Submission Period Open Now Through Tuesday, October 1


UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, September 3, 2019—Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG)’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) department today announced the opening of the application period for its Writers Program now through October 1, 2019.  Beginning last year, the program expanded its submissions criteria to include live-action and animation hybrid scripts that maintain an emphasis on live-action content.  The submissions received each year have increased consistently in number and in global reach since the program’s redesign in 2017. 

The Universal Writers Program identifies experienced and up-and-coming screenwriters with unique points of view that build upon the Studio’s commitment to telling stories and creating films that reflect the vast diversity of its audiences.  The only feature film program sanctioned by the Writers Guild of America West, it inclusively develops storytellers with the intent to incorporate multicultural and global perspectives in screenwriting.  The one-year, paid program gives writers the opportunity to develop two feature scripts under the guidance of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation production executives, as well as the studio’s first-look producers.

Key producer advisors for the current 2019 class of writers include Seven Bucks Productions’ Hiram Garcia, Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman, UnbeliEVAble’s Eva Longoria, Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea and Simpson Street’s Kerry Washington.  In previous years, Universal production partners such as 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 acted as advisors for the program.

Recent alumni include Omid Ghaffarian from the 2018 Writers Program, who is currently developing an untitled project with Universal Pictures.  Ghaffarian is the first person in the history of the program to be extended by the studio to continue to develop a script.  2017 alumni Juel Taylor currently has a project in development with Universal and Lebron James’ production company, Springhill Entertainment.  Additional television credits for alumni include Steven Martinez, staff writer for CBS’s Bull; Margaret Rose Lester, staff writer for NBC’s Manifest; and Ivy Pruss, 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, SVP, Global Talent Development & Inclusion, UFEG. “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.”

The application can be found at www.UniversalTalentDevelopment.com and will be available through October 1, 2019, with the Program commencing May 2020.

Since its launch in 2017, GTDI has instated additional programs and initiatives outside of the Universal Writers Program to identify and develop a pool of creative talent, including Universal Directors Initiative and Universal Composers Initiative. Alumni of these initiatives have already garnered success on various film projects including Gandja Monteiro, who will be directing her first feature film with Universal’s Talent Show, as well as Amie Doherty, who recently scored the DreamWorks Animation short Marooned.  GTDI’s multi-tiered approach includes developing pipeline talent; tracking creative, below-the-line and workforce talent; providing diversity and inclusion notes and recommendations to production; and leading the studio’s outreach efforts. The department is a resource for all divisions within UFEG including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes.

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