Writers need to find their community. Stowe Story Labs and Sidewalk Story Lab team up at the 21st Sidewalk Film Festival to help writers and filmmakers improve their stories and connect with other creatives.
This year will see the inauguration of the Sidewalk Story Lab, happening on August 21-24, in concurrence with the 21st annual Sidewalk Film Festival, an event that showcases the work of more than 250 filmmakers from all over the world and welcomes 15,000 film lovers to Birmingham, Alabama annually. For this program, Sidewalk has teamed with the prestigious Stowe Story Labs, a nonprofit organization whose mission is helping the world’s top film creatives develop their work utilizing small group workshops with top industry mentors.
The Lab will be held in the Historic Theater District of Birmingham, which includes the 2,500 seat 1927 Alabama Theater, the 1914 Lyric Theater, and the 1935 CarverTheater. In addition to these historic venues, 2019 will see the grand opening of the $5 million Sidewalk Cinema & Film Center. With over 11,000 square feet of space, it will include two 100-seat screening venues, two lounges, a bar and concession stand, offices for the Sidewalk staff and an education space for classes, meetings, seminars and the like.
The genesis of synergy.
The convergence of Sidewalk and Stowe was the brainchild of Sidewalk Film Festival's Board President Stacey Davis. Stacey is an entertainment attorney, award winning screenwriter, director and executive producer of numerous films, including, SWORD OF TRUST (SXSW, dir. Lynn Shelton; starring Marc Maron), LITTLE SISTER (SXSW, dir. Zach Clark, starring Addison Timlin, and named by “The New Yorker” as the best film of 2016) and 1985 (SXSW, dir. Yen Tan, starring Cory Michael Smith). Stacey attended the Stowe Story Labs herself and came back to Alabama convinced that there had to be a way to partner with Stowe at Sidewalk.
The Lab is a four-day intensive program that will introduce writers to key considerations when adapting works for the screen. Mentors are top industry professionals working on all aspects of film and TV projects. Sessions deal not only with the process of writing, but also how to talk about story within the industry, and to different audiences (financiers, producers, talent, etc.), intended audiences, size of markets, as well as how to get a film made and seen.
The aim of the Lab is to prepare participants to best place themselves and their projects in the film industry.
Script Magazine's Dan Goforth spoke with Sidewalk Film Festival Executive Director Chloe Cook about the new program. Chloe has been with Sidewalk since 2009 and has shepherded its growth as an international event. With the new Cinema & Film Center coming soon, Sidewalk will soon be a daily presence as a film destination.
Chloe Cook: I think a huge advantage to attending Stowe at Sidewalk, beyond the amazing intensive program that Stowe facilitates, is that participants will be in the heart of a fantastic film festival that is really focused on filmmakers, creating an environment that is ripe for learning and networking, all while having a lot of fun!
I'm so proud of the team of people that help make Sidewalk what it is today. I am proud of the relationships we've built with filmmakers who, in some cases, we've been working with since they made their first films and now are so lucky to see their work being celebrated on big screens outside of Festival runs and on small screens through deals with Netflix, etc. I'm proud that through our commitment to Birmingham's historic theatre district over the past 20 years, we've been able to build interest in the area and are now seeing the fruits of that labor really make an impact on the district and on our organization as we prepare to open our own Film Center + Cinema in the heart of the historic theatre district.
About the incredible new Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema
Chloe Cook: The new Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema will provide a permanent home for our organization, which will transform every aspect of our organization, allowing us to exponentially increase the impact we make on filmmakers and audiences through year round programming of first run indie and foreign films, repertory screenings, and a wide variety of educational programs for youth and adults. If you can't tell from my run on sentence—I am excited about what this new facility will mean for us (Sidewalk) and also what it will mean for the community as a whole. The new space will create a hub for the filmmaking community to gather and make connections, which we believe will lead to more projects, which will further boost the already burgeoning film industry.