Sundance, YouTube Open Submissions For 2018 New Voices Lab, Select Jon Cozart Among 2017 Class

By 11/09/2017
Sundance, YouTube Open Submissions For 2018 New Voices Lab, Select Jon Cozart Among 2017 Class

The Sundance Institute and YouTube are looking for their next class of talented young creators. The two companies have opened up submissions for the 2018 New Voices Lab, which will offer workshops, meetings, residencies, and other tools to a select group of up-and-comers. In addition, the Lab’s 2017 fellows have been announced, and that list includes YouTube star and 2017 Streamy Awards host Jon Cozart.

The New Voices Lab, first announced at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, has spent the past two years connecting aspiring creators to well-known producers, writers, and showrunners. In the past, the initiative’s roster of mentors has included Family Guy showrunner Rich Appel and The Office writer Jennifer Celotta, among others.

In 2018, the New Voices Lab will expand to a two-part structure that will include a residency in April in New York and a workshop in June in Los Angeles. During both legs, selected fellows will be able to take meetings with advisors to hone their storytelling, directing, and post-production abilities.


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The application for the New Voices Lab can be found here. Submissions will be open from November 15 to December 14.

As the 2018 New Voices Lab applicants send out their resumes, the 2017 class will experience a three-day workshop series in Los Angeles. Cozart, who makes YouTube videos under the name Paint, is the most recognizable name among the current fellows. The project he is workshopping through the New Voices Lab is an “untitled music love story.” Seasoned online video viewers will also note that Kit Williamson, creator and co-star of the web series EastSiders, is workshopping a project called Trying at the Lab.

Here, via a press release, are details on all of the current fellows and the projects they are working on:


Flora Birnbaum is a writer and director based in New York. Her short films include “Couples Who Run Together” and “Bedtime”. Most recently, Flora co-created, wrote, and directed the digital comedy series Cleansed, about a jaded LA chick who goes on a magical juice cleanse to fix her life. The series was executive produced by filmmaker Leslye Headland and features 2016 Tony Award Winning actor Reed Birney. Flora’s humor essays have also appeared in McSweeney’s.

Logline: A socially-awkward Brooklynite’s attempts to fight her inner anxieties are sabotaged when they manifest in a real-life monster named KAREN.


Mehret Mandefro & Lacey Schwartz are award-winning writers/directors/producers who draw on a shared interdisciplinary background to create compelling stories that span documentary and fiction. They produced and co-wrote the documentary feature Little White Lie, the top-rated broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens, and produced the feature narrative Difret which won the Audience Awards at Sundance and Berlin International Film Festival. Mandefro and Schwartz are currently developing a slate of film and television projects for Truth Aid, the production company they cofounded; additionally, Mandefro is a writer/producer for Kana Television in Ethiopia and Schwartz is is heavily involved in her husband Antonio Delgado’s run for Congress in NY in 2019.

Logline: Six upwardly-mobile black Harvard classmates reunite for a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard.  But things take a dark turn when one of them winds up dead after announcing his plans to go through a “deracialization” procedure to become white.


Mary Angélica Molina is a writer and director who creates dark, funny, queer, intersectional stories about Latinxs that grapple with unanswerable questions like: Who am I? Where do I belong? Should I have the sweet plantains or the salty ones? She is a thrice-recognized Sundance Institute Fellow; a participant in IFP’s No Borders Market; and a recipient of grants from the Latino Film Fund and the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her most recent short film, “Valentina” (2017), ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $15,000, and is currently playing sold-out screenings on the festival circuit. Her second short, “Oh Baby, I Love You!” (2009), has half-a-million hits on YouTube. Molina was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and gives props to any non-Spanish speaker who can say that three times fast.

Logline: Fernanda is a queer, Latinx butch with a complicated question: are people fundamentally good or are they fundamentally racist, self-interested homophobes who coast on their white privilege? In her absurdly adversarial imagination everyone is suspect and no one can be trusted. Yet, in real life, Fernanda continuously battles her biggest opponent: herself.  


​Chell​ ​Stephen, writer/director, was raised in Toronto on healthy doses of music videos, The X-Files and teen dance movies – influences which shaped her debut short film “Crystal” (SXSW, 2014) a dark comedy about a be-spandexed 17-year-old jerk. Its follow up, “Shauna is a Liar”, is based on a true story from Chell’s youth and features poppy camp visuals, a dash of the surreal, plus an earnest beating heart at the center. She also directs fashion and music content for global brands with production family Think/Feel, and presently reps the motherland from the “fourth-largest Canadian city”: Los Angeles.

