Talent Development Labs Serving Writers for Film and Television
The Athena Film Festival Writers Lab is a three-day creative development workshop for emerging writers which provides storytellers with creative guidance, training, industry access, and a valuable, supportive network. All projects must feature a woman/women at the center of the story.
Participants in Athena’s Writing Labs have gone on to write for popular series including the CW’s Riverdale, Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia and Grey’s Anatomy.
2023 Fall Lab
Backlog by Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal
Valerie Neumann is a young, innocent college girl and although popular, she always feels like an outsider looking in. She urgently awaits her 21st birthday, when she feels her life will begin, but finds herself sexually assaulted by a friend who completely turns her life around, and leads her to be ignored by the police for years, as she attempts to get justice and have her rape kit tested, instead of shelved. Slowly, she begins to repair her life and trust, by using her voice and encouraging others to do so, with the fate of the rape kit backlog’s testing seemingly landing on Valeries’ shoulders as the key witness in the trial to end the rape kit backlogs once and for all.
Talk Black by Destiny Macon
A timid engineer develops a wild and expressive split personality to help her speak up to the boy’s club at work and prevent “urban renewal” in a historically black neighborhood.
The Countess by Irina Rodriguez
The Countess is the true story of Ada Lovelace, a Victorian woman whose groundbreaking work with Charles Babbage earned her the pivotal role of history’s first computer programmer.
The Pepper by Christine Garver
In 1930s Carmel, a brilliant, tenacious immigrant becomes the muse and lover of acclaimed photographer Edward Weston, but as she helps his reputation grow she struggles to find the space for her own ambitions in the dark room of a genius. Based on a true story.
Smut Club by Abby Alleyne Brooke
In the early 2010s, bookish virgin SAM GREEN unexpectedly finds herself leading an underground erotic FanFiction club at her uptight New England boarding school. At first a reluctant leader, Sam comes to understand that her gift for writing sexy scenes can help other students figure out who they are and what they want. But she’ll have to go toe-to-toe with an uptight school administration intent on stamping out any and all “indecent” materials on campus — all while applying to college, not getting expelled, and maybe even falling in love for real.
A Jamaican in Alaska by Kaci Hamilton
When poor-little-rich-girl Rebecca Kincaid is charged with assaulting a fellow Miss Jamaica pageant contestant, her father, the prime minister, sends her to cool off in the the first place he can think of: Alaska.
Hot Town by Megan Rees
Video of the captain of Oakland’s only all-female fire station in an altercation with a police officer at the scene of an incident becomes viral and leads the mayor to threaten her with disbanding the station. The captain steps down in an ultimate sacrifice, in order to preserve the sanctity of the all-women station, but she does so believing her closest friend and lieutenant will take over. She’s horribly surprised to find out this lieutenant decides to run for mayor which means she’ll have to leave the station.
La Forza by Justine Beed
LA FORZA is a semi-historical dramedy following the electric life of physicist Laura Bassi – the first female professor. And the husband who was her assistant.
The Third Period by Emma Zetterberg
When Jude, a talented and ambitious college hockey coach, sees her chance to become the first female coach in the NHL, she takes it. However, the cost of winning over the team and the other coaches in order to lead them to victory means she might lose herself along the way.
White Hat by Sarah Granger
A scrappy, female-led team of cybersecurity experts enters the male dominated world of ethical hacking startups. On the brink of losing their funding, they chase a long shot government deal in an attempt to show investors, prospects, competitors, and the media that they have what it takes.
Old Magic by Sarah Parga
Recently divorced and nearing retirement, Tess joins a book club, only to discover by joining she has accidentally completed a coven and unlocked actual magic. Now, these older women will have to figure out how to own their powers in a world that says they should be powerless. Along the way, they will battle dark forces, demons, and arthritis.
The Land of Milk & Honey by Gem Little
In recent years, tech mogul, FRANCIS MAJORS revived a small town town and turned it into a beloved tech incubator designed to be a contemporary Black Wall Street. He’s invited 30 Black in Tech Accelerator (BeTA) fellows and their families to move to Honeyville for four years, each receiving a $1 million stipend and start-up funds for their own tech startup. Our pilot begins in Honeyville nearly four years after the BTA fellows moved there and just a few months before the inaugural cohort will finish their contracts. Tonight is their graduation ceremony and something’s gone horribly awry.
2023 Spring Lab
A Bridge Between Us by Gina Hackett
Devoted wife Emily reluctantly steps into her husband’s role as chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge when he’s paralyzed during its Victorian-era construction, encountering jealousy and discrimination as she becomes the world’s first female engineer. Based on a true story, A BRIDGE BETWEEN US tracks the building of a bridge and the collapse of a marriage.
Houseguests by Ida Yazdi
When family members overstay their welcome, a seemingly happy couple’s bond is strained as they are forced to confront their own insecurities about their future.
