This April, the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) will once again assemble an extraordinary group of established screenwriters, directors and producers who will mentor a trio of lucky up-and-coming screenwriters during the 17th annual Screenwriters Lab.
“Our focus on fostering up-and-coming talent in the HIFF community is at the forefront of our festival’s mission, and our Screenwriters Lab is one of our most valued events,” explained David Nugent, Artistic Director of the Hamptons International Film Festival. “In the last four years, four projects from our Lab have gone on to be produced, all by female filmmakers, which is particularly exciting to us.”
The sensational screenplays that were chosen to be featured at this year’s Screenwriters Lab include Annabelle Attanasio’s Mickey and the Bear, Jess dela Merced’s Chickenshit, and Andrew Semans’ Resurrection.
Attanasio, a Brooklyn-based actress and filmmaker, recently had her short, Frankie Keeps Talking, premiere at SBIFF, and the film will screen at MIFF and NFFTY over the next few months. She has appeared in The Knick (Cinemax), Barry (Netflix), and can currently be seen alongside Michael Weatherly on Bull (CBS).
Set in rural Montana, Mickey and the Bear revolves around a feisty, conscientious teenage girl that’s desperate to leave her controlling father, who is now the girl’s sole caretaker since her mother has passed. After she encounters a worldly stranger, the teen must decide whether she should give her father another chance, or set out solo.
dela Merced, a San Francisco-based writer/director, is currently serving as a director in the Disney ABC directing program. The NYU Grad Film Program alumni, who was awarded the 2012 Spike Lee Fellowship and Lorraine Hansberry Arts, Performance, and Media Award, was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and a NYFF Artist Academy fellow in 2016. Hypebeasts, her award-winning thesis film that she penned with guidance from Spike Lee, aired on PBS.
Chickenshit, which has already topped NYU’s 2016 Purple List and earned dela Merced a San Francisco Film Society grant, revolves around 11-year-old Phoenix and a group of ragtag accomplices who embark on a perilous journey to rescue Phoenix’s Detroit neighborhood from arsonists.
Brooklyn-based Semans’ first film, Nancy, Please, which he wrote and directed, premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival and was distributed theatrically by Factory 25. He also wrote and directed a scattering of highly praised short films.
Resurrection shows the great lengths a mother will go.
The three day workshop will be led by Robin Swicord, screenwriter of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Little Women, and director of Wakefield – which was featured at the 2016 HIFF; David Siegel, co-writer, producer and director of Uncertainty, which was among the 2008 HIFF programming, and The Deep End, and director of Bee Season, which opened the 2005 HIFF, and What Maisie KnewOcean’s Eleven, Matchstick Men, and Tower Heist, screenwriter of Ravenous, producer of The Wolf of Wall Street and Up In The Air, and director of TV series Terriers, Mad Dogs, and Patriot.
If screenwriting intrigues you, HIFF will host a screenwriting Master Class that is open to the public on Saturday, April 8 at 6 p.m. at the Ross School in East Hampton. Last year’s mentor Michael H. Weber will present the class. Weber, an award-winning screenwriter and independent film producer, co-wrote (500) Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars, The Disaster Artist, Our Souls at Night and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. He was also an executive producer on The Spectacular Now, Paper Towns and The Disaster Artist. The Master Class will explore the entire process of scriptwriting, all the way from constructing a script in the original writing period to how a script is altered during the process through to the ultimate edited picture.
The Melissa Mathison Fund, which is dedicated to fostering female writers in the industry and furthering their growth, will support this year’s Lab. Once the workshop is complete, the Fund will support further development of Attanasio’s Mickey and the Bear through a selected screenplay reading this fall that will feature notable actors.
“We could not have done this without the support of the Melissa Mathison Fund, and are so thankful for everyone involved in this year’s Screenwriters Lab,” shared Anne Chaisson, Executive Director of the Hamptons International Film Festival.
Many of the Screenwriters Lab’s projects have gone on to earn great success, including Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12, starring Brie Larson and John Gallagher, Jr.; Justin Schwartz’s The Discoverers, starring Griffin Dunne, which made its world premiere at the 2012 HIFF; Sara Colangelo’s Little Accidents, starring Elizabeth Banks and Chloe Sevigny; and Claudia Myers’s Fort Bliss, starring Michelle Monaghan and Ron Livingston.
“We look forward to having our Lab participants come to the East End for the opportunity to develop their craft under the guidance of our talented mentors, and to build relationships within the industry,” said Chaisson.
The 17th annual Screenwriters Lab will take place Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9 in Sag Harbor and East Hampton, and the 25th annual Hamptons International Film Festival will be held Thursday, October 5 through Monday, October 9.
For more information, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.