Universal has opened applications for the studio’s Writers Program, a new initiative that seeks to identify up-and-coming screenwriters with unique points of view.
The paid program lasts one year and gives aspiring scribes the opportunity to develop two feature scripts under the guidance of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation production executives in addition to support from the studio’s first-look producers. After its redesign in 2017, the program has also expanded its submissions criteria to include live-action and animation hybrid scripts with an emphasis on live-action content.
Producer advisers for the 2019 program include Seven Bucks Productions’ Hiram Garcia, Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman, UnbeliEVAble’s Eva Longoria, Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Simpson Street’s Kerry Washington and Pascal Pictures’ Amy Pascal. In the past, Amblin Partners, Blumhouse Productions, Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman’s Brownstone Productions, Chris Morgan Productions, Dylan Clark Productions, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Productions, Marc Platt Productions, Michael De Luca Productions, Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment and Will Packer Productions have also been involved.
Recent alumni of the program include Omid Ghaffarian, who is developing an untitled project with Universal Pictures, as well as Juel Taylor, currently working with Universal and Lebron James’ production company, Springhill Entertainment. Other television credits for program alumni include Steven Martinez, a staff writer for CBS’s “Bull,” Margaret Rose Lester, a staff writer for NBC’s “Manifest” and Ivy Pruss, a story editor for OWN’s “Greenleaf.”
“Each year when we open submissions, we notice an enthusiastic rise in awareness surrounding our program, which solidifies the importance of a platform like this for so many talented voices looking to tell their stories,” said Janine Jones-Clark, senior VP of global talent development and inclusion. “We have been seeing tremendous success with our ever-growing pool of program alumni, and we could not be more excited to identify a new class of writers to collaborate with next year.”
Applications are due Oct. 1, with the program’s launch date set for May 2020.