Feature Film Program


Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Sundance Institute Lab Program were created in response to the shared conviction that the budding independent film movement had the potential for far-reaching creative and cultural impact if given adequate resources and a place to foster self-expression and a sense of community. Thirty years later, under Michelle Satter’s continued leadership, the FFP’s network of Labs continues to provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity for filmmakers to incubate their most audacious ideas in an environment where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is regarded as a valuable step in a project’s creative evolution.

Screenwriters Lab
Application Open Application for January 2015 is now closed.  The 2016 Lab application opens March 15, 2015 - May 1, 2015    
Dates January 16-21, 2015 (open application) & June 20-25, 2015 (invitation only)
Size of Lab 12 projects each lab
Location Sundance Resort, Utah
Eligibility US & International Filmmakers; The Screenwriters Lab supports writers and writer/directors developing their first or second narrative feature film. If you have previously had more than one narrative feature produced, you are not eligible to apply.

The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers them indispensable lessons in craft, as well as the means to do the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material. (Read about recent Lab Fellow Ryan Koo's experience here

Directors Lab
Application By Invitation
Dates May 25-June 18, 2015
Size of Lab 8 Projects each lab
Location Sundance Resort, Utah
Eligibility There is no open application to the Directors Lab, which is typically populated by projects that have already been supported through a previous Screenwriters Lab.
Description During the month-long Directors Lab, eight Fellows work with an accomplished group of Creative Advisors and professional production crews, rehearsing, shooting, and editing key scenes from their scripts. Through this intense, hands-on process, the Fellows workshop scenes, collaborate with actors, and find a visual language for their film in an atmosphere where experimentation and risk-taking is encouraged. Directors Lab Fellows also join in the weeklong Screenwriters Lab with five additional Screenwriter projects, participating in individualized story sessions under the guidance of established screenwriters. 2014 Directors Lab participants Johnny Ma and Jordana Spiro recently contributed pieces to Filmmaker Magazine about their experience. 
Creative Producing Lab & Fellowship
Application Open Application: November 3, 2014 - February 10, 2015

Lab: July 27-31, 2015

Summit: July 31 - August 3, 2015

Festival: January 21-28, 2016

Size of Fellowship 5-6 projects
Location Sundance Resort & Park City, Utah
Eligibility 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. Applicants must have a completed, legally-optioned, scripted, narrative project in hand with a director attached to the project. The applying producer may not be the writer or director of the submitted project and must live in the United States, although the project may be filmed internationally.
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.
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.

apply now

Read more about the Creative Producing Initiatives for information on how to apply.

Rawi Screenwriters Lab (Jordan)
Application Open Application <Currently Closed>
Dates October 27 - November 3rd, 2014
Size of Lab  6-8 Projects
Location Jordan
Eligibility Independent screenwriters from the MENA (Middle East - North Africa) region working on their first or second narrative feature screenplay.
Description Launched in 2005, the Lab is a joint initiative with the Royal Film Commission of Jordan. Modeled on the Institute’s venerable Screenwriters Lab, Rawi (“storyteller” in Arabic) provides an opportunity for filmmakers from the region to develop their screenplays under the guidance of accomplished Creative Advisors during an intensive 5-day program.
!F / Sundance Screenwriting Lab (Turkey- Greece)
Application Open Application <Currently Closed>
Dates Early May 2015 (To be Announced)
Size of Lab  4-6 Projects
Location Istanbul
Eligibility Independent Screenwriters from Turkey and Greece working on their first or second feature screenplay.
Description Now in its fourth year, the !F-Sundance Screenwriters Lab has evolved to include three Turkish screenwriting fellows joined by two fellows from Greece. In recent years, we’ve seen bold and compelling filmmaking from both countries, and in the years ahead, we hope to encourage a convergence of creative dialogue between these two neighboring independent film communities.
Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab in India
Application To be announced 
Dates To be announced 
Size of Lab  6-8 Projects
Location India
Eligibility Independent Screenwriters from India or the Indian diaspora working on their first or second feature screenplay
Description Over the past three years, the Institute partnered with Mumbai Mantra to support the launch of a Screenwriters Lab serving 25 Indian filmmakers developing first and second features. We plan to continue this initiative with a new partner and version of the Lab starting in Spring 2015. Modeled on the Institute’s esteemed Screenwriters Lab in Utah, the Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film screenplays in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. The Lab is centered around one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, where screenwriting fellows receive guidance from a diverse and accomplished roster of established filmmakers. Creative Advisors attending previous Sundance Screenwriters Labs in India have included Guillermo Arriaga, Shekhar Kapur, Audrey Wells, Asif Kapadia, Bill Wheeler, Marti Noxon, Sabrina Dhawan, Carlos Cuaron, Anjum Rajabali, Malia Scotch Marmo, Habib Faisal and Joshua Marston.

