Training & Development

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Hezayah Screenwriting Lab

Start date:
May 05, 2016
Ability Level:
Entry-level and emerging writers


Each session takes place from Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, including lunch and breaks. Participation is required for all four days of each session, as the work, sharing and learning build from day to day.


Session 1: 5 to 8 May
Session 2: 14 to 17 July
Session 3: 7 to 10 September
Session 4: 7 to 10 December
Please note that each session lasts four full days


Arabic / English

Group Size

8 – 10 participants

Submission Deadline

9 April, 2016 [3 weeks before first session]

Hezayah Screenwriting Lab
Lab Programme
Selection Criteria

Hezayah Screenwriting Lab

The Hezayah Screenwriting Lab is organised by the Doha Film Institute in collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab. The lab is designed to assist emerging screenwriters and writer-directors to develop and write an original feature-length screenplay. Participants work in small groups with the support of experienced mentors. The lab consists of four sessions of four-day workshops, which take place intermittently over a period of six months. During each four-day session, participants are expected to work on all agreed assignments and reach key milestones as they build toward their screenplays. Strict deadlines must be followed, and participants will be asked to read and engage in the other lab attendees’ work.

Participants are selected on the basis of the strength of their screenplay idea, their writing ability, their vision and approach, and their previous work. Candidates who are shortlisted for the lab will go through a selection process, which will assess their potential to expand and develop their ideas into a passionate and interesting work of cinema.

The lab is a transformative experience where filmmakers examine and explore their inner creativity and personal voice. Development takes the form of group sessions and individual feedback, in a sharing process guided by experienced mentors and tutors. Candidates are encouraged to develop personal stories that come from the heart, and that reflect contemporary life in the Gulf region. Candidates should also consider how their films might realistically be achieved on budgets of differing scales, including a more micro-budget approach.

Lab Programme

Introduction and pitching of the ideas. Input and feedback from the other group members and tutor. Character and theme development. Overview of documents to be produced for the next sessions.

Review of new and revised materials (the first scene-by-scene breakdown, or extended treatment). Feedback and input from group and tutor. Revisiting of character and theme, adding to the discussion/further exploring a structural dimension (plot, resolution, inciting event etc).

Review of the new materials (revised scene-by-scene breakdown, revised character documents etc.), first draft or some written scenes from the revised breakdown. Visual research, and other materials reviewed. Premise and pitch further developed.

Feedback sessions on first draft. Scene analysis. Group feedback and input and/or tutor input and feedback. Setting trajectory for the next steps of the project, in regards to financing, casting, etc

Selection Criteria
  • Applicants should submit a synopsis and/or treatment they would like to develop into a solid first draft of a feature screenplay during Hezayah over the course of six months. If the applicant has a complete script, it can be submitted for added value, but application materials must include a full synopsis and/or a full treatment.
  • Applicants must have previously written at least one short film script or equivalent (e.g. a novel or short story)
  • Candidates must demonstrate an aptitude for interesting cinematic ideas, and be interested in the writing process that leads to visually and dramatically strong films.
  • Open to citizens and residents of Qatar and GCC citizens.
Submission Requirements

Please send the following in Word or PDF format to

1. Full Synopsis and/or treatment (up to 15 pages). If available, a complete script may be submitted as supporting material.
2. Short biography of the author
3. Previous short film script
4. Any previous film or creative works (links to films or showreel, photography, writing, online portfolio, website etc.)

All documents must include the following:
1. Writer’s first and last names
2. Project title
3. Draft number
4. Date

Selection Process

Candidates whose work shows promise will be shortlisted.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview process with Doha Film Institute and TorinoFilmLab.

Shortlisted candidates who are not selected for the lab will be placed on a waiting list in case of any cancellations.


Ayman El Amir

Ayman El Amir is an Egyptian filmmaker and academic. Originally a doctor, El Amir has an MFA in Filmmaking with a double major in Film Production and Screenwriting. He has worked as a lecturer of Screenwriting and Film Production in a number of universities in the Middle East. In 2013, he founded a film production programme at the Faculty of Architecture and Design in Saudi Arabia’s Effat University. His filmography includes writing, directing and producing fiction and documentary films, which have screened in numerous international film festivals. Since 2015, El Amir has worked as a script reader and editor for TorinoFilmLab and the Doha Film Institute, while leading several international screenwriting development workshops and master classes.

Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten

Swedish screenwriter Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten is a member of the Swedish Drama Union and the European Film Academy. She wrote and co-produced ‘Call Girl’, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival and was shown in numerous festivals worldwide. Since 2007, she has been connected as a script consultant with TorinoFilmLab, Binger Film Lab and the Venice Biennale College Microbudget lab, on films including ‘The Babadook’, ‘Djeca, Children of Sarajevo’, ‘Hi-So’, ‘Los Hongos’, ‘Les Quottro Volte’, ‘Beyond /Svinalängorna’, ‘H’, ‘The Fits’ and ‘Mediterranea’. Other related programmes are Qumra, Feature Expanded, Bridging the Dragon, TIFF STUDIO Toronto, Boost Rotterdam, the Rutger Hauer Master Classes, Generation Campus Moscow, Script Lab Russia, the Balkan Film Fund Athens, Talent Campus, the Irish Film Board and Filmpool Nord. She also consults privately on films, and has worked with filmmakers from more than 45 countries. She has a background in drama writing for television and literary journalism, and has worked in production, mainly with script continuity. Since 1996, Marietta is the Minister of a micro-nation called Elgaland-Vargaland, or KREV.


TorinoFilmLab is a year-round, international laboratory that supports emerging talent from all over the world – with a special attention to those working on their first and second fiction feature films –through training, development, funding and distribution activities.

Linked to the Torino Film Festival, TorinoFilmLab is promoted by the main film institutions established in Turin and Piedmont – Museo Nazionale del Cinema and the Film Commission Torino Piemonte.

The four main fields of intervention of TorinoFilmLab are training, development, funding and distribution.

TorinoFilmLab runs several activities and offers various forms of support in each of these fields. The training initiatives Script&Pitch, AdaptLab, Story Editing, and Audience Design, as well as the pre-production- and development-focused FrameWork programme run parallel during the year. They all reach their conclusive moment at the TorinoFilmLab Meeting Event during the Torino Film Festival in November, when projects are presented to a selected group of producers, sales agents, distributors and other professionals working in independent filmmaking all over the world.

Special thanks to: