Volunteer

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Sundance Institute. We rely on thousands of volunteers from around the world who generously dedicate their time and commitment to the Sundance Film Festival, our summer labs in Utah, our year-round work at our Los Angeles, Park City, and New York City offices, and all of our many programs that support independent storytelling.

Volunteer for the Sundance Film Festival

At this time, the volunteer application for the 2020 Festival has closed. However, if you have secured lodging in Park City and wish to help, email us at volunteers@sundance.org

Want to join us? Volunteering for the Sundance Film Festival is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Every year, more than 2,400 generous volunteers (most of whom return year after year) help create a global platform to celebrate independent film. We’re looking for volunteers to assist in all areas of the Festival—from managing theater entrances and shuttle stops to supporting special events. Of course there are plenty of exciting benefits, like being among the first audiences to see world premieres of the best new independent films. But the real benefit of volunteering isn’t the perks, or even the films—it’s being a part of a passionate community. If you're ready for an unforgettable experience, apply to join us in Utah this January!

Please read the following information before applying. If you have any questions that are not answered here, please contact us at volunteers@sundance.org or (435) 776-7870.

  • 1. Choose Your Commitment Level: Read over the volunteer positions and benefits summary below and decide on the level of commitment you would like to make before applying.

    2. Apply to Volunteer: The volunteer application for the 2020 Festival is now open! The Festival application typically stays open from July -November. Please note that applying to volunteer does not guarantee you will be offered a role, as we tend to receive over 4,000 applications for 2,400 positions. To submit a volunteer application, click here!
    If you have any questions, please email us at volunteers@sundance.org.

    3. Complete the Interview: After submitting your application, you will receive a Google form that will serve as your initial interview. This document allows us to learn a little bit about you and better understand where you will fit into the Festival.

    4. Receive a Specific Assignment: When your interests and the Festival needs align, a volunteer coordinator will reach out to discuss a volunteer assignment, typically by early December, including outlining the position dates and requirements.

    5. Sign the Volunteer Agreement: Your volunteer coordinator will email you a volunteer agreement. You must sign the agreement to confirm your position.

    6. Get Your Schedule

    • Sign-Up Volunteers, once instructed, will log in to Shiftboard (our scheduling platform) and sign up for shifts, making sure to sign up for a minimum of 24 hours.
    • Half-Fest Volunteers and Full-Time Volunteers will receive notification of when their preset schedule will be released on Shiftboard.

    7. Check In and Receive Training: You will check in before your first shift or training to pick up your Festival credentials, swag, etc.

    8. Festival Time: Enjoy volunteering, attending events, seeing films, and experiencing the Sundance Film Festival.

    • Applicants can choose from three different types of Festival volunteer experiences: sign-up, half-Fest, and full-time. Each experience has a different level of commitment and benefits, including free ticket vouchers as detailed below. For a list of benefits provided to all volunteers, see the Benefits section. Remember, all volunteers must be 18 years of age or older to volunteer.

      1. Sign-Up Volunteers (24+ hours)
      • Sign-up volunteers have a flexible shift schedule and get to pick their own shifts (based on availability). You will be required to pick up three to four shifts to meet your minimum 24 hours. We recommend that you plan on attending the Festival for four to five days so you can meet your minimum commitment and enjoy the Festival.
      • All sign-up volunteers receive one volunteer ticket voucher for every four hours volunteered. These are redeemable in the volunteer line or waitlist line as space permits, and they are nontransferable. (Training hours do not count toward the 24-hour minimum requirement or benefits.)
      • Additional benefits are provided to sign-up volunteers who work 32 hours or more, as follows:
        • 32+ Hours: Ability to exchange volunteer ticket vouchers for guest vouchers, which can be used by anyone (including non-volunteers) in the general waitlist line.
        • 60+ Hours (Salt Lake City and Sundance Resort volunteers only) and 80+ Hours (Park City volunteers only): Receive a volunteer photo credential (instead of volunteer vouchers), providing unlimited access to screenings via the volunteer ticket line and general waitlist line. You'll also receive four guest ticket vouchers.
      2. Half-Fest Volunteers (40+ hours)
      • As the name suggests, half-Fest volunteers work for either the first or second half of the Festival, with a preset schedule including shifts every day. There is always a higher demand for volunteers during the second half of the Festival, so keep that in mind when planning your schedule.
      3. Full-Time Volunteers (80+ hours)
      • Full-time volunteers have shifts every day of the Festival. Your schedule will be preset for you, so you'll know your shifts before you arrive.
      • Receive a photo credential, providing unlimited screening access via the volunteer line (when you’re not on shift); four Grub Stubs, redeemable for a meal at participating locations; four guest waitlist ticket vouchers (not applicable to volunteers with Festival-provided housing).
  • The Festival would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers—which is why we aim to provide a wide range of benefits to show our appreciation.