We hope to have an announcement soon. Please check our website periodically for updates.

NHK Screenwriting Workshop (Japan)
Application Currently Closed
Dates To be announced 
Size of Lab  3 Projects
Location Tokyo
Eligibility Independent screenwriters working on their first or second feature screenplay
Description A new collaboration with longtime partner NHK, this screenwriting workshop takes place each summer in Tokyo. In its inaugural year, screenwriter and veteran advisor at the Directors Lab, Joan Tewkesbury (Nashville), crafted a three-day program for three promising Japanese filmmakers. Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe) designed the curriculum for the 2013 edition, and Bill Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Hoax) led this year’s workshop.
Still have questions? Read our FAQ >>


  1. How do I apply?

    Applications are available online each year starting March 15th and are due May 1st for the following January Screenwriters Lab.

  2. Which Lab is right for me?

    The Feature Film Program only accepts open applications for the January Screenwriters Lab. If you are a director developing a script that you did not write, you may apply for the Screenwriters Lab with the screenwriter as a team. The Screenwriters Lab is for filmmakers making their first or second narrative feature films; unfortunately, if you have already made two or more features, you are not eligible for the Screenwriters Lab.

  3. How do I get into the Directors Lab?

    Because the Directors Lab is usually populated by projects that have been supported through a previous Screenwriters Lab, there is no open application process for the Directors Lab. Application to the January Screenwriters Lab is the best way to put your project into the pipeline of eventual consideration for the Directors Lab.

  4. How many scripts can I apply with?

    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.

  5. I have a project I want to submit for the Screenwriters Lab, but it is still a treatment. If I don't think I will be able to have a draft in screenplay format in time to submit, can I submit my treatment for consideration?

    No. We need to receive a completed draft of a screenplay in order to consider your project for the Screenwriters Lab. This does not mean the final draft; however, we do ask that the script is in standard format.

  6. Can I reapply with the same script next year?

    Under certain circumstances, yes. We will consider re-applications with the same script only if you have completed significant revisions.

  7. I am an American living abroad. Can I still apply?

    For Americans living abroad, you may have problems with payment by credit card. If this is the case, please bypass the online application and email featurefilmprogram@sundance.org for further instruction.

  8. Can only Americans apply?

    No, the January Screenwriters Lab application is open to anyone, but there are different application windows for U.S.-based and international filmmakers. If you are based in the U.S., regardless of your citizenship, you should use the online application for U.S.-based filmmakers, and that application window is March 15 – May 1. If you are not an American citizen and you are based in a country other than the U.S., then you should use the online application for international filmmakers, and that application window is May 5 – June 15.

  9. I have written a script and want Sundance to produce it. Is that possible?

    No. Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization. We do not produce or finance films. Rather, our Screenwriters and Directors Labs provide filmmakers with opportunities to develop their material in a workshop environment.

  10. What kind of grants / support / production help can Sundance offer our movie? Or that I can apply for?

    Sundance Institute Feature Film Program grants are reserved for artists already supported by the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program. The only grant for which there is a public application is the Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship. Applications for this annual grant are accepted through the online application available from mid-June through early September.

