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Realness Institute calls for submissions for Episodic Lab & Development Executive Traineeship 2023

The program in partnership with Netflix will kickstart in April 2023.

Episodic Lab

Realness Institute in partnership with Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment streaming service, has opened the calls for submissions to its 2023 Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) programs which will take place from 30 April to 30 July 2023.

The Lab and Traineeship aim to support screenwriters and mid-career industry professionals from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya who are seeking opportunities to develop their original story ideas in any genre and are looking to enhance their skills as story consultants respectively.

Bringing together a wealth of creative talent from Africa in these programmes, Realness Institute offers the Episodic Lab participants the opportunity to pitch their incubated stories to Netflix executives at the end of the programme. It also offers DET participants a deeper understanding of the story development process, exposure to a more nuanced approach in the support of writers whilst simultaneously holding writers accountable for their creative work.

To support the participants to focus on their involvement in the programmes, Realness Institute will provide a monthly stipend of ZAR 33,000 (Thirty-Three Thousand South African Rands) for the duration of the Lab and traineeship to help cover their living expenses.

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As filmmakers we understand how difficult it is to find time and space to focus on our creative processes: to unpack stories, mull over and bounce ideas off others, benchmark ourselves against our peers as we hustle to make films, and pitch and search for funding and finance,” says Mehret Mandefro, Director of Development and Partnerships, Realness Institute. “In understanding this landscape, we are delighted that Netflix has once again partnered with us, to bring these two symbiotic programmes for African filmmakers in our joint quest to grow African stories and content on the continent.”

While there is no guarantee that any proposal will be developed further by Netflix, it is a unique opportunity to interface at key milestones with Netflix executives and be afforded the opportunity to pitch. The 2022 Episodic Lab alumnus, Voline Ogutu from Kenya pitched an idea for a romance crime thriller Dilemma that has received a greenlight from Netflix for further development.

Reacting to her story idea being selected for further development, Voline Ogutu, who has now started to turn her attention to next steps which include Writers’ Room planning, says, “I am honored and grateful to be part of this rare opportunity. To those who dream of telling African stories on the global stage, it is truly within your reach. Thank you to the Netflix and Realness team who were part of this process.”

Commenting on Netflix’s partnership with Realness Institute, Allison Triegaardt, Manager for GROW Creative Africa at Netflix says, “We are so thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Realness Institute for the 2023 edition. It is such a great opportunity to find, grow and nurture African storytellers and their uniquely African stories by giving them the time and resources they need to fully realize their vision and someday share their stories with a global audience.”

The Lab and Traineeship take place online and then for a week in-person in July 2023 at the Coot Club in Stanford, Western Cape.

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Interested participants are encouraged to visit the official website for Episodic Lab program application for Development Executive Traineeship program application and wait to be shortlisted.

Application submissions open October 26th and close on 22nd December 2022.

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