    In addition to the specific benefits provided to each volunteer level as outlined above, All volunteers receive the following:

    • Festival Access: Non-photo volunteer credentials give you access to non-ticketed Festival venues as space permits ($300 value).
    • Volunteer Screenings: We offer a handful of volunteer screenings throughout the Festival. These are just for volunteers and only require your credential for access (no ticket voucher needed).
    • Uniform: A collectible Sundance Film Festival winter jacket.
    • Party: An invitation to the Staff and Volunteer Party and the Volunteer Appreciation Party.
    • Snacks: We offer snacks in the Volunteer Hub for volunteers to grab when off shift. We also provide pizza and bagels to every venue a few times throughout the Festival as well. We will not provide enough snacks to replace your meals, which you are expected to provide for yourself.
    • Volunteer Ticket Line: For almost every screening, each theater has a specific number of seats reserved for volunteers. These are first come, first served (beginning one hour before the screening start time) and only require a ticket voucher or photo credential.
    • All volunteer benefits are subject to change, are not guaranteed, and may fluctuate year to year. Please keep that in mind while making plans for each Festival you hope to attend.

  • As a volunteer giving 100 hours or more, we recognize your dedication to the Festival and welcome you to the 100 Club. On top of your full-time volunteer benefits, your name will be listed on screen at the Awards Ceremony, and you will receive a hard ticket to a screening of your choice (based on availability).

  • Explore the many hardworking teams that make our world-class Festival possible. We can’t wait for you to join us!

    Please note that the majority of Festival volunteer opportunities are based in Park City; however, there are also a limited number of positions at our theaters and box offices in Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort.

    Artist Relations Act as a liaison and provide guest services for filmmakers, artists, and other guests (long hours).
    Corporate Relations Act as a liaison and provide guest services for corporate sponsors.
    Events Help with setup, maintenance, and teardown of Festival events.
    Filmmaker Lodge Set up, maintain, and break down Filmmaker Lodge. Assist with daily operation tasks.
    Headquarters Assist with daily operations, setup, and teardown of headquarters and all associated offices (Artist Relations, Sundance Industry Office, Volunteer Hub, Programming, etc.).
    Information Services Provide customer service and general Festival information to patrons at information booths and other locations.
    Logistics Coordinate logistics for radios, equipment, and uniforms.
    Merchandise Support Provide customer service and general information to patrons at stores.
    New Frontier Set up, maintain, and break down New Frontier (virtual reality venue). Assist with daily operation tasks.
    Press Help with press check-in, office duties, and press communications.
    Production Help with behind-the-scenes setup, maintenance, and teardown of the Festival.
    Tech Services Help set up, troubleshoot, and break down technology at the Festival.
    Theatre Box Office Distribute, collect, and account for all tickets at theaters.
    Theatre Operations From ticket taking to crowd control, Theatre Operations is where our BIGGEST NEED for volunteers is.
    Ticketing Assist in filling ticket orders, answering patrons' questions about films and theaters, and providing customer service.
    Transportation Guide crowds and provide directions at transportation stops.
    Volunteer FLEX Volunteers assigned to this role will be shifted throughout various positions to fill in for cancellations and no-shows, OR they may be reassigned completely to one role for the duration of the Festival if help is needed on a particular team. FLEX volunteers must be willing to perform any role, inside or outside, and must be willing to rotate or be reassigned completely.
    Works Crew Assist with snow removal, signage distribution, and other navigation duties.
  • Volunteering at the Festival is a great way to get an inside look at the industry and gain valuable experience. Groups of six or more students can apply to volunteer and experience the Festival together while gaining access to workshops and seminars through our Ignite Program.

    • Student groups must be coordinated by a staff or faculty member.
    • Groups will only be offered volunteer positions in our Theatre Operations department—the heart of the action!
    • Groups with their own secured housing will be prioritized for placement together and will be given set schedules, regardless of the type of volunteering.
    • Groups must have secured transportation for everyone in the group (there are reliable shuttle services in Park City but not outside).
    • Groups must be available to volunteer for a minimum of four days to meet volunteer requirements.
    • Each student in the group must submit their own application.

    For more information, please reach out to volunteers@sundance.org.

