OP Episodic Lab (2021) | The Orchard Project
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About the OP Episodic Lab

The Orchard Project’s Episodic Lab, now entering its fourth year, allows a cohort of writers to work together and interact with industry guests to advance the development of their pilots. In a virtual setting via teleconference, participants will each have the time and resources to manifest their artistic vision. With a curiosity for feedback and desire to interrogate both the form and current trends, participants will engage in a pilot-and-project-centered lab with the final goal of creating a more vibrant and impactful draft of their episodic pilot. 

Working with the extended Orchard Project network of episodic professionals, writers will engage in group critique, professional critique, a mock writers’ room, table reads, as well as have access to all Orchard Project community learning panels outside of the lab that are central to their success in episodic storytelling. The objective of this lab is to “bridge the gap” for artists of promise and use the unique support of the Orchard Project to  expand and articulate their personal voice/vision and hone the writing and world of their pilot. 

The Orchard Project Episodic Lab will meet over five weeks, three days a week for 2.5 hours each meeting, uniting five pilots and their writers with the time and resources to further articulate the vision for an episodic pilot.

The Episodic Lab is a pilot-writing focused lab, created for the exploration and betterment of the accepted pilot and the expansion of episodic writing through group feedback and professional feedback.  While there is industry involvement in the lab, the clear and primary focus of this lab is dramaturgical improvement, as opposed to professional advancement. The selected fellows are individuals who are excited about fostering community with a group of diverse and passionate  peers and committed to the development of their ideas with an appetite for feedback. 

The selected fellows are individuals, teams, and companies who are chosen through a rigorous outreach and selection process, open to the public. As with all the Orchard Project labs, participants will join with varying degrees of professional experience, but will likely have some history of manifesting their creative work (in any arena, not just television) in public before joining the Orchard Project community. Anyone can apply, there is no age requirement, and applicants can be either represented by an agent or not. To honor the history of the Orchard Project and the constituency it serves, the program will aim to include at least some with a live performance interest or background.

The Orchard Project Episodic Lab is only possible because of the advocacy and participation of leading writers, directors, and showrunners from the field. The Advisory Group for the program includes the following artists, who have generously helped provide guidance to the program and its participants.

  • Warren Leight (Showrunner, Law & Order, SVU; Showrunner, In Treatment)
  • David Mandel (Showrunner, Veep; Seinfeld, SNL)
  • Bekah Brunstetter (Supervising Producer, This is Us)
  • Neena Beber (Executive Producer, Strangers)
  • Stephen Kay (Executive Producer, Covert Affairs)
  • Theresa Rebeck (Creator and Showrunner, Smash)
  • Etan Frankel (Executive Producer, Shameless; Executive Producer, Get Shorty)
  • Dan Dietz (Co-Producer, BULL; Writer, Person of Interest; Producer, Westworld)  
  • Jamie Pachino (Co-Executive Producer, The Brave; Co-Producer, Halt and Catch Fire)
  • Robert Schenkkan (Writer, The Pacific)
  • Andrew Guest (Consulting Producer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
  • Gabrielle Allan (Co-Executive Producer, Veep; Co-Executive Producer, Scrubs)
  • Jennifer Crittenden (Co-Executive Producer, Veep; Consulting Producer, Arrested Development)
  • Rodrigo Garcia (Creator and Showrunner, In Treatment)
  • Beau Willimon (Creator and Showrunner, House of Cards)
  • Jason Grote (Writer, Mad Men and Smash)
  • Kyle Jarrow (Creator and Executive Producer, Valor)
  • Sarah Gubbins (Co-Executive Producer, Better Things; Executive Producer, I Love Dick)
  • Laura Eason (Writer and Producer, House of Cards; Executive Producer, The Loudest Voice)

The 2021 Episodic Lab will take place in July/August 2021. Exact dates to be determined.

All of our programming is planned to exist virtually until such time as it is safe for us to convene in Saratoga Springs once again.

All Orchard Project Lab participants begin their labs with a group orientation in Orchard Project Creative Vocabulary, outlining both the process and facilitation vocabulary that serves as a foundation for artists and work during their Orchard Project experience. 

Lab participants will also be able to sign up for individual office hours with OP staff and facilitators as desired

Here is a typical schedule for the lab, to give you an idea of what to expect. (Subject to change)

  • Week One: 
    • Welcome and Orientation
    • Group Critiques
    • Guest Outside Eye Critiques 
  • Week Two: 
    • Guest Outside Eye Critiques 
    • Internal pitch workshop with industry guests
    • Guided Writers’ Room with outside advisors 
  • Week Three (off for work and ad-hoc writers rooms)
  • Week Four: 
    • Table reads of pilots with guest actors 
  • Week Five 
    • Mock Pitch Event. Emphasis on articulation of vision and celebration of work. (Not explicitly for external networking purposes.)
    • Closing
  • The Orchard Project Episodic Lab is free for invited artists to participate in.

  • The Orchard Project’s 2021 Episodic Lab will require each artist to agree to both the Orchard Project’s general participation policies (LINK), and an agreement that, while not providing any royalty or compensation to the Orchard Project, allows projects developed through the program to credit their participation in it. The current version of this agreement is available for review here

  • While we generally continue to support work developed in our labs in an ad hoc manner after each lab, the focus of our labs is on the creation of self directed progress, peer and industry community. The Orchard Project, however, does have particular resources that it allocates to work after labs. We know that these resources/options are not an ideal match for all participants, but in certain circumstances, the Orchard Project and artist may continue to work together on the development and advocacy of their work after the program, in which case other arrangements will be made on a case by case basis.

All artists and participants in the 2021 Orchard Project will be invited to participate in the 2021 Community Learning events, a series of weekly panels and conversations with leading artists, practitioners, and industry working in all the various forms. From discussions about television writing rooms, case studies in digital performance, best practices for collaboration (both in the room and in a contract), to pitching workshops, these events will provide all OP artists - across all our labs - to join in a community wide conversation about where storytelling will be heading in 2021 and beyond.

Full information about the application process for the 2021 Orchard Project are available here.

In addition to project description and biographical information asked for in our new common application, we are asking applicants to provide:
    A logline, series description and vision statement for the pilot.
    A ten page writing sample of the pilot. (Note: If a writing sample of the pilot is NOT available, please write us at info@orchardproject.com).