mentorship program

This year, create the work that you’ll be remembered for.

“You get the support and the love of a group of people that really want you to succeed”

— Meg Locke writer, producer, actor

“One decision can change your life in very dramatic ways.”

— Kevin Brodie • writer

How to apply

This program is open by invitation.

To apply, please read through the details of the program on this page. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a button to book a private meeting with Ela Thier.

You’ll need to place a $500 refundable deposit to book your meeting. If you don’t join, the deposit will be refunded in full.

The secret recipe behind our students’ successes:

Clips above from IFS mentorship participants: Leslie Tô, Meg Jenkins & Shane Andries, Rodrigo Carvalhedo, Amy Tompkins, Fianna Rayne Litvok & Noelle P. Wilson.

“7 months later I have a film in the can. What?! Huh?!”



Your cohorts and your coaching team are reachable on slack daily. Ask questions, share wins, put out a Bat signal when you need help.

daily office hours

Sign up for office hours Monday through Friday on an as-needed basis. We’re here to ensure that you meet your goals weekly.

private sessions as-needed

During office hours, your coach will determine if you need additional support and/or specialized coaching sessions to meet your goals. We put no limit on the number of coaching sessions that you receive. If you need it, we will offer it.

bi-monthly CLASS

Group sessions meet twice a month Sept-June. Coaches lead sessions focused on story structure, directing actors, productions, and more. We take requests! Ela leads half of our meetings and offers hot seats to 2-3 participants at each session.

peer-run meetups

Many of our mentees told us that the community was the highlight. On the weeks when we don’t meet as a class, mentees holds informal meetups to network, swap advice, and forge lifelong relationships.

LIVE EVENTS & project greenlight

We don’t want you making a film. We want you to make a film that will stay etched in the minds and hearts of its audiences. Our coaching team reviews your script, cast, production plan, and picture lock. Live events are a part of the process and include table reads and rough cut screenings.

“How long have I had the dream of having a film…? And until I found you, Ela, I had no idea how to do it. The fact that I actually have something… Kind of blows my mind.”


Every pro athlete has a coach. Artists need coaches too.
I am in pre-production on a film. I have a budget. I have all the tools I need to make this film. And without Ela, that would not have happened”

— Meg Locke • writer, producer, actor

Meet your Mentor

Ela Thier

I’ve written, directed, and produced several award-winning features and many shorts. You can view my filmography on IMDB. As importantly to me, I’ve guided thousands of screenwriters and filmmakers since 2006, and proven time and again that to thrive, what artists need are skills, community, encouragement, and guidance from someone who believes in them and holds out high expectations.

It’s been a highlight of my life to have launched careers of fellow artists.

Our guiding principles:

  • Every human is creative and has unique talents.
  • Artists are key leaders in our society.
  • Artists wilt in isolation and thrive in community.

When our students succeed, we succeed. We’ll be invested in your work as if it were our own.

My alumni

Below are just a few of the hundreds of projects created by artists who I’ve mentored:


Film schools usually focus on mechanics, and mechanics can be the least important aspect of filmmaking.

While we deliver skill building, we also focus on building confidence by creating a supportive community and holding out high expectations that meet each artist where they’re at.

In film school everyone learns the same thing. This program is made to tailor-fit your needs, goals, strengths – and schedule!

We cost a lot less – and deliver way more.

(And for what it’s worth, I’ve had countless film school graduates tell me that what we deliver has done a lot more than film school as far as learning the mechanics go…)

Ever go to a film festival? How many (gulp…) unmemorable films (or ones that are painful to watch…?) do you sit through, before you watch the one you came to see?

Last one I went to a festival, an audience member said about the film created by my student: “Well, that one was different. You felt like you were watching a real movie.”

All those meh films you see at festivals didn’t come from people without talent. They came from filmmakers who didn’t receive the training and support that they needed to reach their potential.

Even the pretty looking ones that were well shot don’t leave a mark, because at the end of the day, the quality of a film is not about mechanics.

