The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College Virtual Writers Lab is a creative development workshop for emerging women writers held in partnership with the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting. Applicants must submit a project that includes a woman or women characters in a leadership role or position at the center of the story. Projects must be a pilot (no more than 60 pages). Eligible writers have not had a tv script produced within the past 10 years.

The Virtual Writers Lab provides women storytellers with creative feedback, pitch training, and a robust supportive network. Participants will have multiple one-on-one mentoring sessions with experienced writers and industry experts, as well as participate in peer-to-peer sessions.

The Lab will also include industry events where participants will learn about how to navigate their careers, as well as a keynote conversation from an established filmmaker. Past panels topics have included: “How Representation Works”, “Path to Writing”, and “The Art of Pitching”, and keynotes from Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kat Candler, and Chinonye Chukwu.

The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College Virtual Writers Lab will take place remotely on September 20 - 22, 2021 in partnership with the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting -- the first low-residency program to focus on the mission of bringing more female and underrepresented voices into mainstream Hollywood and studying film with a female gaze.

-Projects must have a woman (girl) or women character(s) in leadership role(s) or position(s). Projects from all genres are accepted, we look for stories about women from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural groups;
-Writers who are women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming are eligible to apply; Projects with more than one writer may be considered as long as all writers identify as women, non-binary, or gender non-conforming;
-Writers cannot have had a pilot that was picked up within the past 10 years - Projects must have been completed before January 1, 2011;
-Projects (pilots) must be written in English and no more than 60 pages;
-If chosen as a finalist, you will be asked to submit the answers to additional questions;
-If you have been on the Athena List, you can submit a project, but it CANNOT be a script that was on the Athena List;
-If you have previously attended the lab, you cannot reapply for five years, but if you have been a part of the TV lab, you can submit a project to the Screenwriters lab and vice-versa;
-Two slots in the TV lab will be held for Stephens College MFA program affiliates.
-Submissions must be the original work of the entrant(s) and may not be based, in whole or in part, on any other fiction or nonfiction material, published or unpublished, produced
or unproduced. Entries may, however, be adapted for the entrant’s (or entrants’) original
work, which should be noted in the logline required on the application form. Entries
lacking a logline on the application form will be disqualified.
-If the script is based on a true story, historical or contemporary, this must be noted in the logline required on the application form with the phrase “based on true
- All Notifications will go out by August 24.

Overall Rating
  • Ruth Hernandez

    I cannot say enough good things about this lab. I only wish it had been longer! We had 2 days of panels, writers' exercises, and one on one discussions with 2 writing mentors who read our scripts and gave very detailed and insightful notes. The distinguished panelists and mentors were extremely generous and gave wonderful advice. We even got a taste of how a TV writer's room works like which was a blast. I feel honored to have been chosen to join the Athena Family and hope to take advantage of the wonderful resources they have created. I recommend this lab to anyone who is pursuing TV writing as a career. It's great to have this great organization on one's corner.

    September 2021