Southeast Asia’s first ever script lab – the Southeast Asian Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC) – is launching in Thailand and Singapore this year with support from the Purin Foundation, Singapore Film Commission and French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Each year, SEAFIC will select five Southeast Asian filmmakers – working on their first, second or third feature film scripts – to work with script consultants over a period of nine months. The filmmakers will be invited to three lab sessions in Chiangmai, Thailand (October 23-30), Chiangmai again in late February 2017 and Singapore in late June 2017.

During the final session in Singapore, the five filmmakers will take part in a pitch session, after which one project will be awarded a cash prize of $15,000.

SEAFIC’s selection committees and award juries will comprise leading industry figures such as Cannes Film Festival’s Christian Jeune, producer Shozo Ichiyama and Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang. A representative from TorinoFilmLab will take part in the SEAFIC selection process.

Open to both arthouse and commercial projects, the lab will start accepting applications from April 1. Submissions must have a first draft script available for evaluation; director and producer attached; and a realistic budget and financing plan.

“Our goal with SEAFIC is to create a world-class script lab that helps projects realise their full potential. Too often projects are rushed into production without enough time for script development. A well-developed screenplay can also help filmmakers find more financing, and thus help them realise their vision,” said SEAFIC executive director Raymond Phathanavirangoon.

Franz Rodenkirchen, SEAFIC’s script consultant, said: “Raymond and I have been working together on a curriculum tailored just for Southeast Asian filmmakers for nearly three years. I’m very excited that SEAFIC is now a reality, and I look forward to working with talented filmmakers from the region.”