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Short Scriptwriting Lab

Start date:
Jan 13, 2017
Two sessions of six days each; session 1: 13 – 18 January, 2017; session 2: 5 – 10 February, 2017
Ability Level:
Beginner to intermediate screenwriters and writer-directors. Candidates must show an aptitude for writing drama. Open to Qataris and residents of Qatar.

Working in partnership with TorinoFilmLab, the Doha Film Institute’s Short Scriptwriting Lab is designed to assist new and emerging screenwriters and writer-directors to develop and write a screenplay from an original idea with the support of international mentors. The screenplays written through this lab may be nominated for production through these DFI programmes:

Short Filmmaking Lab
Qumra Shorts
Qatari Film Fund

The Short Scriptwriting Lab provides a transformative and illuminating experience where writers learn the principles of dramatic writing for short films (premise, theme, structure, character and story), examine and explore their creativity and individual voice, and gain an understanding of the international short film landscape. Candidates are encouraged to develop personal stories that come from the heart and that reflect contemporary life in the Gulf region; they should also be feasible for eventual production in Qatar.

Application Deadline: 12 December, 2016

Session 1: 13 – 18 January, 2017
Session 2: 5 – 10 February, 2017

Two sessions of six days each

Friday 2:00–7:30 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM–6:00 PM
Sunday to Wednesday 5:15–9:45 PM

Arabic and English

Group Size
12 screenwriters

Price: 1,500.00 QAR

The lab is structured in two sessions:

Session 1: 13 through 18 January


13 and 14 January
Screening and discussion of short films
Lecture: The short film format
Reading of all participants’ materials

15 January
First presentation of projects by participants (20 min/project)
Presentations are recorded on video for later in-class analysis

16 – 18 January
Intensive script feedback
Up to half a day is dedicated to each project

18 January
Mid-lab evaluation
Presentation about DFI’s annual Qumra event

Break to work on projects:

Participants have two-and-a-half weeks for independent work on their scripts
All participants are expected to submit a new version of their script to their tutors and the DFI team by 3 February

Session 2: 5 through 10 February

5 through 7 February
Intensive script feedback
Up to half a day is dedicated to each project
Rewriting of the scripts

8 and 9 February
Preparation for pitches

10 February
Pitching session for all lab participants
Encounters DFI’s Head of Grants, Programming Team and shorts experts.
Final evaluation of the lab

Submission Requirements

Please send the following as Word documents or in PDF format to, including your full name, email and contact number in any text documents:

1. Treatment (maximum 2 pages) or script (maximum 15 pages) for a short fiction film of 5 to 15 minutes in length that can be shot in Qatar
2. Brief letter of intention explaining why you are applying to the lab (maximum 1 page)
3. Copy of Qatar ID
4. CV/brief biography and contact details

Candidate Selection
The Doha Film Institute’s team shortlists candidates whose work shows strong potential for development.

Each shortlisted candidate is invited for an interview, when the DFI team will work with them to begin developing their treatment or script through written and verbal feedback on their work. They will also have a brief Skype interview on December 22nd with the lab mentors.

Candidates will be assessed on their ability to expand and develop their script ideas into coherent stories as well as their willingness to work with the mentors and other lab participants on substantial re-writes of their script.


Matthieu Darras
Project Coach

Matthieu Darras is Artistic Director of the TorinoFilmLab, and collaborates with various film initiatives including the Venice Biennale College and When East Meets West’s First Cut Lab. He founded and directed the European Network of Young Cinema NISI MASA and wrote for the film magazine ‘Positif’. He has also worked as a curator for various film festivals, notably for the Festival de Cannes’ Critics’ Week. He is the delegate in charge of Eastern Europe for the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Ayman El Amir
Script Editor

Ayman El Amir is an Egyptian filmmaker and academic. He holds an MFA with a double major in Film Production and Screenwriting from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts. His work in film includes writing, directing and producing many fiction and documentary films, the last being the feature film ‘Happily Ever After’, which had its premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2016. El Amir founded the first film and visual production department of its kind at Saudi Arabia’s Effat University. He recently established Felucca Films, his own production company, in Egypt, and started MAHD, a script-development programme that takes place every year in Cairo. He works also as a script reader and editor for the Torino Film Lab, the Doha Film Institute and Misr International Films.

Leonardo Staglianò
Script Editor

Leonardo Staglianò is a writer and story editor who studied Philosophy at the University of Florence, Techniques of Narration at Scuola Holden and Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He wrote the feature film ‘Yuri Esposito’, which won the Biennale College at the Venice Film Festival, the play ‘Cashmere, WA’, winner of the Diego Fabbri Award, and short stories that have been published in various literary magazines. Currently, he is the Programme Coordinator at the College of Storytelling at the Scuola Holden, where he teaches dramaturgy.