Director's Lab
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Directing Lab

What is the Directing Lab?

Designed to help directors who are prepping their independent feature films, the Directing Lab is an intensive eight-week program that runs in Los Angeles in February and March. Under the guidance of the Lab Mentors, Directing Lab Fellows receive script feedback, discuss the vision for their films, and select short scenes from their scripts to workshop. Fellows cast actors and go through an in-class rehearsal of their scenes. Finally, each Directing Lab Fellow goes through a mini-production, learning how to break down a script into a shot list, collaborate with cinematographers, and construct a scene in the editing process. A maximum of eight projects are selected.

Film Independent provides the Lab Fellows with digital camera and sound packages, as well as a small stipend to shoot their scenes. All scenes are then critiqued by the Lab Mentors as well as the other Fellows.

Film Independent membership is not required when applying to Film Independent Artist Development Labs. However, all participants accepted into the Labs are required to be Film Independent members.

Directing Lab Fellows receive:

Robbie Pickering is a Film Independent Directing Lab Alum

Past Directing Lab projects include: Robbie Pickering’s Natural Selection (Winner SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award); Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka, (2009 Sundance Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award Winner at 2009 Cannes Film Festival); Tina Mabry’s Mississippi Damned (Grand Jury Award 2009 Outfest Film Festival, 2009 Slamdance Film Festival); Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, (2009 Los Angeles Film Festival); Jennifer Phang’s Half Life (2008 Sundance Film Festival); Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey (2007 Los Angeles Film Festival); and Mario de la Vega’s Robbing Peter (2005 Spirit Award Nominee) and Sheldon Candis’ LUV (2012 Sundance Film Festival).

Past Directing Lab Mentors include Allison Anders (Gas, Food LodgingThings Behind the Sun), Alfredo De Villa (Washington Heights, Adrift in Manhattan), Anthony Drazan (Hurlyburly), Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs, Nine Lives), Keith Gordon (The Singing DetectiveWaking the Dead), Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen), Charles Herman Wurmfeld (Kissing Jessica SteinLegally Blonde), Nicole Holofcener (Friends With MoneyLovely and Amazing), Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body); Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me, Eve’s Bayou), Jeremy Podeswa (Fugitive PiecesThe Five Senses) and Andrew Wagner (Starting Out in the Evening).

Applications for the 2014 lab will open July 2014

How to Apply:

To be eligible, you must be attached as the director of a feature-length narrative film. Directing teams are welcome to apply together. Applicants must submit the online application, which includes:

  • Cover Letter explaining your interest in the Directing Lab
  • Complete feature-length screenplay
  • Logline and synopsis
  • Bios of key cast and crew attached
  • Project status and history
  • Prior work sample (DVD or online link)
  • Non-refundable application fee ($45 Film Independent Member; $65 Non-Member)
  • Non-Member applicants accepted into the Directing Lab are required to become current Film Independent Members at the standard rate of $95 or above

Documentary, short film, and television projects are not eligible to apply. Submitted DVD materials will not be returned.

We are looking for talented filmmakers who have feature length narrative film projects that are compelling, original, and demonstrate a filmmaker’s uniqueness of vision. We are open to first-time directors as well as filmmakers who have previously directed shorts and features. If you do not have directing experience, it is important that you convey as much about yourself in your application as you can, i.e. your artistic sensibility and what experience you have that will inform your work as a director.

Aside from the application fee, there is no tuition to attend Film Independent’s Artist Development Programs.

Film Independent offers the Filmmaker Labs to support emerging writers, directors, and producers in the development of their craft as well as their projects. We ask that once completed, films that have been supported by the Labs include the end credit “Developed with the help of the Film Independent Filmmaker Labs” with the Film Independent logo.

Got questions? We’ve got answers. Click here for Filmmaker Labs FAQs.

For more information, please contact Angela Lee, Artist Development Manager, at 310.432.1262 or



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