Of all the criteria that you need to look for in a good screenwriting mentorship or fellowship program, the most the obvious and necessary trait is having a good track record helping writers find success. What distinguishes the best programs is passion for the art storytelling and the craft of screenwriting, and instructors and mentors who have the industry experience to offer valuable guidance to emerging talent. Beware of programs that look like they’re simply trying to make a buck teaching screenwriting basics. There is a minefield of scams and you’ll find plenty of charlatan “screenwriting gurus” out here in Hollywood. Do your research.
In over a decade of mentoring hundreds of talented writers, we know a few things about the screenwriting mentorship landscape. Here’s our list of recommended programs:
- ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship and Writer Development Program – we put our two programs right at the top because we know how much work we put in to each and every writer who is awarded our programs. Our programs have already launched over one hundred Hollywood writing careers.
- ScriptReader Pro Screenwriting Mentorship – one of the best screenwriting mentorship programs around. You can choose your dedicated mentor and choose a 3-month or 6-month mentorship program. This is the only mentorship of its kind—built by pro screenwriters for aspiring screenwriters. Learn week-by-week, step-by-step, how to dramatically improve your feature or TV script.
- Launch Pad – run by the Tracking Board, Launch Pad is possibly the industry’s most effective screenwriting competition, with hundreds of writers signed, dozens of projects optioned and sold, and even seven studio bidding wars for Launch Pad-winning screenplays and books! But did you know that Launch Pad also has a screenplay analysis service? Full disclosure, Launch Pad was recently acquired by ScreenCraft’s parent company.
- CineStory Feature Retreat and Fellowship – one of the longest-running and most prestigious screenwriting retreats in the industry. If you have the time and money to participate, it doesn’t get better than this.
- Humanitas NEW VOICES – This is more of an awards program, with a mentorship component. The Humanitas Prize is one of the industry’s top writing prizes, and their NEW VOICES screenwriting competition is dedicated to matching winning writers with industry mentors. Highly recommended.
- Rocaberti Writers Retreat – What could be more inspiring than writing your screenplay in a historic European castle, surrounded by celebrated mentors and instructors? If you have the money for this colorful program, we’ve heard it’s a wonderful experience. They also offer one full scholarship to each retreat and several partial ones.
- Stowe Story Labs – This program has quickly distinguished itself as a wonderful, effective screenwriting lab that has lead to multiple success stories and glowing reviews from past participants. Stowe has labs in multiple locations, as well as a writing retreat. And they have partial scholarships available for cash-strapped writers too.
- WeScreenplay – While not exactly a mentorship program, WeScreenplay has taken the approach of making screenplay analysis extremely affordable and fast. Their claim to fame is 4 pages of detailed notes from a professional reader delivered within 72 hours for a lower price than you can find anywhere else. WeScreenplay also produces the Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab which is dedicated to developing talented writers from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-represented in Hollywood. Full disclosure, WeScreenplay is owned by ScreenCraft’s parent company.
- The Writers Lab NYC – This prestigious program is backed by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. It’s open to female writers over 40 years of age.
- Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting – one of the industry’s oldest and most prestigious screenwriting fellowships. This program is extremely competitive, so you should only apply when you’ve had lots of professional advice on your work and you feel your work is ready.
- Studio Fellowships: NBCUniversal Writers on the Verge, Universal Writers Program, Disney Writers Program, Nickelodeon, WB TV Workshop, HBOAccess Writing Fellowship – these studio-backed fellowships and writing programs are free to apply to, and they get thousands of applications. Each one has custom criteria, so the key to success with these programs is to research them thoroughly and prepare your application carefully. Mark your calendar months ahead of the submission dates so you have time to prepare.
Additionally, there are lots of great instructors who offer mentorship and education programs, including Jen Grisanti, Pilar Alessandra, Jacob Krueger, and of course, the great Robert McKee.
All of the above programs are excellent. If you have any recommendations for programs that we may have missed, please let us know. We’d love to add to this page of resources. You can reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org