Giant Leap Accelerator has officially launched its first 12-week developmental program that will focus on cultivating new Asian/Pacific American (APA) stories, Variety has exclusively learned.
Over the course of the 12-week program, eight emerging AAPI writers will be mentored by seven television and film writing veterans. Each writer will meet with their dedicated mentor once a week to elevate the scripts, create pitch materials and set up pitch practices. Final Draft also provided a copy of its screenwriting software for all the mentees.
The first set of mentees are Lisa Sanaye Dring, writing duo Lee Hubilla and Tea Ho, Ben Kim, Ryan Kim, Julie Lew, Kevin Ramlal and Ivan Tsang.
Writing mentors include Lana Cho (“Arrow,” “Timeless”), Sasie Sealy (“Lucky Grandma,” “Sugarland”), Matt K. Turner (“Power,” “The Family”), Dennis Lee (“Fireflies In The Garden,” “Jesus Henry Christ”), Diane Paragas (“Yellow Rose,” “NextWorld”), Matthew Okumura (“Leverage: Redemption,” “Smallville”) and April Shih (“Dave,” “Ms. America”).
The program also consists of six panels, fireside chats and masterclasses that are created to help the mentees learn how to navigate the industry. Moderated by The Wrap’s Lawrence Yee, the initial panel “Taking Chances” featured panelists Michael Golamco, Sang Kyu Kim and Kate Tsang.
At the end of the program, all seven projects will be showcased in front of a room of executives from various networks, studios, production companies and management agencies. The initial pitch day participants include 3AD, 20K, A-Major Media, Bron Studios Freeform, Hulu, MGM, NBCUniversal, Perfect Storm Entertainment, Red Hour Films, Macro, Miramax and Verve. Out of the mentees’ seven projects, five will be made for television while two are feature films.
The accelerator opened for public submission in Dec. 2020 with no application fee required. During the 45 day submission period, they received over 350 submissions. After a 3 stage selection process, they finalized on 7 projects 8 writers for their first class.
Giant Leap Accelerator was co-founded by DJ Jiang and Brian Yang as a one-stop shop for new AAPI writers with the hope of bringing their screenplays into production in a streamlined and hands-on approach. Milton Liu was brought on as the executive director of the program.
“I couldn’t be more excited about our amazingly talented first-class mentees and our generous all-star mentors,” Jiang said. “My dream of building a system where we can get more AAPI faces and stories onto the big screen just got a little closer.”
The Writers Guild of America also serves as a partner to the program.
“The Guild is proud to be a sponsor of the Giant Leap Accelerator to help elevate AAPI voices in television and film,” said Dana Weissman, director of programs at the Writers Guild of America, East. “The WGAE and Giant Leap Media share a commitment to making the entertainment industry more inclusive, and this accelerator program will provide its inaugural class of writers with the necessary access and resources to develop projects and find success.”