There you are — ready to take your screenwriting career to the next level and you’ve heard that entering a screenwriting lab is a great way to do that. But, you’re a little apprehensive because — what is a screenwriting lab, anyway? What are they for? What happens during one? Most importantly, how do they actually help you move forward in your craft and career?
Let’s take a deeper look at the wonderful world of screenwriting labs, namely those you can take part in at WeScreenplay, so you can get a better idea of what they can offer you on your professional writing journey.
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What is a Screenwriting Lab?
Every screenwriting lab or program is different, but for the most part, they are all designed to do a few important things:
- Connect you with fellow writers
- Help improve your writing
- Set you up for success as a writer
The WeScreenplay Labs do this by developing the entry scripts, coordinating notes-giving sessions with peers, hosting specific workshops, and introducing writers to professionals in the industry.
Who Are Screenwriting Labs For?
Screenwriting labs can offer great benefits to writers of all experience levels, but more experienced writers who want to advance their careers are probably going to get more out of a lab.
Why? Because many of the discussions and mentorship guidance you’ll get in a screenwriting lab focus on topics new writers probably aren’t ready for, like advanced storytelling concepts, film industry insight, and career development.
What Do You Do During a Screenwriting Lab?
Screenwriting labs are full of all sorts of different activities geared toward connecting you with your fellow lab participants, as well as giving you the insight you’ll need to advance your screenwriting career.
Let’s go over a few of these activities in more detail:
Participants receive each other’s winning scripts ahead of time and prepare notes and feedback, which allows them to refine their work and practice giving and receiving notes. Establishing this connection with your peers also helps foster your professional network moving forward.
Each year, WeScreenplay sets up exciting workshops for lab participants in order to help them with professional development, such as pitching or networking, or their writing skills, such as deep dives into what to expect in a Writers Room.
In the 2022 Feature Lab, David Rabinowitz (Blackkklansman) led a specialized workshop that taught best practices for pitching to execs or industry pros.
“[David’s] session — and learning how to pitch something for the thousandth time while bringing the enthusiasm we had the first time we had the spark of the idea — was invaluable,” shared 2022 Feature Lab winner Nicholas Pangilinan.
Group Mentorship Meetings
Lab participants get the opportunity to meet with executives, literary reps, and working writers to learn more about the craft and business of screenwriting. The sessions allow the mentors to share their breadth of knowledge and experience while personally answering participants’ questions. These sessions help foster a well-rounded foundation for your screenwriting career.
1:1 Curated Meetings
Finally, writers will have the opportunity to take specially-curated meetings with literary agents and managers, working writers, and studio executives. These meetings allow participants to connect with industry professionals, ask questions specific to their own careers or writing samples, and expand their knowledge of the industry.
These meetings are private, that is, they are separate from group mentorships or group workshops. They are curated just for you and they give you a chance to connect with others who can help you with your career.
Over the course of a few days, lab participants should walk away with a network of peers and industry pros, top-tier knowledge of the craft and business of screenwriting, and a strong screenplay to use going forward — and maybe even a professional offer for representation or script development.
They’re one of the most helpful, inspiring, and career-making things an aspiring screenwriter can take part in. This is why WeScreenplay decided to turn all of their writing competitions into labs!
You can read about the 2022 WeScreenplay TV Writing Lab participants’ takeaways and successes here, the 2022 Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab insiders look here, or the 2022 Feature Writing Lab right here.
Remember, everyone who enters a WeScreenplay contest or lab will receive free feedback on their script, so no matter what, you will be rewarded for taking a risk and putting yourself out there.
Good luck and happy writing!
Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!