  11. Should I have my industry contacts call with references?

    No. Our final decision is based on the material and talent alone. Take comfort in the fact that your work will speak for itself!

  12. What are the Lab dates?

    The 2015 January Screenwriters Lab will take place January 16-21, 2015.

  13. When and where is the Directors Lab?

    The Directors Lab is held each June, usually during the first three and a half weeks of June. Like the Screenwriters Labs, the Directors Lab is held at the Sundance Resort in Sundance, Utah.

  14. Is it possible to get an extension? What’s the final final deadline?

    No, it’s not possible to get an extension. You must complete the online portion of your application by this date.

  15. If invited to submit in my full length screenplay, how should I send it?

    You will be asked to submit a .pdf file, with instructions provided on how to upload the file with your second round notifcation.

  16. How long/short is too long/short for a script?

    While there is no “correct length”, the average script is between 90 – 120 pages. In most cases, if your script is significantly shorter or longer than that range, we will suggest you do more revisions before submitting it for consideration.

  17. How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?

    All Lab notifications will be made via email. You will hear from us either way, whether accepted or not.

  18. I haven’t received my notification yet, but all my friends have! What’s wrong?? When will I know if I’ve made it to the next round?

    Our notifications are made on a rolling basis. You will hear whether you have proceeded to the second round of the application process by August 15 at the latest. Final Lab decisions will be made by December 15.

  19. Can I deliver my application in person?

    We no longer accept materials in person as our entire application process is now available online. The next appliation will open on March 15, 2015.

  20. I don't have much experience. Does that affect my chances at the labs?

    Absolutely not. Sundance Institute seeks to foster exciting emerging voices, regardless of professional film experience.

  21. Do you consider scripts written in a language other than English?

    Although we will support scripts that will eventually be produced in a language other than English, your script must be translated into English in order to be considered .

  22. Can I submit a script based on a novel?

    Yes, we will consider scripts based on prior work, as long as you have secured the underlying rights to the material.

  23. How complete should the screenplay be?

    Sundance Institute considers scripts at various stages of development, but you must have a full, completed screenplay in order to be considered.

  24. How long should the cover letter be? Resume? Synopsis? Bio? What about format?

    The cover letter should be no more than 750 words, the artistic statement should be no more than 1000 words, the synopsis should be nor more than 1000 words, and each bio (up to three for each project) should be no more than 500 words each. All material should be in standard Word document format.

  25. Would my ideas be protected?

    Yes, Sundance Institute does not share or distribute any materials.

  26. Do you accept scripts that have been submitted elsewhere?

    Yes, we have no restrictions on material that has been through other writers workshops or programs.

  27. How should I address my letter? Michelle Satter? Sundance Staff? To Whom It May Concern?

    Please address your letter "To Whom It May Concern."


Still don't see your question answered here? Email featurefilmprogram@sundance.org with further questions.


Explore grants open to independent filmmakers

Application Open Application: November 3, 2014 - February 10, 2015

Lab: July 27-31, 2015

Summit: July 31 - August 3, 2015

Festival: January 21-28, 2016

Size of Fellowship 5-6 projects
Location Sundance Resort & Park City, Utah
Eligibility 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. Applicants must have a completed, legally-optioned, scripted, narrative project in hand with a director attached to the project. The applying producer may not be the writer or director of the submitted project and must live in the United States, although 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.

apply now

Sundance Institute/Asian American Feature Film Fellowship

Screenwriters Intensive

Launched in 2013 as part of our Diversity Initiative, the Screenwriters Intensive is designed to provide an intimate group of emerging screenwriters the opportunity to hone their craft in a one or two day concentrated workshop. Like the Utah-based Screenwriters and Directors Labs, the Screenwriters Intensive focuses deeply on the creative process and fosters community amongst the participants. The intent is to give fellows specific tools they can use in the continued development of their material so they are inspired and empowered to refine their voices as artists and do their best work.

