**Can I still apply for the 1497 Features Lab if the WGA (Writers Guild of America) goes on strike starting May 2, 2023?**
Short answer: yes! 1497 is not a WGA signatory nor a member of the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) and would not be considered a "struck company" should a strike occur. Per the WGA's 2023 Strike Rules, the act of submitting an application to our 2023 Features Lab is therefore NOT considered scabbing or crossing a picket line. We have also confirmed that all the members of our Selection Committees are not WGA signatories. Further, 1497 stands in solidarity with WGA members in their fight for a fair contract. Should a strike occur, we absolutely do not endorse crossing picket lines or scabbing, and we commit to supporting the strike however we can until a deal is reached. While we hope that deal is reached soon to avoid a strike, should a strike occur, we will continue to do our due diligence to ensure that participation in the 1497 Features Lab does not cross a picket line, and we encourage all applicants to do the same. If your script advances through the Semifinalist, Finalist, and Mentee rounds and the strike continues through our Lab period, please reach out to email@example.com (WGA West) and/or firstname.lastname@example.org (WGA East). We will share updates via Instagram as we learn more. Til then, we look forward to reading your scripts!
Can I apply for the 1497 Features Lab if I don’t live in America or if I’m not a US Citizen?
This year we’re expanding the Lab; it will be in an intensive retreat format from October 18-23, 2023 in-person in Malibu, California, USA, and 1497 will be covering 50% of all travel costs (round trip, economy flights) for the selected Mentees. That means we are excited to be able to accept applications again from the global South Asian diaspora! However, though US citizenship is not a requirement for the Lab, we do not currently have capacity to assist with Visas, vaccinations, and other legal travel documents. Our Lab eligibility requirements state that applicants must be able to be in the United States for the duration of the Lab.
Will 1497 pay for my travel to Malibu, California if I’m selected?
Mostly! We will reimburse 50% of your travel costs (round trip, economy class) and cover 100% of all accommodations, food, and other costs from the moment you land at the airport to attend the Lab to the moment you arrive back at the airport after the Lab ends.
Can writing teams submit?
Definitely, as long as at least one member of the team is of South Asian descent and eligible to be in the United States for the duration of the Lab. 1497 will cover 50% of travel costs and 100% of on-the-ground accommodation for at least one member of the writing team. We will do our best to cover the travel expenses and accommodations for additional writing team members on a case-by-case basis. NOTE: any member(s) of the team who is not of South Asian descent will not be permitted to participate in the Lab itself - 1497’s mission is specifically to support talent of South Asian descent.
Can I submit more than one screenplay?
Yes! And kudos to you for having multiple projects ready! Just make sure to complete a separate submission on Coverfly for each distinct screenplay you'd like to submit. For example, if you're submitting as a writing team, any member of the writing team who is of South Asian descent can also submit a different project under their own name. NOTE: this does mean paying additional submission fees ($25 from April 19-25, $50 from April 26-May 1, $70 from May 2-7) and you may NOT submit the same project multiple times.
Can I apply with one screenplay and workshop a different project during the Lab?
No. The screenplay you apply with will be used to match you to your Mentor and Pod, among other things. Be sure the screenplay you apply with is the one you want to develop.
Why does my screenplay need to have an anticipated budget less than $5 million to be eligible for the 1497 Features Lab?
Great question! Our Lab is designed to get your script into a solid, production-ready state and provide you with tools and resources to go into production - that is, we want to see these stories get made so we can enjoy them on the big screen. That means, unfortunately, acknowledging the limitations of the American film industry, even as we work to push those limits and challenge the gatekeepers who created them in the first place. We want to support all the stories you want to tell, while ensuring you have the best chance at success. $5 million is a pretty reasonable budget for someone's first, second, even third feature film.
Can you tell me more about this "Producer fee" I have to pay to 1497 if my film gets produced?
Of course. Unlike many Labs, which require accepted filmmakers to pay for the privilege of attending, the 1497 Features Lab covers the majority of the costs for Mentees to attend. We view it as a way to reduce economic barriers to this level of access, and it's one way we give back to our community. In return for participation in the 1497 Features Lab, we ask Lab Alums whose projects are developed in the 1497 Features Lab and subsequently produced to continue that spirit of giving back by contributing to our work to support new generations of emerging South Asian filmmakers. This Producer's fee is tied to the budget on a sliding scale:
If the Project is produced for a gross budget equal to or less than $1,500,000, no contribution is due to 1497.
If the Project is produced for a gross budget between $1,500,001 and $3,000,000, the Owner will make a contribution to 1497 in an amount of $4,500.
If the project is produced for a gross budget between $3,000,001 and $5,000,000, the Owner will make a contribution to 1497 in an amount of $7,000.
If the project is produced for a gross budget that is equal to or exceeds $5,000,001, the Owner will make a contribution to 1497 in an amount of $9,500.
All payments are due within 10 business days of the start of principal photography. Any revenue that is designated to 1497 is directly allocated to the 1497 Features Lab and is used on an annual basis to provide critical support for the Lab and Mentees. Your ability to give back really makes a difference.
