[iw-photo type=”iphoto” caption=”[Left to right] Sheryl Zohn, Cynthia Riddle, Natalija Vekic, Elizabeth Oyebode, Garner Simmons, Carley Steiner, Chelsea Steiner; [Not pictured] Jill Isaacs, Syrie James, Bo Yeon Kim, Kat Smith, J.B. White” credit=”null” alt=”WGAW Feature Writer Access Project” title=”WGAW Feature Writer Access Project” url=”http://indiewire.s3.amazonaws.com/52/72/affe0c9846c1a1ecaf357c71a8a0/wgaw-feature-writer-access-project.jpg”][/iw-photo]The Writers Guild of America, West has announced the honorees for the 2015 Feature Writer Access Project, the WGAW’s diversity screenwriting program for minority, women, and 60-and-older writers.
This year’s slate of Feature WAP honorees includes two writers of color, seven women writers, and three writers age 60 and older.
Coordinated by the WGAW Diversity Department, the ongoing Guild program seeks to identify outstanding diverse writers and make their scripts available to entertainment industry decision-makers – including producers, studio executives, agents and managers – to help raise their profile and generate potential employment opportunities.
"The WGAW Diversity Department is pleased to introduce the 2015 Feature Writer Access Project honorees. This program is one way in which the WGAW Diversity Department works to provide access for minority, women and writers 60 and older to the industry at large," said WGAW Director of Diversity Tery Lopez.
"It is an honor to be part of the advisory committee for this year’s WGAW Feature Writer Access Project. This program’s goal is to introduce talented diverse voices to the film industry. We are in an era where the population of this nation is shifting rapidly, yet the hiring practices of feature film writers in Hollywood remains static, with most jobs still going to white male writers. But like Viola Davis said in her Emmy speech, ‘The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.’ We believe that this is also true of diverse writers. Hopefully programs like this one will help change that. We at the Guild are doing our part. We encourage the studios and production companies to do theirs by considering and getting to know the current and previous writers in the program," said Feature WAP Advisory Committee member Ligiah Villalobos.
"We didn’t know what to expect when applying for the WGAW’s Feature Writer Access Project and later being selected as honorees, but have discovered it to be an exceptional privilege that keeps on giving. The WGAW Diversity Department that administers the program is unwavering in their enthusiasm and dedication to diverse voices in film and displays this with a continuous stream of fantastic opportunities for their honorees," said 2014 Feature WAP writing team honorees Tianna Majumdar-Langham and Chris Bessounian, whose Feature WAP and Academy Nicholl Fellowship-winning script, Guns and Saris, is currently being produced by Nicolas Gonda, Freida Pinto, and Guneet Monga, adding: "The seminars we’ve attended have been enriching and have led to great meetings with companies such as HBO. The Guild’s diversity team frequently surprises us with invitations to industry events that we may have never known about if it wasn’t for their commitment to seeing us excel, helping our projects move forward, and opening the doors needed to make that happen."
The WGAW’s 2015 Feature WAP program generated 300+ script submissions. For consideration, qualified writers who met program criteria were asked to submit a current, feature-length, unproduced spec script. Entries were read and scored on a blind submission basis by a panel of judges, comprised of WGAW members recruited by the Feature WAP Advisory Committee, which included 73 first-round judges and 37 second-round judges, including WGAW members Phil Lord, Ehren Kruger, Iris Yamashita, Evan Daugherty, Jessica Goldberg, Nissar Modi, Juliet Snowden, Doug Atchison, Meg LeFauve, Stephen Susco, and Randi Mayem Singer.
This year’s Feature Writer Access Project honorees and their screenplays are:
- – Jill Isaacs – "Angel’s Flight"
- – Syrie James – "Romancing Jane"
- – Bo Yeon Kim – "The Last Rocket Home"
- – Elizabeth Oyebode – "Sexton"
- – Cynthia Riddle – "Curtains"
- – Garner Simmons – "A Cool State of Blood"
- – Kat Smith – "The Line"
- – Carley Steiner & Chelsea Steiner – "Pole Position"
- – Natalija Vekic – "Jane"
- – J.B. White – "Misbegotten"
- – Sheryl Zohn – "You Must Be Kidding"
As part of the Feature WAP program, the WGAW is hosting a series of targeted seminars and workshops tailored for honorees, covering such topics as how to obtain and tackle studio writing assignments, rewrites, the pitch process, agent and manager rep/client relationships, independent production, acquiring rights, packaging, the challenges faced by diverse writers and how best to market yourself in the industry, as well as a meet-and-greet honorees mixer with development executives.
More information about the Guild’s 2015 Feature WAP honorees and complete versions of their screenplays can be found at: http://www.wga.org/fwap.html.