year-long
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, mentee

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

— Kevin Brodie, mentee

How to apply

This program is open by invitation.

To apply for the program, please request to schedule a meeting with Ela.

Please note that a $500 refundable deposit is required to book your meeting. If you join the program, the deposit will be applied to your fee. Otherwise, it will be refunded.

A meeting does not guarantee admission, and does not obligate you to join.

The Program

Create work that will exponentially grow your skills, experience, confidence, and credibility.

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

— Fianna Litvak, mentee

slack: virtual office

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.

LIVE group sessions

Group sessions run for 10 months, Sept-June. Coaches lead sessions focused on story structure, directing actors, productions, etc. We take requests! Ela leads the alternate meetings and runs like a mastermind in which she coaches 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, the cohort holds informal meetups to network, swap advice, and forge lifelong relationships.

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. Ela and the coaching team review and approve your shooting script, lead cast, budget, schedule, department heads, and picture lock.

“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.”
— Andrew Hartfield, mentee
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, mentee

Meet your Mentor

Ela Thier

I’ve written dozens of scripts; I’ve written, directed, and produced in several features and many shorts. I wrote myself supporting and leading roles. I’ve sold my films; I’ve received major awards, grants, and glowing reviews.

But the wind at my back has always been my students. I’ve mentored, taught, and guided thousands of screenwriters and filmmakers since 2006, I’ve witnessed hundreds of success stories, and I’ve devoted group of exceptional coaches who are professionals in their fields.

I’ve launched careers of fellow artists.

Our guiding principles:

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

I personally see to it that an artist will exceed what they think is their potential. I oversee the program, I personally teach our classes once a month and offer hotseats, I stay in contact and keep tabs on mentees and projects, and I see to it that every mentee flourishes.

More recently, my primary role has shifted to becoming a conduit between mentees and the industry. If and when someone’s work is ready for professional exposure, I forge those connections.

When my students succeed, I succeed. I’ll be invested in your work as if it were my own.

My alumni

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

But...

Film schools focus on mechanics, and the mechanics are the least important aspect of filmmaking.

While we deliver skill building, we also focus on building your confidence, on keeping you clear and focused on your “Big Why,” and tending to it when you get stuck, and building your community and network of support.

In film school everyone learns the same thing. Here we customize the program to tailor-fit your needs, your goals, your strengths, your path.

With us, you’re not just a number. You’re not at the mercy of hoping for luck in landing a good instructor. You’ll be in the hands of fellow artists, both mentors and peers, who will genuinely care about your work.

We cost a lot less – and deliver way more.

(Oh and… I’ve had countless film school graduates tell me that what we deliver has done a lot more than film school for their skills and mechanics…).

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?

Every time I go to a film festival to watch one of my student’s films, their film sticks out by a long shot. Last one I went to (2 months ago), I heard an audience member say of the film that came from our alumni: “Well, that one was different. You felt like you were watching a real movie.”

I’ll let you interpret that comment…

Here’s the thing. All those meh films you see at festivals didn’t come from people without talent (though those watching the films will naturally assume that). They came from filmmakers who didn’t receive the training and support that they needed.

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

What determines the quality of a film is the quality of the script and the performances. What’s in third place as for how emotional and impactful a film is…? the music! As for mechanics, the #1 factor is the quality of the sound and the sound edit.

In short, we don’t want you to make a film. We guide you in making your best possible film – the one that audiences will remember and 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 set writing goals with us and 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’ work and deciding to take the plunge and bring their writing to life on the screen.

Absolutely. I may be more hands on as a coach with the more advanced students if it seems necessary, but the skills building, confidence building, community building, and body-of-work building simply happens faster and goes deeper the more experienced you are.

I always laugh at the fifty percent of the cohort who all say: “I’m the least experienced person here.” How is half the group the “least experienced?” Lol.

We are absolutely designed to hand-hold you no matter how much experience you have, including none, zilch, zero.

Just heads up that if you’ve never written or created or been involved in the making of even one single film, if you feel like you’re starting completely from scratch, half the group will still be convinced that they have less experience than you 😉

“I don’t think I could’ve done any of this without this group.”

— Amy Tompkins, mentee

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
Egor Subbotin

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. They don’t just know the craft, they also know how to build your skills, lend you confidence, and offer exciting – possibly scary but always doable – challenges.

The coaches ensures that every mentee has all the support that they need every step of the way. I meet with the coaches weekly to discuss each mentee, oversee the projects in development, and ensure that we exceed your expectations.

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, mentee

The Mastermind

“Unlike the rest of the business, it’s not competitive here. We all just cheer each other on.”

— Fianna Litvok, mentee

LIVE MASTERMINDS

Our mastermind meets on zoom on a bi-weekly basis. Half of our meetings are themed masterminds, led by a coach, and focused on specific aspects of the craft: writing, story structure, acting, directing, production, post-production, etc. We take requests!

Half of our masterminds are led by Ela Thier, as she leads a group discussion while coaching 2 or 3 mentees on their projects.

MEETUPS

On alternate weeks, when the mastermind doesn’t meet, we hold optional peer-run meetups where mentees informally meet, swap advice, go over each others’ work, support each other, and build lifetime connections. Even the shyest and most introverted artists end up building connections.

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

— Mathilde Dratwa, mentee

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
PRIVATE SESSIONS: full year
A full year of private coaching sessions on an as-needed basis.
Value: $6000

masterminds:
Sept-June

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
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:

Write Your Best Screenplays

Value: $997

Producing Indie Films
Value: $997
The Film Directing Suite
Value: $1997
EXPOSURE 10X
Value: $497
IFS Studio annual membership
Value: $497
Bonuses total value: $4985
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, mentee

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.
ADÉNÍKÈ AKINBISEHIN
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

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

This program is open by invitation.

To apply for the program, please request to schedule a meeting with Ela.

Please note that a $500 refundable deposit is required to book your meeting. If you join the program, the deposit will be applied towards your fee. Otherwise, it will be refunded.

A meeting does not guarantee admission, and does not obligate you to join.

Have questions?

Write us at [email protected] 

Thank you!

100% of our profits are donated to Climate Comedies.

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