IRIS began as a collective of women in film seeking to develop, produce and promote narrative films written and directed by women, generating a balance in storytelling and vision, and ultimately empowering the female voice on a global scale. By challenging the paradigm and building a network of support, IRIS encourages female filmmakers to gain control of their artistic destinies.
In late 2013, Kyle Ann Stokes, Nitza Wilon, and Elizabeth Kaiden, IRIS founders, conceived of the idea of a screenwriters lab solely for women over 40. They approached NYWIFT who joined IRIS in support of the venture. In early 2015, IRIS reached out to Meryl Streep, who fully funded the inaugural year.