Women in Film and TV Vancouver's From Our Dark Side genre competition beckons female writers

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      Since it's All Hallows' Eve, here's a frightfully timely screenwriting competition to take note of.

      From the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot to Jennifer Kent's 2014 Australian horror The Babadook and Karyn Kusama's 2015 U.S. horror-thriller The Invitation, numerous female filmmakers have been exploring and reinvigorating genre filmmaking with long-neglected perspectives and fresh takes that challenge, defy, or redefine traditionally male-dominated territory and sexist stereotypes.

      Consequently, Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) is helping to propel this momentum by running an English-language competition—held in partnership with Creative BC, Super Channel, Telefilm Canada, and Telus—that will also potentially help to address the underrepresentation of women in screen-based industries.

      WIFTV's From Our Dark Side competition is open to all Canadian female writers interested in creating a genre film project.

      By genre film, they're referring to thrillers, westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, or horror (or a combination of these).

      The Invitation

      A jury of genre creators will choose 10 runners-up and five winners. The five winners will each receive a $500 cash prize and the opportunity to participate in a six-month incubator program from March to August in 2018.

      The incubator will include beginning the program at the 2018 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, consultations with film-industry professionals, and attending Montreal's Frontières International Co-Production Market in July. (Full accreditation and partial travel subsidies will be included.)

      In March and June between the two industry events, winners will work on their projects (under guidance) to create a 15-page treatment, a pitch, and a promotional package to take to the Montreal market.

      Director Rachel Talalay (right), with actor Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers on the set of On the Farm

      Consultants will include directors Rachel Talalay (Sherlock) and Karen Lam (Evangeline), producers Rupert Harvey (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Elizabeth Yake (It's All Gone Pete Tong), screenwriters Dennis Heaton (Fido) and Peggy Thompson (Better Than Chocolate), and digital marketing strategy expert Annelise Larson.

      What's great is that you don't have to have had screenwriting training—no previous film writing experience is required and resubmissions are welcome.

      Furthermore, they're not looking for a completed script but just a three- to five-page genre film outline of an original concept for a narrative feature film.

      "Whether or not you are a fan or previous writer of the genre, there will be likely much you can learn through this incubator," the WIFTV website explains. "And concepts (rather than scripts) will have the most flexibility to take advantage of that learning."


      What is required is a female protagonist and representation of women's roles within the proposed narrative.

      The deadline is January 5.

      For full details, including submission guidelines, visit the WIFTV website or From Our Dark Side Contest Facebook webpage. But whatever you do—don't go into the basement!