  • If you volunteered during the last Festival, you will receive an email reminder when the application opens for the next Festival. If you missed the last Festival but volunteered in years past, you will need to check this webpage for the application.

    The application process is entirely online. You will need to fill out an application with your current Shiftboard email (just email volunteers@sundance.org if you don't remember it!). Please make sure to fill out all areas of the application.

    To have alumni priority consideration for the 2020 Festival, you must submit an application by September 21, 2019.

    Please make sure to check your email! Email is our main method of communication.

    If you have questions, just email us at volunteers@sundance.org or call us at (435) 776-7870.

  • Application Process

    I'd like to apply. Will you consider my resume?

    No. Volunteers will only be considered if they have submitted a full volunteer application online.

    I don't have lodging in Park City. What are my options?

    It is incredibly important to know that we won't review your application unless you have secured your lodging. We depend on our volunteers and we cannot place you in a role unless we know you have a roof over your head. This helps us ensure that you won't cancel on us!
    If you are a new volunteer and aren't sure how to start searching for lodging, visit our official lodging page for early deals, or reach out to other volunteers for tip.

    What dates should I book my lodging?

    If you are applying for a ...

    • full-time position, plan to be here January 21–February 3 to be eligible for most volunteer positions
    • half-Fest week one position, plan to be here January 22–29
    • half-Fest week two position, plan to be here January 29–February 3
    • sign-up position, plan to be here any four to five consecutive days of the Festival. The second half of the Festival always has more volunteer positions available.

    I've heard you have lodging for volunteers. Is that true?

    We do have a very limited amount of Festival-provided lodging available to qualified full-time volunteers only. That said, 99 percent of this housing is given to our returning full-time alumni volunteers. If you are applying without secured lodging, please keep in mind we likely won't even see your application. We prioritize alumni volunteers and new applicants with secured lodging. We'd hate for you to miss out because of this!

    Volunteers that live in Utah are typically ineligible for lodging. Some considerations may be made for volunteers living 150 or more miles away.

    What if I'm from a land far, far away?

    We welcome a diverse group of volunteers from around the globe. You will be considered in the application process just as any other volunteer and notified within the same timeframe. The details of your passport and travel will be entirely your responsibility. We are unable to sponsor visas at this time.

    I've volunteered before for the Sundance Film Festival. What do I do to apply for this year?

    If you've volunteered in the past, we consider you an alumni volunteer. Please see the Alumni Volunteer section for more information.

    When will I hear about my application?

    We begin processing applications in October and continue through the end of December. Applications are not reviewed based on submission date. We fill volunteer positions starting with qualified alumni volunteers, then new volunteers. Some positions are filled later than others, depending on when the department manager starts.

    We understand your need to make travel plans and we'll get you assigned as quickly as we can! We work diligently to confirm you before mid-December. We greatly appreciate your patience as we sort through the applications.

    What if I’m also attending as press or another role within the film industry? Can I have both credentials?

    No. Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to have an industry-related pass if you're volunteering. This includes passes for other industry-related events at the Festival, official and unofficial.

    If you wish to attend in an industry role that requires an application for a credential, you will have to choose one or the other.

    That said, if you want to purchase a pass available to the public along with your volunteering, you are welcome to do so.

    Hours and Volunteer Benefits

    If I am a local volunteer, can I volunteer all of my required hours before the Festival?

    We love all of the help our local volunteers contribute before the Festival. However, all volunteers are required to volunteer their minimum hours during the 10 days of the Festival. The Festival is when we need you the most!

    How do I use my credential to get into screenings?

    A volunteer photo credential (for full-time volunteers) provides entry to Festival screenings and panels via the volunteer ticket line or the general patron waitlist line as space permits.

    Volunteer vouchers, presented with a volunteer non-photo credential and matching ID, are redeemable for tickets to Festival screenings and panels as space permits. One volunteer voucher is provided for every four hours worked.

    A limited number of screening tickets are held at certain theaters for staff and volunteers and are made available an hour prior to the screening time through the staff and volunteer ticket line. If those tickets have all been distributed, you may join the general waitlist and use your credential and voucher for admittance. Waitlist patrons are admitted to the theater as space permits 15 minutes before the screening begins.

    Staff and volunteers will be admitted to the staff- and volunteer-only screenings as space permits—no vouchers required. (Credential or photo ID is required for admittance.)

    Will I be able to change my shift times? What if I can't drive when it's snowing?

