The Orchard Project Announces Participants In 2019 Episodic Lab For TV Writers

The Orchard Project is thrilled to launch its second annual EPISODIC LAB. More than 430 artists applied to the lab, which will help writers develop television and episodic content, working with accomplished showrunners and producers as mentors for artists in a setting where they can hone their skills, have the time and space to accelerate their work, and participate in intimate discussions about how to best bring their content to life within the episodic form.

"With our Episodic Lab, the Orchard Project will do more of what we do best: giving artists access to top-notch peers and leaders eager to share ideas, plus the time, space, and support they need to accelerate their ideas and take them to the next level," Orchard Project Artistic Director Ari Edelson said. "Storytellers are moving between forms, more now than ever, and we are excited to expand our already bustling ecosystem of artists to include the next generation of great episodic storytellers."

From June 14th through June 24th 2019, Episodic Lab participants will have time and space to work and the opportunity to participate in one-on-one creative story meetings with industry leaders, pitching sessions, mock writers' rooms, and collaboration sessions with peers. Writers will arrive to the Episodic Lab in Saratoga Springs, NY with a draft pilot script and leave with a refined draft and a show bible.

Advisors for the program include leading figures in TV, including David Mandel (Veep), Theresa Rebeck (Smash), Andrew Guest (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Beau Willimon (House of Cards), Jamie Pachino (Halt and Catch Fire), Stephen Kay (Covert Affairs), Laura Eason (House of Cards), Neena Beber (Strangers), Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Greenberg (Veep). The Lab will culminate with the opportunity for participants to present new work to TV executives.

Pilots to be developed in the 2019 Lab will include:

FAULT, written by Christopher De Paola:

Tommy Nolasco spent a career in tennis battling opponents. When he agrees to coach a white girl who dreams of crushing the first and only dominant black athlete in the sport, the strings attached may expose life-altering mistakes from Tommy's past.

Christopher is a playwright, an Emmy nominated actor, and a carpenter/builder. Now based in LA, his career spans the cities of Chicago, Miami, and NYC. His original pilot The Color Wars was a Second Rounder at the 2017 Austin Film Fest, a Semifinalist in both the 2017 Screencraft Pilot Launch Contest and the 2017 WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Pilot Competition, and also landed in the Top 30% of TV Writer: People's Pilot 2017. His original pilot Conquest was a Semifinalist in the 2017 BlueCat Screenplay Competition, a Quarterfinalist in the 2016 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest, and was one of the Top 25 scripts selected in the 2016 Austin Film Fest/AMC One-hour Pilot Competition.

THE PHARM, written by David Myers

The Pharm is a one hour Revenge-Style Drama set in the high stakes world of Pharmaceutical Development.

David Myers writes for stages and screens big and small. His pilot Skins, about the early American fur trade was developed with Andre & Maria Jacquemetton and sold to Warner Horizon; his pilot The Coliseum, about a prison town in Northern California was developed with Dana Calvo and sold to SkyDance Television. His plays have been showcased at Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Vic, The Royal Court, and beyond. His play How to Conquer America: A Mostly True History of Yogurt, a historical comedy, is currently being workshopped around the country. A graduate of Brown University and UCSD, he's taught writing at Chapman University, SDSU and UCSD. He currently works on the Fox Medical Drama The Resident.

PILGRIMAGE, written by Danielle Evenson & Heather Huntington

The Gloria Steinem of 1620s England gets stuck with the OGs of white privilege--the pilgrims.

Danielle Evenson & Heather Huntington are one comedy-writing brain divided over two bodies. Danielle handles: caffeine, alcohol, first drafts, story ideas, character development, and push-up bras. Heather handles: all non-breakfast foods, outlines, theme, most nerd activities and getting it over the finish line. Between the two of them they have staffed on The New Adventures of Old Christine, Frankenstein MD, MGM HD's Craft and the 2018 CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase; shortlisted for the Nicholl and Sundance New Voices; developed pilots with Fullscreen and FableLabs; and won Tracking Board's 2017 Best Comedy Pilot. They are here to develop female-forward diverse comedies and make jokes about ham salad.

LANKAN, written by Sanjit De Silva & Craig Weiner

A zany and lovable Sri Lankan-American family has their world turned upside down when their struggling actor son and gay chaplain daughter decide to have a baby together. You know, Lankan style.

Sanjit De Silva is an Actor/Writer/Director. He wrote/starred/co-directed the short film Time After. He's written four plays with Deepa Purohit, the latest, The Crushed Earth, was commissioned by People's Light. Sanjit's stage credits include: Broadway: War Horse (Tony-Award Best Play, Lincoln Center Theater). Off-Broadway: An Ordinary Muslim (NYTW, Dir. Jo Bonney), Dry Powder (Public Theater, Dir. Thomas Kail, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critic's Circle Nominations for Best Featured Actor). Select Film and TV credits: Afterparty, The Girl is in Trouble, The Company Men, Y: The Last Man, Tell Me A Story, Blindspot, Time After Time, Blacklist, High Maintenance. M.F.A. NYU Grad Acting.

