Outfest Names 2022 Screenwriting Lab Fellows

exclusiveOutfest has selected ten queer and transgender writers from a variety of backgrounds for its 2022 Screenwriting Lab.

Participants engage in long script work during the roughly week-long program from today through Friday, December 9, including Bri J. Hernandez (Boys in teams), Donovan Toledo (fat lip), James Acker (sadboi), Joseph Sackett (cross pollination), Katie Heaney (My ex-wife’s wedding) and Vernon Jordan III (Lavender boy).

Those who work on spin-off projects are Estevan (Prepared corn), Paloma Riojas (shepherd), Rhea Saxena (Matchmakers) and Robin Mendev (Small village).

Then, there are thirteen additional notable writers selected to receive industry support from Outfest. These clerks are Adelina Anthony, Adina Kruskal, Chase Ridgeley, Drew Burnett Gregory, Ernesto Martinez, Gerard Sciacca, Joseph Pellegrino, Kate Amy, Nathan Pearson, Nick Janay, Robert Cunningham, Sebastian Rea, and Stevie Wynne.

The Outfest Screenwriting Lab was created in 1997 as a screenwriting competition, and has since become a cornerstone of Outfest’s artist development and education programs. In addition to working on their scripts, this year’s group will attend industry seminars and be mentored by models, writers, producers, studio and network executives, and screenwriters from the discerning LGBTQIA+ community. One of the industry leaders involved this time is Alvaro Rodriguez (Six hands), Brian Boone (CAA), Chloe Keenan (One female drunk), Cole Galvin (Netflix), Jeffrey Richman (Modern Family), John August (big fish), Latoya Morgan (fatherhood), Mercedes Valley (Legends of Tomorrow in DC), Sanaz Yamin (Day Zero Productions), Ryan O’Connell (Special) and Will Graham (Mozart in the woods), among others.

“The Outfest Screenwriting Lab is a testament to the power of community. An inclusive LGBTI+ experience, the entire lab is dedicated to us,” said Kieran Medina, Director of Educational Programs at Outfest, Kieran Medina. For 25 years, Outfest has created a community of creative and professional support where non-binary, trans, and non-binary storytellers and stories can be held with care and understood in full bloom.”

“Outfest’s Screenwriting Lab is an important part of the organization’s larger vision of cultivating belonging for LGBTQ and non-binary creators by facilitating mentorship to support a sustainable creative journey,” added Martyn McDonald, director of artist development for the nonprofit. “It is care-driven storytelling like this that is changing our communities, the creative industry, and the wider world.”

The 2022 Screenwriters Lab is being run in partnership with Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity. It was developed by Outfest board members Zackery Alexzander Stephens, Kyle Schmitz, Ranard Caldwell and Valerie Stadler, along with former Outfest board member Cora Olson, Outfest Director of Educational Programs Kieran Medina and Outfest Artist Development Director Martin MacDonald.

Through its partnership with Netflix, Outfest has expanded access to the program by waiving the application fee for all applications, with companies also offering career sustainability grants to help financially support each of the fellows. With this expanded reach, the Outfest Screenwriting Lab has received a record number of over 900 submissions, more than double the amount received in 2021.

Read more about the 2022 Screenwriting Fellows and their projects below.

Bri J. HERNANDEZ (they/they)

Bri J. Hernandez is a 23-year-old Latino writer and director. Brie has worked since she was sixteen and has spent the past seven years developing her skills as a creator by producing her own projects using art, theater and film. As an advocate for many social rights causes, Berry has prioritized creating materials that foster new conversations and help amplify the voices of people of color. Their work primarily focuses on coming of age, friendship and identity. They currently live in Austin with their best friend and their cats.

Boys in gangs (advantage)

A teenage transgender boy must keep his life secret as a singer for a male garage band, away from his traditional Latino family.

Donovan Toledo (he/she)

Donovan Toledo is a writer and producer based in New York City who was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in the Philippines and Chicago. His written work often centers around the Asian-American experience, addressing immigration, sexuality, and masculinity. He received his MFA from Columbia University in May 2022. His Columbia work has been featured at Newfest, and his dissertation is short. fat lip It has received support from the Panavision New Filmmakers Programme, has been shortlisted for a National Board of Review student grant, and is currently on the film festival circuit.

fat lip (advantage)

Benjie, a nerdy Asian American prep school student, falls in love with a rebellious sk8er boi. To get his attention, Benjie must shed his manic immigrant persona and transform into an extreme, emo, all-American teenager.

Estevan (he/it)

Estevan is a first-generation Mexican-American writer, director, and actor born and raised in South Central Phoenix, Arizona. Estefan writes plays of the human experience that explore sexuality, nostalgia, and otherness. He is the co-host of the comedy podcast Your gay cousins ​​with Michael and Estefan. Recently, he wrote on Love in cutenessBizarre audio anthology series. Previously, Estefan was the assistant writer and co-writer of an episode of the character-driven sexual assault drama, Long slow exhalation (Domain). He was also the PA for the writers in the second season of The The best in Los Angeles (Spectrum / Fox). Estefan began his career as Director of Television Development and Programming at Dick Clark Productions, writing red carpet specials and award shows. Was in Sony Pictures Television Studio’s Emerging Writers Program Inaugural 2021 and Estevan’s Original Drama Pilot X Winner of the 2020 Script Pipeline Award for Television Writing. Estefan has a BFA in Film and Television Studies from the University of Arizona and currently resides in Los Angeles.

