The Laugh Out Loud (LOL) comedy platform and the Sundance Institute, have launched Women Write Now, a screenwriting fellowship designed to spotlight the next generation of Black women in comedy, amplifying their voices . Through mentorship, advocacy, production, and exhibition, this immersive program will offer a selection of talented writers the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentorship and professional guidance from leading Black women in comedy and to see their original comedic screenplay produced by LOL Studios.
The Kevin Hart-founded LOL platform has brought on Meagan Good (The Intruder, Think Like a Man), Bresha Webb (Run the World), and Gabrielle Dennis (A Black Lady Sketch Show), who will each step behind the camera as director of one of the short films.
“Black women have contributed to some of the industry’s most successful and innovative film and television content. Yet, opportunities for this group are still few and far between; especially in comedy. With Women Write Now, we’re not just shining a light on a problem, but also illuminating a path to long-term solutions,” says Laugh Out Loud President & COO, Thai Randolph. “This project is another in our mission to cultivate, empower, and amplify diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. We’re honored to partner with Sundance Institute to elevate the voices of talented Black women because we know that when you invest in women of color, it pays off in dividends.”
The selected projects, whose above- and below-the-line crew will be primarily staffed by traditionally underrepresented talent, will premiere at a private screening during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. To further spotlight the screenwriters and bring their projects to an engaged global audience, Laugh Out Loud will distribute the films across LOL Network, which reaches over 100 million global consumers across platforms including Peacock, PlutoTV, Tubi, Roku, Snap, YouTube, Facebook, Xumo, and more.
As part of the fellowship, Laugh Out Loud, will host a two-week screenwriting lab designed to help the selected writers develop their short scripts and receive guidance on how to thrive in the business well beyond the fellowship. Black-ish writer and TV veteran, Yamara Taylor, has signed on as Lead Screenwriting Mentor for the Lab, providing one-on-one mentorship and support for the fellows as they get their scripts production-ready. Additional creative advisors and a selection committee will be announced at a later date.
“Our collaboration with LOL speaks to the core values of the Sundance Institute mission,” says Michelle Satter, the Founding Senior Director of the Institute’s Artist Programs. “Seeking the boldest and most promising independent voices and inviting them to hone their skills with established writers and industry figures, ensures a rich and thriving group of rising creatives. We are especially excited to support and amplify Black female comedy writers through this partnership”.
Submissions for the fellowship will be accepted through August 5 at womenwritenow.com. Approximately 10 finalists will be invited to interview with a jury panel consisting of award-winning filmmakers, industry leaders, as well as executives from Laugh Out Loud and Sundance Institute. From that group, a maximum of six writers will be selected to take part in the fellowship which includes individualized mentorship and creative and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 stipend, a four-night trip to the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and a first look deal with LOL Studios.
Read submission guidelines and eligibility below.
Women Write Now is looking for applicants who meet the following criteria:
- Identify as Black or African American
- Identify as female
- Be 18 years or older at the time of application
- Be an emerging non-union writer
- Be based in the United States and legally authorized to work in the United States
Applicants are to submit one (1) screenplay for an original comedic short film. Screenplays must meet the following criteria:
- Screenplay Length – no shorter than five (5) pages and no longer than ten (10) pages. This does not include the title page.
- Limited to one (1) main location (INT or EXT); no more than two (2) setups; and no more than five (5) speaking roles
- Written in English
- Screenplay may not be written by more than one (1) writer.
- Include a title page displaying only title of screenplay and name of credited writer (not included in the 10-page limit)
- Be original; all rights must be wholly original with and owned by the writer
- Be submitted electronically as a pdf file and must meet all standard screenplay format guidelines
Submissions will be evaluated with the following criteria:
- STORY – The screenplay must effectively convey a rich, compelling, and comedic short-form story.
- CHARACTERS – The story must introduce interesting, nuanced, and authentic characters that are grounded within the world the writer has crafted.
- ORIGINALITY – The characters, structure, and ideas must feel unique with a sense of boldness and risk.
- COMEDY – Above all else… MAKE US LAUGH!
- Applicant is at an appropriate stage in their career to benefit from this fellowship.
- Applicant has expressed compelling reasons why they wish to participate in the Fellowship and has articulated their career goals.