Sundance Institute Announces Yearly Episodic Lab Projects And Writing Fellows

Sundance Institute
(Top L-R) Aisha Bhoori, Bridget McManus, Corey Dashaun, Elizabeth Palmore, Jeanette Lim, (Bottom L-R) Jianna Maarten Saada, Mars Wolfe, Marva Whitaker and Meghan Ross Courtesy of Joanna Kluesza; Paul Smith; Joshua Michael Shelton; Xavier Scott; Tom Tuong; Eric Carter; Elissa Rascon Steinmetz; Tj 'TEEJ' Jones

EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance Institute has revealed the 9 fellows and 8 projects selected for its 2021 to 2022 Episodic Program.

The selected fellows are Aisha Bhoori (Pipe Dreams), Bridget McManus (The Family Pet), Corey Dashaun (Bottom Bitch), Elizabeth Palmore (Gives Good Death), Jeanette Lim and Marva Whitaker (Before the Apple), Jianna Maarten Saada (El Otro Lado), Mars Wolfe (The 1 & Only MJ Girls), and Meghan Ross (Here to Make Friends). Four of the 8 projects are live-action dramas, three are live-action comedies, and one is an adult animation.

This year marks the Episodic Lab’s return to in-person activities at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah bookended by a digital pre-lab story development curriculum and its first annual Episodic Pitch Parlor hosted in Los Angeles in partnership with XRM Media.

“This was a year of many firsts and I hope to continue reinventing new systems of support for bold creators who are going overlooked,” said Episodic Program Director Jandiz Estrada Cardoso. “Audiences and networks are insatiable, thirsting for untouched stories. So to any writer seeking to cut through and elevate their work, we have a mountain we can all scale together.”

A breakdown of the projects can be found below.

Pipe Dreams—from Pakistani-American writer Bhoori— is a half-hour buddy comedy that follows two quarter-life Muslim-American women who live above a hookah bar in Brooklyn, navigating love, work, and their ever-elusive dreams one puff of shisha at a time.

The Family Pet—from Bridget McManus— is an hour-long family drama about a young woman who was hired by a wealthy psychiatrist to care for her precocious daughter, discovers the seven-year-old may be a serial killer in the making.

Bottom Bitch—from Corey Dashaun—chronicles the rise and fall of a disgraced gay-for-pay actor turned producer who joins forces with a street hustler to launch one of the first mainstream New York-based gay porn studios featuring Black and brown performers in the 90s.

Gives Good Death—from Elizabeth Palmore— is a half-hour dramedy about a commitment-phobic death doula practicing in Los Angeles. Will fulfilling clients’ bucket lists, erasing evidence of their checkered pasts, or simply holding their hands as they take their last breaths finally inspire her to start living?

The adult animated comedy Before the Apple—from Jeanette Lim and Marva Whitaker—follows Eve, a quirky, curious scientist, who escapes the Garden of Eden and teams up with a deadpan but loyal Snake and the first ape to stand, Lucy, on a journey to find any meaning that can be found in the zany, broken universe they live in, all long before Eve’s ever tempted to sample a forbidden fruit.

In El Otro Lado—from Jianna Maarten Saada— it’s 1994: a year of unprecedented political upheaval in Mexico when three women — a grieving mother, a Senator, and a journalist — begin to unravel the labyrinthine web of transnational crime and geopolitical trade as they try to solve the growing number of interconnected femicides committed in Juarez.

The 1 & Only MJ Girls—from Mars Wolfe—shows how The Windy City gets a makeover when two Tik-Toking drag queens dip Chicago’s nightlife into the pasty watercolors of America’s Fine Arts Administration.

Here to Make Friends—from Meghan Ross—follows an anxious, aging millennial, Arab-American Austin transplant who goes on a mission to find the platonic love of her life after realizing she’s never had one lasting female friend, but will have to figure out how to befriend herself first.

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