Image: The 2018/2019 Emerging Writers Fellowship Recipients (L to R): Derek Asaff, Sarah Cho, Nicolas Delgado De La Camara, Nandita Seshadri, Andrew Ruiz and Harsha Rao.
Applications are now open for the Universal Writers Program, a year-long paid fellowship program for up-and-coming and experienced screenwriters. The program seeks to develop storytellers who organically incorporate multicultural and global perspectives in screenwriting.
The primary goal of the one-year program is for the selected writers to create material for development consideration; however, concept development is not guaranteed. In addition to penning two feature-length scripts, writers will participate in a curriculum designed to strengthen their creative approach, personal presentation skills and overall knowledge of the studio production process.
The writers are guided by executives, producers and designated creative consultants. The program also provides access to agents, managers and various industry professionals through meetings and/or events designed to facilitate relationships that can prove invaluable in developing a screenwriting career.
The Universal Writers Program typically starts at the beginning of May and runs until the end of April of the following year. The number of writers selected to participate varies each year. All of the participants will be based at the Universal Studios Lot in Universal City, California, for the duration of the program and all will be hired under a writing service agreement requiring a full-time commitment at least 40 hours per week. In return, each will be paid an annual salary of $75,000. Applicants must be able to legally work in the United States and be at least 21 years of age by 31 March 2020.
To apply for the program, writers should supply:
- An original screenplay between 90 and 120 pages that exhibits the writer’s distinct and cultural perspective, storytelling sense, and wide audience appeal.
- An original treatment for a project other than the submitted original screenplay (up to 5 pages).
- A resume outlining their work history. This may include both entertainment and non-entertainment related positions.
- A personal essay up to 750 words that articulates the applicant’s unique perspective and background as it relates to their storytelling.
- Up to two letters of recommendation (optional).
Both the screenplay and treatment must be wholly original. Adaptations, biopics and screenplays based on underlying materials are not eligible. There is no application fee, however, there is a cost in registering a script and treatment with the Writers Guild of America.
Applications for the Universal Writers Program close at 11.59pm PST on Tuesday 1 October.
For full fellowship and application details visit the Universal Global Talent Development & Inclusion Website.
The organisers of the Universal Writers Program provide the following list of recommended resources to writers interested in applying for the program:
- Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
- The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
- The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
- The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell
- Rewrite by Paul Chitlik
- Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
- Screenplay by Syd Field
- Story by Robert McKee
- The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
- Writing Screenplays that Sell by Michael Hauge
- Balls of Steel/Jeanne Bowerman (Script Magazine)
- Go Into the Story/Scott Meyers (The Black List)
- Wordplay/Terry Rossio