The program supports 10 writers who are developing a narrative feature screenplay. Although the particulars of the workshop may vary depending on the participants and location, program elements can include a hands-on writing workshop led by Sundance creative advisors such as Joan Tewkesbury (NashvilleThieves Like Us); screenings of recent Sundance films followed by in depth conversations with the filmmaker; writer roundtables with Sundance advisors and alumni filmmakers; and individual feedback sessions about participants' screenplays with Sundance advisors and staff.

Lab Dates:   March 19 - 20, 2015 (Screenwriters Intensive)
Location:   Los Angeles, California

How To Apply
Asian American Feature Film Fellowship
at the 2015 Screenwriters Intensive

Eligibility If you are a writer or writer-director developing your first or second narrative feature film, are of Asian-American descent, and have previously one or less narrative feature films produced, you are eligible to apply. If you have already submitted your project for consideration to the 2015 January Screenwriters Lab, either via open submission or invited submission to the Asian American Fellowship, you will automatically be considered for the 2015 Screenwriters Intensive.  Please do not re-apply.
Application Requirements

To apply you must be prepared to submit the following materials:

  1. A cover letter introducing yourself and your project. Please give us a brief idea of who you are, what your script is about, and how you think the Screenwriters Intensive could be helpful to you.  Feel free to include information about key creative partners you may have on the project, such as director, producers, etc.  (500 words maximum)
  2. An artistic statement describing your creative vision for the material, giving us a sense of where you are in the creative process. Some examples of types of information you can include: What is your personal connection to the material? What do you want an audience to take away from your film? How do you envision the realization of this script in terms of story, character, tone, and/or visual style? Is there a budget level you have in mind, and who makes up the audience you most want to reach? Why are you passionate about this story? (750 words maximum)
  3. A brief biography on yourself. If applying as a writing team, please include a bio for each.  If you have a director attached, please also include their bio.  (500 words maximum each)
  4. A logline (50 words maximum) and synopsis (1,000 words maximum) of your screenplay.
  5. Your full screenplay in PDF form.
  6. If applicable and available, a link to a directing sample.  This is not required but encouraged if you have a director attached and a sample available. Please include only one full sample - for example, a short film or feature film - and not a compilation reel.
Submitting Your Application

Now that you're ready to apply, please download your application form below to complete the required information as detailed above.  Once you have completed the form:

  1. Save both your application and full screenplay in PDF form with the project title as the file description.  For example:
    • "Project Title - Application"
    • "Project Title - Script"
  2. In the Subject line, please include your project's title and your name (eg. AMATEURS / Ryan Koo)
  3. Email both PDF files to  AAFellowship@Sundance.org

After you complete your email submission, you will receive an email response within 24 hours confirming receipt of your submission. For future reference and safety against technical issues, we recommend that you keep a copy of your completed application.

Your submission must be received no later than December 15, 2014, 6:00pm PST

Timeline for Notification Selections will be finalized in February, and you will be notified of your submission status no later than February 20, 2015.  We look forward getting to know your work.
More questions? Please email AAFellowship@Sundance.org with any further questions.

apply now

Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant & Fellowship

To support the development of screenplays with science or technology, Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provides two different opportunities for screenwriters through a Commissioning Grant or a Fellowship. Both provide a cash award to support further development of a screenplay and to retain science advisors, along with overall creative and strategic feedback throughout development. Only one of each is awarded each year.

Applications for the 2015 Commissioning Grant & Fellowship are currently closed. The 2016 application will be available beginning June 2015.


Every year, Sundance Institute provides over $400,000 in financial support to Feature Film Program Alumni through a robust program of fellowships and direct artist granting designed to give Lab-supported projects momentum at critical junctures in their development, pre-production, post-production and distribution/marketing stages. These fellowships and grants are funded through a group of partnerships with very generous foundations, film industry companies and individuals committed to the work of sustaining artists and advancing their work along their entire journey to connect with audiences. The Feature Film Program staff team works together with our partners to make these strategic decisions considering impact, timing, urgency and quality of work as key criteria.

