Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and LA Film Festival, is pleased to announce the screenwriters selected for its 17th annual Screenwriting Lab. The Screenwriting Lab is an intensive four-week program designed to help writers improve their craft, and take their current scripts to the next level in a nurturing and challenging creative environment. During the Lab Fellows participate in individualized story sessions, are advised on the craft and business of screenwriting, and are also introduced to established screenwriters, producers and film professionals who serve as guest speakers and creative advisors. This year’s creative advisors include Maya Forbes (Infinitely Polar Bear), Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) and David N. Weiss (Shrek 2). Guest Speakers include past Film Independent Fellows Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) and Siân Heder (Orange is the New Black).

Past Screenwriting Lab projects include Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, which recently screened in competition at Sundance and in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, Robbie Pickering’s SXSW winner Natural Selection and Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey.

“We are thrilled to welcome this diverse group of artists into the Film Independent community. Each of these writers possesses a distinctive vision and authenticity in their work that we are proud to support,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent.

For the fourth year, Film Independent will present the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Screenwriting Fellowship. LMU School of Film and Television alumnus Tom Huang will be awarded a $10,000 grant to develop his script, Dealing with Dad, through the Screenwriting Lab.

The Film Independent Screenwriting Lab is supported by Artist Development Lead Funder Time Warner Foundation. Sponsors include Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Writer’s Guild of America, West.

Film Independent Artist Development promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. Programs include the Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Screenwriting, Producing and Documentary); Fast Track finance market; Grants & Awards; and our signature diversity program Project Involve, which for 22 years has helped launch the careers of artists from communities underrepresented in film. Film Independent Fellows receive year-round support, including access to the Film Independent Forum, Directors Close-Up and the Los Angeles Film Festival. For more information on Film Independent Artist Development, please contact Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development, at 310.432.1275. Additional information and an application form can be found at

The 2015 Screenwriting Lab participants and their projects are:

Title: Dealing with Dad
Writer, Director: Tom Huang
Logline: Dealing with Dad follows the story of a slightly dysfunctional family dealing with the clinical depression of their Dad... whom everybody happens to hate.

Title: Fieras
Writer, Producer: Linda Yvette Chávez
Logline: Lucy, once Mexico’s pre­teen dancing queen, but now an immigrant mother with empty nest syndrome, rallies her sisters, Tere and Cati, together to give their ailing mother a reason to live by dancing in their local church talent show.

Title: Jaya
Writer, Director: Puja Maewal
Logline: Young Jaya survives Mumbai's unforgiving streets by posing as a boy and living as a thief, but when she encounters a wealthy businessman who may be the father who abandoned her, she sets out to reclaim her identity.

Title: The Midwestern
Writer, Directors: Darren Grodsky & Danny Jacobs
Logline: After the Social Security Administration mistakenly declares him dead, failed travel agent Harry Pfeiffer tries to save his crumbling marriage and restart his life by collecting the life insurance. But doing so leads him into a labyrinth of murder and corruption that Harry is ill equipped to handle.

Title: Rustin
Writer: Q. Terah Jackson
Logline: Working in the political shadows of a young Dr. King, Bayard Rustin endures personal and public attacks for being gay in order to orchestrate the March on Washington of 1963.

Title: The Short History of the Long Road
Writer, Director, Producer: Ani Simon-Kennedy
Logline: After her father’s sudden death, teenage Nola becomes the sole owner of the van she was raised in. Through unlikely friendships forged on the road, she discovers a new way to motor a life.

About Film Independent
Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.  

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a member, visit