We don’t want you to make a film. We guide you in making your best possible film – the one that audiences will go home thinking about. Those are the films that launch careers.

Most of our students show up feeling this way. I felt that way for years while writing scripts and shopping them around, hoping for that magic “sale.” (Plot spoiler: that sale doesn’t come until you’ve produced your own films.)

That said, you can absolutely focus the entire year on building a body of stunning scripts. We’ve had mentees do that, and they excelled and were supremely proud of their work.

Just be forewarned that most of the mentees who show up not wanting to produce their work end up getting inspired by their colleagues and deciding to take the plunge and bring their writing to life on the screen. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😉

Absolutely. The coaching leads to faster and deeper results with the more experienced mentees, but every artist needs coaches, no matter their level of experience. I turn to coaching myself, regularly.

About fifty percent of our mentees have said at one point or another: “I’m the least experienced person here.” How is half the group the “least experienced?” Lol.

It would be a mistake to “wait until you’re ready.” This program is exactly how you get yourself ready. We’ll take you from zero to sky’s-the-limit.

Never written a single word of a single script? Join us and we’ll launch you. Enough with the waiting.

Just heads up that if you’re really, truly a complete beginner, half the group will still be convinced that they have less experience than you 😉

“You have forever changed my life. That’s not an exaggeration.”

— Amy Tompkins • writer, director, producer

I'm a working screenwriter, and the mentorship program was a game changer in my career. Before the program, I was hired to write a feature, but received many pages of notes and the feature was not produced. The process was demoralizing and I was crushed. So when I got hired to write a pilot, I joined Ela's program. This time: the pilot was greenlit and the show is now in with FX. It's all thanks to Ela.
Mathilde Dratwa

Thank you for being an excellent listener and coach. Rather than imposing your personal worldview on others, you have a gift for amplifying the writer's vision for their own piece. The detailed script notes were excellent, and the coaching team provided an infinite wealth of knowledge.

Candace Singh
I have denied my creative side for way too long. Life kept getting in the way and this was my chance to deliver. Your no-nonsense expectation to produce, to stretch myself, to not allow life to be too much, has made me choose myself and do my work. I've now raised $36K for a short that I wrote in which I'll be playing the lead. I don't know how to properly thank you.
Meg Jenkins Locke

Your Coaches

Noelle P. Wilson
Nabil Viñas
Shane Andries
Silvia Chen

Our coaching team is made up of writers, directors, producers and actors who have studied with me for years and are professionals in their fields. The coaches ensure that every mentee has all the support that they need, every step of the way.

Depending on your needs, private coaching may include:
  • Creative recovery & strategy sessions
  • Script notes
  • Script consultations
  • Acting sessions
  • Directing actors
  • Shot planning
  • Production planning
  • Crowdfunding guidance
  • Editing & post-production
  • Festival strategy
“The most productive meetings with anybody that I’ve ever had about a script I’ve written – like, ever.”

– Kevin Brodie • writer

“The pilot was greenlit and the show is now in with FX. It’s all thanks to Ela.”

— Mathilde Dratwa • writer, director, producer, actor

your investment

Slack: full year
Virtual workspace with coaches and cohorts, for questions, shares, and accountability, every step of the way.

Value: $3000

Office hours: full year, Mon-FRI
Set up a visit during office hours on an as-needed basis to ensure that you progress towards your goals.

Value: $5000

A full year of private coaching sessions on an as-needed basis.

Value: $6000


With coaches, Ela, and cohorts. These run September through June.

Value: $2000

meetups: full year

An optional peer-run mastermind.
Can’t measure the value of lifetime connections.
Ela Thier’s Consultation services: full year

Besides teaching half of our group sessions, I meet with mentees when needed, I attend virtual table reads and rough cut screenings, and I greenlight projects. I personally see to it that each artist receives as much or more than they expected.

Value: $30,000

* The above components are not available a-la-carte, but only as part of the Mentorship Program.