Time Warner Fellowship

The Time Warner Fellowship Program was established as a way for Time Warner to support emerging and diverse artists selected from Feature Film Screenwriters and Directors Lab fellows. The grant provides up to $6,000 to support artists whose work uniquely positions and advances the concept of storytelling. The Time Warner Fellows are chosen for the uniqueness and diversity of the project's voice and narrative, and the timeliness of the story and its perspective. These artists will be developing projects that highlight the role of storytelling in specific aspects of the creative process, show its importance in personal vision and perspective, and present it as a central component in embracing the diversity of our common experience. Past Time Warner Fellows include Malik Vitthal and Ismet Prcic (Imperial Dreams), Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Dee Rees (Pariah), Andrew MacLean (On the Ice), Elgin James (Little Birds), and Cherien Dabis (May In The Summer). The 2014 Time Warner Fellow is Angelica Nwandu with her project Night Comes On.


The Sundance Institute / RT Features Fellowship is presented to a Directors Lab Fellow in recognition of their unique voice and vision. Following the Labs, the Fellowship enables the director to focus on moving their feature project forward with tailored support from Sundance staff and advisors on both creative and strategic fronts. RT Features is an internationally recognized feature film production company based in Brazil which supports the development, production and financing of both Brazilian and international work. This year’s RT Features Fellow is Geremy Jasper (Patti Cake$). Previous Fellows include Meredith Danluck (State Like Sleep) and Ariel Kleiman (Partisan).


With a generous contribution from HP, the Sundance Institute | HP Fellowship is offered to filmmakers selected for the Labs program. Sundance Institute | HP Fellows are distinguished by projects that demonstrate a passion for technology and innovation in independent filmmaking. HP Fellows receive a cash grant to sustain the critical moments in the creative process as well as full, ongoing technology support.

HP, like Sundance, view the Labs as the start of a filmmaker's journey and are committed to helping them bring their creative vision to life.

The inaugural Sundance Institute | HP fellowship was awarded to Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for their project Swiss Army Man.

Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award

Each year, the Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award recognizes and supports 4 emerging independent filmmakers working outside the United States. Winning filmmakers each receive a cash award of $10,000 and attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for a specially curated five-day program, which includes targeted creative and industry meetings, screenings and panels.

Following the festival, Feature Film Program staff and creative advisors provide ongoing creative and strategic support, which may also include the opportunity to participate in one of the Sundance Institute Creative Labs in Screenwriting, Directing, Music and Sound Design, and Producing.

In its relatively short history, the award has provided the crucial support to allow 5 films to complete production, with 4 more poised to start production in 2014.

Past award-winners include, Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation (Israel), which received the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan (Australia), Dominga Sotomayor’s Late To Die Young (Chile), and Jonas Carpignano's Mediterranea (Italy).

Recipients of the 2014 Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Award:

Tobias Lindholm (Denmark) / A War
Hong Khaou (Vietnam-UK) / Monsoon
Neeraj Ghaywan (India) / Fly Away Solo
Ashlee Page (Australia) / Archive

Sundance / NHK Award

In 1996, the Sundance/NHK Award was established by Sundance Institute in partnership with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) to celebrate 100 years of cinema and to honor and support emerging independent filmmakers whose originality, talent, and vision contributes significantly to the future of world cinema.

One international filmmaker is selected each year and commemorated with an announcement at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The award includes a $10,000 cash prize, attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for creative and strategic meetings at the festival with established filmmakers, and guidance by FFP staff throughout the life of the project.

2010 winner Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis).

