Episodic Program

About the Episodic Program

Offering one of the few training grounds for independent voices to develop an original series and pilot script, the Sundance Institute Episodic Program provides artists with the tools, training, and industry access to move their projects and careers forward.

Labs

  • Application We will be accepting applications for the 2018 Episodic Lab on February 15 - March 15, 2018.
    Dates September 28 - October 3, 2018
    Size of Lab 10 Projects each Lab
    Location Sundance Resort, Utah
    Eligibility
    • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older at time of application.
    • The project must be the applicant’s original creation or adapted from optioned source material.
    • The project must be written in the English language.
    • The project must be new: not previously submitted to Sundance, not already produced, not already sold to a third party, and not distributed online or otherwise.
    • Applicants cannot have sold an episodic project (pilot or pitch) to a studio or network in the past that has been shot.
    • The project shall not infringe the copyright or any other proprietary right of another individual or entity. The creator/applicant is responsible for all rights pertaining to the project.
    Application Process There are two rounds in the application process: in the Round 1, applicants are required to submit the first 5 pages of an original pilot script, their bio, series logline, series overview, personal statement, thematic statement, and (optional) links to samples of previous work, along with a $40 nonrefundable processing fee. If selected for the Round 2, applicants are notified by email and have 2 weeks to submit their full pilot script and series treatment. For further detail on what the application process entails, please see our FAQ section below.
    Description The Sundance Institute Episodic Lab is a six-day program at the Sundance Resort in Utah that offers writers the opportunity to workshop an original pilot script, while developing their writing and pitching skills. Working with accomplished showrunners, non-writing creative producers and executives, the Fellows participate in one-on-one story meetings, pitching sessions, and simulated writers rooms, which together provide creative and strategic keys to success.

    For more information about the Episodic Lab, please contact episodicprogram@sundance.org.

