When the 14 newly minted Sundance Institute fellow step into the Episodic Labs on Thursday, they and their nine projects will be receiving guidance from some of the best of the small screen best.
Though Oz creator and City on the Hill executive producer Tom Fontana might freak some of the Fellows out with his enduring habit of writing out scripts in long hand, the multiple Emmy, Peabody Awards and Writers’ Guild Awards winner also offers the expertise of a master of the small screen form.
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As a creative advisor to the Fellows (see the full list below) at the October 10 – 15 sixth annual Episodic Lab at Utah’s Sundance Mountain Resort, Fontana will be joined by American Gods showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee and Justified showrunner Graham Yost.
In addition, Sex and the City EP Jenny Bicks, Daniel Chun (Writer/Producer, ABC Studios/Illumination Studios), Little America creator Lee Eisenberg, The Wilds co-EP Shalisha Francis, Tales of the City showrunner Lauren Morelli, Into the Badlands co-EP LaToya Morgan, Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler EP Erica Rivinoja and Central Park co-showrunner Sanjay Shah will be creative advisors this year as well.
The 2019 Labs’ Industry Mentors include: Sarah Babineau (Co-Head of Original Content, Comedy Central), Barbara Crawford (Vice President Current Series, FX Networks), Deniese Davis (Chief Operating Officer, ColorCreative), and Marta Fernandez (President, MACRO Television Studios). Susie Fitzgerald (EVP of Original Scripted Content, AMC and SundanceTV), Anne-Marie McGintee (Director, Original Drama Series, Netflix), Rose Catherine Pinkney (Senior Executive of Scripted Programming, BET Networks), Jeff Schwartz (Development Executive, Amazon Studios), Barbara Teixeira (Head of Television, RT Features), Sarah Timberman (Partner, Timberman-Beverly Productions), and Kathryn Tyus-Adair (SVP of Original Programming, STARZ) will be mentoring the Fellows too over the five day Labs.
“As the landscape of episodic content continues to evolve, emerging creators have an opportunity to bring their unique, independent voices and stories to the existing and new platforms ” says Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, Michelle Satter today of the 2019 Labs. “By cultivating visionary talent through industry expertise and support, we are advancing episodic writers with the tools they need to build sustainable creative careers.”
“Alumni of the Episodic Lab have gone on to a wide variety of roles in the industry, and we’re optimistic that our field-building and cultivation has contributed to helping our Fellows get to the next stage of their careers, by staffing on a series or setting up their pilot,” Director of the Episodic Program, Jennifer Goyne Blake adds.
And here are the 2019 Episodic Story Lab fellows and their projects:
Written by Biniam Bizuneh & Opeyemi Olagbaju
Two broke best friends decide to take another shot at the American dream by starting a streetwear line out of the basement of a parking garage.
Biniam Bizuneh is an Ethiopian American writer and comedian based in Los
Angeles. He’s served as a staff writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and a contributing
writer for Billy On The Street . He’s performed stand-up on Viceland’s Flophouse ,
Comedy Central’s Stand Up Featuring , and starred in the Lee Daniels’ FOX
comedy pilot Culture Clash . Biniam has also written and starred in originals for
Comedy Central, including the one-off sketches, Demetrinox, Bad Vibes , and his
own Comedy Central digital series, How To Be Broke . Biniam participated in the
2019 Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Lab and has been recognized
with the new Sundance Institute | Comedy Central Comedy Fellowship.
Opey Olagbaju is a Nigerian-American standup comedian and writer that has
written on shows such as Hulu’s I Love You America with Sarah Silverman ,
Comedy Central’s The New Negroes and Freeform’s Unrelated . As a standup, the
D.C.-area native performs at clubs and colleges all over the country. He has also
successfully showcased in several festivals, such as District of Comedy at the
Kennedy Center, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, RiotFest LA and SF Sketchfest,
and as a New Face at the 2019 Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.
