Sony Pictures Television’s Gemstone Studios Announces Finalists in Rising Storytellers Search

Aspiring Storytellers Compete for Chance to Win Studio Development Deal

LOS ANGELES, October 20, 2020 -- Gemstone Studios, the boutique production unit of Sony Pictures Television (SPT), in partnership with Ideas United, an Atlanta-based creative agency, today announced the four finalists in its first Rising Storytellers Search, a competition seeking emerging voices and female-centric stories. Aspiring storytellers were invited to submit pitch videos of up to six minutes in length to to compete for the chance to win a development deal with SPT’s Gemstone Studios and other big prizes.

“Never did we imagine we’d get the response or the depth or the quality of our 1700+ submissions in this first-ever Rising Storytellers Search. Vital to Gemstone’s reason for being, our Search allowed us access outside traditional representation to mine for, support and celebrate under-represented voices and provocative stories from an array of creators across the country. We can’t wait to work hand in hand with our final four to elevate their passion projects for our panel of judges in November. Exciting things to come!” said Marie Jacobson, EVP of Gemstone Studios.

The four finalists are:

Krystina Christiansen
– a series inspired by her own biracial family and her white father’s participation in the Black Power movement

Priscilla Davies
– a COVID satire about millennials moving back in with their parents

Vivian Kerr
– a historical drama about the female-led gangs and crime families of New York’s most notorious neighborhood

Jen Schuster
- a darkly personal dramedy about a millennial woman looking for love while fighting breast cancer

“We are delighted to collaborate with these four finalists,” said A.P. Chaney, Creative Director with Ideas United. “This program reinforced our intention to engage and encourage underrepresented creatives as we work to have a more inclusive and representative future, while accessing and elevating real storytelling across all mediums. We are filled with excitement and so appreciative of these finalists sharing their creative spirits through this initiative.”

The four finalists will each be assigned a mentor from both Sony Pictures Television and Ideas United and will be awarded valuable resources to elevate their pitches before they present them to a panel of judges next month. Judges include Executive Producer Sonay Hoffman (For Life), writer/director/BFF Jury winner Diane Paragas (Sony Pictures’ Stage 6 Films’ Yellow Rose) and Executive Producer/Showrunner Esta Spalding (On Becoming a God in Central Florida). Sony Alpha will provide Sony cameras to assist the final four with their final pitch reels. The Rising Storytellers Search was launched in collaboration with the Bentonville Film Festival, Celtx scriptwriting and pre-production system, Josefinas footwear, Ideas United and Sony Electronics’ Imaging Division. 

The creator of the winning proposal will be offered a development deal with SPT’s Gemstone Studios along with a Sony Alpha Camera Body, Model a7S III, lenses, other camera equipment and access to Sony DMPC technical-virtual training. In addition, the remaining finalists will each receive a Sony Alpha Camera Body, Model a7 III as well as other items. The winner and the finalists will also receive a 24-month subscription to Celtx Video Production Studio Software with personalized instruction and training, as well as Josefinas products.

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About Gemstone Studios
Sony Pictures Television’s Gemstone Studios is a boutique label dedicated to premium independent production. Gemstone Studios seeks to complement the traditional studio approach with gutsy, signature shows from a diverse slate of storytellers. Gemstone’s indie mandate leans heavily on creative, efficient execution and innovative packaging to deliver premium series to networks and platforms in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

About Ideas United
Ideas United is a creative studio changing the way stories are told. Its in-house team works alongside its global talent network to shape experiences, rethink conventions, and speak to new audiences across four key categories: students, brands, universities & nonprofits, and originals. Founded in 2001, Ideas United has created a more progressive model to tell stories built on partnerships and diverse perspectives. Learn more at