Magazine article Variety

Smallscreen Dreams

Magazine article Variety

Smallscreen Dreams

Article excerpt

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, as the saying goes, join 'em. And while the Sundance Institute won't be dropping its efforts to foster the filmmakers anytime soon, the huge migration of indie film talent to TV series led the org to launch its first Episodic Story Lab.

"We've been hearing from our theater, feature film and festival alums that it would be great to have a program to support them making the transition from writing feature scripts to multi-episode storytelling," says Sundance Institute feature film program founding director Michelle Satter. The idea developed more than two years ago "as an opportunity for us to offer something that wasn't necessarily being offered out there, as a training ground for our alums and emerging writers."

It's already produced results: all 10 writers who participated in the Sept. 27-Oct. 2 Park City lab now have representation (only half did at the start), one landed a staff writer position, and a network is in negotiations to pick up the pilot of another.

While the first lab boasted top creative advisers, including Howard Gordon ("Homeland"), Felicia D. Henderson ("Soul Food"), Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City"), Greg Daniels ("Parks and Recreation") and Warren Leight ("Law & Order: SVU"), the list of industry mentors was equally impressive, including HBO's Francesca Orsi, Netflix's Peter Friedlander, Shondaland's Betsy Beers, A&E Studios' Tana Nugent Jamieson, Ryan Murphy Television's Dante Di Loreto, Gran Via Prods.' Mark Johnson and Sundance Prods.' Laura Michalchyshyn.

"We learned that there's an incredible generosity among the working professionals out there in terms of helping the next generation," says Sundance Institute exec director Keri Putnam. …

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