Emerging screenwriters to receive mentorship from eminent filmmakers in SWA’s Script Lab

WHEN THE Screen Writers Association (SWA) invited entries for its first-ever Script Lab last September, it received an overwhelming response from over 600 applicants. Interestingly, people from all walks of life, including students, film graduates, bank employees, published authors, editors, cinematographers and directors sent in their entries with logline-synopsis. After a long and rigorous selection process, SWA has now chosen six writers, whose scripts will be mentored by some of the best contemporary writers/directors of the Hindi film industry, during its first Script Lab in May.

The Script Lab, with an impressive group of mentors including Vikramaditya Motwane, Sudip Sharma, Alankrita Shrivastava, Shakun Batra, Smita Singh Khan and Abhishek Chaubey, aims to connect emerging screenwriters with eminent filmmakers, apart from helping them improvise their drafts. The six winning scripts are 13 Days by Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy and Gaurav Krishna, Kashi Kothi Ka Kul by Akshay Asthana, A Dinner at Khan’s by Syed Shadan, Meiktila by Nimish Tanna, Dev Dikshit by Sandiip N Patil, and Kriya Karam by Nipun Angrish and Gundeep Kaur. Each of the six winning scripts will be mentored by four of the mentors in one-on-one sessions during the lab. After the mentoring, the writers will be free to pitch their scripts to any of the production houses or independent filmmakers.

Mitesh Shah, chairperson of SWA’s Event Sub-committee, said, “We hope the lab helps the winners get a meaningful perspective on their drafts and simultaneously get their foot in the door.” For the lab, Shah said, SWA received “extremely distinct ideas across all genres.”

Scripts were invited from writers with not more than one film to their credit. “Most of the entries were received from first-time writers from across the country. The idea was to not burden any entries with moral judgments and just focus on the craft of each individual voice,” says Shah, who is a co-writer of Tumbbad. Out of the 601 scripts received by SWA, 100 were by women. Youngest applicant for the lab was 18 years of age and the oldest, 75.

Zaman Habib, SWA’s honorary general secretary, said: “SWA plans to provide these six winners with a platform to pitch their scripts directly to the production houses through our upcoming Pitch Fest.”

After SWA called for scripts in September last year, a team of 12 readers went through them in the first round of evaluation to pick 61 entries. In the following round, script readers went through the 61 scripts to shortlist 30. The writers of these top 30 scripts were invited to submit their full-length scripts which were then read by six readers to choose the six winners. “It is difficult to find someone to read your scripts and give actionable notes to improve one’s craft. The Script Lab extends an opportunity to get your work read by someone who has a perspective on the workings of the industry,” says Shah.

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