Craig Weiner is a writer living in Brooklyn. His feature-length screenplay The Sound of Silence was selected for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Film & TV Conference, won Best Science Screenplay at the Woods Hole Film Festival and received the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Fellowship. His comedy Spring First was screened at the Gotham City Short Film Festival. His full-length play The Home for Lost Boys was produced super close to Broadway and he has also written for the AGT's 15-Minute Play Festival, the 8-Minute Musicals Festival and the Raw Impressions Music Theatre Marathon. MFA: Carnegie Mellon University.

THE GRIND, written by Carrie Schrader

The Grind is a one hour dramedy about a woman who struggles to save her family's dying business, which just happens to be a sex toy store.

Carrie Schrader is a writer/director who's short films and screenplays, such as Boys and Dogs and Kids Are Weird and The Thorny Rose, have won film festival audience awards internationally. She directed Don't Mess With Texas, written by Tricia Cooke and Ethan Coen, and wrote and directed a feature-length film, called The Founders, (distributed by Level 33 Films) which won "Best Feature" at AFF and premiered at Edinburgh IFF. She was a participant at the IFP in NYC and was an Outfest Screenwriting Lab fellow. Carrie also has a very expensive, but surprisingly useful, MFA in directing from Columbia University and believes that spaghetti and meatballs are a perfectly acceptable breakfast choice.

MODEL MAN, written by Jay Elias & L.T. Verrastro

Model Man follows a fiercely ambitious transgender man as he tries to navigate his fashion-modeling career without revealing his trans identity.

Jay Elias & L.T. Verrastro are a screenwriting team. Growing up as a trans man of Syrian descent in a conservative Pennsylvanian town, Jay learned how to find both humor and compassion in virtually any scenario. He has worked at Disney Animation, for Carrie Brownstein's recent Hulu pilot, and currently with the podcast My Favorite Murder. Born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, LT often draws on the funny (and not-so-funny) parts of his Rust Belt upbringing in his writing. His past work includes IFC's Portlandia, FOX's Ghosted, A24's Moonbase 8 and most recently writing for FX's Baskets.

Additionally, the Orchard Project is excited to announce its first ever Episodic Lab Fellows, who will have time and space to further develop their pilots, in addition to observing the activities of the lab, looking ahead to industry pitches later in the fall. The 2019 Episodic Lab Fellows will include:

Josh Schenkkan & Michael Mount (LEAVES OF GOLD)

Josh Schenkkan is a writer and producer based in Brooklyn. He has produced micro-documentaries for institutions like Mount Sinai, Cornell Law and Gift of Life, and created global commercials for LG. His reporting can be found in Serious Eats. He is a recipient of Princeton University's PiA Fellowship, which took him to Seoul for three years.

Michael Mount is a writer based in North Carolina. He is the author of three novels, and his short stories have been featured in NPR's Three Minute Fiction Contest and Pacifica Literary Review. He has received fellowships from Brown University's Granoff Center for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony.

Melis Aker (MANAR)
Melis Aker is a writer, actor, musician from Turkey. Her plays have been commissioned by and developed at Atlantic Theatre, NYTW, Ars Nova, Lark, Golden Thread, LaMaMa, BRIC and New Group in New York, as well as the Finborough and Park theatres in London. Her plays include: Field, Awakening (Sundance finalist, Berkeley Rep Ground Floor final-round, Van Lier New Voices Fellowship finalist); Manar (Columbia@Roundabout finalist, Theatre503 Playwriting Award semifinalist); 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter (Jerome NY Fellowship finalist); Dragonflies (2019 Sundance finalist); When My Mama was a Hittite (Columbia@Roundabout finalist) and Gilded Isle. Acting credits include: "The Blacklist: Redemption" (NBC), Love in Afghanistan (Arena Stage / Roundabout), We Live in Cairo (New World Stages). Melis' feature screenplay "ARI" ("Bee") was recently pitched at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival as part of Maison des Scenaristes. Her pilot of "Manar" will also be heading to Trans Atlantic Partners (TAP) for further development in the fall.

Lauren Blumenfeld (EARLY RETIREMENT)

Lauren Blumenfeld is an actress/writer/filmmaker living in LA after a few too many winters in NY. Her short film, Stepdaddy is a 2019 SXSW, SIFF, deadCenter, OutFest, Frameline43, and Rooftop Films Official Selection. Lauren has appeared On and Off Broadway and has acted abroad at The Old Vic (London) and regionally at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Old Globe, and The Pittsburgh Public. Lauren was a series regular on the satirical television comedy, Nightcap. Additional TV credits include: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, Doubt, Limitless, Deadbeat, Unforgettable. She is a proud volunteer at the 52nd Street Project and School on Wheels and also enjoys crafting and hanging out with her grandma.

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