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

This year we’re piloting a hybrid Lab model - half virtual, half in-person in New York City. Since this is a new structure for us (and given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic), we only have the capacity to safely accommodate applicants who are currently based (or will be based in spring 2022) in the United States. US citizenship is not a requirement. We do hope that we will be able to open up future hybrid and/or in-person Labs to the global South Asian diaspora.


Will 1497 pay for my travel to New York City if I’m selected?

Yes! We will provide round trip transportation to/from NYC as well as accommodations in a centrally-located hotel. We will also be monitoring COVID-19 protocols and guidelines and will adhere to all local and federal mandates and scientific recommendations as the pandemic situation continues to evolve.

Can writing teams submit?

Definitely, as long as at least one member of the team is of South Asian descent and based in the United States. Any member(s) of the team who is not of South Asian descent will not be permitted to go through the Lab - 1497’s mission is specifically to support talent of South Asian descent. 1497 will also cover travel and accommodation for at least one member of the writing team. We will also 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. 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 October 1-31) and this does not mean you are able to 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, among other things. Be sure the screenplay you apply with is the one you want to develop.


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 the film’s audience will be primarily Americans and 1497’s mission is to target the American film market.


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 Writers 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 links to previous work, an artistic statement (max 500 words - including relevant bio and experience), logline (max 50 words), script synopsis (max 750 words), and the first 10 pages of the screenplay uploaded as a PDF. You'll also be asked to confirm that your draft is complete (even though you're only submitting the first 10 pages) 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 our Coverfly page. The $25 application fee (for applications submitted October 1-31, 2021) 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.


If I’m selected to the semifinals, does my title page count towards the “first 10 pages” of my script?

No. In fact, to help us with our blind review process, please omit the title page entirely.


What is the “blind review” process?

For the first round of review, the Readers who are scoring the applications will only receive access to your artistic statement, logline, and synopsis. 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 Readers, who are working professionals in the film industry. The top scorers will move on to the semi-final round, in which the identifying features are restored before applications are reviewed by all the 1497 team.


What does this mean: “The ten finalists also have the option to receive feedback on their scripts after the three Mentees are announced”?

The ten finalists’ scripts will be read by six people, half of whom will be part of a Selection Committee made up of people who read and give feedback to scripts for a living, and the other half of whom are part of the 1497 team. All six will score the full script on a rubric and provide written feedback. Should a Finalist  desire to see this feedback, they will receive four paragraphs of feedback total (one from each member of the Script Advisory Team who read/reviewed the script and one from 1497 collectively), regardless of whether or not they are named one of the three finalists.


If I submit my screenplay, do I still own the rights to my work?

Yes of course - it’s yours! Please read the 1497 Writers Lab Submission Agreement for more information. If accepted to the Lab as one of the three Mentees, there are additional Agreements to sign with your Mentor and Advisors, as well as 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! Our intent is for the 1497 Writers Lab to be an annual program. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear when applications open for future Labs and other programs.

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