New Frontier

New Frontier Lab Programs

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.

  • Application The public call for submissions has closed. Submissions were due October 18, 2017 for the 2018 Lab.
    Dates May 16-21, 2018
    Size of Lab 6 Projects
    Location Sundance Resort, Utah

    We look for 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 (broadly defined): 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. The public call for submissions has closed for the 2018 Lab. Applications for the 2018 Lab were available to storytellers, artists and creative technologists August 23, 2017, through October 18, 2017. Keep an eye out in late Summer for next year's submissions.
  • 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.

  • Application Public. No application.
    Dates Varies
    Size of Lab Up to 200 (varies due to venue)
    Location Varies
    Eligibility US & International Filmmakers
    Description Public sessions are 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.
    Next Day Lab Our next Public Session will be in Charlotte, NC December 9, 2017, and is FREE thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More details to come in mid-November. The following New Frontier Public Session is tentatively scheduled for early Fall 2018 in Detroit.
  • 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 was the first New Frontier Story Lab open to outside applicants, all previous years were invitation only.

    What is the application process?

    Public submissions closed October 18, 2017 for the 2018 Lab. Keep an eye out in late Summer for the following year's submissions.

    Then What?

    For projects submitted in October 2017, you will hear back from us via email on or before March 15, 2018, 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.

    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 15, 2017, 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:

    • August 23, 2017- Public applications open
    • October 18, 2017 - Deadline for public application submissions
    • December 4, 2017 - 1st round notifications.
    • December 11, 2017 - Round 2 supplemental information due
    • February 8, 2018 - 2nd round notifications and interviews scheduled
    • March 12, 2018 - Final status notifications
    • May 16-21, 2018: LAB WEEK (in Utah)

    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 December 4, 2017, at the latest. Final Lab decisions will be made by March 12, 2018.
    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.

New Frontier At Sundance Film Festival

Curated around the idea of expanding and illuminating the human story through the embrace, exhibition, and experience of storytelling at the crossroads of film, art and new media technologies, New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival presents bold, innovative works from around the world to film festival audiences in Park City.

The New Frontier venues host a multitude of media installations, multimedia performances, panel discussions, and virtual reality experiences in an open social setting at Sundance Film Festival. Artists may submit their work in one of two categories for Festival consideration.

  • We accept submissions for a variety of current virtual reality platforms, eligible to be selected for New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival’s VR Showcase. We encourage the diverse creative community of storytellers and technologists to submit inventive, independently produced works of fiction, documentary, and interactive virtual reality experiences for consideration. Your project must be viewable via one of our accepted VR platforms (currently limited to Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, or Google Cardboard). We request that you provide a link to a 360° video file (.mp4), app download package (.apk), or other PC installation package. Additionally, we request that you provide a separate 2D version of the project via Withoutabox’s Secure Online Screener system. Virtual Reality Experiences may have been previously exhibited at other Festivals or industry trade shows/conventions and still retain their eligibility for open submission to the Festival. VR work submitted in this category must not been made publicly available via any consumer platform, either for free or for purchase, prior to January 29th, 2017. However, the deadline to submit to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival has passed.

  • Non-VR installations are considered for the New Frontier Exhibition by invite only. If you have a project you would like us to consider, please email a 200-word proposal to no later than September 7. If selected, you will receive a private invitation to formally submit your project. There is no fee required to submit an exhibition proposal.

  • What are the deadlines and fees for submitting Virtual Reality Projects?
    All projects must be submitted by August 31st in order to be considered. Deadlines and fees are listed below:

    EarlyJuly 1($40)
    OfficialJuly 29($60)
    LateAug 31($80)

    For which platforms do you accept VR Project submissions?
    Currently, we only accept submissions for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard. If you have a project created for a different platform, please inquire with us directly about whether or not it is possible to submit.

    Which formats/specifications are accepted for VR Project submissions?
    We accept any PC installation package that is compatible with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, provided that your package does not exceed 10GB in size. For Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, any application download package (.apk) or 360° video file that will work with either platform is accepted. These files must be delivered to us via any standard file sharing service (Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.) by providing a download link directly on the application. Additionally, we ask that you also provide a 2D video file (preferably H.264 with AAC audio) via Withoutabox’s Secure Online Screener system.

    May I submit a VR Project as a work-in-progress?
    Yes, but the project needs to be complete enough for us to be able to make a decision. Please provide a thorough description of any missing elements along with your submission, and keep us updated with any visual aids you may have.

    When will I find out whether or not my VR Project was selected?
    We will contact all applicants via e-mail no later than the end of November, 2016. Please ensure that the e-mail address you provided on your application remains updated until that time. If your e-mail address changes after you’ve filled out the application, you may log into your Withoutabox account and update it. We will not be held responsible for any failed delivery of status notifications. Please ensure that is added to your safe senders list.

    Do you accept international applicants?
    Yes. We accept projects from all countries.

    Can I start an application for a VR Project 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 can only accept VR Project applications directly through Withoutabox, or at All VR applications must be received by our late deadline of August 31. If you wish to submit a proposal for a non-VR installation, please email a 200-word proposal to no later than September 7.

    If I am not accepted into the program can I receive feedback on my application?
    Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions we receive we are unable to offer individual feedback to applicants for VR Projects or exhibition proposals.

    Do you offer fee waivers?
    While there is no fee to submit a proposal via email for non-VR projects, we cannot offer fee waivers to applicants submitting in the Virtual Reality Projects category. We strive to keep the selection process as thorough and unbiased as possible, and it is not fair to offer fee waivers to some but not to others. We encourage all applicants to take advantage of our early and official deadlines to save on submission fees.

    What if I have questions or issues with the application?
    If you have additional questions about the New Frontier program, please email us For technical issues related to the application, please contact

Support for New Frontier

The Sundance Institute New Frontier program is supported by Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Lyn and Norman Lear, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Time Warner Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, AMD Radeon, Nokia OZO, TIME INC + LIFE VR, Comcast Ventures, The Fledgling Fund, Ribbow Media Group, Technicolor Experience Center, Daydream, Oculus, Jaunt, swissnex San Francisco and Pro Helvetia, and David E. Quinney III.

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