Student Academy Awards, the BAFTA and the DGA Film Awards, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Oscars in the Live Action Shorts category. Jimmy recently directed and edited THE HOLY GOATS, a feature documentary film about the social impacts of climate change and is currently developing BROKEN KEYS, the feature-length version of NOCTURNE IN BLACK.
MAIDENS OF BABYLON – Woven through personal accounts of four ‘fallen women,’ Britain’s first investigative reporter publishes an article about buying a 13-year-old girl that forces the government into raising the age of consent. Inspired by the trial of W. T. Stead.
Tony Martin is an LGBTQ Buddhist screenwriter who teaches mindfulness and consults for social impact nonprofits. He studied screenwriting at UCLA and writes compelling stories for a diverse audience focusing on important social narratives.
TALBUKJA (DEFECTOR) – When a complacent mother is given a bootleg copy of the film TITANIC, she becomes increasingly curious about life outside her home in North Korea.
After spending years drawing and painting in the Pacific Northwest and earning a degree in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design, Dustin only now discovered that illustration isn’t really his thing. Final Draft is his new paintbrush.