Additionally, 1497 will receive a credit line and logo placement in the film’s end titles, stating “This film was supported by the 1497 Features Lab.”
Does my script need to be about America?
Not at all. The goal of this Lab is to empower and uplift screenwriters of South Asian descent (whatever they may want to write) and introduce them to the American film industry. So the script doesn’t need to be about America specifically, but keep in mind that 1497’s mission is to target the American film market, which will be the likely audience.
Does my script need to be culturally specific to the South Asian experience or feature South Asian characters?
Only if that’s the story you want to tell. Our mission is to support South Asian writers, not just South Asian stories. We want you to be able to write whatever you want, in whatever genre you want!
Is the 1497 Features Lab only for feature film screenplays?
Yes. However, we are hoping to launch more programs in the future to support talent of South Asian descent in other professions in the industry. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about future programming.
Do I have to fill out the application in one sitting?
Yes. So keep in mind that in addition to basic contact and demographic information, the application asks for an artistic statement (max 500 words - including relevant bio and experience), logline (max 50 words), script synopsis (max 750 words), and a full draft of your screenplay uploaded as a PDF. You'll also have the option to upload a letter of recommendation, include links to past work, and share any additional information about yourself and your screenplay, having these optional items (or not) will not impact your overall score. Finally, you'll be asked to confirm that your draft is complete and ready for development through the Lab, that you've done your due diligence to protect your intellectual property, and that - if selected as a Finalist or if you are one of the 3 Mentees - you are willing and able to commit to the application and Lab timeline, listed on Coverfly and on our website. The application fees (for applications submitted April 19-May 7) can be paid directly through Coverfly.
What is Coverfly? What if I don't have an account?
Coverfly is a platform to connect writers of all stripes to the industry. It allows industry professionals to find you and your work through a searchable database, and also allows you to pursue industry connections through workshops, classes, and submissions to writing competitions. We're proud that our Lab is an exclusive partner of Coverfly! Plus - it's free to sign up for an account and take advantage of these great programs, including applying for our Features Lab. Check out their website for more information on the benefits of joining Coverfly. And if you don't want to sign up for a Coverfly account, no problem! Simply go directly to our Features Lab submission page HERE and apply.
I noticed that in Rounds 1 and 2 the Selection Committees will only score the first 10 pages of my screenplay - does my title page count towards the “first 10 pages” of my script?
Nope! In fact, to support our blind review process, Coverfly automatically hides your title page from Readers.
What is the “blind review” process?
For the first round of review, the Selection Committee members who are scoring the applications will only receive access to your artistic statement, logline, synopsis, and script with the title page removed. All other identifying information (including name, contact information, and nationality) will be removed from your application, making it effectively “blind.” The applications will then be read and scored on a rubric by at least two Round 1 Selection Committee members, who are working professionals in the film industry. We follow this blind review process to do our best to remove unconscious bias from the scoring process. The top scorers will move on to the semi-final round, in which the identifying features are restored before applications are reviewed by the Round 2 Selection Committee.
What does this mean: "All Finalists will receive feedback from those who scored their scripts, regardless of whether or not they're chosen to be one of the 3 Mentees"?
The ten finalists’ scripts will be read by eight people, five of whom will be Round 3 Selection Committee members (people who read and give feedback to scripts for a living), and the other three of whom are part of the 1497 team. Everyone will score your full script on a rubric and provide written feedback. After the Mentees are announced on September 22 and if you are one of our 10 Finalists, you will receive six paragraphs of feedback total (one from each Round 3 Selection Committee member who read/reviewed your script and one from 1497 collectively), regardless of whether or not you are named one of the the Mentees. We hope this feedback will at least support the next draft f your script's development!
If I submit my screenplay, do I still own the rights to my work?
Yes of course - it’s yours! Please read the 1497 Features Lab Terms and Submission Agreement for more information. If accepted to the Lab as one of the three Mentees, there is additional Agreement to sign, and it includes an NDA to further protect your work.
Why does 1497 define South Asia as comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka?
1497 is currently following the definition of “South Asia” as laid out by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), The World Bank, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among others, which all recognize Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as, collectively, South Asia. However, we acknowledge that geographical definitions are inherently political and in many cases, are the result of conflict drawn by those who colonized and occupied South Asia. For this reason, we consider our definition of the countries that comprise South Asia to be a living definition; it will evolve as our own knowledge and understanding grows. We are currently consulting scholars of South Asia, including at UC Berkeley, to help us navigate our efforts in de-colonizing the definition of South Asia and aim to partner with a historian or scholar full time to guide us on this journey. As such we also have an “Other” option in our application, which allows an applicant to specify a different country or region that we should consider including in our definition of South Asia. We will learn and grow by listening.
I don’t have a screenplay ready. Will there be a Lab next year?
Yes! The 1497 Features Lab is an annual program. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear when applications open for future Labs and other initiatives.