When was the last time you binged an entire season or complete run of a TV show? If you’re anything like us, it probably wasn’t too long ago—be it eagerly gobbling up every episode of a Netflix single-season release or a methodical DVD re-watch of early prestige-era classics like Mad Men or The Wire. Or maybe you’re a voracious consumer of new shows keeping eyes and ears on the internet and office water cooler chatter, hungry for new recommendations and a fresh set of titles to plug into the DVR in hopes of giddily discovering your next multi-year televisual love affair.
Regardless of means or method, it’s inarguable that episodic content is central to the lives of most modern culture-vultures. It’s also no secret that, as the global entertainment marketplace continues to shift and innovate, the line between independent film and creator-driven episodic TV is blurrier than ever. For easily a decade now, young indie filmmakers like Lena Dunham (HBO’s Girls), Sarah Violet-Bliss and Charles Rogers (TBS’s Search Party), Joe Swanberg (Netflix’s Easy), Justin Simien (Dear White People, coming to Netflix) and many more have been steadily reinventing themselves as television creators and showrunners, often finding opportunities on the small screen that are increasingly absent in feature films.
So as you sit there, laptop open in your caffeinated beverage conglomerate of choice puzzling over the pixels of a Final Draft document and dreaming of festival premieres and big-time theatrical distribution, it might be worth asking yourself: Would my passion project work better on TV? Or maybe you’ve been gunning for small-screen success all along, sitting there in home office with visions of season-long arcs and hearty full-season pickups dancing in your head. Either way, Film Independent has home for you: our new Episodic Lab.
For over two decades, Film Independent’s Artist Development programs have been nurturing emerging independent artists through a wide variety of filmmaker labs, Fast Track finance markets, grants and awards. But as the career tract for upstart visual storytellers has evolved, so too are we now offering an exclusive, intensive four-week workshop designed to help creators pitch and develop their episodic pilot projects, launched with the support of founding sponsor Netflix.
How It Works
Starting this September, the Episodic Lab will meet two or three times a week, supporting a diverse group of 6-8 writers or writing teams with original long-form episodic projects in development. Fellows can expect personalized feedback from experienced TV showrunners, creative producers and executives, gaining the skills and insight needed to revise, refine and optimize their ideas. In short, we want to give you the tools to have network execs salivating onto the glass tabletops of their Wilshire Boulevard conference room consoles at the mere thought of putting your show on their channel or streaming service.
But let’s say you’re sitting there stroking your would-be TV-writer chin and wondering how it works. Well, here’s how: throughout the four weeks of Episodic Lab, Fellows will be paired with a creative advisor who will work with the Fellows (both one-on-on and in group sessions) to develop their pilot. Add to that guest speakers offering insight and advice on the craft and business of episodic storytelling, a mock-TV writers room and a final networking/pitch event aimed to give Fellows the opportunity to introduce themselves (and their shows) to top TV suits, and you have a curriculum that any Emmy-seeker would crawl over broken DVD box sets to be a part of. It all starts by applying on our website.
Reasons to Apply
Of course, there are nearly as many kinds of episodic content out there as there are buttons on a universal remote. So whether your project is an action-adventure, historical drama, sci-fi fantasy, horror, thriller, Western or animated sitcom, we want to hear about it. Who knows? The project you take to our Episodic Lab could be the next pop culture phenomenon that sends small screen fanatics scurrying to the comfort of their home entertainment systems for days or weeks of wide-eyed binging, tweeting, blogging and meme-ifying.
To learn more about Film Independent’s Episodic Lab—including how to apply—just click here. Applications are free to Filmmaker Pro Members and $45 for regular Film Independent Members (not a Member yet? Become one today). Non-Members can apply for $65.