New Frontier


A bold spirit of innovation has emerged among artists as they seek to engage audiences with narrative worlds that leverage new technologies, visual aesthetics, social media cultures, immersive designs, game theory, transmedia activism and shifts in the boundaries of authorship. In the last decade, the media landscape has transformed and storytellers are both exploring as well as constructing this new terrain, pioneering new connections with audiences and re-structuring story design.

The Labs and Residency programs at New Frontier work to identify and foster independent artists and creative technologists innovating the art and form of story at the convergence of diverse forms of creative expression; and to build a community of collaborators across diverse disciplines to push the boundaries of story.

New Frontier Story Lab
Application Check back in June 2016 for information on our next round to apply.
Dates May 19-24, 2016
Size of Lab 6 Projects
Location Sundance Resort, Utah

We invite projects that fit the following criteria:

  • The project tells or co-creates a fiction, non-fiction or hybrid story (or stories).
  • The project provides one or more of the following points of entry: film, gaming, theater, music, visual arts, comics, literature, design and web/mobile native arts.
  • The project innovates story design by using new technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story; OR low-tech designs that are exploring new methods of storytelling.
  • The project is a work in progress with at least one component of its story design in advanced development.
  • Applicants must have completed some previous work in one or more fields related to their project.
  • International projects will be considered, but all project materials must be provided in English.
Description With an emphasis on story, this Lab supports artists who are developing interactive, immersive, or experimental projects that aim to create rich and resonant experiences for audiences. The New Frontier Story Lab is open to a wide variety of storytelling disciplines, forms and story designs. 2016 applications will be available to storytellers, artists and creative technologists July 1, 2015.
New Frontier Artist Residency Program
Application Invitation Only. Fellows are selected from New Frontier alumni pool.
Dates Varies
Size of Lab Varies
Location Varies
Eligibility New Frontier alumni artist

Over eight years, New Frontier has cultivated an alumni community of inventive minds, creative technologists and talented storytellers from a variety of backgrounds. Just like the innovators at the dawn of the film age, New Frontier alumni are creating language, forms and methodologies that will become the standard for the future storyteller.

The Artist Residency program is designed to match New Frontier alumni with sponsor organizations that are also working to pioneer the field by creating tools, providing platforms, congregating communities or audiences, sharing the learning, developing content and experiences, cultivating talent, or utilizing storytelling methodology in their delivery of products and services.

During the residency, a New Frontier artist or artist collective will work with the sponsor organization’s internal team (i.e. technologists, designers, content developers, researchers, community engagement officers, etc.) grantee partners or other stakeholders to concept or develop a project that aims to push the boundaries of story in some manner.

New Frontier Day Lab
Application Public. No application.
Dates Varies
Size of Lab Up to 200 (varies due to venue)
Location Varies
Eligibility US & International Filmmakers
Description The Day Lab is designed to inspire participants to expand their creative practices or innovate within their organizations and to further their contribution to the evolution of story. Through the lens of projects and with a focus on the art of story and new technologies available, participants will:
  • Explore field defining projects,
  • Discuss the technological and cultural shifts that enabled these projects,
  • Learn about emerging creative practices and tools,
  • And be in direct conversation with New Frontier pioneers.
Still Have Questions? Read Our FAQ >>

New Frontier Story Lab Application Process FAQ

Is the New Frontier Story Lab open to anyone that wants to apply?

Yes, the application is open to anyone who wants to apply. The 2016 Lab will be the first New Frontier Story Lab open to outside applicants, all previous years have been invitation only.

What is the application process?

The application window for the 2016 labs was July 1 - August 17, 2015. Check back in June 2016 for information on our next round.

The application is a three step process...

FIRST, complete the electronic application.

Sign in or create a new account to access the electronic application. Choose the New Frontier tab to access the Story Lab application. In the application form you will provide your contact info, brief bio(s), a synopsis of the project, and a short essay response about your artistic intentions.

PLEASE NOTE: The email address you provide when you create an account will be the only one mode of communication we will use to contact you between submission and the final decision. Therefore we recommend you insure that is cleared in your spam filter!

SECOND, upload additional materials:

  • A Story Design Document (PDF, 5 page limit) that provides a timeline, storyworld architecture, user experience/user interface, flow chart, wireframes or any other framework/asset that communicates your story design.
  • Optional: Any additional assets not included elsewhere via links or Story Design that are essential to the understanding/evaluation of the project (photos, videos, etc.).

THIRD, pay the $45 application fee.

Can I start an application and save it and come back to finish it later?

Yes. You will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of your application before officially submitting.

Can I deliver my application in person, or via mail or email?

We accept all application materials electronically via the application submission system ONLY. Materials are disseminated to the selection committee electronically via the application system. Not only are projects not accepted in-person or via email, submitting via these methods would increase a project’s chances of loss or incorrect versions being considered in review. Contact us if you are having technical difficulty at

Then What?

You will hear back from us via email on or before March 11, 2016 letting you know if you have been selected for the New Frontier Story Lab. We will respond to every applicant, whether they are selected or not.

Here is the timeline for application review:

  • July 1 - Application opens
  • August 17 - Deadline for application submission
  • October 12 - Round Two Notifications
  • October 16 - Round Two Submissions Deadline
  • November 20 - Round Three Notifications
  • March 11 - Final Status Notifications
  • May 19-24 - LAB WEEK

Please note: Unfortunately, due to the amount of submissions, we cannot provide individual feedback.

