Breakthroughs: The Sloan Science on Screen Programme

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Breakthroughs: The Sloan Science on Screen Programme

A new initiative putting science in the spotlight at TIFF and equipping screen creators with industry connections and creative support to strengthen and highlight their feature-length or episodic projects about science and technology.

Funding for this programme provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology program, which supports books, radio, film, television, theatre and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

Supported by
  

  • campaignProject Pitch
  • groupsWriter Fellowship
  • videocamFilm Showcase

Sloan Science and Technology Writer Fellowship

Applications are now closed. Selected participants will be notified in March 2024.

The Sloan Science and Technology Writer Fellowship offers a project development grant and access to creative support for one emerging to mid-level feature film or episodic screenwriter whose project explores themes of science and technology. The Fellowship will equip the participant with connections, insights, and resources to help develop the script and support the eventual production and theatrical release of the project.

Please note the application will contain questions on the writer's engagement with scientific experts and research.

Please also note: as a component of the Sloan Writer Fellowship is participation in TIFF Writers' Studio, previous Writers' Studio participants are not eligible to apply.

Funding for the Fellowship is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology program, which supports books, radio, film, television, theatre, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

What’s Included

  • A $35,000 grant towards further developing a science and technology-focused screenplay
  • Inclusion in TIFF Writers’ Studio, a five-day intensive lab — focused on screenwriting and the creative process — taking place April 15–19, 2024
  • Mentorship and support from a scientific script consultant
  • Invitation and travel for the Sloan Film Summit in 2025
  • Audience access to all Sloan programs at TIFF 2024, including the Sloan Showcase and Project Pitch

Eligibility

The Sloan Science & Technology Writer Fellowship is designed for emerging to mid-level screenwriters and writer-directors who wish to extend their creative skills.

  1. Applications are open to international applicants as well as Canadians.
  2. Applicants must be credited as a writer on a minimum of either one (1) feature film or one (1) television series.
  3. Applicants must submit a completed first draft of a feature-length or episodic project. A final draft must be submitted by March 11, 2024, so that it may be read by mentors and peers and workshopped during the programme.
  4. Applicants must commit to attending the full programme and completing the required readings, viewings, and assignments in order to be considered.

Key Dates

Applications open
November 6, 2023
Applications close
December 18, 2023
Fellowship recipient notified of selection
February 23, 2024
Fellowship recipient announced
April 11, 2024
TIFF Writers’ Studio
April 15–19, 2024

Application Materials

Applicants are required to submit the following supporting documents:

  1. A copy of the applicant’s resume in PDF format (maximum one page)
  2. The applicant’s filmography (project title, year, role(s), festivals played, and a maximum of five awards or nominations received per project) in PDF format
  3. One high-resolution headshot in colour (format: .jpg; orientation: portrait; minimum resolution: 300 dpi)
  4. A short version of a professional biography (maximum 50 words)
  5. A video pitch of less than two minutes in duration. The applicant should comment on their project and writing approach, as well as why they want to participate in the Sloan Writer Fellowship.
  6. A one-minute clip from a previous project on which the applicant is credited as writer or co-writer
  7. The following written materials from the submitted project:
    • Logline (50 words)
    • Synopsis (250 words)
    • One-page outline
    • A writing sample (five pages)
    • First draft of a completed script

Please note: TIFF’s Industry team takes applicants’ confidentiality seriously and will ensure that submitted materials (excluding headshots and bios) are not shared with any third parties without the owner’s explicit consent. The material will be downloaded by the TIFF Industry team and the selection committee.

Questions?
Contact us by email at industry@tiff.net.

Sloan Science on Film Showcase

The Sloan Science on Film Showcase will spotlight two science-forward feature films per year: one Official Selection title at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and one year-round programming title at TIFF Lightbox. One screening of each film will include a discussion between a member of the film team and a scientific expert.

Stay tuned for more information on this initiative in upcoming TIFF announcements regarding both Festival and year-round programming.

Sloan Science and Technology Project Pitch

The Sloan Science and Technology Project Pitch is a new initiative providing four Canadian and international creators the opportunity to pitch their science and technology-related film or episodic project at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Participants will deliver a maximum 15-minute presentation in front of a live audience of industry experts and decision makers. In addition to the non-competitive pitch event, each creator will be awarded $15,000 CAD to help further their project.

