LOS ANGELES, CA — The Sundance Institute Episodic Program announced the Fellows selected for the second annual Pitch Parlor, presented by NBCUniversal, taking place today, March 9, 2023 in Los Angeles. The nine Fellows are Britt Adams (Onyx), Gianmarco Maximilian Giacomelli (To Kill a Pope), Naomi Ko (The 20-Year Curse), Ricardo Pérez González (Orlando), Justin Calen-Chenn and Giancarlo Sánchez (KNOCKTURNAL), Elissa Blount Moorhead and Ericka Blount Danois (fiftyTwo), and Nicole Saad (American Grand Prix). Project genres this year range from heartfelt intergenerational comedy to espionage thrillers and genre-bending horror.
Pitch Parlor is an industry facing curation of Episodic Program Alumni, who are ready to showcase pitches based on their original series ideas to producers, studios, and networks. Participating Industry Mentors who provided key guidance in the Fellows’ creative project development include Erika Kennair (Extracurricular), Karim Zreik (Cedar Tree Productions), Kesila Childers (Powderkeg), and Shana C. Waterman (Royal Ties).
The Episodic Program brings together writers with unproduced, original series IP. The Episodic Lab, taking place each fall in Utah, is a six-day immersive experience that allows writers to work closely under the stewardship of established showrunners, producers, and development executives. The Lab is overseen by Founding Senior Director of Artist Programs, Michelle Satter, and Episodic Program Director, Jandiz Estrada Cardoso.
“All of the content this year bolts out the gate with heroic characters, some against extreme odds – which is fitting for a post-pandemic audience,” said Episodic Program Director, Jandiz Estrada Cardoso. “One simple and human anthem of these shows is their infallible pursuit of self-defined victory, in territories as basic as family or as savage as folklore.”
The Sundance Institute Episodic Program is made possible by Founding Supporters Lyn and Norman Lear and Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn. Leadership Supporters are AMC Networks, MGM+, MRC Television, Netflix, The Harry and Florence Sloan Foundation, The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and STARZ.
Episodic Lab Alumni include producers Katori Hall (P-Valley), Barry Jenkins (Underground Railroad), Tanuj Chopra (Delhi Crime Season 2), Desiree Akhavan (The Bisexual), and Heather Rae (Outer Range). Past Fellows have gone on to earn writing positions on shows including Ms. Marvel, The Staircase, This is Us, Dave, You’re the Worst, Better Call Saul, Silicon Valley, Nancy Drew, Marvel’s Armor Wars, One Of Us Is Lying, Sweet Tooth, and The Americans. Alumni have also set up or sold Lab projects at networks including HBO, Amazon, STARZ, Disney+, Hulu, FX, ABC, CW, AMC, TBS, and Netflix.
Additional information on the projects and writers chosen for the 2023 Episodic Pitch Parlor can be found below.
2023 SUNDANCE EPISODIC PITCH PARLOR PROJECTS AND FELLOWS
Britt Adams with ONYX: In a social climate of unrest, an underground intelligence agency combats the injustices against Black people using disguises, fake identities, and coercion tactics.
Britt Adams, a multi-hyphenate from North Carolina, writes genre-bending political satire with distinctive humor and adrenaline. In addition to writing and producing her own series, as a performer, she has guest starred on various shows for networks including Netflix and CBS, and is recurring on ABC’s The Rookie: Feds.
Justin Calen-Chenn and Giancarlo Sánchez with KNOCKTURNAL: An unlikely alliance is forged when an American ex-con, now aspiring journalist, travels to Amsterdam and pairs up with a volatile European female kickboxer to unravel the inner workings of the city’s most secretive criminal organization, who have been supplying vulnerable immigrants a new insidious monster-creating drug called knock.
Formerly homeless until adopted by a Black man from South LA, Justin Calen-Chenn allegedly lived a shadier life before writing. Credits include Netflix’s Brothers Sun starring Michelle Yeoh and Peacock’s Bel-Air. He has sold multiple projects to studios alongside Higher Ground, 87North, Matt Jackson, Chernin, 50 Cent and more.
Giancarlo Sánchez is a Colombian-Argentinian writer/director born and raised in Amsterdam. Giancarlo began in music videos before directing features including Dutch Academy Award winner Horizon. In television, he directed euro-sensation Mocro Maffia and the pilot of Netflix’s first Dutch Original Ares. Currently, Giancarlo is the creative director at Topkapi Films.
Ericka Blount Danois and Elissa Blount Moorhead with fiftyTWO: fiftyTWO is a 30-minute dramedy series that follows the fish-out-of-water adventures of two diehard New Yorkers: a Baby Boomer grandfather (PopPop) and his Gen Z granddaughter (Kai), as they become unlikely roommates and navigate what they think is a sleepy southern town.
Ericka Blount Danois has written for The New York Times, Vibe, ESPN, Essence magazine, The Washington Post, and more. She is the author of Love, Peace, and Soul, about the history of Soul Train. She directed research for the documentary Time Is Illmatic, about rapper Nas. Her music journalism archives are housed at Indiana University.
Elissa Blount Moorhead’s work explores the poetics of quotidian Black life. Her directorial projects include; Jay Z’s 4:44, Back And Song, an experimental 4-channel film, and PBS/Firelight Media’s Masters In The Making series. She is the author of P is for Pussy, an illustrated “children’s” book, and is featured in How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance.
Gianmarco Maximilian Giacomelli with TO KILL A POPE: An exiled English mercenary wrestling with a crisis of faith embarks on a mission to assassinate the Pope in exchange for absolution and the chance to reunite with his lost love.
Gianmarco Maximilian Giacomelli is an ex-Catholic screenwriter who completed his MFA at the AFI Conservatory. He is currently developing projects with various producers from Ozark, The Umbrella Academy and Narcos. Diagnosed at age 15 with a rare neurological disorder, Gianmarco infuses his writing with heart and focuses on broken people like himself, because aren’t we all?
Ricardo Pérez González with ORLANDO: Orlando is an hour-long drama about three generations of Puerto Rican women on a uniquely messy journey of healing as they rebuild their lives in the wake of hurricane María and the Pulse shooting.
Ricardo Pérez González is a queer Puerto Rican writer whose credits include Netflix’s Designated Survivor, his plays Don’t Eat the Mangos (Magic Theatre/Elliot Norton Award-Best Play) and On the Grounds of Belonging (NYC Public). Upcoming projects include the podcast Flipped and a series based on the book Gay Berlin with Neal Baer.
Naomi Ko with THE 20-YEAR CURSE: Eunji Choi embarks on a journey with her father, Hae Su to break a 20-year generational family curse that spans both the material and spirit world.
Naomi Ko is a Korean American filmmaker, actor, and performance artist based in Minnesota and Los Angeles. Her work premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. Naomi is a former Sundance Institute Art of Practice Fellow, Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, and is currently a Bush Leadership Fellow.
Nicole Saad with AMERICAN GRAND PRIX: When an award-winning Formula 1 strategist learns of her father’s near-fatal accident, she returns to her estranged family and seizes control of America’s only team in order to save their legacy from bankruptcy and past betrayals.
Having recently been staffed on Taylor Sheridan’s Lioness, starring Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana, Lebanese-American screenwriter Nicole Saad is currently partnered with award-winning journalist David Ignatius, Academy nominee Phil Alden Robinson, and Vice Media to develop Ignatius’ spy novel Agents of Innocence. Her political thriller Tinderbox was supported by the Sundance Episodic Lab and developed at Eric Feig’s Picturestart.