Australian writers selected for Sundance Screenwriting Lab

12 January, 2016 by Harry Windsor

Talia Zucker and Will Jaymes

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Three young Australian writers have had their project selected for the 2016 January Screenwriters Lab, a five-day writers' workshop at the Sundance Resort in Utah beginning January 15.

Written by Talia Zucker, Will Jaymes and Tom McKeith, In Vitro is described by Jaymes as "a psychological sci-fi thriller set in a very real world – not set in the future. Our story is about a young woman who is kept in isolation on a cattle ranch in northern America and slowly comes to realise the truth about her existence".

Jaymes and McKeith co-wrote Beast, the Manila-set boxing drama which premiered in Toronto last year. Jaymes also acted in it, playing the film's heavy. 

Zucker and James are both based in Los Angeles, where they moved a few years ago after each was nominated for the Heath Ledger Scholarship. Zucker has appeared in the likes of Lake Mungo and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

The pair, who met in Los Angeles, describe the Sundance Labs application as "quite a long process".

The initial submission involved a detailed treatment, after which "we had to submit a full script at the second stage", Zucker said,"and then we were invited in for a interview with a panel of five or six people from the feature film program".

Jaymes and Zucker fly to Utah on Friday, where Jaymes calls the Lab "the best opportunity to get the script as good as possible. It's a starting point, and the support you get from Sundance along the way is invaluable moving into production. And when it comes to getting the film out there as well."

The Sundance Labs are proven nurseries – nine films supported by the Feature Film Program will premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, Michelle Satter, said, “We’re excited to welcome sixteen new Fellows to the January Screenwriters Lab, which is the beginning of a year-round customized system of creative and tactical support. The filmmakers reflect a broad and diverse spectrum of independent storytelling from the U.S. and around the world, all bringing a personal and distinctive voice and aesthetic to the projects we selected.”

For Jaymes and Zucker, it's the beginning of a pathway they hope will lead to production. Where that will be is anybody's guess.

For Jaymes, it comes down to finding "one spectacular location. That could be Australia or Canada or the US. We've been really lucky with how much support we've gotten from Screen NSW and Screen Australia. As Aussies, we'd love to bring it home. It's set on a cattle farm in Wyoming, so we just have to see whether we can make that work".

Both writer-actors describe the Australians in Film organisation as instrumental in helping them transition to LA, where both are now settled.

"There's a really good community of Aussies out here making work and doing really well", Zucker said, "It's a good place to be". 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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