Big Vision Empty Wallet Chooses All-Female Screenwriting Fellowship Roster

Big Vision Empty Wallet Chooses All-Female Screenwriting Fellowship Roster

At the kick-off
meeting for Big Vision Empty Wallet‘s 2013 Screenwriting Fellowship we laughed,
shared our industry horror stories, toasted our successes, and examined our
creative goals.  My business partner,
Alex Cirillo, and I discussed how lucky we are to be working in the industry at
this time when new avenues have opened to create and release your own work,
possibly shifting the balance of power back to us, the creators.  Three bottles of wine polished off, fruit and
cheese spread devoured, and fellowship goals set, we leave the meeting
invigorated and inspired to get to work. 
What set this kick-off
meeting apart from others is that the three screenwriters that make up our 2013
Screenwriting Fellowship roster are all women, and supporting and working with
other hardworking women left us with a high that had nothing to do with the
wine.

The goal of BVEW’s six
month Screenwriting Showcase & Fellowship is to showcase the work of the
Screenwriting Fellows, getting it into the hands of industry decision-makers
and independent producers.  By the end of
the fellowship, the goal is that each script will be sold or in pre-production.  It didn’t surprise me one bit that all of our
fellows have decided that they want to produce their own work, rather than aim
to sell.  As women, we often have to be
producing our own work to get it made, and as a female
producer/writer/entrepreneur, I definitely don’t think that’s a bad thing.  There are now so many highly capable,
creative female producers out there making a huge impact on the industry, and
actively supporting and collaborating with other smart women.

Of course, the
selection of three women was a topic of conversation at the fellowship
meeting.  As it is with most of our
competitions, fellowships, and other incentives, the majority of the applicants
were men – 69% to be precise.  When we
first launched BVEW in 2010 the percentage of female applicants to our
screening opportunities and writing competitions were fewer than 25%.  So what changed?  Are more women willing to put themselves out
there or are there more opportunities that appeal to female creatives?

Although the data
regarding women in Hollywood is still bleak, I’ve certainly noticed a shift in
New York, where I’m based.  We are
consistently screening cutting-edge work from female creators at our events and
more of our female members are taking charge of their own careers, creating
their own content, setting up pitch meetings for themselves, and not sacrificing
their femininity to do so.  The three
fellows that we chose had projects that were not only well-written, but also
very produceable at any budget level. 
Through the fellowship we’re investing not only in these three
screenplays, but also in these three powerhouse women we believe will be
gamechangers given the proper guidance.

Our LA-based fellow, Lauren Schacher, has noticed an increased
desire for women writers and directors there, as well.  “Granted, the shift is slight, almost
minute, but it’s there.  It’s an exciting
time to be a female creator in film. It seems as though people are finally
hungry enough for a diversity in storytelling that women are breaking through
in writing and directing and men are taking chances on more diverse female
characters in their own pieces,” Lauren told me over email.

Lauren is an actor and writer who can currently
be seen in IFC’s THE CANYONS.  Her script
that we selected for our fellowship, Dream Catcher, centers around a young college student who predicts a mass shooting with her
dreams and seeks the help of a bitter radio personality before her
premonitions hit too close to home.

At our rooftop
fellowship meeting Jenna Laurenzo, who is a wonderfully talented
writer/director/actor/producer, was updating us about the status of her film Rose
Buds
, where
what begins as a typical
Thanksgiving quickly unravels as Rose learns more about her family than she
ever realized.  In 2011,
Jenna wrote and starred in the comedic web series Parker & Maggie, featured in Nylon Magazine, and she has
recently been pitching her TV projects Water
with Lemon
, Searching for X, and Lesson Plan.

Amy Staats, an actor/writer/producer who works in both theatre and film, is
setting out to produce
Mr. Rawls

about a teenager,
DD, who has loads of friends and none of them know her secret,
except for her nemesis: Mr. Rawls, her hideously boring 7th grade
math teacher. What do you do when your sworn enemy turns out to be your only
ally? 

All
three films feature strong female leads who exemplify the independent and
strong thinkers that our fellows are themselves.  I know all three of these films will get
made, and perhaps that was what made our first fellowship meeting different
from meetings we’ve had in the past. 
These women will prevail and we are so happy to be guiding them through
the process. 

 _____________________________

Dani Faith Leonard is the founder and CEO of Big Vision Empty
Wallet
, a platform for artists and innovators to develop and showcase their
work.  She’s also a freelance producer
and sketch comedy writer.  

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