Mileva by Emilija Gasic and Nicola Lanthier-Rogers
As a young girl, Mileva Marić fights for the best possible education in physics and mathematics, earning a spot at an all-boys high school and, eventually, the Swiss Polytechnic. But despite great talent, intelligence, and drive, through her adult life Mileva lacks opportunity due to patriarchal limitations and expectations. Mileva is the story of an incredible woman whose cosmic collision with Albert Einstein results in a star-crossed romance, a brutal divorce, and the theory of relativity itself.
Miss Christian Babe by Aizzah Fatima
An awkward Muslim teenager in small town Mississippi sets out to win the Miss Christian Babe pageant in order to prove her American-ness.
Squad Goals by Averi Isreal
The five Black students of Carolina Preparatory School’s senior class are trying to get into college, but like also get prom dates and not burn the pizza rolls, and like, also survive the KKK and the 2012 Obama-Romney election in their racially insensitive, Conservative town.
Dead Planet by Audrey and Hallie McPherson
When a disgraced astrophysicist obsessed with finding extraterrestrials loses her job and becomes the laughing stock of the scientific community, she takes a job as a science advisor on a sci-fi show that takes her even closer to finding aliens.
Non-Profit by Martina Lee
Non-profit is a one-hour dramedy about a former businesswoman who tries to rebuild her life after her release from prison by joining a non-profit organization made up of a group of community organizers that can’t seem to organize their personal lives.
The Home Front by Rosalind Grush
Imperial College, London, 1915: A brilliant female chemist organizes a top-secret team of all-women scientists to develop weapons strong beat back the Germans. Inspired by true events, this is the story of a band of women who fought for suffrage and equal treatment in the workplace while serving their country on the dangerous frontlines of inventing chemical warfare.
Untitled Sui Sin Far Pilot by Kelly Tsai
Based on the true story of Edith Maude Eaton (Sui Sin Far), a biracial Chinese Canadian woman journalist navigates the complicated racial and gender dynamics of late 19th century Montreal as she fights to provide for her parents and siblings.
2022 Fall Lab
Wzro. Menelik by Anna Marano
At the turn of the 19th Century, the Ethiopian Empire is faced with multiple challenges on several fronts. Emperor Menelik is trying to keep up between internal developments and international retaliations. Will he heed his corrupted consort and ex-wife or will his plans lean towards his wife’s suggestions? Empress Taitu, is Woizero Menelik, she is dextrously navigating the management of a female spy network, gathering invaluable intel on treaties and also negotiating deals which ultimately ensure the region’s unity. The story culminates with the famous Battle of Adwa in which the region’s independence escapes from the forces of colonisation, unlike the rest of the continent.
Dandelion The Messenger of My Grandma Batul by Azadeh Nikzadeh
Dandelion is a true story of an Iranian filmmaker/graduate student in New York, Azi, who is about to finish an autobiographical film on her childhood under the political oppression of the Iranian regime with her Israeli boyfriend, Ron. When Azi finds out her father back home is dying, she is warned that if she releases the film, she’ll no longer be welcome back home. Azi censors her movie to keep the regime happy. But her plans fall apart when her family cannot find the chemotherapy medicine for her father due to corruption and political games.
Filthy by Lisa Cole
In a small-minded midwestern town, CASS, 13, prepares to sign a ‘purity pledge’ to remain a virgin until marriage. But on the eve of the ceremony, slated to happen before family and friends from her Evangelical church, Cass experiences her first orgasm and a sexual awakening erupts pitting natural hormonal desire against the threat of eternal damnation.
Wall of Lies by Mary Beth Warner
When Audrey Anderson, a Washington Post reporter, is assigned to cover a suspicious death at an automated factory in Germany, she discovers a treacherous world of secrecy and conspiracy, filled with corrupt corporate executives, echoes of the Cold War, and a connection closer to home than she would have ever dreamed.
A Vindication by Monica McCarthy
A Vindication is a dark comedy historical miniseries about the real-life story of the “mother of feminism,” Mary Wollstonecraft. Set in late 1700s England, with both the American and French Revolutions as backdrops, Mary’s “revolution of manners” focused on her pursuit of the rights of equal education for girls, all while attempting to overcome her own lessons of heartbreak, depression, and a patriarchy that just won’t quit. Oh, and she’s also the mother to another Mary you may have heard of: Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein (the focus for Season 2).
She Rides in the Smoking Car by Barbara Nunberg
Berlin-based correspondent, Dorothy Thompson, scores the first foreign press interview with Hitler in 1931 but then dismisses him as an inconsequential, “little man.” As the Nazi menace grows, she tries to redeem her mistake with hard-hitting stories and is sent back home when the Nazis take power. Obsessed with rallying America into the fight against fascism, she uses her journalist megaphone to counter the xenophobic America First movement, but her fervor wrecks her marriage and poisons her relationship with her only child.