Other FAQs

  1. What happens at the Lab? New Frontier invites six projects to the Sundance Resort in Utah for a five-day-long immersive Story Lab experience with a group of leading artists, designers, filmmakers, storytellers, technologists and innovators in the field. After identifying the unique needs of each selected project, the Sundance Institute sources leading Creative Advisors to provide individualized feedback and creates a customized agenda of activities to support the development of the projects. The Lab will include the following elements with an emphasis on storytelling:
    • Project presentations with full group feedback (Lab Fellows & Advisors)
    • Individualized story and story design sessions
    • Conversations about key artistic, design and technology issues that relate to story
    • Presentations, demonstrations and conversation about the evolving field of New Frontier: case studies from Creative Advisors; research on field opportunities and challenges; best practices and lessons learned in concept, design, production, audience/co-creator engagement and implementation.
  2. How many projects are selected? We invite a total of six projects to participate in the lab. Broadly defined, we accept 3 narrative and 3 documentary projects. We do consider hybrid narrative/documentary projects.
  3. How many collaborators from each project can attend the Lab? A maximum of two members from each selected project may attend the lab.
  4. Do participants pay for travel and accommodation? Air travel, accommodations, and meals are covered by Sundance Institute.
  5. What happens after the Lab? Fellows who complete a Lab at the Sundance Institute become part of a community of storytellers that support independent artists in furthering their craft and bringing great projects into the world. After the Lab, Fellows will participate in a strategic planning consultation to outline a road map for successfully completing their projects. Then, Fellows will have semi-annual check-in sessions with New Frontier staff and advisors. Additionally, Fellows will be eligible to access #ArtistServices, which assists alumni with creative funding, distribution and marketing. If appropriate, projects supported through the Lab will be considered by New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival as a way to platform the new work and provide a live component for expanding the boundaries of interactive experience.
  6. What stage of project development is most conducive to success in the Lab environment? An eligible project is a work-in-progress with at least one component of its story design in advanced development. There should be enough concept and story for meaningful discussion; but the project should not be so advanced that there is no room for new ideas to impact the future shape of the project.
  7. Certain components of my project are not ready yet. Does that hurt my application’s chances? We work with “in-progress” projects and do not expect finished elements. For multi-platform works, at least one component of its story design should be in advanced development.
  8. I don't have much experience. Does that affect my application’s chances? Applicants may be early-career or emerging artists, but must have completed some previous work in one or more fields related to their project.
  9. I am an established artist. Am I too advanced in my career to apply? No. Unlike other Sundance Institute Labs, the Story Lab accepts projects from artists or storytellers with advanced careers, as long as they are an independent artists working to innovate the art and form of story.
  10. A particular application section doesn’t apply to my project. Does that mean my project is not aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab? What kind of project is aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab? Not all sections will apply to everyone due to the wide variety of projects considered. A project aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab tells or co-creates a fiction, non-fiction or hybrid story (or stories). Stories do not have to be linear and can evolve inside the storyworld or story experience of the project, rather than be pre-determined. Projects must be a work of an artist or storymaker or a collective of artists or storymakers. Concepts for story-enabling tools, technology or platforms meant to be a product or service for a community or consumer-base are not appropriate. It should provide an entry point from one or more creative disciplines (i.e. film, gaming, theater, music, visual arts, comics, literature, design, web/mobile arts, etc.). The project should make a case for how it is innovating on the art and form of story by using new technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story; OR low-tech designs that are exploring new methods or forms of storytelling. We are excited by a very wide range of projects!
  11. How many projects can I apply with? Because we want “front-burner” projects that applicants are enthusiastic about completing, you may submit up to two projects in separate applications.
  12. Can I reapply with the same project next year? You are eligible to apply more than once with a given project, provided there has been a significant development since the last submission.
  13. How long/short is too long/short for a project proposal? The application material should give the reviewers sufficient information to understand the project. However, overly detailed materials will not necessarily help communicate the value of your project. In fact, that approach may bog down the exciting and pertinent details of your project. The project synopsis is a maximum of 1000 words; the Story Design Document is 5 pages or less (including visual and text components).
  14. Would my submitted ideas be protected? Information submitted is only used for review purposes and will not be shared beyond the selected readers and selection committee members.
  15. Do you accept projects that have been submitted elsewhere? Yes.
  16. Does Sundance own my project? No. The Sundance Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not have an ownership stake in any projects that are submitted to, or selected for the Lab, nor are we attached in any producorial capacity. However, in order to help sustain Sundance Institute’s commitment to supporting independent artists going forward, selected Lab projects whose income exceeds $500,000 agree to give back 1% of receipts to the Sundance Institute. If the Fellow(s) sell the project to a third party, they also commit 1% of the sale price back to Sundance Institute. All Lab Fellows must own or have approval from the project owner to participate in the New Frontier Lab.
  17. What kind of grants / support / production help can Sundance offer our project? The Lab is a robust week-long creative and supportive experience, followed by a continuum of support for alumni of the program. The Lab is not directly attached to granting funds nor are we attached in any producorial capacity, however we do recommend fellows for granting opportunities when appropriate.
  18. Can International artists or projects apply? Yes. International projects will be considered, but all project materials must be provided in English.
  19. Why haven’t I 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 October 12 at the latest. Final Lab decisions will be made by March 11.
  20. Are fee waivers available? We do not offer waivers, as the application fee is thoughtfully derived to help cover the high cost of thoroughly reviewing your application. There may be a very limited number of exceptions for those who can demonstrate unusual economic hardship. If you feel you have an appropriately unusual economic constraint, please contact with further information.
  21. Is it New Frontiers (plural) or New Frontier (singular)? Singular... New Frontier :)

Still don't see your question answered here? Email with further questions.

Support for New Frontier

Sundance Institute New Frontier Initiative is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Time Warner Foundation, Microsoft, The Rockefeller Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Ford Foundation.

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