    1. What are the dates of the Episodic Lab?
      The Episodic Lab will take place September 28 - October 3, 2018, at the Sundance Resort in Utah.
    2. Who is eligible for the Lab?
      • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older at time of application.
      • The project must be the applicant’s original creation or adapted from optioned source material.
      • The project must be written in the English language.
      • The project must be new: not previously submitted to Sundance, not already produced, not already sold to a third party, and not distributed online or otherwise.
      • Applicants cannot have sold an episodic project (pilot or pitch) to a studio or network in the past that has been shot.
      • The project shall not infringe the copyright or any other proprietary right of another individual or entity. The creator/applicant is responsible for all rights pertaining to the project.
    3. What is the submission period for Round 1 of the application process?
      February 15 - March 15, 2018
    4. What do I need to include in Round 1 of the application process?
      • Contact information for writer(s) (we allow for up to 2 writers per project, however, you must choose one person to be the primary applicant/creator and your designated point of contact)
      • Bio(s) of the writer(s) (no more than 250 words per person)
      • Series logline: a one-sentence description of your series (no more than 50 words) that conveys what your project is about.\
      • Pilot synopsis (no more than 500 words): a summary of your pilot episode
      • Series overview (no more than 500 words): this is a one-page description of your series that gives the reader a feel for its main characters, the basic plot and themes, as well as the tone and format. Imagine you’re describing your series to a friend in a way that conveys your excitement, clearly explains what your series is about and gives them a reason to want to watch it.
      • Personal Statement (no more than 250 words): A brief written response to the following questions:
        • Why are you interested in telling this story?
        • What is your personal connection to the material?
        • Why are you the best person to tell this story?
        • Why tell this story now?
      • Thematic Statement (no more than 250 words): a brief written response to the following questions:
        • What is the theme of you series? That is, what is the central idea or big question you are exploring? (e.g. “In the wake of the ultimate betrayal, how does one continue to trust others?”, OR “Are criminals born or are they made?” OR “Can a modern family still function like a traditional family?”)
        • How is this "thematic question" explored on an episode-to-episode basis in your series? (e.g. “Each episode, the betrayal is seen through the eyes of a different character as its ripple effect permeates more and more lives” OR “Each episode, we focus on a different criminal and the path that led to their crimes” OR “Each episode, an unconventional family struggles to overcome conventional problems)
        • How does this theme inform each of your characters and their journeys over the course of the series? How does the theme connect emotionally to what your characters are going through?
      • Video samples of previous work (OPTIONAL) – Provide 1-3 URL links to samples of your previous work (not to exceed 10 minutes total in length). Samples may include short films, web series episodes or other relevant video content. Please be sure to include passwords as needed.
      • The first 5 pages of your pilot script
      • Demographics – To be filled out by the designated primary applicant/creator.
      • Application Terms – To be signed by the designated primary applicant/creator.
      • A $40 non-refundable processing fee payable by credit card via the online application
    5. When will I be notified if I have advanced to Round 2?
      Applicants will receive notification via email about whether or not they have been selected for Round 2 of our online application process by April 11, 2018.
    6. What will be required to submit to Round 2?
      After they receive email notification, applicants who are selected to advance to Round 2 are required to upload the full pilot script for their original series through our online application system by April 25, 2018, in order to be considered for the Lab.
    7. Is there an application fee to apply for the Episodic Lab?
      Yes, for Round 1 ONLY, there is a $40 Non-Refundable Processing Fee, payable by credit card via the online application.
    8. How complete should the pilot script be?
      You must have a full, completed original pilot script in order to be considered.
    9. Will you consider writing teams?
      Yes, we will consider writing teams of up to 2 people.
    10. Will you consider animated series this year?
      Yes, however, the candidate must notify us of this intention when applying as we may request supplemental materials.
    11. Will you consider nonfiction series this year?
      Yes, however, the candidate must notify us of this intention when applying as we may request supplemental materials.
    12. Will you consider international series?
      Yes, however, the project must be in English and we are not able to provide for international travel at this time. We will cover the cost of the domestic portion of international airfare.
    13. Will you consider adaptations of other material (novels, magazine articles, films, etc.)?
      Yes, we will consider adaptations so long as the writer/s has secured the rights to the original source material and can disclose the legal rights for Sundance to review.
    14. Do participants pay for travel and accommodation?
      No, Sundance Institute will pay for domestic airfare and provide accommodations for all participants. At this time, we are not able to provide for international travel. We will cover the cost of the domestic portion of international airfare.
    15. What does the program cost?
      Aside from an application fee of $40, participation in the Episodic Lab, including travel, food and accommodations, is completely free.
    16. Does Sundance own my pilot?
      No. The Sundance Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not have an ownership stake in any projects that are submitted to, or selected for the Lab, nor are we attached in any producorial capacity. All Lab Fellows must own or have approval from the project owner to participate.
    17. What is the application deadline?
      The application will be made available to applicants through our online application system on February 15, 2018. The deadline for project submission is March 15, 2018 at 6:00pm PT.
    18. Is it possible to get an extension? What’s the final final deadline?
      No, it’s not possible to get an extension. You must turn in your application by March 15, 2018 at 6:00pm PT.
    19. When will final decisions be made?
      We will notify everyone of our final decision of the writers selected for the Lab by August 15, 2018

    If you are interested in learning more about writing for the episodic space, please find a list of helpful websites and books that provide additional resources for writers below:

    • Websites:
      • “On Story presented by the Austin Film Festival” – onstory.tv
      • “Writing for Episodic TV” from the WGA – wga.org
      • “FAQ & Writing Resources” from the Writers Guild Foundation Library – wgfoundation.org
      • John August’s Blog, “A Ton of Useful Information about Screenwriting from Screenwriter John August” – johnaugust.com
    • Books:
      • Writing the TV Pilot by William Rabkin
      • The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap: 21 Navigational Tips for Screenwriters to Create and Sustain a Hit TV Series by Neil Landau
      • The TV Writer’s Workbook: A Creative Approach to Television Scripts by Ellen Sandler
      • Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV by Pamela Douglas
      • Writing the Screenplay, TV and Film by Alan Armer

    Still don't see your question answered here? Email episodicprogram@sundance.org with further questions.