Recipient of the 2014 Sundance/NHK Award: Mark Rosenberg / Ad Inexplorata

Other films which have been supported by the Sundance/NHK Award include: Cherien Dabis’s May in the Summer (Palestine), Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena (Russia), Cruz Angeles' Don't Let Me Drown (U.S.), Gyorgi Palfi's Taxidermia (Hungary), Rodrigo Moreno's El Custodio (Argentina), Lucrecia Martel's La Ciénaga (Argentina), Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll's Whisky (Uruguay), and Walter Salles' Central Station (Brazil). Made early in these directors' careers, each of these films were instrumental in launching the work of emerging filmmakers in their respective countries.


With generous support from film development/production/financing company Red Crown Productions, the Sundance Institute / Red Crown Producer’s Award is a $10,000 grant awarded to an emerging producer whose film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival. The 2014 Producer’s Award was given to Elisabeth Holm (Obvious Child).

Dolby Family Sound Fellowship

The Dolby Family Sound Fellowship provides a range of post-production resources to allow the fellowship recipient to fully realize the creative potential of the film's sound design. This fellowship opportunity provides a range of post-production resources to allow the fellowship recipient to fully realize the creative potential of the film's sound design. In 2014, Mike Cahill (I Origins) became the inaugural Fellow.

Sundance Institute/Asian American Feature Film Fellowship

The Asian American Feature Film Fellowship (formerly known as the A3 Foundation Fellowship) aims to further the presence of Asian American voices in independent film as an extension of Sundance Institute¹s ongoing commitment to support a diverse group of emerging artists. Made possible in part by the A3 Foundation, the Fellowship will support an Asian American writer (or writer-director) on the development of their feature screenplay through participation in a Screenwriters Lab, Screenwriters Intensive, or Creative Producing Summit. See above for additional information regarding the Screenwriters Lab, the Screenwriters Intensive or the Creative Producing Summit.

Writers or writer/directors developing their first or second narrative feature film and of Asian-American descent are eligible to apply. If you have previously had more than one narrative feature produced, you are not eligible to apply.

Applications for the 2015 January Screenwriters Lab are currently closed. However, applications for the Asian American Fellowship at the 2015 Screenwriters Intensive will be open from November 3 - December 15, 2014. Application is above. Email AAFellowship@sundance.org with inquiries regarding this Fellowship.

Zygmunt & Audrey Wilf Foundation Award

The Zygmunt and Audrey Wilf Foundation Award is presented to a Feature Film Directors Lab Fellow in recognition of the filmmaker's unique voice and talent. The Award provides a cash grant to the filmmaker to help provide momentum and support in moving their feature film project forward. Past award recipients include Fellipe Barbosa (Casa Grande), Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance), Ry Russo Young and Lena Dunham (Nobody Walks), Carson Mell (Ajax), and Carlo Mirabella Davis (On Evil). The most recent fellows include Malik Vitthal (Imperial Dreams) and Jyson McLean & Ian Hendrie (Mercy Road).

Maryland Film Fellowship

Presented in partnership with the Maryland Film Office, the Maryland Film Fellowship provides a Directors Lab Fellow with a $10,000 bridge grant as a means to move his or her project forward during the crucial phases of advanced development and preproduction. The 2013 Maryland Film Fellows are Jyson McLean and Ian Hendrie (Mercy Road). Past Maryland Film Fellows include Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Jody Lee Lipes (Confederacy), Rodrigo Garcia (Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her) and Tanya Hamilton, whose film Night Catches Us premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Adrienne Shelly Foundation Filmmakers Grant

The Adrienne Shelly Women Filmmakers Grant was established to support the advancement of talented women filmmakers as they focus on the next crucial steps of their filmmaking process. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation provides a $5,000 grant to be awarded annually by the Sundance Institute to a filmmaker coming out of the Feature Film Program's June Directors Lab. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the memory of the late writer/director/actor Adrienne Shelly.

The 2013 Adrienne Shelly Filmmaker Fellow is Meredith Danluck (State Like Sleep). Previous recipients include Maryam Keshavarz (Circumstance), Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brothers Taught Me) and Dee Rees (Pariah).


