The Wassaic Screenwriter’s Residency is a month-long program dedicated to enriching a screenwriters’ work through two main principles: 1) focus on the role of writer as part of a larger community of artists. 2) focus on writer’s engagement in the community as opposed to cordoning oneself off in order to write. This is a residency experience that is singularly available at the Wassaic Project.
At the Wassaic Project, a fusion exists between how the non-profit itself is constructed – with an eye towards community building and engagement – and the layout of the unique historical architecture of our buildings, all set against the backdrop of the Hudson Valley. It is a beautiful place to write, work and build. Participating writers will find that Wassaic is a budding artistic community as well as a serene place to focus on one’s writing.
Under the umbrella of our eight-year-old Artist-in-Residence Program, Screenwriters will live as part of a larger Artist community and take part in optional artist critiques, workshops, sit in on artist visits and more. By immersing the writer in the artistic community, we believe that we are fueling the writer with equal parts inspiration and feedback, necessary to mature the project and ideas.
Writers at the Wassaic Screenwriter’s Residency will not workshop their material with fellow writers as they would at other labs and residency programs, but rather will be presenting to artists that work in a variety of disciplines – sculpture, painting, print-making, et. al. They will also have opportunities to volunteer to teach within our free “art camp” workshops for local children who have less access to art education and other activities that we believe are not only an essential part of giving back to the community around us, but also help us as artists to become better.
In addition to living in and being fully integrated into the artist’s community at The Wassaic Project, with 9 artists hailing from a variety of disciplines each month, each screenwriter will have their own studio space in which to write. Though not mandatory, we strongly encourage the screenwriters to participate in group studio visits, engage with one to four visiting critics, and participate in artist presentations at the beginning of the month.
One merit-based Screenwriter Fellowship will be awarded to an emerging writer who has demonstrated work in their respective under-represented or overlooked communities.
Candidates will have interviews with the Residency Director, Will Hutnick, and the Head of the Film Program, Liliana Greenfield-Sanders, prior to acceptance of the Screenwriter Residency program. These conversations will give candidates a sense of the program, life in Wassaic, and an option to propose a potential “wish-list” of Visiting Critics and mentors based in the New York City or the Upstate New York region.
The Mentor is very much tailored to the Screenwriter and the decision springs from a conversation about where they are in the project, in their career and what they seek to accomplish from the residency. The chosen Mentor will provide feedback through phone conversations or through visits in Wassaic or New York City region. The residency concludes with a one-on-one meeting with the Mentor to go over the screenplay and to get final feedback.
Christopher Radcliff + Lauren Wolkstein
Christopher Radcliff is an award-winning New-York based writer/director whose acclaimed short films include The Strange Ones and Jonathan’s Chest, both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and have gone on to screen at hundreds of festivals worldwide. He earned his MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University, where he also received the Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting. He was a participant in the 2012 Berlinale Talents Script Station and the 2013 IFP Emerging Storytellers Program, as well as Cinemart 2016 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where he received the Fortissimo Films/Wouter Barendrecht Award for THE STRANGE ONES, a feature-length adaptation of the short film, co-directed with Lauren Wolkstein. THE STRANGE ONES premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. In addition to his work as a writer/director, he frequently works as an editor in both narrative and documentary film. His credits include: Easy Living (2017), collective:unconscious (2016), Weiner (2016), Monster in the Mind (2016), God Loves Uganda (2013), and 16 Acres (2012).
Lauren Wolkstein is a NYC-based filmmaker originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Her award-winning short films include SOCIAL BUTTERFLY (2013 Sundance Film Festival), CIGARETTE CANDY (2010 SXSW Grand Jury Prize) and THE STRANGE ONES co-directed with Christopher Radcliff (2011 Sundance Film Festival). Lauren and Christopher adapted THE STRANGE ONES into their first feature film of the same name, starring James Freedson-Jackson and Alex Pettyfer, which world premiered to critical acclaim at the SXSW Film Festival in 2017. Lauren also recently completed COLLECTIVE:UNCONSCIOUS, a collaborative feature spearheaded by Dan Schoenbrun (with directors Josephine Decker, Lily Baldwin, Daniel Carbone, and Frances Bodomo), which was the first omnibus to premiere in the Narrative Feature Competition at SXSW in 2016. She was named one of the top twenty-five emerging filmmakers through The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Independent Filmmaker Project’s inaugural Emerging Visions program at the 2011 New York Film Festival. Filmmaker Magazine listed her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013. Lauren received her MFA in film directing from Columbia University and is an assistant professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University.
Mark Elijah Rosenberg
Head of Rooftop Films (Ad Inexplorata)
Our inaugural Screenwriter Fellow,Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan is the writer/director/star of APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She’s also the co-creator and star of the award-winning web series THE SLOPE, a comedy about a pair of superficial, homophobic lesbians in love. Desiree was recently as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and will appear on the next season of GIRLS. She has a BA from Smith College and an MFA from NYU’s Grad Film Program.
Desiree Akhivan joined us in the Hamlet during September of 2014. Her films were featured in the 2014 Summer Festival. The Screen Writing Fellowship is by invitation only made by our Film Committee.