There’s still time to apply to showrunner Soo Hugh’s new Asian Pacific writer incubator program. Applications are due March 31, 2022.
We recently caught up with Soo and her former assistant, Ria Tobaccowala (who will now helm the incubator), to learn more about the program’s mission to highlight stories from the Asian Pacific Islander diaspora. The program offers a rare opportunity for writers to grow their writing community while being paid to develop a pilot script.
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The Thousand Miles Project
The name of the incubator, The Thousand Miles Project, is rooted in the ancient Chinese proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles must always begin with that first single step.” It likens the process of breaking into the Hollywood studio production system as a long journey ahead, in part because Soo and Ria have experienced this first hand.
While Soo explained that she did have some lucky breaks to land her where she’s at now as the showrunner for the highly anticipated Apple TV+ series “Pachinko,” premiering March 25, she wanted a way to help other Asian Pacific storytellers break into the business. Ria, meanwhile, is a first-generation American raised on Chicago’s South Side. She’s a Google staffer-turned-filmmaker with a graduate degree from the film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and her stories explore racial identity and multiculturalism.
The pair have been in research and development on this program for some time now. Soo’s latest role is helping make the dream come to fruition: Universal Content Studio (UCP), a division of Universal Studio Group, agreed to provide resources for the incubator during deal talks with Soo.
Incubator Program Rundown
Soo and Ria worked with UCP to develop the incubator over the past year. It will accept 20 writers or writing teams for the program. It begins in June 2022. In it, participants will:
Participate in a two-day virtual workshop designed to teach writers about the television writing industry through panel discussions with professional writers, managers, development executives, and agents.
Be invited to apply to participate in a 24-week development lab based on their story idea proposal, which should be a story told through the lenses of Asian and Pacific Islander community members. Then, program administrators will help pick three writers or writing teams to participate in the development lab from the submitted proposals.
The three selected proposal teams will then work with Soo, Ria, their team, and UCP to write a pilot script and potentially develop their project further with UCP. They’ll meet bi-weekly with additional monthly meetings with Soo and Ria.
In the end, Soo and Ria hope to see three new shows in production. Each of the writers with those winning projects will be compensated and will be able to call themselves paid writers.
Writing Incubator Goals
The program has two goals to accomplish to be successful.
Ria said the incubator isn’t all that different from other programs like it that have a goal of helping to grow and develop new voices and help new writers get their stories out there. But the thing that differs is the community and safe space that Ria and Soo hope to provide for emerging Asian and Pacific Islander storytellers – not just the ones who already understand how Hollywood works – because everyone is capable of telling great stories if they’re prepared.
Keep going, and apply here by March 31.