Frequently Asked Questions

The Application

How do I apply?

Applications for the 2020 Writers Lab are available online.

 

Regular Registration has been EXTENDED.

     NEW DEADLINE – APRIL 22, 2020, 11:59pm EST

To apply, please start here:

https://thewriterslab.nyc/apply/

  • Click on the APPLICATION FORM.
  • You will be re-routed to the Coverfly website.  Click on the green SUBMIT box.
  • Choose one of the options for our contest and add it to your cart.
  • Coverfly is hosting this contest. You will need to open up a free account with Coverfly, however we believe you will have the option to restrict any contact from Coverfly to correspondence from The Writers Lab.
  • Registering with the WGA:
    Each script should be registered for copyright. If it is not yet registered, with The Writers Guild or the U.S. Copyright Office, registration is quick and easy. Registration will protect you and The Lab staff and volunteers. (The Writers Guild of America, East, has offered the discounted price of $17 to Lab applicants who are not members of the Guild. Click below to register through the WGA. Choose the Student and NYWIFT/The Writers Lab option.
    Register at the WGA, East, website.)

If you are entering from outside the U.S., please register your script with your local Writers Guild or copyright office.

After you register you will receive a confirmation from Coverfly that you have successfully entered The Writers Lab contest.

What are the fees and deadlines?

Regular Registration EXTENDED // APRIL 22, 2020, 11:59pm EST

  • Application Fee: $60.00
  • $40.00 for members of NYWIFT, other WIF chapters, and WGA members

What information will I need for the application?

  • Basic contact and biographical information (name, email address, contact phone number, mailing address, birth date)
  • Script log line and genre.
  • Full-length narrative feature script, in PDF format, preferably no more than 120 pages long (at 130+ there is a per-page surcharge).
    1. Upload your screenplay as a PDF through the online application when prompted. Each PDF must be labeled with the project name only. DO NOT include the name of the screenwriter(s) ANYWHERE on the PDF.
    2. Each script should be registered for copyright. If it is not yet registered, with The Writers Guild or the US Copyright Office, registration for US citizens is quick and easy. Registration will protect you and The Lab staff and volunteers. (The Writers Guild of America, East, has offered the discounted price of $17 to Lab applicants who are not members of the Guild. Click below to register through the WGA. Choose the Student and NYWIFT/The Writers Lab option. Register at the WGA, East, website.)
    3. If you are not a US citizen, please register your script with your local Writers Guild or equivalent.

Why must I register my script?

We ask that you register your script to prevent infringement, and that will protect your work, as well as The Writers Lab staff and volunteers.  It is a standard industry practice to register any professional script with The Writers Guild in your home area (U.S. citizens use WGA East or West) or with your country’s equivalent Writers’s Guild, or with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The WGA East has generously offered a discount to The Writers Lab applicants. See FAQ #3, above.

How many scripts can I apply with?

Writers may submit up to three (3) scripts. Each script requires a separate completed application and a separate nonrefundable application fee paid by credit card.

Can writing partners apply?

Yes. Both writers must be women over 40 and only one writer from a project may attend the Lab Retreat. Please designate one writer as the primary contact/potential attendee, and list her first in the writing credits on the application.

How do I provide Proof of Membership?

WIF members must supply their chapter name for verification.  WGA members must submit their WGA number for verification.

What if I can’t pay by credit card?

You may pay by check. However, first please contact us to discuss the process, at contact@thewriterslab.nyc

What if I can’t afford the application fee?

You will need to provide proof of public assistance or SSI with your application. You may email the proof to contact@thewriterslab.nyc with “Proof of Need” in the subject line.

Is it possible to get an extension on the deadline? What’s the absolute final deadline?

The Regular Registration deadline is now APRIL 22, 2020 at 11:59pm EST. 

Once I apply, can I send in a new draft if I can get it in before the deadline?

There’s no need! Our reading process is exhaustive and our jurors are very experienced and thoughtful. A good script will shine through even if there are a few glitches or misfires.

Can I deliver my application in person?

If you are NOT able to submit an application electronically, please send an email to contact@thewriterslab.nyc.

What is the fee that the writer must pay to attend the Lab Retreat?

Applicants pay for the application feescript registration, and travel to and from New York City. The Writers Lab organization covers travel to the retreat venue from New York City, food and accommodations.

Why do I have to pay an application fee?

We use the application fees to pay our independent readers, who read hundreds of scripts through multiple rounds. The contributions of our primary donors cover only the retreat

Should I have my industry contacts call with references?

Our final decision is based on the material alone. Your work will speak for itself.

How will I be notified about acceptance?

All Lab notifications will be made via email. You will hear from us either way, whether accepted or not, on or before August 1, 2020.

Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?

All Lab notifications will be made via email. You will hear from us either way, whether accepted or not, on or before August 1, 2019.

I haven’t received my notification yet, but all my friends have. What’s wrong?

Notifications may be made on a rolling basis. Final decisions will be made by August 1, 2020.

Eligibility

Why do you ask for my birth date?

The Lab supports female writers over the age of 40. Your birth date must be on or before October 1, 1980.