Spring in September by Randi Barros
A 48-year old immigration lawyer who wants to save the world must first save herself when her husband dies in a freak accident. Overnight she becomes a single mom, in debt, and with a big surprise nine months away.
L’Amazone by Josalynn Smith
L’Amazone is an original series based on the life of famed ex-pat and lesbian intellectual, Natalie Clifford Barney.
2022 Spring Lab Writers
AWE by Kristen A. Golden
No horizon is too far for polar explorer Ann Bancroft, already the first woman to trek to the North Pole. Based on a true story, AWE drops us into Ann’s 1992 quest to lead the first all-women’s expedition across Antarctica. Pulling their sleds 1,700 miles through brutal subzero temperatures and whiteout conditions, Ann and her team must race against time and their critics to complete the trek before the coastal waters freeze, leaving them stranded on the barren continent.
Balancing Acts by Erica Rose
A theatre director on the brink of success begins a toxic, co-dependent relationship with her actress muse in order to cope and avoid the onset of debilitating, hidden, and incurable migraines.
God Help the Gayes (They’re Getting Divorced) by Huriyyah Muhammad
God Help the Gayes (They’re Getting Divorced), is a dramedy about two women going through an incredibly difficult period in their marriage and development as human beings, while society at large offers their opinions on whether they should even have the right to be married at all. As the world awaits a new ruling from the Supreme Court that could potentially reverse marriage equality across the country, local celebrities Rosa and Pamela Gaye are thrust into the limelight when news leaks of their potential divorce. With their rights in jeopardy and their allies in a frenzy, they comically commit to four ‘love it or lose it’ sessions with Dr. Francis, a dubiously intentioned marriage guru. Through it all, they must make a choice that despite the obstacles to keep on living, keep growing, keep loving – unconditionally. But will they choose to do it together? God Help the Gayes (They’re Getting Divorced)…aren’t they?
HAVANA by Zoe Simone
Mia, a Cuban audiologist now living in Miami, returns to her home country to aid the CIA in investigating the sonic “Havana Syndrome” attacks occurring at the U.S. embassy. Based on true events.
In My Father’s House by Abbesi Akhamie
Anna is a Nigerian-American woman who travels to Nigeria for the first time in hopes of reconnecting with her estranged father after the death her mother. When her father mysteriously disappears on the eve of his wedding, Anna goes in search of him with her father’s driver Bode. Unexpectedly, this journey leads her to new self-discovery and acceptance.
Mz. Movies by Lulenoxx
In the summer of 2001, Ami, an awkward preteen, spends her summer trying to catalog every film available at her local video rental store. Little does she know, this queer owned business is a gathering place for the local riot grrrl community, where Ami is able to discover herself and find a chosen family.
Goodnight Nobody by Anna Holmes
What does it mean to be an artist? A woman? A partner and lover? And how does a woman navigate these and other identities in a society in which women are expected to marry young, become mother to many, and subsume their own artistic and sexual desires in a search for (and in service of) outdated ideas of femininity? Set in 1930s and 40s New York, Goodnight Nobody explores all these ideas and more through the real-life story of Margaret Wise Brown, the bestselling, wild and wooly author and poet who, influenced by works of modernist literature and painting, elevated children’s literature to an art form.
Public Health by Myra Aquino
A disgraced surgeon is forced to take on a temporary job at the decrepit Public Health Department of West Palm Beach, Florida, and must figure out how to get her old job back. –PUBLIC HEALTH is a half-hour comedy television series about Judy, an arrogant, competitive surgeon who– after a humiliating public incident– is fired from her hospital and forced to take on a job in the much-maligned Public Health Department of West Palm Beach, Florida. From there, she meets her colleagues— a motley crew of misguided, incompetent workers— who she must lead and guide in order to improve the department’s reputation, and therefore her own. She does all this in order to get her old job back as a successful orthopedic surgeon at a prestigious hospital in Miami. In the course of the TV pilot and the rest of the series, the department gets caught in a number of public health-related shenanigans, but Judy ultimately learns what it means to be a leader and a team player, and what it means to compromise and work with the community in order to improve health outcomes at a population level. Along the way, she develops meaningful friendships with her co-workers and learns to love herself for who she is, and not for her status or her intelligence.
Push It! by Mirella Christou
Push It! is the story of an under-the-radar women’s rights activist who fights an uphill battle with heavy personal costs to finance and orchestrate the creation of the revolutionary birth control pill. It is based on true events.
Silent Women by Christine Garver
In Hollywood’s infancy, 1915, a relentless female director vies for power, social change, and artistic triumph as she attempts to outrun the encroaching male domination of the industry.
UNACCEPTABLE by Oanh-Nhi Nguyen
A 33-year-old Vietnamese-American woman feels unfulfilled and learns to befriend her anger to discover her life purpose.
Yellow Cloud by Micole Williams
Explore how an instinctive and passionate Native American student at a Historically Black College & University emerges as a detective determined to solve a scandalous mystery hovering over a small Texas town.