Screenwriters Lab

21st Annual Screenwriters Lab: April 9-11, 2021

For 21 years, the HamptonsFilm Screenwriters Lab has championed the artistic visions of up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world.

Screenplays selected for 2021:

Back Seat, by Lana Wilson

Bear Lake, by Zoë Maltby

Samir, the Accidental Spy, by Charlotte Rabate

The 2021 mentors:

Jesse Andrews, an award-winning screenwriter and New York Times best-selling novelist whose work includes ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL as well as Pixar’s upcoming LUCA

Sara Colangelo (Screenwriters Lab 2013), whose three feature films have world-premiered at Sundance before worldwide releases, including LITTLE ACCIDENTS and WORTH, as well as THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER (HIFF 2018 Opening Night Film)

James Ponsoldt (Screenwriters Lab 2008), Independent Spirit Award-winning screenwriter of THE END OF THE TOUR, THE SPECTACULAR NOW, and SMASHED

Full bios of the 2021 Participants and Mentors

This year’s Lab is funded with support from​ the Melissa Mathison Fund. Established in 2016 and ​named for the late, beloved Oscar®-nominated screenwriter, the Fund strives to foster the continued development of female writers in the industry. In 2021, Lana Wilson and her project Back Seat will receive support from the Fund, which also provides a live screenplay reading of the work in NYC.

Previous recipients include Cathy Yan (DEAD PIGS, 2018 Sundance Film Festival), and Annabelle Attanasio (MICKEY AND THE BEAR, 2019 SXSW Film Festival).


Mentors and screenwriters attend the final group session at the 2019 Screenwriters Lab, held at Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor.

An intimate gathering taking place each spring, the Lab fosters emerging talent by pairing selected fellows with established writers and creative producers for a weekend of one-on-one mentorship. Over the course of the weekend, these film industry veterans advise the participating fellows on their feature length projects in a series of individual and group development sessions.

Additional events include nightly salons, roundtables, and happy hours with industry guests, board members, alumni of the Lab, and members of the local artistic community.

“The HIFF Screenwriters Lab is a uniquely valuable experience for emerging writers, an opportunity in one-on-one sessions and group settings to hone their craft and learn about navigating the industry. Both times I’ve served as a mentor (2016, 2019) I’ve come away from the weekend energized and inspired by these new voices, and in the years since it’s been thrilling to see so many of them become established, working writers and directors.” — Michael H. Weber, Oscar® nominated co-writer of THE DISASTER ARTIST and 500 DAYS OF SUMMER

*As with the 2020 Screenwriters Lab, in light of COVID-19, the 2021 Screenwriters Lab will take place virtually.


Since its inception, over fifty screenplays have taken part in the Lab. Recent projects include Annabelle Attanasio’s MICKEY AND THE BEAR (SXSW 2019, ACID Cannes 2019), Michael Tyburski and Ben Nabors’ THE SOUND OF SILENCE (Sundance 2019, SIFF 2019), Cathy Yan’s DEAD PIGS (Sundance 2018 award winner, BFI London Film Festival 2018), Christina Choe’s NANCY (Sundance 2018 award winner, Film Independent Spirit Award Nominee for Best First Screenplay), and Ísold Uggadóttir’s AND BREATHE NORMALLY (Sundance 2018 award winner, AFI Fest 2018).

Other selected highlights include Destin Daniel Cretton’s SHORT TERM 12, starring Academy Award®-winning actors Brie Larson and Rami Malek, which won the Grand Jury and Audience Award at SXSW in 2013; Justin Schwartz’s THE DISCOVERERS, starring Griffin Dunne, which made its world premiere at HIFF 2012; Sara Colangelo’s LITTLE ACCIDENTS, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, starring Elizabeth Banks and Chloe Sevigny; and Claudia Myers’s FORT BLISS, starring Michelle Monaghan and Ron Livingston, which was released in 2014. With projects from participating fellows produced year after year, the Screenwriters Lab continues to be an inspiring and safe space for artists to find and hone their creative vision.

“The Screenwriters Lab gave me two of the things that screenwriters most crave: Honest, insightful feedback from creatives working at an incredibly high level in their field, and dedicated time devoted solely to bettering our scripts. The array of mentors and industry guests provided insight into both the creative process and the professional process of getting our films made. And because this Lab coincided with the Covid-19 quarantine, it gave me the permission and motivation to continue to work, which was a huge gift in itself. There’s no doubt that this Lab has made and will continue to make my script stronger, and I know the guidance I received will have a positive impact on all my future scripts.” — Kelly O’Sullivan, 2020 Lab Fellow (MOUSE), writer of SAINT FRANCES, and Melissa Mathison Fund Recipient

Recent Screenwriters Lab Mentors and Master Class participants include Debra Granik (WINTER’S BONE, LEAVE NO TRACE); Tamara Jenkins (PRIVATE LIFE, THE SAVAGES); Jim Taylor (SIDEWAYS, ELECTION); Mark Heyman (BLACK SWAN, THE SKELETON TWINS); James V. Hart (CONTACT, HOOK); Michael H. Weber (THE DISASTER ARTIST, (500) DAYS OF SUMMER); Oren Moverman (THE MESSENGER, LOVE AND MERCY); Michael Cunningham (THE HOURS, EVENING); James Vanderbilt (ZODIAC, TRUTH); Robin Swicord (WHEN THEY SEE US; THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON); Alex Dinelaris (BIRDMAN); Nicole Perlman (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY); Caroline Kaplan (producer: BOYHOOD, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU), Rob Siegel (THE WRESTLER, THE FOUNDER); Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (CAPTAIN MARVEL, HALF NELSON); Sabrina Dhawan (MONSOON WEDDING, COSMOPOLITAN); David Siegel (WHAT MAISIE KNEW); Alec Sokolow (TOY STORY); Hawk Ostby (CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN); J. Robin Baitz (PEOPLE I KNOW, THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE); Ted Griffin (OCEAN’S ELEVEN); Whit Stillman (METROPOLITAN, LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP); Ira Sachs (FRANKIE, LOVE IS STRANGE); Andy Bienen (BOYS DON’T CRY); Jeff Sharp (producer: BOYS DON’T CRY, EVENING); Lawrence Konner (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire); Maria Maggenti (THE INCREDIBLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF TWO GIRLS IN LOVE); Gregory Widen (HIGHLANDER, BACKDRAFT); Mark Christopher (54); Maggie Greenwald (SONGCATCHER, BALLAD OF LITTLE JO); Laurie Collyer (SHERRYBABY); Lawrence Lasker (SNEAKERS, WAR GAMES); and Dylan Kidd (ROGER DODGER, P.S.).


Note: One of the female screenwriters selected receives additional support from the Melissa Mathison Fund, established in 2016. Named for the late Hollywood screenwriter, the Fund is instrumental in ensuring that female voices are showcased for years to come. Learn more and donate today!


Front: Michael Weber, Tamara Jenkins, Barbara Cigarroa, Kirsten Tan, Megan Costello. Back: David Nugent, Bill Collage, Jim Taylor, Anne Chaisson, Sontenish Myers, Caroline Kaplan



Melissa Mathison 300x200Established 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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