I’m up at Sundance for the summer filmmakers’ lab, where I’ve worked as an advisor for the past seven years.
For those unfamiliar with the labs, it’s a workshop in which newer filmmakers (generally writer-directors) meet with established screenwriters in one-on-one sessions to sort out issues in their scripts. There’s a winter lab, which occurs right before the festival in January, and a summer lab, which includes a three-week directing component before the week-long screenwriting portion. Many notable films have come out of the Sundance labs, including PARADISE NOW, BOYS DON’T CRY, and HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH.
This year, there are 13 projects, five of which I’m reading. This morning, I met with James Ponsoldt on his script REFRESH, REFRESH. In the afternoon, I met with JJ Lask on THIS IS NOT A PIPE. They were both challenging projects, and great meetings.
What I love about the labs is that it’s a completely safe place. There are no agendas, no secret motivations. The advisers all genuinely want to help the fellows make the best movies they choose to make, with no “shoulds” or “oughtas.” There’s not a single movie up here that I would have written, yet they’re all fascinating, original, and deeply personal. You end up learning as much about the filmmaker as the script.
I have a hunch that an unusually high percentage of the films in development at this year’s lab will make it to the screen. You can see a complete list of the projects here.