As Associate Director of the Institute's Feature Film Program, Lynn Auerbach made a profound difference in the lives of the many screenwriters and filmmakers who came to know her. To honor her memory, this Fellowship provides concentrated support to one screenwriter being supported by the Feature Film Program. The Auerbach Fellow receives a cash stipend, dedicated yearlong mentorship from two Screenwriting Advisors, and a produced reading of her or his screenplay. The 2014 Lynn Auerbach fellow is Ashlee Page (Archive). Past Lynn Auerbach fellows include Ray Tintori (Cabal), Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Ismet Prcic and Malik Vitthal (Imperial Dreams) James Ponsoldt (Refresh, Refresh) Jonathan Wysocki (All Fall Down) Keith Davis (The American People) Jake Mahaffy (Free in Deed), Myna Joseph (My Favorite Nightmare), and Victoria Mahoney (Yelling to the Sky).

Mark Silverman Honoree and Producing Fellow

Created in honor of indie producer Mark Silverman, whose credits included the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, and Blood Simple, The Mark Silverman Honor is awarded an emerging producer or producing team selected for the Creative Producing Fellowship. The 2014 Mark Silverman fellow is Jeremy Yaches (We the Animals).

Sally Menke Memorial Editing Fellowship

In memory of Sally Menke's artistry and love of mentoring, Sundance Institute created the Sally Menke Memorial Editing Fellowship, to support an emerging narrative editor in furthering their craft, expanding their artistic community and providing momentum to their editing career.

Selected annually, the Sally Menke Editing Fellow will work as an Editor at the Sundance Institute June Directors Lab, focusing on editing the workshop scenes of two directors selected for the Lab. The Fellow will also have the year-round opportunity to work with two established editors as mentors.

The Sally Menke Editing Fellowship is designed to support an emerging narrative editor who has edited at least one narrative film (no more than four), and any number of shorts, documentary films, industrial films, or webisodes. Additionally, the ideal candidate is committed to continuing a career in editing, passionate about the creative process and is open to exploration and experimentation in the editing room. The 2014 Sally Menke Editing Fellow is Alex O’Flinn. Past recipients of the Editing Fellowship include Julia Bloch in 2011, Debbie Berman in 2012, and Joseph Krings in 2013.

The 2014 deadline for Sally Menke Fellowship applications has passed. Sally Menke Fellowship applications are considered by invitation or recommendation only and the selection process for 2015 applicants will begin next February. For more information, please contact Cristen Aery at cristen_aery@sundance.org.

International Work

International Screenwriters Labs bring the Institute’s Lab model to countries around the world. Working with local and regional partner organizations, we identify emerging filmmaking movements that are in need of developing creative and strategic infrastructures. Our Labs and other support are developed in direct response to the specific needs of these communities and filmmakers. After seeding Screenwriters Labs in Brazil, Mexico and Central Europe, we are currently running Labs in Jordan, Turkey, India and Japan.

The Institute’s Screenwriters and Directors Labs invite international filmmakers from all regions of the world to develop their work in residence at Sundance Resort in Utah. Each year, approximately one-third of the fellows selected for the Utah-based Labs come from outside the U.S. For both Fellows and Advisors, the Lab experience is deeply enriched by the presence of artists and projects representing the personal and cultural histories of filmmaking voices from around the world.