I am an American living abroad. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. Keep in mind that we do not cover transportation to New York City or the return to your home country.

I am not a U.S. Citizen. May I apply?

Yes, we are open to international applicants. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to apply, but must have the appropriate passport or visa. And your narrative feature script must be in English. Keep in mind that we do not cover transportation to New York City. You will be expected to be in New York by the day before the Lab begins.

Do you need to see proof of birth date, passport or visa in the application?

No, you do not need to submit these documents with your application. However, accepted applicants will need to have these documents in order to sign the Lab Contract.

I don't have much experience. Does that affect my chances at the Lab?

Absolutely not. The Lab seeks to foster exciting emerging voices, regardless of professional film experience. However, The Lab does NOT teach screenwriting basics. Submissions must exhibit knowledge of screenwriting technique and style.

The Lab Retreat

What are the Lab dates?

The 2020 Writers Lab is scheduled for October 1-4, 2020.  (Dates subject to change.)

Will I have to get myself there, or will you provide transportation?

We provide transportation between New York City and the retreat itself. You are expected to provide your own transportation to and from New York City. You may also choose to meet us at the retreat.

What kind of grants / support / production will the Lab offer?

The Lab does not offer grants, nor are we a producing lab. The Writers Lab is a screenplay development lab. However, the retreat offers writers access to and interaction with film industry professionals as well as a growing peer group of driven and talented writers.

If my script is good enough to be accepted, why do I need to develop it further?

Any script that is accepted to our screenwriting lab requires further development. In addition to writing support and industry guidance, the Lab offers a unique, supportive community to tap into.

Does the Lab offer any followup to the writers after the retreat?

Schedules permitting, The Writers Lab attempts one event for the 12 fellows each year. Traditionally, the event has been a scene reading from the revised scripts to an audience of accomplished film industry members, including producers, directors, managers, and agents.

The Script

Is there a correct length for a script?

While there is no “correct” length, the average feature-length script is between 90 and 120 pages.

What if my script is not in PDF format?

You will have to convert it. All film industry professionals expect scripts in PDF format, so this is a good opportunity to format your script to industry standards.

Will you consider scripts written in a language other than English?

No. Although your script may include other languages, the predominant language must be English. Providing some translation to passages in other languages can help, but we don’t recommend translating every non-English line, as doubling up can slow the pace – and is often unnecessary.

Can I reapply with the same script as last year?

Yes, but please send a revised draft.

Can I submit a script based on a book, or an adaptation?

Yes, we will consider scripts based on prior works, as long as you have secured the underlying rights to the material. Please include proof that you have secured these rights when you apply. You may email the proof to contact@thewriterslab.nyc if necessary.

How complete should the screenplay be?

While the the Lab will consider scripts at various stages of development:

  • Every screenplay must be a feature-length finished draft, in the 90-to-120 page range. You are free to use a software of your choice, as long as the script is converted to a PDF before submission.
  • We will not consider screenplay fragments, treatments, synopses, TV scripts, book excerpts, or stage plays.
  • Each script should show a strong understanding of screenwriting technique and style.

Will my ideas be protected?

We will make all reasonable and customary efforts to protect your ideas. Please see FAQ #4 under THE APPLICATION.

Do you accept scripts that have been submitted elsewhere?

Yes, we have no restrictions on material that has been through other workshops or programs.

Top Reasons Your Script Was Not Selected

Typos, spelling and/or formatting errors

Proofread, proofread, proofread. It matters.

Poor or confusing world building

World needs to be clearly, economically, and cinematically established (especially in genre scripts).

Poor or confusing story setup

Choose a main story and set it up clearly for your audience. Many scripts take on too much and lose their way.

Weak protagonist arc (often because the stakes are low)

Clearly establish your protagonist’s need and obstacles, and make sure you see it through, so your audience cares.

Script is overwritten

Most film stories can be told in well under 120 pages. Every line or sentence should add to the story, not repeat or distract, so cut what you can to keep your story moving.

Excessive dialogue

Ask yourself: Is that line essential? Is it stating subtext or exposition that can be SHOWN? Does it successfully build conflict? Does it reveal character through wit and/or texture?  

Ineffective description

Have you written too little? (Set your scenes! Introduce your characters! Include important visual details!) OR, do you have way too much? (Don’t describe characters’ feelings, camera shots, or back story.) And, break up blocks of description into easily digestible bites.

Concept overdone or lacks relevance

Old or new, your story must stand out, with new insights into universal themes or compelling characters or perspectives. At the same time, know your cliches and tropes, and when to use or lose. 

Uncinematic storytelling

Make sure your story unfolds visually and aurally (but use music references with care – because referencing unlicensed songs can reveal lack of screenwriting savvy: suggest only –  “She sings something like …”)

Too few OR clichéd female characters

TWL doesn’t require a female protagonist, but we definitely notice scripts that can pass the Bechdel test, and wince when female characters are introduced solely as “gorgeous/hot/pretty/curvy/will kill for a man.”

If you have any other questions or problems, email contact@thewriterslab.nyc