  • Application Apply here. We will be accepting applications for the 2018 New Voices Lab until December 14, 2017.
    Dates April 17-20, 2018 and June 9-10, 2018
    Size of Lab 12 Projects each Lab
    Location Alisal Ranch, Solvang, CA & YouTube Space Los Angeles
    Eligibility
    • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older at time of application.
    • The project must be the applicant’s original creation.
    • The project must be written in the English language.
    • The project must be new: not previously submitted to Sundance, not already produced, not already sold to a third party, and not distributed online or otherwise.
    • The project shall not infringe the copyright or any other proprietary right of another individual or entity. The creator/applicant is responsible for all rights pertaining to the project.
    Application Process There are two rounds in the application process: in Round 1, applicants and are asked to submit a bio, series logline, series overview, personal statement, thematic statement, short video pitch for their scripted digital series and links to samples of previous work, along with a $40 nonrefundable processing fee. If selected for Round 2, applicants are notified by email and have 2 weeks to submit the pilot script for their series and up to 2 additional episodes (not to exceed 40 pages in total). For further detail on what the application process entails, please visit our FAQ page below.
    Description In collaboration with YouTube, the Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Lab supports a group of 12 creators (or co-creator teams), developing scripted digital series. The program begins with a four-day Lab, where Fellows participate in creative workshops led by notable Sundance Advisors to develop their storytelling skills. Later, the Fellows participate in a two-day Lab in Los Angeles, where they work with writers, showrunners and producers to hone their projects through one-on-one story meetings, writers rooms, and group conversations about production, post-production, and marketing.

    For more information about the New Voices Lab, please contact episodicprogram@sundance.org.

