The Athena Film Festival Writers Lab is a workshop for emerging writers which provides storytellers with creative guidance, writing training, industry access, and a supportive network. Applicants must submit a project that features a woman or women characters in a leadership role or position at the center of the story. For Athena, women’s leadership takes no singular perspective. Stories of women leaders, in all their forms and all their complexity, are rarely shown on the big screen. These are Athena stories.

At its core, the Athena Film Festival Writers Lab's mission is to help our writers develop the skills needed to be successful storytellers in this ever changing industry. We have updated our lab model to give writers the opportunity to further enhance their understanding of writing fundamentals and also for more feedback and for the first time a rewrite will be a part of the process.

Submissions will be open from June 3, 2024 - July 8, 2024

The Athena Film Festival Writers Lab will have three parts. All parts are virtual.

Phase One - September 17-18, 2024
Over the course of two days, participants will learn the fundamentals of writing: craft, character, plot, structure, etc. They will also learn how to give and receive feedback and notes on their projects. The writers will also have one-on-one sessions with AFF Writers Lab Directors, to receive direct feedback on their projects.

Phase Two - Rewrite Period
Following the lab, writers will have until December 1, 2024 to revise their scripts. The lab directors, in conjunction with the Athena team, will invite a group of selected writers back to participate in part three of the lab. Not all participants from part one will be accepted into part three.

Phase Three - April 2025
Over the course of two days, the participants will learn from experienced mentors, writers, and industry members. Writers will participate in one-on-one feedback sessions with mentors, who will help provide feedback on their newly revised scripts. There will be a pitch workshop where the writers will learn how to craft and present a pitch. The writers will also participate in a mock writers room, where they will learn how writers rooms operate.

The Athena Film Festival is pleased to offer the following fellowships that provide different opportunities in conjunction with the labs.

The Alfred P. Sloan Writing Fellowship
The Athena Film Festival offers fellowships to writers (both screenplay and episodic) working on a project that focuses on women’s leadership in STEM. The Alfred P. Sloan Writers Lab Fellowships allows fellows to participate in a 6-month one-on-one mentorship with a creative advisor to advance their script. The fellows are also paired with a STEM expert to ensure the STEM in their script is sound and accurate.

The Loreen Arbus Fellowship
This fellowship, in partnership with The Loreen Arbus Foundation, will provide support to two writers with disabilities to attend the Athena Writers Lab as well as to ensure all lab activities are fully accessible. The fellows will also participate in a 6-month one-on-one mentorship to strengthen and advance their projects.

The Chinonye Chukwu Emerging Writer Award
This award, in partnership with Christine A. Schantz, is a direct $10,000 grant to assist a feature writer. The grant is to assist in the ongoing development of their script. In addition to the financial grant, the writer receives a year-long intensive fellowship and is provided with a creative advisor to serve as a mentor.

The AMC Networks Athena Emerging Writers Fellowship
This fellowship, in partnership with AMC Networks, is a direct $10,000 grant given to a episodic writer. In addition, the writer will be placed for a short time as an observer in a writers room on an AMC show.

Scripts 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;

Scripts must be anonymized to be considered;

Episodic writers cannot have had a pilot they have written produced.

Feature writers can not have had a screenplay they have written produced;

Projects (features) must be written in English and between 80 and 120 pages;

Projects (pilots) must be written in English and no more than 60 pages;

If you have been on the Athena List, you can submit a project, but it CAN NOT 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 episodic lab, you can submit a project to the screenwriters lab and vice-versa;

Scripts based on existing material will be considered as long as the writer(s) have secured the underlying rights to the source material;

There will be only one submission fee for all phases of the lab to be considered for the lab;

Following the first phase of the lab, writers will need to submit a rewrite of their script to be considered for phase three; failure to do so will result in being ineligible for participation;

Participation in phase one and phase two of the lab does not guarantee participation in phase three of the lab.

We charge a $65.00 submission fee for the Athena Film Festival Writers Lab.

The Athena Film Festival encourages applications from people of all races, religions, national origins, sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and ages, as well as veterans and individuals with disabilities. We strongly encourage you to apply if you are from a marginalized or underrepresented group, particularly in the film industry.

No writer will ever be turned away due to a lack of funds. To request a waiver for the submission fee, email and explain your circumstances.

Overall Rating
  • Jo Rochelle

    The writer's lab was wonderful! The mentors and directors of the lab really invested in us, and gave specific resources and advice to help advance our careers. The entire experience was well-organized and I hope to be a part of The Athena Film Festival again!

    March 2024
  • lisa Cole

    Terrific writer's lab with engaged supportive expert mentors, facilitators & guest speakers. The time spent was very helpful for my project and myself professionally. Highly recommend!

    March 2023
  • 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