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Directing Lab

What is the Directing Lab?

Designed for directors who are prepping their independent feature films, Film Independent’s Directing Lab is an intensive eight-week program that runs in Los Angeles from Mid-February to Mid-April. 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. 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.


Robbie Pickering, DL ’07
Natural Selection

Past Projects

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

Past Mentors

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 (TwilightThirteen), 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 Directing Lab are currently closed


How to Apply:

A maximum of eight projects will be selected for the lab. 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 following materials for consideration:

  • 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)

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 at the standard rate of $95. Documentary, short film, and television projects are not eligible to apply. Submitted DVD materials will not be returned.

Selection Criteria

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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