    Apply Now

    1. What are the dates of the New Voices Lab?
      The New Voices Lab will take place April 17-20, 2018, at the Alisal Ranch in Solvang, CA and June 9-10, 2018, at YouTube Space Los Angeles.
    2. What are the eligibility requirements for submitting a project to the Lab?
      • Applicants must be 18 years of age or older at time of application.
      • The project must be the applicant’s original creation.
      • The project must be written in the English language.
      • The project must be new: not previously submitted to Sundance, not already produced, not already sold to a third party, and not distributed online or otherwise.
      • The project shall not infringe the copyright or any other proprietary right of another individual or entity. The creator/applicant is responsible for all rights pertaining to the project.
    3. What is the submission period for Round 1 of the application process?
      November 15 - December 14, 2017
    4. What will be required to submit for Round 1 of the application process?
      • Contact information for creator(s) (we allow for up to 2 creators per project, however, you must choose one person to be the primary applicant/creator and your designated point of contact)
      • Bios of creator(s) (no more than 250 words)
      • Series logline: a one-sentence description of your series (no more than 50 words) that conveys what your project is about.
      • Series overview (no more than 500 words): this is a one-page description of your series that gives the reader a feel for its main characters, the basic plot and themes, as well as the tone and format. Imagine you’re describing your series to a friend in a way that conveys your excitement, clearly explains what your series is about and gives them a reason to want to watch it.
      • Personal Statement (no more than 250 words): a brief written response to the following questions
        • Why are you interested in telling this story?
        • What is your personal connection to the material?
        • Why are you the best person to tell this story?
        • Why tell this story now?
      • Thematic Statement (no more than 250 words): a brief written response to the following questions:
        • What is the theme of you series? That is, what is the central idea or big question you are exploring? (e.g. “In the wake of the ultimate betrayal, how does one continue to trust others?”, OR “Are criminals born or are they made?” OR “Can a modern family still function like a traditional family?”)
        • How is this "thematic question" explored on an episode-to-episode basis in your series? (e.g. “Each episode, the betrayal is seen through the eyes of a different character as its ripple effect permeates more and more lives” OR “Each episode, we focus on a different criminal and the path that led to their crimes” OR “Each episode, an unconventional family struggles to overcome conventional problems”).
        • How does this theme inform each of your characters and their journeys over the course of the series? How does the theme connect emotionally to what your characters are going through?
      • A short video pitch (no more than 5 minutes in length) that gives us an overview of your project. This is your opportunity to show off your video-making skills, tells us a little bit about your background, and let us know why you are interested in telling this story. It should include your name(s), the title of your series, and a short description of the project, including the story, world, setting, tone, genre and main characters.
      • Samples of previous work – Provide 1-3 URL links to samples of your previous work (not to exceed 10 minutes total in length). Samples may include short films, web series episodes or other digital content. Please be sure to include passwords as needed.
      • Demographics – To be filled out by the designated primary applicant/creator.
      • Application Terms – To be signed by the designated primary applicant/creator.
      • $40 non-refundable processing fee payable by credit card via the online application.
    5. When will I be notified if I have advanced to Round 2?
      Applicants will receive notification via email about whether or not they have advanced to Round 2 of our online application process by January 4, 2018.
    6. What will be required to submit for Round 2 of the application process?
      The pilot script for your series and up to 2 additional episodes (not to exceed 40 pages in total).
    7. Is there an application fee to apply for the New Voices Lab?
      Yes, for Round 1 ONLY, there is a $40 Non-Refundable Processing Fee, payable by credit card via the online application.
    8. What does the program cost?
      Aside from an application fee of $40, there is no charge for participation in the New Voices Lab.
    9. Do participants pay for travel and accommodations?
      No, domestic airfare and accommodations will be provided for all participants who are not locally-based.
    10. Does Sundance or YouTube own my project?
      No, neither Sundance Institute nor YouTube have an ownership stake in any projects that are submitted to, or selected for the Lab, nor are we attached in any producorial capacity. All Lab Fellows must own or have approval from the project owner to participate.
    11. Will you consider co-creator teams?
      Yes, we will consider co-creator teams of up to 2 people.
    12. Will you consider animated series?
      Yes, however, the candidate must notify us of this intention prior to applying as we will require supplemental materials.
    13. Will you consider nonfiction series?
      Yes, however, the candidate must notify us of this intention when applying as we may request supplemental materials.
    14. Will you consider adaptations of other material (novels, magazine articles, films, etc.)?
      Yes, we will consider adaptations as long as the rights to the original source material have been secured and applicant(s) can disclose the legal rights for review. The Creator/Applicant is responsible for all rights pertaining to the project.
    15. Will you consider international series?
      Yes, however, the project must be in English and we are not able to provide for international travel at this time. We will, however, cover the cost of the domestic portion of international airfare.
    16. What is the application deadline?
      The application will be made available to applicants through our online application system by November 15, 2017. The deadline for project submission is December 14, 2017, at 6:00pm PT.
    17. Is it possible to get an extension? What’s the final final deadline?
      No, it’s not possible to get an extension. You must turn in your application by December 14, 2017, at 6:00pm PT.
    18. When will final decisions be made?
      We will notify all applicants whether or not they were selected as Fellows for the Lab by March 28, 2018.

    Still don't see your question answered here? Email episodicprogram@sundance.org with further questions.

Year Round Continuum of Support

Following participation in the Labs, Fellows receive customized, year-round support with a focus on script development, securing representation and staffing. This includes: ongoing creative and strategic advice from Sundance staff and advisors; targeted introductions to agents, managers, attorneys, writers and executives; inclusion in the Sundance Institute alumni community; invitations to Sundance-hosted events throughout the year; opportunities to observe the writers rooms of shows currently in production; and ongoing mentorship with episodic writers, directors and producers.

Support for the Sundance Institute | Youtube New Voices Lab

The Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Lab is made possible with Founding Support from YouTube.

Support for the Episodic Lab

The Sundance Institute Episodic Program and Lab is made possible by Founding Supporters Lyn and Norman Lear, and Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn. Leadership Supporters are 21st Century Fox; Amazon Studios; AMC and SundanceTV; BET; Netflix; RT Features; Time Warner, Inc., Turner, HBO, and Warner Bros.

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