MRC and Dan Lin's Rideback Team for TV Incubator

Rideback and MRC
Kiri Hart (left), Elsie Choi

The new diversity initiative will offer a paid eight-month residency program to a select group of eight writers who want to create their own dramatic series.

MRC is joining forces with prolific producer Dan Lin and his production company Rideback.

The film and television studio behind Baby Driver and Ozark and the producer of The Lego Movie and It are launching the Rideback TV Incubator, a new creative incubator with the aim of financially and creatively supporting TV drama writers from diverse backgrounds who want to create their own cable or streaming series. Submissions will be accepted beginning Thursday, with the program running from May through December.

The new initiative will offer a paid eight-month residency program to a select group of eight writers who have each previously been staffed on series and now want to create their own dramatic show. Creators are paired with experienced showrunners and/or executive producers who act as mentors (they also will get feedback from the writers). Participants in the incubator will work out of Rideback Ranch, a new creative campus in Los Angeles' Historic Filipinotown that will provide dedicated workspace and other amenities.

The goal for each writer is to create a market-ready, straight-to-series project. Each project will be produced by Rideback, with financing and other studio support by MRC, which is funding the Rideback TV Incubator. Scribes whose projects successfully move to series become executive producers and are awarded writing credits as determined by the WGA. Producer-mentors will be attached to their respective projects as non-writing executive producers. Rideback and MRC will jointly take the projects out.

Kiri Hart, who established the Lucasfilm Story Group overseeing Star Wars development and now acts as consultant to Lucasfilm, has boarded the incubator as creative advisor. Meanwhile, Elsie Choi, former head of development for Mad Rabbit, has been named executive director of the incubator and will oversee the program. The curriculum will focus on story and character development.

“We based the Incubator — and Rideback — on our mission of serving and giving back to the creative community. We want to help creators who can benefit from our culture of creativity, collaboration and community to get their shows to series,” said Rideback founder and CEO Lin. “We are bringing together a diverse mix of voices in an inspiring space to encourage and challenge each other, and to create television that will shape culture.”

“The Rideback TV Incubator will allow talented writers with unique perspectives to reach their fullest potential as creators. We are proud to work alongside Dan, Elsie, Kiri and the Rideback team to foster an inclusive and creative environment,” said MRC in a statement. “Bringing new voices to market through this innovative development format is fully aligned with MRC’s mission to finance and produce fresh, original content that reflects audiences today.”

Added Hart: "When Dan first told me about the Incubator, I was so inspired by the spirit of collaboration and inclusion that it represented. I wanted to be a part of it, because it was grounded in values I care about. The Incubator team has come together to discover and nurture emerging creatives from a wide variety of backgrounds, and to encourage them to trust their unique perspectives. We know the audience is hungry to hear from them, and we're excited to support them through a process that will help them discover and refine the stories they want to tell."

“We’re building an infrastructure that is not only highly supportive of the creators whose shows we are trying to get to series, but also provides an unprecedented experience to our producers, those experienced showrunners and executive producers who will have a real upside in success by mentoring a talented and ambitious writer," said Choi. 

The idea for the incubator was dreamt up by Lin, who last year rebranded his 10-year-old production shingle Lin Pictures to Rideback. The name is an ode to the Western cowboy custom of riding back to pick up a partner who has fallen off their horse, which represents the commitment, loyalty and support he hopes the program brings to writers. Lin also established the Rideback Ranch campus, which houses Warner Animation Group’s LEGO team, writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Lord Miller, writer-director David Ayer and Chris Long’s Cedar Park Entertainment, actress-producer Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment and premier animation studio Animal Logic.

Applicants can apply here.

(Valence Media, the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, also owns MRC.)