Opey participated in the 2019 Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Lab and
has been recognized with the new Sundance Institute | Comedy Central Comedy
Written by Claire Rothrock & Ryann Weir
Cloister F*cked is an irreverent, half-hour comedy about two millennial nuns who defy the Catholic Church in order to preserve their own faith.
Claire Rothrock is a Brooklyn-based writer and performer for things on stage and
things on screens. She and writing partner Ryann Weir sold their comedy series
Cloister F*cked to CBS Studios and Sutton Street Productions. Their play I Heard
Sex Noises, which premiered at Ars Nova, is also being developed into a half hour
comedy series with Stampede Ventures and they are currently writing an Untitled
Heist Film with director Leslye Headland. Other credits together include their
digital series Basic Witch (Amazon Prime/JASH) and The Undertow , a fantasy
musical commissioned by NYU’s Playwrights Horizons. Claire has worked
extensively off-Broadway for the last decade and most recently can be seen in the
Netflix series, Russian Doll from creators Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne and
Amy Poehler. She received her MFA from the Royal Central School of Speech
and Drama. Claire and Ryann were previously supported by the Episodic Program
in the 2018 Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Lab.
Ryann Weir is a Brooklyn-based writer and performer who loves funny stories
about badass chicks. She and writing partner Claire Rothrock sold their comedy
series Cloister F*cked to CBS Studios and Sutton Street Productions. Their play I
Heard Sex Noises, which premiered at Ars Nova, is also being developed into a
half hour comedy series with Stampede Ventures and they are currently writing an
Untitled Heist Film with director Leslye Headland. Other credits together include
their digital series Basic Witch (Amazon Prime/JASH) and The Undertow , a
fantasy musical commissioned by NYU’s Playwrights Horizons. Ryann has worked
extensively off-Broadway for the last decade and is a proud alumni of the
Obie-winning group EST/Youngblood. She received her BFA from NYU Tisch
School of the Arts and recently received two Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
commissions for her plays X and In Possible Tech . Claire and Ryann were
previously supported by the Episodic Program in the 2018 Sundance Institute |
YouTube New Voices Lab.
House of the Moons
Written by Soo-Hyun Chung & Jonathan Sanford
House of the Moons chronicles the rise and fall of the Korean immigrant family behind the controversial Unification Church as they battle for control of the religious and financial empire built by the infamous Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Soo-Hyun Chung is a Korean-born immigrant who grew up in Missouri and
Connecticut before escaping to New York. Now living in Los Angeles, she’s a Film
Independent Screenwriters Lab, Writer’s Guild Feature Access Project, and Visual
Communications Armed with a Camera fellow. She was a senior writer/ director for
MTV On Air Promos, a publicist for nine inch nails and Marilyn Manson, a door
person for the avant garde NY club The Cooler, a music journalist who wrote
about going on tour as a college student with Ice T for the Village Voice, and a Lyft driver.
An LA native, Jonathan Sanford earned a degree in film at San Francisco State
University, did a stint in Berlin as a camera assistant and translator, then returned home to shoot independent features and work as a creative producer for Art Linson. As a filmmaker and cinematographer, his work has screened at Sundance, South by Southwest, Edinburgh, and ArtBasel Miami. In 2016 he produced the hybrid documentary-fiction feature The Other Kids.
Written by Kelly Edwards
A highly-educated, substance-abusing, black cable news anchor on the verge of self-destruction is relegated to the heartland to do the one thing she despises the most — interview real Americans about what makes America great.
Throughout her career, Kelly Edwards has worn multiple hats – as a development executive in both tv and features, as Executive Producer of a drama series, writer’s assistant, and as a diversity executive. In her current role as
WarnerMedia Entertainment’s SVP of Talent Development, Edwards oversees the
emerging artists programs for series, films, and miniseries. Edwards graduated
from Vassar College with a BA in Theater and is currently seeking her MFA in
Screen and Television Writing from Emerson College.
Written by Henry Alberto & Valerie Stadler
In 1997, a young queer boy partners with a group of Miami drag queens to help keep his father’s drug pushing operation afloat and save his struggling family. Based on a true story.
