Sundance Institute Names 2022 Episodic Lab Fellows

The Sundance Institute has set the eight Fellows and projects for its 2022 Episodic Program, which will further the development of four live-action dramas, two live-action comedies, one adult animated comedy and one adult animated sci-fi thriller. The participants are Britt Adams (Onyx), Gianmarco Giacomelli (To Kill a Pope), Naomi Ko (The 20-Year Curse), Ricardo Pérez González (Orlando), Samantha Clay (The Growth), Stephanie Adams-Santos (Sad Girl), Sylvia Batey Alcalá (Blue Neptune) and Tea Ho (Oriental Town). 

Sundance’s six-day program brings together writers in the early stages of their career with original series IP that has not yet been produced, allowing them to work closely with established showrunners, producers and executives. Starting today and throughout the next week, Fellows will workshop their pilot and participate in one-on-one story meetings, as well as case study screenings, panels and writers’ rooms focusing on their scripts. 

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Support from the Institute will continue after the Lab, with help being offered in navigating the business, securing representation, staffing and the honing of pitching skills. In Los Angeles this spring, Sundance will host its second annual Episodic Pitch Parlor — an event intended both as a launchpad and a celebration to introduce the writers and their Lab projects to key executives in the episodic space. 

“This cohort is profoundly honest and devilishly entertaining on the page,” said Episodic Program Director Jandiz Estrada Cardoso, who oversees the Lab along with Founding Senior Director of Artist Programs, Michelle Satter. “Their characters rattle so much emotion out of me, each catapulting into unexpected directions, that beg for a wide audience embrace. The next several days mark a turning point for our Fellows creatively, and it’s an honor to assemble the best collaborators in the business to take up the torch of dedicated support.”

Creative Advisors set for this year’s Lab include Daniel Chun (co-executive producer, The Office), Shalisha Francis (co-executive producer, The Wilds), Dara Resnik (co-showrunner, The Horror of Dolores Roach), Erica Rivinoja (showrunner, Clone High) Sanjay Shah (showrunner, Everybody Still Hates Chris), April Shih (co-executive producer, Fargo Season 5), Brandon Sonnier (showrunner, L.A.’s Finest) and Graham Yost (executive producer, Slow Horses). Industry Mentors participating include Alec Strum (Epix), Irene Lee (Netflix), Carrie Gillogly (AMC+), Neil Thomas (MRC Television), Dante Di Loreto (Fremantle), Erika Kinnear (Extracurricular), Candace Rodney (Dreamville) and Kathryn Tyus-Adair (Starz). 

For more information on the 2022 Episodic Lab Fellows and their projects, read on.

Britt Adams with Onyx: In a social climate of unrest, an underground intelligence agency combats the injustices against Black people using disguises, fake identities, and coercion tactics.

Britt Adams, a North Carolina native, is a multi-hyphenate juggernaut who has guest starred on shows on ABC, Netflix, CBS and more. In addition to writing, producing, and starring in her own series, she’s recently created a slate of genre-blending, tantalizing projects that showcase her political commentary, humor, and distinctive voice. 

Gianmarco Giacomelli with To Kill a Pope: An exiled English mercenary wrestling with a crisis of faith embarks on a mission to assassinate the Pope in exchange for absolution and the chance to reunite with his lost love.

Gianmarco Giacomelli is an ex-Catholic screenwriter who completed his MFA at the AFI Conservatory. He is currently developing projects with various producers from Ozark, The Umbrella Academy and Narcos. Diagnosed at age 15 with a rare neurological disorder, Gianmarco infuses his writing with heart and focuses on broken people like himself, because aren’t we all?

Naomi Ko with The 20-Year Curse: Eunji Choi is in a 20-year generational family curse. To break it, she embarks on a journey with her father, Hae Su, that spans both the material and spirit world.

Naomi Ko is a Korean American filmmaker, actor, and performance artist based in Minnesota and Los Angeles. Her work premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. Naomi is a former Sundance Institute Art of Practice Fellow, Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, and is currently a Bush Leadership Fellow.

Ricardo Pérez González with Orlando: Orlando is an hour-long drama about three generations of Puerto Rican women on a uniquely messy journey of healing as they rebuild their lives in the wake of hurricane María and the Pulse shooting.

Ricardo Pérez González is a queer Puerto Rican writer whose credits include Netflix’s Designated Survivor, his plays Don’t Eat the Mangos (Magic Theatre/Elliot Norton Award-Best Play) and On the Grounds of Belonging (NYC Public). Upcoming projects include the podcast Flipped and a series based on the book Gay Berlin with Neal Baer.

Samantha Clay with The Growth: When a homely and unpleasant alcoholic develops a sentient back mole in the form of a gorgeous second head with a sparkling personality, the two must navigate life despite having different desires, but only one body. 

Samantha Clay was born and raised in southern West Virginia. After attending West Virginia University, she drove out to Los Angeles with nothing but a dream and trunk full of shoes. Samantha’s work has been showcased at the Groundlings, Towne Street Theater, and several web series she has produced. She currently writes for ABC Disney Discovers.

Stephanie Adams-Santos with Sad Girl: In a techno dystopia where plants and animals are functionally extinct, a young woman discovers that she is ancestrally connected to a primal force of nature with equal capacities for creation and destruction. 

Stephanie Adams-Santos is a Guatemalan American artist and writer whose work spans poetry, prose, and screenwriting. She is the author of Dream of Xibalba (winner of the Orison Books Poetry Prize), and penned several episodes of the anthology series Two Sentence Horror Stories (CW). Stephanie is also a professional Tarot reader and instructor of poetry.

Sylvia Batey Alcalá with Blue Neptune: When her wayward sister goes missing, a vivacious spiritualist uses astrology to investigate the disappearance – only to discover a dangerous web of intrigue that will force her to re-examine everything she believes. 

Sylvia Batey Alcalá cut her fangs on CW’s Legacies before pivoting to family dramas Ordinary Joe (NBC) and Field of Dreams (UTV). Her romantic traumedy pilot Next of Kin is in development at Warner Bros. Sylvia currently writes on Shea Serrano and Michael Schur’s comedy series, Primo, on which she also appears as an actor.

Tea Ho with Oriental Town: When a young Chinese American woman learns that a historic “Oriental” neighborhood in her Midwestern town vanished long ago, she goes on a mission to dig up the past, only to discover her family’s sordid role in its disappearance.

Tea Ho is a queer Viet refugee whose writing is informed by their hilariously tragic life. Previously a web developer, designer, and wedding photographer, Tea is now a staff writer for Hulu’s We Were the Lucky Ones. Their mission is to explore stories about trauma and societal issues with levity and heart.

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