FILM INDEPENDENT ANNOUNCES 2022 EPISODIC LAB PARTICIPANTS Netflix Returns as Founding Sponsor - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Tuesday, October 11, 2022



Netflix Returns as Founding Sponsor 
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Awards $20,000 Episodic Grant 

MPAC Hollywood Bureau Awards $10,000, Writing Grant 

In the business of television, in Hollywood, it literally takes a village to get your ideas pushed out of your head, into production, and finally presented to the world. It’s not easy. That’s why Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, is such an important organization and a true ally.

To wit Film Independent recently announced the eight writers selected for its sixth annual Episodic Lab. Christopher Au, Erica Bardin, Terry Dawson, Ben Gonzales, GG Hawkins, Sarah Mokh, Miguel Orozco, Boris Rodriguez were chosen for this intensive program.  The program is designed to provide an individualized story and career development for emerging television writers with original pilots.  


The 2022 Episodic Lab is a two-week intensive virtual program that helps to further the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to industry veterans who offer guidance on both the craft and business of writing episodic content. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and for years those contacts were not available for BIPOC creators. 

Through personalized feedback from experienced showrunners, creative producers, and executives, Fellows will gain the tools to revise and refine their pilots and navigate a changing industry landscape. A final networking and pitch event will offer Fellows the opportunity to introduce themselves and their work to studio and network executives. 


The 2022 Episodic Lab Creative Advisors and Guest Speakers include Linda Yvette Chávez, Silka Luisa, Robbie Pickering, Rebecca Sonnenshine, Ligiah Villalobos, Patrick Magill, Stacy Rukeyser, Jessica Schulman, Marc Mounier, Eliza Wheeler, Elaine Chin, Sydney Lowe, Laura Garrison, Miura Kite, Ellen Shanman, Kelly Kulchak, and Sheila Hanahan Taylor.  


As Founding Sponsor, Netflix is deeply committed to supporting each years selected Fellows, pairing each Fellow with an Industry Advisor and providing them with opportunities to learn from showrunners helming Netflix shows. This unique access to a premiere entertainment company like Netflix is a crucial step in helping the Fellows move forward in their careers.  

We're incredibly proud to partner with Film Independent on their signature program for emerging television writers,” says Peter Friedlander, VP of Scripted Series, U.S. and Canada at Netflix. We look forward to supporting these talented eight writers over the coming weeks." 


Film Independent is excited to award this years Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant to Christopher Au, who will receive a $20,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the development of his pilot, Cloak and Data through the Episodic Lab. Awarded to outstanding writers whose screenplays integrate science or technology themes and characters into dramatic stories, the Sloan Episodic Lab Grant is part of the Foundations nationwide film program to advance public understanding of science and technology.  


Christopher Au writes, Im honored to receive this years Alfred P. Sloan development grant. Cloak & Data is a tech espionage thriller that explores the underbelly of Silicon Valley during the mobile revolution of the late 2000s when startups were moving fast and breaking things. I appreciate the Alfred P. Sloan Foundations support for this story, which seeks to underscore the importance of information security in our increasingly digital world.” 


Film Independent is also excited to award the MPAC Hollywood Bureau Writing Fellowship Grant to Sarah Mokh who will receive a $10,000 grant from the MPAC Hollywood Bureau for her pilot, Room 099. The MPAC Hollywood Bureau works in the entertainment industry to elevate stories by and about Muslims.


We are proud to support writers with such wit, talent, and dedication to authentic storytelling in this years Episodic Lab and to be able to nurture their artistic voices and careers in the program,” said Dea Vazquez, Associate Director of Fiction Programs.  


Past Episodic Lab Fellows include April Shih, who has written on FXDave, Mrs. America, and Youre the Worst and struck an overall deal at FX Productions; Kimi Lee, who sold her show $ugar in a four-way bidding war to Hulu; Henry Hank” Jones, who has written on NetflixFamily Reunion and PeacockBel-Air; KD Dávila, who has written on CBSSalvation and FreeformMotherland: Fort Salem; and Stephanie Adams-Santos, who has written on The CWTwo Sentence Horror Stories


Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve, Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing, and Screenwriting), Fast Track Finance Market, Fiscal Sponsorship, as well as Grants and Awards, that provide over one million dollars annually in cash and services to visual storytellers. 


The Film Independent Episodic Lab is supported by Netflix, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 


For more information on the Labs or projects that have been developed in them, please contact Dea Vazquez, Associate Director of Fiction Programs, at 


Additional information and an application form can be found at


The 2022 Episodic Lab participants and their projects are: 

Title: Cloak & Data 
Writer: Christopher Au 

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship Awardee 
A straight-arrow software engineer is unwittingly thrust into the lucrative underground world of tech espionage, setting her on a dangerous collision course with elite hackers, law enforcement, and the NSA. 


Title: East Los Aliens 
Writer: Miguel Orozco, Boris Rodriguez 
After a spaceship crashes in East LA, a mixed-status Latino family rescues an alien and must find the courage to defy government officials and save the alien from an evil that could spell the end of humanity


Title: Makeba 
Writer: Terry Dawson 
 In 1959 Harry Belafonte discovers South African singer Miriam Makeba in a London nightclub and invites her to America with the promise to make her a huge star. He delivers and she becomes wildly popular throughout the 60s. But when she becomes romantically involved with notorious political activist and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael she finds herself blackballed from showbiz and exiled from her country. 


Title: Murder Podcast 
Writer: GG Hawkins 
When a climate radio reporter is forced to investigate a cold case homicide in a rural town, her aspirations for journalistic integrity are threatened by obsessive podcast listeners — true crime junkies with a thirst for vengeance. Murder Podcast is a horror dramedy series about our cultural fixation with true crime. 


Title: Room 099 
Writer: Sarah Mokh 

MPAC, Hollywood Bureau Fellowship Awardee 
In a secret basement prayer room, hidden from their peers and Ivy League Administration, a group of Muslim college students struggles to find their places on campus and in America. 


Title: The Deed 
Writer: Ben Gonzales, Erica Bardin 
When a struggling entrepreneur receives an unexpected inheritance with unconscionable strings attached, he must comply to protect his family from sinister forces. 




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