THE INTERNATIONAL WRITER'S LAB

A Creative Accelerator and Fellowship Program for Experienced Film and Television Writers

Inaugural Cohort - Kenya September 2021

Mission

The International Writer's Lab (IWL) is a first of its kind creative accelerator whose core mission is to support global, emerging storytellers in the development of compelling film or television, projects (in live action), create a bridge between African and Hollywood-based African-American storytellers, and help position participants on a path to propel their careers forward through increased awareness and preparedness.

Our vision is to create a premiere on-ramp for writers of exceptional talent, starting in Kenya, to high value opportunities and exposure to the best in the Hollywood film and television communities, which will also benefit from greater diversity and inclusion of these dynamic storytellers.

Opportunity

Through a series of modules designed as a Hollywood “writing room” and led by a top Hollywood writer and instructor, participants will take their existing original idea and work with the instructor as well as experienced African-American Hollywood writers, executives, agents and producers to refine their projects and ready them for pitches. In addition, Fellows will meet in groups and 1:1 with mentors and facilitators who will help provide feedback and information on how to position themselves as writers in Hollywood and how to brand themselves and their unique voices.

Fellows will emerge from our program with the requisite skills and confidence to successfully pitch to a major Hollywood studio or streamer, increased awareness of the fundamental tenets of writing for global audiences, and the skills and know-how to establish and build their brand as writers.

The Lab Program

The inaugural Fellowship class will launch in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2021. The first cohort will consist of five (5) experienced writers with demonstrated credits who will participate in a consecutive ten (10) week virtual and in-person program (pursuant to then current public health guidelines) that will help them take existing original ideas and accelerate them to the next level.

Sundance Film Festival 2022: Subject to travel and health-related restrictions and requirements, Fellows will be invited to attend The Blackhouse Foundation events at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. While there, Fellows will be exposed to the events and programming developed and delivered by the Foundation. Airfare and shared accommodations will be provided. More details will be available to selected participants.

Goals of the Lab

The goals of the program are to provide: (1) hands-on, tactical skills and training; (2) expert guidance on writing for global audiences, pitching materials to Hollywood executives, and personal marketing; and (3) a pathway to tangible commercial opportunities.

Our aim is also to create a community through the Fellowship where each cohort can increase their range of networking amongst each other and across creatives and executives in the business. Ultimately, we want to assist in the development of a pipeline of highly skilled and sought-after creatives from around the world, beginning in Kenya.

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Structure

The Lab will be structured similar to a Hollywood “writing room” where each Fellow will work on their own projects while also reading and helping other participants improve their own work. The collaborative nature of the program ensures each participant receives the needed attention, feedback and assistance to accelerate their work. In addition, the program will hold sessions on Defining Your Voice & Developing Your Writing Muscle for International Audiences and Building Your Brand, Pitching 101, & Navigating Hollywood Post Fellowship to further assist participants in understanding the business and positioning themselves within it.

Mentors and Industry Executives: Throughout the program, Fellows will be introduced to experienced, Hollywood-based writers, studio and streaming executives, agents and managers who can answer questions and provide perspective on their industry;

Pitch Program: At the end of the program, Fellows will be given the opportunity to pitch their projects to a panel of experienced distributors, agents and managers to receive feedback and advice.

Classes and Curriculum

Classes: 2 days per week, 1.5 hours each day

Coursework: An award-winning writer-director of film, television and video games has helped develop our curriculum with the goal of creating a high-impact program. The program will consist of a combination of in-class feedback and out of class exercises. Time outside of the classroom spent writing will be required as well. Participation in each session is considered mandatory.

Sessions will be scheduled in the evenings on Mondays and Tuesdays, each week. The course will begin on Monday, September 27th and run for ten (10) consecutive weeks, subject to instructor changes.

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THE APPLICATION

A written application as well as a completed live-action, narrative feature-length film or episodic television pilot script are required (see below for details).

Semi-finalists will be invited to a live (online) interview.

To Apply

THE DEADLINE FOR COMPLETED APPLICATIONS is 11:59pm EAT on Wednesday, September 8th.

No applications can be accepted after the deadline.

Applications must be completed at one time, no work can be saved and no changes made after submission.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application;
  • Must be both a citizen and a current resident of Kenya;
  • Must have professional writing credits in either narrative feature film or narrative episodic television. International credits a plus;
  • Only individual writers will be accepted at this time. No writing “teams”.

Submission Requirements:

  • A fully completed application form (available through this website);
  • A completed narrative feature-length film or pilot episode script in the English language saved in PDF format;
    • Scripts must be the original work of the applicant and the applicant must be the sole writer. We strongly suggest that applicants copyright their materials with the appropriate authority in the territory (legal consultation recommended);
    • If based upon another person’s life or upon a book or other underlying work, applicant must secure any necessary rights to make such adaptations. However, it is not necessary to submit the adaptation or rights agreements to the Lab. Neither the Lab nor its partners investigates or attests to the authenticity of an applicant’s statement of authorship or rights secured. By submitting an application, you are acknowledging that you have secured all necessary rights;
    • Scripts cannot be spec scripts for existing programs or have been submitted to other programs for grants or development;
    • Scripts must be unencumbered by option agreements, distribution agreements, or other limitations;
    • Each applicant may only submit one script; and
    • No script fragments, treatments, synopses, stage plays, book excerpts, digital series, shorts or documentaries are eligible and will not be accepted.
  •  Applicants who advance to the Semi-Finalist level will be invited for a video interview with a panel of the selection committee.

Please do not submit any additional documents or information. The selection committee will only consider the items requested.

All materials submitted remain the intellectual property of the applicant.

Please submit any questions to: writerslab@vlafrica.com

Selection Criteria:

Fellowships are granted based on overall merits of the submission materials and prior credits and experience as determined by a panel of judges and a second-round interview. Judges reserve the right to not grant a Fellowship.

Only one (1) submission per individual. Submissions will be only be accepted through the link indicated below.

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