Stomach corn (accidental)

This semi-autobiographical drama follows Chicano and her husband who return to Arizona for a quinceanera, but when his conservative mother discovers PrEP in his bags, he has to come clean about his open relationship as family secrets are revealed.

James Acker (he/she)

James Acker grew up in New Jersey, and he built his entire persona on that fact. In 2003, his joke was published in Nickelodeon Magazine. After a brief hiatus from writing, he was awarded a 2020 Nicole Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellowship for film screenplay. SADBOI. Sports youth romance The long-term Debuts Feb 23. When he’s not writing, James lives in Los Angeles with his wonderfully supportive partner and recurring jitters.

SADBOI (advantage)

After being kicked out of the house, an emotionally stunted high schooler must revisit old friends and repair burnt bridges, all in order to find a place to sleep.

Joseph Sackett (he/it)

Joseph Sackett is an award-winning film director who has written, directed and produced projects that have screened in competition at Cannes, Outfest, Slam Dance, Roof Top Films Summer Series and more. He has a master’s degree in Screenwriting and Directing from New York University Tisch Graduate Film. He was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2020” and is a 2022 Marth MOCA resident by The Cabins Collaborative. his first feature, the home, premiered at Outfest LA where it won the Emerging Talent Award. He is currently developing his next feature, cross pollinationwhich was named to the 2022 NYU Purple List.

through pollution (advantage)

A whimsical romantic sci-fi movie about an alien who falls in love with a human.

Katie Hianni (she/it)

Katie Heene is an author, screenwriter, and journalist based in Los Angeles. She has written six books, including a memoir I haven’t done it before And the do you prefer?and novels Dear Emma (A modern adaptation of Jane Austen whatever), Public relations (currently available for film), girl crushAnd the The year I stopped trying. Her recent 2018 essay “Am I Gay or Straight? Maybe This Fun Quiz Will Tell Me” was adapted for Amazon Modern love TV series in 2021. My ex-wife’s wedding It is her first feature screenplay.

My ex-wife’s wedding (advantage)

When a recently divorced lesbian learns her ex (already!) is remarrying, she has to scramble to find a date she can introduce as her friend to prove she’s okay too, thanks too.

Paloma Riojas (she/it)

Paloma Riojas is an eccentric man who strives to create stories that authentically explore the complexities of being human. She has been a Blacklist Latinx TV List and premiere of Mentorship Matters in collaboration with Netflix, HBO and Amazon. Paloma is currently developing shows with Cedar Park Entertainment and SB Projects. She has been an assistant writer for Showtime and Paramount+ and was previously an Executive Director of Development. Her work has premiered at Sundance and Cannes. Paloma holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Represented by UTA and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC.

shepherd (accidental)

Dr. Luz Garza, an accomplished scientist wrongfully accused of murder, becomes a fugitive when she discovers her twin, who died ten years ago, is still alive. On a mission to find her sister, Luz and her loyal allies are drawn into a compelling plot tied to Luz’s past, present, and future.

Rhea Saxena (she/her)

Rhea Saxena is a South Asian American writer, stand-up comedian and improvisation based in Chicago. She trained in improvisation at The Second City and studied writing at the Comedy Lab. Currently, a first-year medical student at Northwestern University, Ria has continued to write and perform. Most recently, she performed at Second City as part of the “Evergreen” improv team. As a writer, Ria aims to provide authentic representation and accelerate intergenerational dialogue about differences within South Asian society. Inspired by Bollywood, her writing fuses magical realism with a focus on the lived experiences of the South Asian community.

matchmakers (accidental)

Heartstopper Meets I haven’t done it before When a trio of anarchic South Asian teens are accidentally turned into a matchmaker for their community, they must navigate ancient traditions, growing friendships, and modern-day love.

Ruben Mendev (he/it)

Rubyn Mendev is an eccentric, previously undocumented Mexican immigrant who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He was a writer/producer for Brown & Out V, a queer Latino theater festival, at Casa 0101 Theater in 2019 and directing TV writing at Lena Waithe’s 2022 Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab. He is also a host La Lista: Latinx Writers Podcast, a platform dedicated to connecting and highlighting Latino voices in the media. His writings address issues of immigration, LGBT identity, and race politics in America. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Small village (accidental)

The documentary crew follows the adventures of an eccentric Chicago City Councilman as he deals with personal and old school politics.

Vernon Jordan, III (he/they)

Vernon Jordan III is a Philadelphia-born writer, film director, poet, and artist. As an African futurist, he expands on African-American memories, dreams, haunts, queer kinship, and intimate fluidity. His priority is to integrate the visual and the musical: a visual lyricist. He holds a BA from Muhlenberg College (16) and an MFA from Brooklyn College (19), and is currently Assistant Director of Programs for cinéSpeak and Professor of Screenwriting aka Poetics of the Screen at Moore College of Art and Design. their short film 2022, Afternoon on a purple dayplayed at 7 film festivals across the US and 2 internationally.

Lavender baby (advantage)

Lavender boy is a semi-autobiographical feature film about a young boy who is disturbed by his ancestors’ ability to see ghosts. But when his pop is gone, a young boy is left to discover this gift on his own and help a strange spirit on the journey of reconnecting with love.


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