Creative Producing Initiative

Labs & Fellowships

The core of the Creative Producing Initiative are its Labs that identify and nurture the independent producer. There are three different producing Labs throughout the year, depending on your area of focus: Documentary, Feature Film, and Native.

Application Open Application: November 3, 2014 - February 10, 2015
Dates Full Year
Size of Fellowship 5-6 projects
Location Sundance Resort and Park City, Utah
  • Applicants must have produced at least one short or feature-length narrative or documentary film, but no more than two narrative features total as lead creative producer. This does not include co, associate, or executive producer credits. They must have a completed, legally-optioned, scripted, narrative project in hand with a director attached to the project. The applying producer must live in the United States, although the project may be filmed internationally.

  • Candidates must have a completed, legally-optioned, scripted, narrative project in hand with a director attached to the project.

  • Candidates may not be the writer or director of submitted project.

  • Candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally.

Description A year-long program designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab, Creative Producing Summit, Sundance Film Festival attendance, $10,000 grant support, year-round mentorship from two industry mentors, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute Staff. The Program is designed to hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project.
Giving Back Should you be selected to participate in the Creative Producing Fellowship, you will be asked to continue the spirit of giving back. Since securing funding for the Institute's programs is a consistent challenge, we request that Lab Alumni whose projects are produced, contribute to the Institute's work to support new generations of emerging filmmakers. Projects supported by the Creative Producing Fellowship are asked to contribute 0.25% of their production budget calculated after the first $1 million (e.g. if your film is produced for $1.2 million, the fee due to the Institute would be $500). Additionally, Lab Alumni are asked to recognize the Fellowship with the credit, "Developed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Creative Producing Fellowship."  Any revenue that is designated to Sundance Institute is allocated to the Feature Film Program and is used on an annual basis to provide critical support for the Labs. Your ability to give back really makes a difference.

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Still have questions? Read our FAQ >>

How do I apply?

The application for the 2014 Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab is now closed. The application for the 2015 Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab is now open and will be available until 5:00pm PST on February 10, 2015.

What do I need to Apply?

  • Logline
  • Synopsis
  • Director’s Artistic statement (their creative intent for the film, which can include the genesis of the story, particular themes of interest, and visual style)
  • Bios of Producer, Director, and Screenwriter(s)
  • Letter of recommendation (for producing teams, we require either a letter for each applicant applying or a combined letter)
  • Essay answers
  • Application fee of $40 (credit card only)

Do you accept international submissions?
Eligible candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally.

If selected, when do I have to be available to participate and do I have to be there the entire time?
If your project is selected, you are required to be at the Lab, Creative Producing Summit, and Festival for the entire duration. If you have a scheduling conflict, we encourage you to apply in a future cycle when you are available.

What are the dates I must be available to participate in this Fellowship?
The dates for the 2015 Creative Producing Lab are July 27 – July 31, 2015. The dates for the 2015 Creative Producing Summit are July 31 – August 3, 2015. The dates for the 2016 Sundance Festival are January 21 – 31, 2016.

Can I reapply with the same project as last year?
Yes, although we encourage you to re-apply with the same project only if you have made significant revisions to the script and/or elements attached. In your application, please explain what changes have taken place on the script and project since last submitted.

Can I still apply if I don’t have a director attached?
No, we can only consider candidates with projects that have a director attached. Candidates may not be the writer or director of the submitted project.

I work with another producer; can we both apply with the same project?
Yes, teams of up to two producers may apply together with one project. If there are additional producers, they must also be disclosed on the application, but would not participate in the Fellowship if selected.

Can I submit multiple projects?
You may submit up to three projects, but we encourage you to choose one project that is your priority in terms of moving forward. Please note that for each script, you must complete a separate application and submit a separate application fee.

Do I need to have the rights to the script or underlying material in order to apply?
In the event you are selected for the Fellowship, you will need to provide a copy of your attachment, option, or rights agreement for the script and for any underlying material. In order to apply, you will need the approval of your director and writer acknowledging the submission of your project for consideration to the Fellowship.

Do I submit a script or other materials with my application?
No, you should not submit your script at this time. Starting on March 2nd , we will begin requesting additional materials, which include a full script, directing sample, and producing samples for applicants invited to the second round. All applicants will receive a notification via email if they are being invited to the second round no later than March 27, 2015.

Do I need to submit a budget with my application?
No, you do not need to submit a budget with your application, however, you will need to provide the overall budget number (e.g. $1.2 million).

Can my project go into production before attending the Lab?
Unfortunately, no. We consider the timing of your Lab and Fellowship to be a crucial component to selection. The Lab is designed, in part, to focus on your creative input and communication with your director and screenwriter on your Fellowship project. If your film is already in production or has already been shot, the impact and relevance of your Lab experience is lessened.

Who should I have write my letter of recommendation?
Ideally, your recommender should be working in the film industry (eg. producer, director, executive, film professor) and be familiar with your past work. They do not need to be familiar with the project you are submitting. If you do not have prior film work or relationships, your recommender should be able to address your past creative endeavors. If applying as a team, each applicant must provide a recommendation letter, or one letter addressing both applicants.

Where do I send my letter of recommendation?
You will need to supply the name and email address of your recommender in your application.  Once you complete your application, they will receive an automated email from Sundance to electronically submit their recommendation letter to us. We do not accept letters received via email or US mail.  Please make sure to give your recommender enough time to prepare the letter in advance, as we will need to receive it two days after the application deadline.

