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Can I apply for the 1497 Features Lab if I don’t live in America or if I’m not a US Citizen?

In 2023 we expanded the Lab to include an intensive, in-person Retreat and an in-person Pitch Day (for which 1497 will cover 50% of travel costs and 100% of accommodation costs). We are excited to be able to accept applications from writers around the globe! However, though US citizenship is not a requirement for the Lab, we do not currently have capacity to assist with Visas, vaccinations, and/or other legal travel documents and requirements. 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 the Retreat in 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 certain 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. The same goes for the in-person Pitch Day in the spring following the Lab Retreat.

Can writing teams submit?

Definitely, as long as at least one member of the team is eligible to be in the United States for the duration of the Lab and is 18 years of age or older. 1497 will cover 50% of travel costs and 100% of on-the-ground accommodation for 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.

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. NOTE: this may mean paying additional submission fees if you're submitting after our No Fee Deadline, 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 Pod, among other things. Be sure the screenplay you apply with is the one you want to develop during the Lab.

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, being realistic about 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 reasonable budget for someone's first, second, and 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 mission and supporting new generations of emerging 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. In line with 1497's mission, the goal of this Lab is to empower and uplift screenwriters to write whatever stories they may want to write, and then introduce them to the American film industry. So while the script doesn’t need to be about America specifically, keep in mind that 1497’s mission is to target the American film market, which will be the likely audience.


Given 1497's mission, 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 screenwriters, not just South Asian stories. In fact, we'd like to expand what America views as a "South Asian Story!" We want you to be able to write whatever you want, about whomever 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 initiatives in the future to support and further our mission. 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. Note that submitting these optional items (or not) will not impact your overall score, and they will not be included in the blinded Round 1 review. 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 fee (for applications submitted after the No Fee Deadline) 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! If you don't have a Coverfly account, it is free to sign up for one 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.


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.

Okay...then if the Selection Committees only read the first 10 pages of my screenplay in Rounds 1 and 2 can't I just submit 10 pages now and a full draft later?

Our experience in running this Features Lab has shown that screenplays with at least one complete draft tend to have a higher chance of success because they're more fleshed out and thought out. One of the questions we ask the Selection Committees is if they want to read page 11 - and many of them DO go on to read more of your scripts! So it's really to your benefit to have at least one draft complete before submitting. If the draft is in early stages, we encourage you to let us know in the "Optional: anything else?" section what draft it is and what your plans are for approaching your next draft.

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 Team 1497. Everyone will score your full script on a rubric and provide written feedback. After the Mentees are announced and if you are one of our 10 Finalists, you will receive about six paragraphs of feedback (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 of 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 an 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 at 1497 acknowledge that geographical definitions are inherently political, and in many cases are drawn as the result of conflict 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 we 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.

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