The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College is pleased to introduce our new Women in Science Development Fund, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Chosen through an open application process, two filmmakers will each receive development grants of $10,000 to write feature-length scripts about women in STEM.

This fund is for projects currently in the treatment stage only. This fund is not applicable for projects that have already completed a draft.

Writers must identify as women or nonbinary and are required to apply with story treatments (two-four pages), a scientific statement (one-two pages) and samples of their previous writing (approx. 15 pages). Projects must contain realistic and compelling depictions of women in the fields of science, mathematics and technology.

In addition to $10,000 grants, writers will receive curated creative mentorship throughout the screenwriting process from the Athena Film Festival’s Creative Development Program, plus scientific mentorship from experts in the film’s subject matter.

The winners of the Women in Science Development Fund will be celebrated during the 2022 Athena Film Festival at a dedicated Women in Science event. The event will invite notable women scientists, women producers and heads of production companies, writers, and other members of our community to join us to celebrate with us, and to encourage the industry to help develop these projects into films.

The Athena Ethos:
Women’s leadership takes no singular form. Stories of women leaders, in all their forms and all their complexity, are rarely shown on the big screen. Women whose leadership has been questioned, dismissed or erased, women who have risen up, spoken truth to power, women who empower their communities, inspire and educate, or women who simply survive - these are the stories we want to see. These are Athena stories. Here, the definition of leadership is intentionally left open because, everyday, revolutionary women change it.

-Scripts must have a woman (girl) or women character(s) in leadership role(s) or position(s) within the fields of science, mathematics and/or technology. Projects from all genres are accepted, and we seek out stories about women from all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural groups;

-Writers who are women, non-binary, or 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 feature-length narrative script produced within the past 10 years;

- FINAL scripts must be written in English and should ultimately be 80 to 120 pages long;

-If chosen as a finalist, you may be asked to submit the answers to additional questions or participate in an interview;

-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 story/events."

-If the script is not original to the entrant(s), the entrant(s) must have the underlying necessary rights in order to submit and be considered for this grant.

- All notifications will go out by December 15.

Requirements for Application
Treatment (two-four pages) describing the story in detail, including primary and secondary plot points. This may include: describing the characters in the film and their arcs; describing the anticipated story structure and narrative trajectory; detailing the topics, issues, themes, challenges, stakes or questions that your project will cover.

-Scientific statement (one-two pages) detailing why these themes are essential to your story, what research/consultation you’ve had on the subject, and your anticipated research plan during the screenwriting process

-Samples of their previous writing (approx. 15 pages). Must be a screenplay for film, television or web series, or script for a theatrical production. Applications should create a PDF of all of the above requirements for submissions.

*This fund is for projects currently in treatment stage only. This fund is not applicable for projects that have already completed a draft.

Overall Rating
  • Anu Sukhdial

    The Lab was an amazing experience the whole way through - from the first day sessions with peers and mentors to the second day when we got advice/guidance on how to break into the industry. It is clear the Athena organizers put in tremendous work to make the Lab a wonderful experience for the writers. Will recommend/have already recommended the Lab highly to fellow writers and colleagues!

    September 2021
  • The most amazing, supportive, creative experience - I HIGHLY recommend it to any screenwriter, new or experienced. Very well organized and executed, very helpful in all aspects of your craft - and FUN!

    June 2019
  • Jane Therese

    This was an amazing experience.

    June 2019
  • Heather Upton

    An amazing lab experience! Thoughtful, well organized, nurturing, engaging and effective. It was a fantastic experience and I came away both inspired and with tons of practical advice. I can't say enough good things about the Athena Lab, and Nitza and Elizabeth, who run it. Definitely apply!

    March 2019
  • Bridget Bell McMahon

    This lab was a profound experience. The fiercely creative women at its helm (Melissa, Kitty, Nitza, Elizabeth and Kristin) should run the world. Thank you to all involved. This supportive, encouraging, inspiring program was a gift.

    July 2018