The MPI Short Film Lab is a comprehensive program that provides filmmakers with hands-on training and mentoring to take their initial film concepts through the process of developing an outstanding short film script for production.

Filmmakers accepted into the program receive fellowship grants and participate in screenwriting workshops followed by directing workshops. After the workshop stage, MPI often acquires scripts to produce as MPI Original Films. Additional development opportunities are also available to those in the Lab. Filmmakers whose scripts are acquired receive mentorship through the entire process of producing their short, which is funded by MPI.

Stage 1: MPI Screenwriting Workshops

In these ten-week virtual workshops filmmakers develop and rewrite original concepts and scripts under the guidance of award-winning screenwriters. The workshops are designed so that filmmakers can hone their storytelling craft through an intensive process of writing, revising, reading, and the giving and receiving of constructive criticism. The first session of each workshop begins with a script from each filmmaker in the rough draft stage. Writers present their work to the group twice: first to get initial feedback on their rough draft, and a second time to get feedback on the revised draft. All participants offer and receive constructive criticism while learning from the leaders’ guidance.

Stage 2: MPI Directing Workshop

The filmmakers with the top scripts in the MPI Screenwriting Workshops advance to participate in this workshop. Led by award-winning directors, the course teaches the skills needed to effectively manage a crew, communicate with a cast, and prepare for pre-production, production, and post-production. Participants rehearse scenes from their scripts and also run mock casting sessions. At the end of the workshop, each filmmaker’s final product receives critical feedback from the instructors and the other participants.

Stage 3: MPI Original Films

The top projects from the MPI Directing Workshop are acquired and produced by MPI—funded with budgets of up to $75,000. Filmmakers are mentored through the process of preparing their scripts for principal photography. The MPI production team then assists filmmakers with: the creation of shot lists, storyboarding scenes, scouting locations, wardrobe, set design, and casting top on-screen talent. Once photography is complete, filmmakers are assisted with post-production including editing, sound mixing, and color correction.

Stage 4: Film Festival, Marketing, and Distribution

Once complete, the short films developed and produced in the MPI Short Film Creative Development and Production Lab are prepared to be released. MPI creates film assets—including a poster, electronic press kit, and website—and then submits the projects to film festivals and supports a full festival run. MPI creates a distribution plan and markets each film to a broad audience.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to develop my film Infraction through MPI’s Short Film Lab. To have the opportunity to workshop your story with other filmmakers under the guidance of MPI is immensely valuable. Being in a group of filmmakers that are writing at a high level and believe in their work is immensely beneficial, whatever the outcome.

Timothy Blackwood, MPI Filmmaker

Each year, MPI puts out a call for applications based on a specific theme. Applications for the 2023 Lab will open later this year and a new theme will be announced.

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