WHEN THE Screen Writers Association (SWA) invited applications 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 college students, film graduates, bank employees, published authors, editors, cinematographers, and directors sent in their entries with a logline synopsis. After a long and rigorous selection process, SWA has now chosen six screenwriters, whose screenplays will be mentored by some of the best contemporary screenwriters/directors in the Hindi film industry, at its inaugural 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, in addition to 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 mentorship, the screenwriters will be free to pitch their scripts to one of the production houses or to the independent filmmakers.
Mitesh Shah, Chair of SWA’s Events Sub-Committee, said, “We hope the lab helps winners gain meaningful perspective on their drafts and simultaneously get their foot in the door.” For the lab, Shah said, SWA received “extremely distinct ideas across genres.”
Scripts were invited by writers with no more than one film to their credit. “Most of the entries were from beginning writers from across the country. The idea was not to weigh down the entries with moral judgments and just focus on the craft of each individual voice,” says Shah, who co-authored Tumbbad. Of the 601 scripts received by SWA, 100 were from women. The youngest lab candidate was 18 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 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 judging round to select 61 entries. In the next round, script readers went through the 61 scripts to select 30. The authors of these top 30 scripts were invited to submit their full scripts which were then read by six readers to choose the six winners. “It’s hard to find someone to read your scripts and give actionable notes to improve their craft. The Script Lab provides an opportunity to have your work read by someone who has a perspective on how the industry works” , says Shah.