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The Writers Lab UK & Ireland announce mentors for the first virtual script development programme for women over 40



Date Posted: April 8, 2021

The Writers Lab UK & Ireland (TWL UK & I) has announced the guest mentors for the first script development programme of its kind for women over 40, including producer Tanya Qureshi of I May Destroy You (now BBC Comedy Commissioning Editor); actress / producer Ruth Wilson of His Dark Materials, The Affair; screenwriter Abby Ajayi of How To Get Away With Murder; showrunner Angela Kang of The Walking Dead; writer/producer Sharon Horgan of Castraophe and screenwriter Meg LeFauve of Inside Out.

TWL UK & I is co founded by Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon in partnership with UK development producers Julia Berg and Ruth Spencer of Untamed Stories and supported by Dirty Films, the independent film and television production company headed by Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini with development producer Georgie Pym.

The Writers Lab, the only programme devoted exclusively to script development for woman-identifying writers over 40, brings the co-founders of its pioneering Lab to writers in the UK and Ireland with a new virtual programme held 10-13 June, with Post-Lab virtual mentoring sessions in the months following. Submissions of both Features and Pilots (both 1-hour and ½-hour) will be accepted for consideration. Up to 12 writers will be selected to participate in an opportunity for unique and emerging voices reflecting the diversity of the populations across Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Writers selected for the Lab will work one-on-one and in group sessions with acclaimed screen industry leaders to develop their scripts and their craft, and to build tools and strategies to achieve success. Past TWL US Mentors have included: Anne Carey (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth) and Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton and Coco Francini, DIRTY FILMS said: “The incredible work that The Writers Lab are doing in providing a platform for underrepresented creative voices resonates deeply with all of us at Dirty Films, so we jumped at the opportunity to support their expansion to the UK and Ireland. We’re excited to see the results of this year’s lab and we look forward to working with Untamed Stories, NYWIFT and The Writers Lab to discover some of the amazing untapped talent in this region.”

Elizabeth Kaiden, TWL co-founder said: “Julia and Ruth of Untamed Stories are an astounding force whose vision and energy is infectious. We’re thrilled to be working with them and look forward to welcoming this new cohort of writers into our community of exceptional, experienced and diverse alumni.”

Mia Bays, Director At Large, Birds’ Eye View said: “We are delighted to be a part of The Writers Lab UK & IRELAND 2021 and the mission to amplify the oft-unheard voices of women over 40 – addressing ageism and sexism in the screen industry – an industry that, not surprisingly, overlooks the many benefits to being an older writer – such as more life experience and a greater understanding of human motivation. We cannot wait to unite with this strong network of collaborators and lift up the talent we know are out there and can thrive in these encouraging conditions.”

Cynthia Lopez, NYWIFT Executive Director said: “New York Women in Film & Television is excited for this groundbreaking Signature Program to reach women in the UK & Ireland. In recent years, and especially during COVID-19, it’s clear that women creatives in film and television can connect across geographic divides to draw strength and power from each other and build community that transcends location.”

TWL UK & I will be produced in association with Birds’ Eye View, the not-for-profit which champions the female perspective in film and headed by Mia Bays. The Lab is supported by Screen Scotland, Screen Skills Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and Ffilm Cymru Wales & BFI NETWORK with funding from the National Lottery. The US programme, produced by co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon and New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), is supported by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Oprah Winfrey.

Submissions are open until Tuesday 20th April. For more details and to apply, click here.

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