Between all the programs, FFP has supported international artists from over sixty countries making their first and second feature films, including:

Guillermo del Toro Mexico
Alfonso Cuaron Mexico
Ritesh Batra India
Braulio Mantovani Brazil
Rama Burshtein Israel
So Young Kim South Korea
Walter Salles Brazil
Lynn Ramsay UK
Andrea Arnold UK
Haifaa Al Mansour Saudi Arabia
Hany Abu-Assad Palestine
Andrey Zvyagintsev Russia

Ongoing Support

Mentoring, Connections, Advocacy

In an increasingly complex landscape for independent films, we recognize the need for sustained support for filmmakers through every phase of the filmmaking process. In keeping with the Institute's commitment to provide long-term assistance to our alumni following participation in a Lab, the Feature Film Program provides access to a customized suite of support designed to help filmmakers realize the promise of their project and to offer strategies and resources to help the project reach its audience. In addition to ongoing creative and strategic support, the FFP offers access to a range of Sundance Institute's signature programs and initiatives:

Screenplay Reading Series

A live reading of a work-in-progress screenplay can play an essential part in a writer's developmental process. It often takes hearing a screenplay read by actors to see how the characters come to life and to see which scenes play well and which are problematic, as well as to experience live how the structure of the screenplay builds the story or where it doesn’t engage the audience. Each year, up to six work-in-progress screenplays are given staged readings by an ensemble of professional actors in New York and Los Angeles. The scripts are chosen from screenplays developed at the Screenwriters and Directors Labs and represent a further stage of examination and development. Click here for a full list of participants.

The Screenplay Reading Series is presented in association with Writers Guild of America, West. If you are based in New York or Los Angeles and would like to be notified of upcoming readings, please send your full name, email address, and any professional affiliation to featurefilmprogram@sundance.org

Rough-Cut Screening Initiative

The Feature Film Program organizes rough-cut screenings for Lab-supported films during the critical post-production phase. Along with FFP staff members, Creative Advisors gather in Los Angeles and New York to watch cuts of a film and offer creative feedback in scheduled individual meetings with the director. The FFP often organizes several successive rough-cut screenings for a film throughout the post-production phase.

As with the Screenplay Reading Series, the Rough-Cut Screening Initiative is reserved for projects that have gone through the Screenwriters and Directors Labs.


Launched in 2013, Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Initiative connects forward-thinking investors with the world of independent film, with the intention of envisioning film finance in a new light. The invitation-only Catalyst Forum, held annually at the Sundance Resort, brings together select projects developed at the Institute’s Labs or by its alumni artists, and culturally engaged financiers to spur new paths to production. Over three days, the program delves into the risks and rewards of film investing through case studies, round table discussions, seminars with industry, special screenings and artist conversations. Project presentations, individually scheduled meetings, and informal social gatherings allow investors to interface directly with filmmakers, top advisors, and Sundance program leadership. The goal is to foster a meaningful dialogue and community that opens new paths to production for original stories to be told. 

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ArtistServices helps alumni answer the question “what happens after I’ve made my movie?” Our programs empower independent filmmakers to maintain creative control of their distribution, amplifying their reach and revenue potential in the process. Through an unprecedented collection of deals, partnerships, strategy, and resources, ArtistServices gives every Institute-supported film robust access to best-in-class digital distribution deals, creative funding tactics, and marketing support. 

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Advice for Applicants

The Labs of the Feature Film Program are designed to give aspiring independent artists the skills and knowledge they need to develop their craft and advance their projects. While the specific criteria for participation differs across our various programs, for all of our initiatives we are seeking passionate, bold, risk-taking artists compelled to see their vision realized from script to audience engagement. We value filmmakers’ personal connection to the material, clarity of vision, and commitment to a rigorous creative process.

Support for the Feature Film Program

Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by The Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; RT Features; Time Warner Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Lincoln Motor Company; Red Crown Productions; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; HP; Steve Bing; Jeanne Donovan Fisher; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; Microsoft; The Rockefeller Foundation; NHK Enterprises, Inc.; National Endowment for the Arts; 3311 Productions; The Ammon Foundation; Firestone / von Winterfeldt Family Fund; Ford Foundation; Philip Fung-A3 Foundation; SAGIndie; Grazka Taylor; The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; Directors Guild of America; the Zygmunt & Audrey Wilf Foundation; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; Writers Guild of America, West; John M. August; Dreambridge LLC; and Utah Film Commission.

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