Logline: A high school valedictorian turned college dropout kidnaps the world’s biggest pop star, convinced that only she can restore her spiraling idol to glory.


Drew Christie & Thomas Kohnstamm

Drew Christie makes award-winning animation and film for The New York Times Op-Docs, Vanity Fair, SF MOMA, Showtime, The Criterion Collection and more. His series Drawn & Recorded (co-created with T Bone Burnett) animates forgotten tales from the history of music. He lives and runs his animation studio on an island in Washington State.

Thomas Kohnstamm is a Seattle-based writer and multimedia producer. His book Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? was translated into numerous languages and is in development as a feature at Vice Films. He’s completing a new novel and owns a digital content studio where he writes and produces a variety of live-action, VR and animation for Microsoft Story Labs and Xbox.

Logline: Kropotkin & Wolf is a comedic animated series that cuts between a famous Soviet animator in a gulag and the jingoistic children’s cartoon he’s forced to write about a valiant robot boy and his vodka-swilling wolf sidekick.


William D. Caballero is a multimedia filmmaker who tells big stories using small figures. His recent directorial work, featuring 3D printed characters, can be seen on HBO, PBS, World Channel, and Univision. His recent short film “Victor and Isolina” premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Caballero is a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, and graduate of Pratt Institute and NYU.

Logline: After getting kicked out of his house by his overbearing mother, the inner thoughts and outer actions of socially-awkward and reclusive Melvin, are depicted as a role-playing video game, jointly played by the left and right sides of Melvin’s brain.


Veronica Rodriguez and Sherry Cola

Veronica Rodriguez is a writer, director and producer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Communications and received her M.F.A. in Producing for Film, Television, and New Media from The Peter Stark Producing Program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Since graduating, she has focused on developing her own film and TV projects as a writer/director, including her original feature His Own Where, based on the book by June Jordan, with Janet and Jerry Zucker attached to produce. Veronica recently transitioned from Funny or Die’s scripted television team (working on shows including IFC’s Brockmire and Hulu’s I Love You, America! with Sarah Silverman) into a full-time producing/directing role with the company.

Sherry Cola is a rising stand-up comedian, actress, and host based in Los Angeles. She has performed at iconic venues such as The Comedy Store, The Hollywood Improv and The Ice House while training with the Upright Citizens Brigade and The Groundlings. You can see her in Jill Soloway’s I Love Dick and Transparent on Amazon as well as MTV’s SafeWord.

Logline: Tasty is a heartfelt comedy about Lil’ Tasty, a Chinese-American, Kobe Bryant-loving rapper, as she pursues her dreams of becoming the female 2 Chainz.


Kit Williamson is an actor, writer, director and Internet person, best known for playing Ed Gifford on the final two seasons of AMC’s Mad Men. He is also the creator and star of the Emmy-nominated LGBT series EastSiders, which is now available on Netflix. Season three recently made its festival premiere at Outfest in Los Angeles, and will be released on DVD and digital platforms through Wolfe Video on November 28. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Kit began his career as an actor on Broadway while studying acting at Fordham University, and went on to receive his MFA in playwriting from UCLA.

Logline: Trying is a queer dark comedy about a gay brother, his lesbian sister and their significant others, who are all doing their part to bring a baby into the world without tearing their unconventional family apart.


Timothy Hautekiet is a writer/director whose career began in sketch comedy and short films on YouTube. His channel “” has 166,000 subscribers and his videos have over 9.3 million views, collectively. He is a graduate of USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. His work has screened at the BFI Future Film Festival, the US Student BAFTAs, the LA International Short Film Festival and has been featured on HBO and Funny or Die.

Logline: A dysfunctional couple from New York is sent to rural Texas under the witness protection program, where they continually ruin their cover while trying to save their relationship.


Jon Cozart is a filmmaker and musical comedian, having spent a decade in the online video space and graduating middle of his class from The University of Texas’ film program. With an emphasis on high-concept, high-quality, highly offensive a capella comedy, Cozart has garnered 4 million YouTube subscribers on his channel, Paint, with only forty videos to his name, a rarity in the space. Cozart now has his sights set on TV writing, gay Tinder, and furthering his comedic sensibilities, whatever that means.

Logline: During their final concert together, two codependent musicians recall their shitshow of a relationship through the love songs they’ve written for each other.  

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