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 The application for this lab is currently closed. We will be accepting applications for the 2020 Episodic Lab in spring 2020.
    Dates October 8–October 13, 2020
    Size of Lab 10 projects each lab
    Location Sundance Mountain 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 Institute, 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 round one, applicants are required to submit the first five pages of an original pilot script, their bio, a series logline, a series overview, their personal statement, a thematic statement, and (optional) links to samples of previous work, along with a $40 nonrefundable processing fee. If selected for round two, applicants are notified by email and have 2 weeks to submit their full pilot script. 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 Mountain 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 2020 Episodic Lab will take place October 8–13, 2020, at the Sundance Mountain 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 Institute, 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 one of the application process?
      The submission is open February 12–March 11, 2020.
    4. What do I need to submit in round one of the application process?
      • Contact information for writer(s): we allow for up to two writers per project; however, you must choose one person to be the primary applicant 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, and 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 your 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?
      • Samples of previous work (optional): provide one to three 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 include passwords as needed.
      • The first five pages of your pilot script (in .pdf form)
      • Demographics: to be filled out by the primary applicant and the additional applicant (if applicable)
      • Application terms: to be signed by the primary applicant
      • 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 two?
      Applicants will receive email notification about whether or not they have been selected for round two of our online application process by April 8, 2020.
    6. What do I need to submit in round two of the application process?
      After they receive email notification, applicants who are selected to advance to round two are required to upload the full pilot script for their original series through our online application system by April 22, 2020, 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 two 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 (or writers) has secured the rights to the original source material and can disclose the legal rights for Sundance Institute 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 Institute own my pilot?
      No. 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. When does the application open?
      The application for the 2020 Episodic Lab opens on February 12, 2020, at 12:00 p.m. PT.
    18. What is the application deadline?
      The deadline for project submission is March 11, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. PT.
    19. 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 11, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. PT.
    20. When will final decisions be made?
      Applicants will receive email notification about whether or not they have been selected for the lab by August 12, 20120.

    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
      • “FAQ & Writing Resources” from the Writers Guild Foundation Library—wgfoundation.org
      • “A Ton of Useful Information about Screenwriting from Screenwriter John August” from John August’s Blog—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 The 2020 Episodic Makers Lab application is currently open. Apply now.
    Deadline November 13, 2019
    Dates April 6–9, 2020, and June 20–21, 2020
    Size of Lab 10 projects each lab
    Location Los Angeles, CA
    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 Institute, 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 round one, applicants are required to submit the first five pages of an original pilot script, their bio, a series logline, a series overview, their personal statement, a thematic statement, and (optional) links to samples of previous work, along with a $40 nonrefundable processing fee. If selected for round two, applicants are notified by email and have 2 weeks to submit their full pilot script. For further detail on what the application process entails, please see our FAQ section below.
    Description

    The Episodic Makers Lab is designed to identify exciting independent voices who are taking the initiative to produce their own short-form episodic content. The two-part program focuses on the craft of serialized storytelling over multiple episodes, and targets artists who are already developing their body of work across a variety of disciplines (i.e.- digital series, short film, animation, theatre, stand up comedy, improv, music).

    The first part is a four-day Lab in Los Angeles where 10-12 selected Fellows participate in creative workshops to develop their writing and directing skills. Two months later, the Fellows attend a two-day project development Intensive in LA, where they participate in one-on-one story meetings, writers' rooms, and group conversations about navigating the business of developing, producing, and selling episodic content.

    The Sundance Institute offers a travel stipend to artists who are participating from outside of LA, but they need to book their own travel and accommodations.

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

    1. What are the dates of the Episodic Makers?
      The Episodic Makers will take place April 6–9, 2020, and Part II will take place June 20–21, 2020,. Both parts will take place in Los Angeles, CA.
    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 Institute, 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 one of the application process?
      The submission period is October 9–November 13, 2019.
    4. What do I need to submit in round one of the application process?
      • Contact information for creator(s): we allow for up to two creators per project; however, you must choose one person to be the primary applicant and your designated point of contact.
      • Bio(s) 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
      • Pilot synopsis (no more than 500 words): a summary of your pilot episode
      • Series overview (no more than 500 words): a one-page description of your series that gives the reader a feel for its main characters, the basic plot and themes, and 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 your 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 pitch (no more than 5 minutes in length): a short video 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. Please include a password, if needed.
      • Samples of previous work: provide one to three 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 include passwords as needed.
      • YouTube channel(s) (optional): provide a URL link (or links) to your YouTube channel (or Channels), if you or your additional applicant have one. This is not required.
      • The first five pages of your pilot script (in .pdf form)
      • Demographics: to be filled out by the primary applicant and the additional applicant (if applicable)
      • Application terms: to be signed by the primary applicant.
      • $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 two?
      Applicants will receive an email notification about whether or not they have advanced to round two of our online application process by December 4, 2019.
    6. What do I need to submit in round two of the application process?
      After they receive email notification, applicants who are selected to advance to round two are required to upload the full pilot script for their original series and up to two additional episodes (not to exceed 40 pages in total) through our online application system by December 18, 2019, in order to be considered for the lab.
    7. Is there an application fee to apply for the Episodic Makers?
      Yes, for round one ONLY, there is a $40 nonrefundable 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 Episodic Makers.
    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 Institute own my project?
      No, Sundance Institute does not have an ownership stake in any projects that are submitted to, or selected for, the program, nor are we attached in any producorial capacity. All Episodic Makers 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 two 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. When does the application open?
      The application for the 2020 Episodic Makers opens on October 9, 2019, at 12:00 p.m. PT.
    17. What is the application deadline?
      The deadline for project submission is November 13, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. 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 November 13, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. PT.
    19. When will final decisions be made?
      Applicants will receive email notification about whether or not they have been selected for the lab by February 26, 2020.

    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 Institute staff and advisors; targeted introductions to agents, managers, attorneys, writers, and executives; inclusion in the Sundance Institute alumni community; invitations to Institute-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 Episodic Program

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 Amazon Studios, AMC and SundanceTV, BET Networks, Comedy Central, Netflix, RT Features, STARZ, and The Walt Disney Company.

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