What’s included

  • $15,000 CAD award to help further develop the selected projects
  • Mentorship from an expert pitch coach
  • Participation in a pitch event at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
  • Access to the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
  • Access to TIFF’s Industry Conference, Business Centre, and Delegate Resources
  • A complimentary one-year TIFF Membership, which includes discounts on film tickets at TIFF Lightbox
  • Membership to TIFF Talent alumni network
A man on stage talking about their film

2023 Sloan Science and Technology Project Pitch Participants

Project Title: Silo

USA, Writer/Director
Cole Smith

Cole Smith is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and served as a nuclear missile officer in the Air Force. He holds an MFA in Screenwriting from Columbia University. Smith received a 2021 Columbia Sloan Screenplay award for his feature script Silo. He is the writer of Sunday Money and Mutually Assured Destruction, two TV pilots chosen as Columbia University Film Festival (CUFF) Faculty Selects. His editorial writing on nuclear weapons regularly appears in The Guardian. He has been interviewed by BBC Live, NPR, Newsweek, and TIME on his experience working with nuclear missiles.

Project Title: Chariot

USA, Writer
Alyssa Loh

Alyssa Loh is a filmmaker and writer based in New York. She was a 2021 Sundance Lab Fellow and Sundance | Alfred P. Sloan Development Fellow. She holds a joint MBA/MFA from NYU, where she was a winner of the 2022 Purple List, and the recipient of the Roger King Finishing Award, Riese Production Award, Faculty Commendation in Filmmaking, and Screenwriting Craft Award. She has a BA from Princeton in English and creative writing, where she won the Ward Mathis Prize for best short story. Her essays on technology, surveillance, and visual culture have appeared in Artforum, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The American Reader, and she sits on the Editorial Board of the history journal Lapham’s Quarterly. In 2021, she co-created the experimental film series Twelve Theses on Attention for the Glasgow Biennial. The book version (text & film stills) was published by Princeton University Press in 2022.

Project Title: Author A

Australia/UK, Writer/Director
James Brown

James Brown has worked in acquisitions at various independent UK, US, and Australia/NZ distribution companies. In 2011 he produced his first feature, Age of Heroes, starring Sean Bean. Still Alice, his second feature as a producer, was adapted from the bestselling novel by Lisa Genova and acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014. Still Alice won its star Julianne Moore the SAG Award, Indie Spirit, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar in 2015. His latest feature as producer, Before You Know It, starring Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin, and Alec Baldwin, premiered in Competition at Sundance 2019 and was released in the US by 1091 (previously The Orchard). In 2017, Brown produced and directed family film You Can Tutu which was acquired by Netflix for all English-language territories. His short Failure to Thrive premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2018, and he was selected for the TIFF Director’s Lab the same year. Author A is Brown’s debut feature as writer-director.

Project Title: The Smallest Whale in the World

Brazil, Co-Writer/Director
Jasmin Tenucci

Jasmin Tenucci is a writer and director based in São Paulo, Brazil. Her directing work includes short film August Sky, which won the Special Mention of the Jury at the Cannes 2021 Official Selection, as well as four episodes of the Brazilian television series Shop Tudo (Glaze Entretenimento/Fall 2023). Tenucci’s screenwriting work includes co-developing and writing on Globo’s acclaimed series As FiveE (2020), and a soon-to-be-announced Netflix series that will premiere in June 2022. She is also adapting the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for Oscar-nominated director Bing Liu, and the Brazilian novel The Pediatrician for Anonymous Content Brazil. Tenucci also served as editor on Joyland, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes in 2022 and Best International Film at the Spirit Awards in 2023. Tenucci holds a BA in Film from São Paulo University and an MFA in Writing and Directing from Columbia University Film School, where she also taught directing. She is currently in development on two feature films that she will direct: Purple Cotton and The Smallest Whale in the World, which won the 2017 Columbia Alfred P. Sloan Development Grant.

USA, Writer
Maggie Briggs

Maggie Briggs is a filmmaker based between her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and New York City, where she received her MFA at Columbia University. Her short film, To Sonny, premiered at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in 2020. Her next short, Louis I: King of the Sheep, a stop-motion animation she wrote and produced, had its World Premiere at the 72nd Berlinale in its Generation Program. Her features in development, Prone to Wander and Sweet as Figs, have been supported by Tribeca Film Institute, Cine Qua Non, and the TIFF Writers’ Studio, where she was awarded with the CHANEL Women Writers’ Network Grant, and, most recently, the Bergman Estate Residency. She co-wrote Saim Sadiq’s feature, Joyland, which premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival in Un Certain Regard, where it won the Jury Prize and the Queer Palme and later went on to win Best International Film at the 2023 Indie Spirit Awards.