Screenwriters Lab

The Hamptons International Film Festival’s Screenwriters Lab, now in its 18th year, is an intimate gathering that takes place each spring in East Hampton, New York. The Lab develops emerging screenwriting talent by pairing established writers and creative producers with up-and-coming screenwriters (chosen by HIFF).

Each year, the Lab seeks a broad selection of screenplays addressing a wide subject matter. The mentors advise in a one-on-one creative setting, while additional events bring the participants together with board members, sponsors, the local artistic community, and other friends of the festival. With scripts from past writers produced year after year, the Lab continues to be a safe and inspiring place for artists to find and hone their creative vision.

Update December 2017: Three alumni projects, all from female filmmakers—NANCY by Christina Choe, AND BREATHE NORMALLY by Ísold Uggadóttir, and DEAD PIGS by Cathy Yan—will make their world premieres at the upcoming 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Submissions are now open for the 18th edition: April 6-8, 2018.

Earlybird Deadline: November 28, 2017
Regular Deadline: December 12, 2017
Late Deadline: January 2, 2018
Extended WAB Deadline: January 11, 2018

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Since its inception, over fifty screenplays have taken part in the annual HIFF Screenwriters Lab. A number of recent projects in the Lab have gone on to be produced and distributed and to screen at festivals around the world such as Sundance, South by Southwest, Karlovy Vary, Locarno and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Selected highlights include Destin Daniel Cretton‘s SHORT TERM 12 with Brie Larson and John Gallagher, Jr., which won the Grand Jury and Audience Award at SXSW; Justin Schwartz‘s THE DISCOVERERS, starring Griffin Dunne; Sara Colangelo‘s LITTLE ACCIDENTS, featuring Elizabeth Banks and Chloe Sevigny; Claudia Myers‘s FORT BLISS, starring Michelle Monaghan and Ron Livingston; and 2010 Sundance Film Festival Closing Night film TWELVE, written by Jordan Melamed and starring Ellen Barkin and Emma Roberts.

Recent mentors at the lab include Alex Dinelaris (BIRDMAN); Nicole Perlman (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY); Debra Granik (WINTER’S BONE); Oren Moverman (THE MESSENGER, LOVE AND MERCY); Michael Cunningham (THE HOURS, EVENING); James Vanderbilt (ZODIAC, TRUTH); Mark Heyman (BLACK SWAN, THE SKELETON TWINS); Rob Siegel (THE WRESTLER, THE FOUNDER); Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (HALF NELSON, MISSISSIPPI GRIND); Hawk Ostby (CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN); Billy Frolick (MADAGASCAR); J.D. Zeik (RONIN); J. Robin Baitz (PEOPLE I KNOW, THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE); Whit Stillman (METROPOLITAN, LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP); Ira Sachs (LITTLE MEN, LOVE IS STRANGE); Andy Bienen (BOYS DON’T CRY); Jeff Sharp (Producer, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, EVENING); Lawrence Konner (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire); Maria Maggenti (THE INCREDIBLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE); Sabrina Dhawan (MONSOON WEDDING, COSMOPOLITAN); Gregory Widen (HIGHLANDER, BACKDRAFT); Mark Christopher (54); Maggie Greenwald (SONGCATCHER, BALLAD OF LITTLE JO); Laurie Collyer (SHERRYBABY); Lawrence Lasker (SNEAKERS, WAR GAMES); Chap Taylor (CHANGING LANES, NATIONAL TREASURE); and Dylan Kidd (ROGER DODGER, P.S.).


The 2017 HIFF Screenwriters Lab was a great success!
Read more about the 2017 participants and mentors.


Established in 2016, the Melissa Mathison Fund, named for the late Hollywood screenwriter, supports the annual Lab. In particular, the Fund is instrumental in ensuring that female voices are showcased for years to come. Learn more and donate today!

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