ABOUT THE OP EPISODIC LAB
The Orchard Project’s TV/Episodic Lab, now entering its sixth 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, participants have the time and resources to manifest their vision with a project of their own. With a curiosity for feedback and desire to interrogate both the form and current trends, participants engage in a pilot-and-project-centered lab with the final goal of creating a more vibrant and impactful draft of their episodic pilot.
Led by an Orchard Project Program Director, the Lab primarily works as a group to refine and develop their pilots. Participants engage in group critique, professional critique with outside guests, a mock writers’ room, cold table reads, and 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 provide the same form fitting and process-centric resources the Orchard Project has brought to its other development labs, whether the participant are well versed in the episodic form or not. Those who thrive use the unique support of an extraordinary peer group and the Orchard Project to expand and articulate their personal voice/vision and hone the writing and world of their pilot.
The Episodic Lab has two phases:
- A development phase in the summer that meets as a group twice a week over six weeks, uniting the cohort’s pilots and their writers with the time and resources to further articulate the vision for an episodic pilot.
- An OP Forward lab in the fall that meets as a group once a week over four weeks, working within our OP Forward Project to help writers understand how to bridge the gap between the development of their work and how it can be manifested in the world.
Participation after the labs in OP Forward Week is optional.
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 2024 Episodic Lab will begin meetings in June and run for six weeks. Before the start of the program, all OP labs will share a few orientation sessions in OP Creative Vocabulary. Exact dates to be confirmed at a later time.
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.
- Week One:
- Welcome and Orientation
- Group Feedback Cycles
- Week Two:
- Guest Outside Eye Feedback Cycles
- Week Three
- Guided Writers’ Room with outside advisors
- Week Four
- (off for work and ad-hoc writers rooms)
- Week Five:
- Understanding Pitching, with mock pitch events with outside guests. Emphasis on articulation of vision and celebration of work. (Not explicitly for external networking purposes.)
- Week Six
- Final group feedback cycles
- The Orchard Project Episodic Lab is free for invited artists to participate in. There is also no fee to apply.
- The Orchard Project’s 2024 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 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 through our new OP Forward Program. 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 OP Labs will be invited to participate in annual 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 the future.
To apply to The Orchard Project Episodic Lab, CLICK HERE.
Full information about how the submission process for The Orchard Project works is available here.
In addition to project description and biographical information asked for in our new common application, we ask submissions for our Episodic Lab to include:
- A logline, series description, and vision statement for the pilot.
- A writing draft of the pilot (and other dramatic samples, if available)