Congratulations to Christine Toy Johnson and Barbara Nunberg for their winning screenplays, Jumping the Third Rail and Willful Blindness, in the second annual Writers Lab competition which is funded by Meryl Streep. Twelve screenwriters were chosen from just under 1000 submissions, according to Katie Chambers at New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT). The Lab is a weekend-long screenwriting retreat open to women over 40, co-sponsored by NYWIFT and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers. The program puts emerging screenwriters and women established in the movie industry together to work on refining and further developing the winning scripts.
Both writers studied screenwriting at NYU SPS. “When I decided I wanted to start learning how to write screenplays about 14 years ago, I was so happy to find NYU’s School of Professional Studies’ Certificate of Screenwriting Program,” said Christine Toy Johnson. “I was finding this particular part of my voice later in life than many others in the industry (in which I was already making a living as an actor), and graduate school was not an option as I was busy working. I actually started writing Jumping the Third Rail in one of my classes in the program, and got wonderful guidance from Michael Zam, in particular, as part of the final one-on-one advanced class.”
Barbara Nunberg completed the Masterclass in Screenwriting in spring 2015, and she too studied with CALA instructor, Michael Zam, in Rewriting a Screenplay in 10 Weeks: “Michael Zam’s excellent re-writing course really helped me get my script in shape to apply for the lab. Michael’s an amazing teacher and mentor. As an active writer, he’s current in the industry, so his guidance is practical. But he also offers an encyclopedic knowledge of film, TV and theater. Mainly, he’s a very insightful critic/reader who guides you towards smart solutions to writing problems. Working with him has been a great experience for me.”
The mentors attached to the Lab, slated for September 22-25, 2016, include: Alexis Alexanian (Maggie’s Plan), Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Susan Cartsonis (What Women Want, The Duff), Lisa Cortes (Precious, Shadowboxer), Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Me and You and Everyone We Know ), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent ), and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blond, Ten Things I Hate About You ).
The Writers Lab will take place in the Connecticut River Valley. The 12 writers and eight mentors will meet for intensive one-on-one discussions to develop and refine their scripts. In addition, they will participate in group panel discussions to explore universal themes and concepts.
“After the overwhelming support we received from last year’s inaugural launch, it is clear The Writers Lab is a vital step in shaping a new landscape for women,” said Terry Lawler, Executive Director of NYWIFT.
At CALA we are thrilled for both women and send our congratulations. The last words are reserved for them.
Barbara Nunberg: “I’m thrilled to participate in the writers lab in September!”
Christine Toy Johnson, “I am grateful to NYU’s SPS Certificate of Screenwriting Program for giving me the foundation I needed to learn to write from my heart, but also with sound structure.” Click on Toy Johnson for full text.
Fall Courses in Screenwriting at CALA
and at SPS Professional Studies