Born and raised in Miami, FL., Latinx filmmaker Henry Alberto is a recipient of a
Skowhegan Artist Residency, a Yaddo fellowship, a Latino Screenwriting Project
Fellowship and is an alumnus of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. Henry adapted the
award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by
Benjamin Alire Saenz. The script was included on the inaugural Latinx Black List
and is being set up by producers Kyra Sedgwick and Valerie Stadler of Big Swing
Valerie Stadler is a filmmaker and co-founder of Big Swing Productions with
partners Kyra Sedgwick and Meredith Bagby. Most recently, Valerie was the head
of Production and Development for Fluency, a multiplatform studio under NBCU
Hispanic Enterprises. She co-directed Fallen Star: Finding Home which screened
at the Whitney Museum and co-wrote Sunset Stories which premiered at SXSW.
She is an alumnus of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab.
Mature Adult Stuff
Written by Lindsay Weiglein
An ambitious and selfish 30-something finds her world turned upside down when the boyfriend she was planning to dump has a stroke and now depends on her for his every basic need. Based on a true story.
Lindsay Weiglein is a writer, producer and performer who is currently the
showrunner of the television series Dance Moms . Lindsay was also selected as a
2019 Sundance Institute | YouTube New Voices Fellow and has recently
completed a mockumentary travel show. She is a member of the band Stone
Written by Katherine DiSavino
When an orphaned teenager discovers her tragic past was predicted by a centuries-old prophecy, she must claim her birthright as the Seventh Daughter of a Seventh Daughter and save the world from supernatural evil.
Katherine DiSavino is an LA-based film and TV writer, originally from Lancaster,
PA. She currently writes on the CW’s Nancy Drew . Before that she wrote for The
Outpost (CW) and was a writers’ assistant on The InBetween (NBC). Katherine is
also a playwright published by Samuel French; her four published plays have been
translated into multiple languages and performed around the world.
Written by Adamma Ebo & Adanne Ebo
This satirical crime drama takes a darkly-comedic look at the tensions between a Black family-operated hair salon and a big Korean-American hair care company over the rightful ownership of the billion dollar Black hair care industry.
After graduating with a BA in English from Spelman College, Adamma Ebo
received a full fellowship to UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television,
graduating with her MFA in Directing & Production in 2018. Adamma was a 2019
Sundance Screenwriting Intensive Fellow for her feature film script Honk For
Jesus. Save Your Soul , which she is attached to write and direct. Adamma also
has her first TV development deal to co-create and co-write an adult animated
dark comedy series with her identical twin sister Adanne, who is also her producer and co-writer. Adamma is from Atlanta and now lives in Los Angeles with Adanne and is a showrunner’s assistant for the upcoming Amazon horror series Them: Covenant.
A graduate of Spelman College and Northwestern University School of Law,
Adanne Ebo had her first film storytelling experience when she produced one of
her twin sister’s graduate school short film projects. The sisters then co-founded Ejime Productions, with Adanne serving as lead producer and co-writer. She is currently attached to produce the pair’s first feature film project Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul, and also has a development deal to co-create and co-write their first adult animated dark comedy series. Adanne is a 2019 Project Involve Producer Fellow and currently works in business affairs at Endeavor Content.
Valley of Bones
Written by Lekethia Dalcoe
After the unjust killing of a young Black boy reignites the eternal rivalry between the Angel of Death and the Devil, their supernatural forces contend for power over the restless Black souls trapped in Purgatory.
Lekethia Dalcoe is an award winning playwright from Houston, TX, who now
resides in New York City. Directed by Tony nominated actor/director Harry Lennix,
her play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red,” won Best Play for the 2018 Audelco
Awards. Ms. Dalcoe is currently creating “THE HOLDING SPACE CYCLE,” a
Dante’s Inferno reflected through the lens of tortured black experiences. In her
work, the souls of black America are in jagged shards; she simply wants to piece
those souls together.