Program bonuses

Year-long complimentary enrollment in my entire suite of on-demand online courses. Work through them at your own time and pace, while receiving guidance and input from our coaching team, on your schedule:

Write Your Best Screenplays

Value: $997

Producing Indie Films

Value: $997

The Film Directing Suite

Value: $1997

Exposure 10X

Value: $497

Choosing & Meeting Creative Goals

Value: $197

IFS Studio annual membership

Value: 497

How to apply

Please join our waitlist and we’ll be in touch when we’re accepting new applications.

This program is open by invitation.

When booking your meeting with Ela Thier, you’ll be asked to reply to several questions about your background and goals. Application time will be roughly 15 minutes.

Once you complete the application, you’ll need to place a $500 refundable deposit to confirm your meeting. If you join the program, the deposit will be applied towards your registration fee in the program. If you don’t join, the deposit will be refunded in full.

Your consultation does not guarantee admission, and does not obligate you to join.

Past mentees share their experience:

“I made a film that I absolutely love and that other people seem to love too.”

— Fianna Litvok
“Huge impact in my life, more than you’ll ever know.”
— Maribelle Martinez
“There’s no putting the beast in the cage again.”
— Rodrigo carvalhedo
Fianna Litvok in “The Hopeful Yard”

Fianna Litvok:

When Fianna began the mentorship program she had never written a script. But she always wanted to do so.

9 months into the mentorship program:

She had written 3 shorts. She created an exercise shoot that she wrote, produced, directed, and starred in. And her professionally produced short, The Hopeful Yard, which she wrote, produced, and starred in, is now on the festival circuit.

She has found, to use her words “a producing partner for life” with whom she’s now collaborating on several projects.

“The culture that you create and the support that we receive is unmatched.”

— Meg Jenkins Locke

I wrote more in 3 months than I have in over 10 years. I can’t thank you enough for all the knowledge you’ve imparted. You provide a welcoming home that encourages creativity and collaboration; one that I’ll treasure for many years to come. I’m forever grateful!
John Akahoshi
Being a part of this mentorship program was rewarding in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I walked away with a network of fellow writers and artists who are incredibly talented and dedicated to their craft. I gained the confidence to trust my instincts and found the courage to show up to a blank page. My understanding of storytelling also improved as Ela and the coaches were instrumental in helping me bring clarity to sticky points with thoughtful and respectful collaboration. I’m thankful to have been a part of this experience.
I've been mentored by Ela in the past and it was hugely successful. I worked with her on a comedy TV pilot and it placed in several competitions – not something I expected. Also, with her help, I completed a short film that I had shot but struggled to complete for years. Ela coached me through bringing it to the finish line, and it's now premiering in the Clermont Ferrand's Film Festival (the leading short films festival in the world). Being mentored by Ela was really successful in the past, and I plan to do it again.
Leslie Tô
I've ordered script notes and hired script doctors in the past. The problem is that everyone has a different opinion, sometimes they even conflict. Your approach was so much more helpful; I got the whole picture and now I understand so much more. This program was equivalent to receiving an MFA, but without investing two years and sixty grand.
Lee Aubrey
Candace Singh


When Candace began the program she had a draft of one script.

9 months later:

She wrote 3 pilots; 2 specs of existing shows; 8 shorts; currently writing a feature.

She directed 4 exercise shoots, and is now in pre-production as writer, producer and director on a professionally produced short film.

How to apply

Please join our waitlist and we’ll be in touch when we’re accepting new applications.

This program is open by invitation.

When booking your meeting with Ela Thier, you’ll be asked to reply to several questions about your background and goals. It will take 5-15 minutes to fill out your application.

Once you complete the application, you’ll need to place a $500 refundable deposit to confirm your meeting. If you join the program, the deposit will be applied towards your program fee. If you don’t join, your deposit will be refunded.

Your consultation does not guarantee admission, and does not obligate you to join.

Have questions?

Write us at [email protected] 

Thank you!

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