Hey First-Time Filmmakers! Meet Your Workshop-Wielding Guardian Angel

Loyal readers of IP know what we love dropping the occasional Orson Welles reference.

Do a search on "Orson Welles" on IP and you'll find at least three shout-outs to the famous director. While some may consider this a lack of creative thinking, we prefer to view it as a convenient framing device. It's gotten us this far, so why stop now?

So here it goes.

As a young, aspiring director, Welles would have found the Sundance Institute's Directors Lab especially useful. The lab, which recently selected its latest round of eight participants, helps first-time directors by pairing them with creative advisors, professional actors, and production crews to shoot and edit key scenes from their screenplays. "Through this concentrated, hands-on process," the lab notes, the fellows "workshop and make key discoveries about their script, collaborate with actors, and find a visual storytelling language of their films."

Check out the list of winners here.

The lab, which will take place May 30-June 23 in the mountains of Sundance Resort in Utah, boasts a rather impressive track record, having helped launch the careers of award-winning filmmakers Cary Fukunaga, Dee Rees, Marielle Heller, Benh Zeitlin, and Quentin Tarantino. We could think of worse ways to spend our time. 

Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, said, "Our Directors Lab and other programs play a critical role in discovering diverse artists and launching their careers, and this year's filmmakers are our most diverse group ever in terms of their backgrounds, experiences and perspectives."

In similar news, if you're an aspiring director and a mere week isn't immerse enough for your tastes, also check out Film Independent's Directing Lab, an intensive eight-week program designed to support emerging independent film directors in preparation for their feature films.

Much like Sundance's offering, Film Independent's Directing Lab creates an opportunity for directors to see their work through from pre- to post-production, and culminates in a group screening for the advisors, Film Independent staff, and fellows.

Which brings us back to Welles, whose initial foray into directing was rather different. At the time, he was offered what was considered to be the greatest contract even given to a filmmaker. The fact that he was untried—he was in his mid-20s!—made the contract all the more scandalous, drawing scathing criticism from competing Hollywood studies and the trade press.

What's more, Welles' studio, RKO, rejected his first two proposals before signing off on Citizen Kane.

And so concludes our most recent Orson Welles reference. We admit it's a bit of a cop-out dropping Welles' name in the film space, so stay tuned as we attempt to challenge ourselves in future posts, perhaps somehow shoehorning Welles' name in, say, IP's Marine and Rivers vertical.