Film alumnus lands prestigious Sundance fellowship

A series written by a 2006 graduate of the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has been chosen for the Sundance Institute’s fourth annual Episodic Lab. “The Wasteland Survival Handbook” by Alan J. Van Dyke is one of 10 original independent pilots chosen for the lab.

Lab fellows will benefit from customized, ongoing support from Sundance’s feature film program staff, creative advisors and industry mentors. As the lab convenes, the fellows will develop their series and pilot scripts with a dynamic and rigorous slate of individual and group creative meetings, writers’ rooms, case study screenings, and pitch sessions, with guidance from accomplished showrunners, producers and executives.

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“It does not get any better than this for an emerging artist who is interested in writing for television,” said Film Dean Susan Ruskin. “Sundance Institute is the foremost organization dedicated to supporting independent film and television projects. Alan will be advised and mentored by a stellar group of industry professionals. The experience will be of tremendous benefit to his work and his career.”

Creative advisors for the lab have credits that include standout programs like “American Gothic,” “Speechless,” “The Office,” “Oz,” “Masters of Sex,” “Master of None” and “Justified.” Industry leaders from companies including Netflix Original Series, FX Networks, HBO, Amazon Studios, AMC, Sundance TV, BET and Scott Free Entertainment will mentor the lab fellows. 

“With the recent and ongoing growth of the episodic format, there are immense opportunities for emerging storytellers,” said Michelle Satter, founding director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. “With this program, we identify new and diverse voices, offering them unparalleled and sustained access to customized creative and industry support.”

In Van Dyke’s animated comedy, set five generations after the apocalypse, a scheming high school teacher from a fallout shelter and a battle-hardened cannibal queen decide their best chances for survival lie with each other.

Originally from Shelby, N.C., Van Dyke was selected for the Nickelodeon Writing Program in 2014 and has written projects for Nick Movies and MarVista Entertainment, as well as several episodes of Nickelodeon’s “The Loud House.”

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally.

by Lauren Whitaker

October 17, 2017