Universal Pictures announced on Thursday that it has created an Emerging Writers Fellowship designed to identify and cultivate new and unique voices with a passion for storytelling.
Emerging writers who are chosen to participate in the program will work within the studio to hone their skills and gain access and exposure to Universal executives, producers and other key industry professionals.
Universal's co-presidents of production Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum will oversee the fellows.
“This fellowship is a great opportunity for aspiring writers but it’s also a great opportunity for Universal,” said Cramer.
“As audiences continue to be even more discerning about the films they see, finding new voices with unique and creative ideas is extremely important for our business,” added Kirschenbaum.
Under terms approved by the Writers Guild of America West, the Emerging Writers Fellowship will allow Universal the opportunity to expand the community of writers with whom the studio works.
The Fellowship was an idea championed by executive VP of production Scott Bernstein. Bernstein brought the idea to Universal’s Diversity Council and developed it in collaboration with Arturo Barquet who is senior VP and CFO of film production at Universal.
The Diversity Council, which is led by Universal co-chairman Donna Langley, has made the Emerging Writers Fellowship one of its key initiatives in expanding the number of diverse talent within the studio's workforce both in front of and behind the camera.
“The film group is always looking for ways to bring diverse perspectives into the studio fold and this fellowship is a great way to expand our company’s pool of talent,” said Craig Robinson, executive VP and chief diversity officer for NBCUniversal. “These initiatives are extremely important in driving NBCUniversal’s culture of diversity and inclusion in meaningful ways.”
Universal will entertain applications for the fellowship beginning on September 3, 2013. Interested applicants will be asked to submit a screenplay and other background materials to the studio for evaluation. 10 finalists will be selected and interviewed in Los Angeles. Out of that group, up to five fellows will be chosen to work for the studio over the course of one year.
During that time, fellows will work exclusively with the studio and be given the opportunity to work on current Universal projects as well as pitch original story ideas. Fellows will also attend workshops, interact with top literary agents and sit in on Universal’s executive meetings. They will also be assigned industry mentors.