How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?
All applicants will be notified via email. You will hear from us whether accepted or not via e-mail no later than June 12, 2015.

I haven’t received my notification yet, but all my friends have! What’s wrong??
We deliver our notifications on a rolling basis, so please don’t panic. All applicants will receive a response via e-mail no later than June 12, 2015.

Does it matter if I’ve participated in other non-Sundance labs?
Not at all. We encourage filmmakers to utilize all of the resources available to them in furthering their work and their artistic development.

Can I receive feedback on my submission?
Due to the high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately not able to provide individualized feedback.

Does Sundance pay for my travel to Utah?
Sundance does provide air travel, lodging, and meals at the Lab and Summit, as well as air travel and lodging at the Festival for all selected Fellows.

Still don’t see your question answered here? Email with further questions with “Creative Producing Fellowship” in the subject line.

Application Guidelines

What You Need To Provide In Order To Apply Online:

CONTACT INFO We will use the email address you provide to correspond with you movingforward. Please make sure is cleared in your spam filter!

LOGLINE (75 word maximum)

SYNOPSIS (750 word maximum)

DIRECTOR’S ARTISTIC STATEMENT Director’s creative intent for the film, which can include the genesis of the story, particular themes of interest, and visual style. (500 word maximum)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (optional) Any additional information such as status of the project, attachments, or other producers attached who are not applying for the Fellowship, and their role on the project. (500 word maximum)

BIOS for the producer(s), screenwriter(s), and director(s). Please specifically list all notable credits, accolades, education, and experience. (250 word maximum each)

ESSAY QUESTIONS You will be asked to answer a series of seven essay questions that allow us to better understand your point of view as a producer and also why you want to make the project you are applying with. We appreciate your candor, not only in what you feel are the strengths and merits of your experience and project but also on areas or skills you'd like to expand upon.

* For producing team applicants, you will need to provide separate answers for Questions 2, 6, and 7 and may answer Questions 1, 3, 4, and 5 together or separately.

1. How and why did you originate/become attached to this project? From a producing perspective, what is your vision for the film and what drives you to tell this particular story.

2. Please briefly explain your role and responsibilities in your previous producing credits (including associate, co, and executive producer credits).

3. What have you done to date to try to get this movie made? What is the current status of the project? What is your strategy for moving forward to production? If you are re-applying with a project previously submitted, please explain how the draft and/or project has evolved since we have last seen it.

4. What creative challenges and opportunities does your project present, relating to the development of the screenplay and realization into a film?

5. What are the marketplace challenges and opportunities of your project? (You may want to consider issues of financing, sales, and distribution). How would you persuade a potential investor/collaborator/supporter that your film matters and has an audience?

6. What has drawn you to producing independent films? What skills and experiences do you bring to the task – from life, education and hands-on experience? Tell us something about your background and values as they relate to your desire to produce films independently.

7. What movie has had the most profound impact on your life and why?

LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION Your recommender should be someone familiar with your prior creative work, such as a filmmaking colleague or professor, but does not necessarily need to be familiar with your submitted project. The recommender should not be attached to the project in any position. For example the recommender cannot be the writer, director, co-producer, cinematographer etc. You will be asked to upload a PDF of the letter of recommendation. If you are applying as a team, you can submit one joint letter or separate letters.

APPLICATION FEE of $40 (credit card only)

Documentary Creative Producing Lab
Application By Invitation
Dates TBD 2015
Size of Fellowship 6 Projects Each Lab
Location Sundance Resort, Utah
Eligibility This Lab is invitation only and open only to projects-in-progress that have received a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund.
Description Created to support the next generation of independent documentary producers as part of the Institute’s commitment to creative producing, this intensive five-day Lab brings together six emerging documentary producers with leading figures in the documentary field. Invited Fellows focus on their current projects to explore the wide range of creative solutions to practical demands on today’s independent producers, from fundraising and budgeting through distribution and creative outreach and impact strategies.
Native Producing Program

Grants & Fellowships

Feature Film Creative Producing Fellows receive a grant of $10,000 per participating project with $5000 to spend towards a living stipend and $5000 to spend towards pre-production.

Advice for Applicants

The Creative Producing Initiative's programs are designed to give aspiring producers the skills and knowledge they need to pursue their craft. While the specific criteria for participation differs across our various programs, for all of our initiatives we are seeking passionate, bold, risk-taking, and creatively rigorous artists compelled to see their vision through to audience. Some things to think about while applying to any of our programs include your personal connection to the material, why you are passionate about this particular story, how you intend to realize the project creatively and logistically, and the impact you hope to have on audiences.

Support for the Producing Initiative

Sundance Institute Creative Producing Initiative is supported by Open Society Foundations; The Annenberg Foundation; Ford Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Time Warner Foundation;Red Crown Productions; Steve Bing; Jeanne Donovan Fisher; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; the Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; 3311 Productions; The Ammon Foundation; Compton Foundation; Firestone / von Winterfeldt Family Fund; Philip Fung-A3 Foundation; SAGIndie; Grazka Taylor; The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the Zygmunt & Audrey Wilf Foundation; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; the J.A. & H.G. Woodruff, Jr. Charitable Trust; John M. August; and Nancy Blachman and David desJardins.