The Sundance Institute announced today an expansion in its independent artists labs to include a program for television writers and creators. Aimed to support both TV and online platforms, the first Sundance Institute Episodics Story Lab will be held in Fall 2014 at the Sundance Resort in Utah.
The six day Episodic Story Lab will allow writers access to accomplished mentors who will help with story and character development as well as provide instruction on producing and distributing scripted TV and online series in today's media world. Serialized stories with both dramatic and comedic content will be supported.
"Sundance Institute has always worked to develop and support a next generation of independent artists," said Robert Redford, the President and Founder of Sundance Institute. "As more of those artists look to the opportunities in television and online platforms, it is only natural that we expand our labs to address the unique needs of serialized work."
Michelle Satter, the Founding Director of the Institute's Feature Film Program, organized the new initiative with the help of Institute Trustee Lyn Lear and her husband, television producer Norman Lear. "Our world-renowned Screenwriters Lab will serve as a model that will be adapted to identify and develop new writers and stories for the burgeoning opportunities for episodic storytelling on all platforms," Satter said. "We are excited to learn from all of our Lab participants, mentors and creators in the field in our pilot year, and we look forward to building out the year-round support system for our writing fellows, where the program will have the greatest impact."
Inspiration for the lab came from "the growth of great writing and bold content in recent years," according to the press release. Cary Fukunaga, the director of "True Dectective," Lena Dunham, Louis CK, Mark Duplas, Jason Katims, Lisa Cholodenko, and more are all Institute-supported artists who have worked in television or with online media.
The move marks a trend -- started by SXSW's inclusion of television in this year's brand new Episodics section -- of independent film festivals making a conscious push towards more media, with television a specific target. Indiewire wrote about the trend earlier this week, noting " it seems like more of a question of 'when' rather than 'if' television will be featured" in other festivals.