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2017 Episodic Story Lab Application Instructions

Creative Advisor Jenni Konner captures a moment with the 2015 Episodic Story Lab Fellows.

About the Episodic Story Lab

The Episodic Story Lab (October 5-10, 2017) offers selected writers ("Fellows") an opportunity to learn how to develop stories and characters that evolve over multiple episodes in a setting where they can hone their writing skills and gain insight into navigating the changing industry. 

Working with accomplished showrunners (“Creative Advisors”), as well as non-writing creative producers and studio/network executives (“Industry Mentors”), the Fellows participate in one-on-one creative story meetings, pitching sessions, Writers’ Rooms for selected projects, and group conversations about the creative process and current episodic field. 

The writing Fellows are chosen through a two-round open application process (instructions below).

For more information about the 2017 Episodic Story Lab, please visit our website.

For frequently asked questions, please visit our FAQ page

2017 Episodic Story Lab Application Instructions

PLEASE NOTE: We accept all application materials electronically ONLY. You will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of your application before officially submitting, and we will ask you to upload your spec pilot script rather than mailing us a hard copy.

1. What you need to know (please read it all!):
The application is a two step process.

FIRST you have to complete the electronic application. This is where you provide us with all of your contact info, a brief bio, a series logline, a pilot synopsis, a 2-3 page series overview and a short essay response about your artistic intentions. Sign in or create an account here to access the electronic application.

SECOND you must upload the first 5 pages of your spec pilot script. A PDF is the required format.

2. What you will need to complete online:

CONTACT INFO We will use the email address you provide to correspond with you moving forward. While we do allow for up to 2 writers per project, you must choose one person to be your designated point of contact. Please make sure is cleared in your spam filter!

BIO(S) OF THE WRITER(S) (no more than 250 words each). 

SERIES LOGLINE - 2-4 sentences that give an overview of the premise, genre, and world of the series.

PILOT SYNOPSIS (no more than 500 words) - describe the story, world, and key characters of your pilot episode.

2-3 PAGE SERIES OVERVIEW (between 1000-1500 words) to include the following elements:
  • A brief description of the central character(s).
  • A brief summary of the story and character arcs for first season. This should NOT be an episode by episode outline. Instead, we want to know, in simple and clear language, how the characters and relationships will change this season, as well as the main thrust of each storyline. 
SHORT ESSAY (no more than 200-300 words per question) A brief written response to the following questions:​​​​​​  
  • Why are you interested in telling this story? What is your personal connection to the material and/or why are you the best person to tell this story? What specific theme you are exploring?
  • Why are you developing this story as an episodic series? Is there a specific approach in tone, production, narrative or aesthetic that is central to the execution of this series?
$40 NON-REFUNDABLE PROCESSING FEE, payable by credit card.


3. What you will need to upload:

THE FIRST 5 PAGES OF YOUR PILOT SCRIPT (MUST BE in .pdf form, NOT Final Draft or Word)

NOTE: A PDF is the required format for this upload. For tips on how to convert Final Draft to PDF: 

4. When is my application due?
You must submit your application online no later than 6:00pm PT on February 1, 2017.

5. Then what?
You will hear back from us VIA EMAIL on or before March 15, 2017 letting you know whether or not you have been selected to proceed to the second round of the application process. We will respond to every applicant, either way. Applicants who advance to the second round will be asked to submit their full pilot script at that time with an application deadline of March 29, 2017. PLEASE NOTE: The email address you provide us with today will be the one we will use to contact you months from now, and email will be the only mode of communication we will use to contact you.

The email will come from If you have a "spamblocker," please allow emails to be sent into your inbox from this address.

6. Please Note
You may not apply with a pilot that has been sold at any point to a studio or network.

Additionally, you are not eligible to apply if you have previously sold a pilot or pitch to a studio or network in the past that has been produced.

Co-writers: Please designate one of you as the primary contact, and list that person first.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of submissions, we cannot provide individual feedback.

Although we are open to candidates from across the globe, the Lab is designed to support individuals who are developing episodic projects for the U.S. market. Projects must be in English, and we are not able to provide for international travel at this time, although we would be able cover the cost of the domestic portion of an international airfare.

If you have any other questions or problems, email But before you do, please read the FAQ fact sheet - most of your questions are probably answered there!

The 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 Feature Film Programs, including the Episodic Story Lab, are subsidiaries of the nonprofit organization Sundance Institute and are not affiliated with SundanceTV.