    Full-time volunteers and half-Fest volunteers agree to be available as assigned by the Festival. Sign-up volunteers are able to sign up for available shifts in advance of the Festival. From there, in the mind of the Volunteer Department, you are committed to fulfilling your shifts. There are systems in place, however, to change your shift times, which will be detailed at the volunteer orientation and in the volunteer training. When committing to shifts, you should also be sure to take into account travel times and your ability to travel in inclement weather. The Sundance Film Festival is in January—it's likely there will be some snowy days. As always, change and flexibility are large components of a successful Festival, so we are happy to work with you as situations arise—just contact us ahead of time.

    What if I change my mind?/What if I can't make it to the Festival after all?

    Once accepted, volunteers will sign an agreement committing to the volunteer position they have been offered. If you are signing and committing to the volunteer agreement, you should have no reason that you know of that you cannot volunteer. The deadline for final cancellations is listed in your agreement. We have a cancellation deadline to give us enough time to fill the position again. Volunteers who cancel after the deadline will jeopardize their ability to volunteer with Sundance Institute in the future. Of course, in very extreme circumstances we may make an exception. In such extreme cases, please contact the Volunteer Department as soon as possible to discuss your situation with a staff member.

    At the Festival

    Can I take a friend to screenings?

    The easy answer is to have your friend volunteer! If that won't work, you can exchange your volunteer vouchers for guest vouchers (only applicable for sign-up volunteers with 32+ hours). Guest vouchers can be used in the general waitlist line in exchange for tickets. Guest vouchers cannot be used in the volunteer/staff ticket line, but volunteers can use their volunteer voucher in the general waitlist line alongside their guest.

    If a volunteer uses their volunteer voucher in the general waitlist line, this will not count towards the allotted seats held for the volunteer/staff line. Those on the waitlist will be admitted if space allows after all ticket holders are seated.

    How do I get into parties?

    Volunteers receive an invitation to the Staff and Volunteer Party and the Volunteer Appreciation Party during the Festival. Volunteers are encouraged to attend, but capacity is limited. Anyone attending an official party must have their credential for admittance.

    How do I get into the Music Café?

    Your volunteer credential allows you access to most of the non-theater venues as space permits. This includes the Music Café, nonticketed New Frontier venues, and Filmmaker Lodge. You may be asked to observe the "family holdback" rule for high-profile performances or panels, waiting until 15 minutes prior to the start of the event before being admitted. In these cases, staff and volunteers may not be admitted if the event is full.

    What about food?

    Full-time volunteers receive a set number of Grub Stubs, which can be exchanged for a predetermined meal at participating locations. We also offer light snacks throughout the day at the Volunteer Hub located at Festival Headquarters. Officially, though, meals are not provided by the Festival, so please plan accordingly.

    How do I get to Festival Headquarters in Park City from the Salt Lake City Airport?

    If you are driving or taking a shuttle, you can look at official Sundance options here: Getting Around.

    The SLC airport also lists transportation resources (not affiliated with Sundance Institute) here.

    We suggest teaming up with other volunteers though, as arranging transportation independently can end up being much less expensive if you are able to find a private ride service or go in on carpooling options.

    What time should I arrive on my scheduled arrival date?

    It is important to clearly understand your start date as a full-time volunteer—this is the date you will want to plan to arrive in Park City. Arrive in Park City no later than 4:00 p.m. (we recommend 3:00 p.m.). This means you should be walking out of the SLC Airport no later than 1:30 p.m. to allow travel time up the canyon. Check-in hours vary, so be sure to check your email for a list of dates and times. If your lodging will be provided by the Festival, you will not be able to check in until after 4:00 p.m. If you arrive before then, please plan on hanging out (or attending training) for a few hours until lodging keys can be distributed.

    How do I get in touch with the Volunteer Department?

    We invite you to contact us if you have questions that are not addressed in this FAQ.

    Email: volunteers@sundance.org
    Volunteer Hotline: (435) 776-7870
    General Sundance Institute Inquiries: (435) 658-3456
    Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (MST)


Volunteer with Sundance Institute

We look for volunteers throughout the year to help our programs run smoothly—like our artist labs, which help independent directors, screenwriters, producers, composers, theatre makers, and virtual reality and new media creators bring their stories to life. And we can always use some extra assistance at our international festivals in London and Hong Kong, and in our offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City. Select a program to learn more about available opportunities and how to apply.

  • The Institute’s labs take place throughout the year at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah. Volunteers play a fundamental role in the labs during the summer months.

    While working for the labs requires a significant time commitment, it is a rare opportunity to witness the creative process and to experience a range of Institute programs. Volunteers work six days a week with rotating days off during the month. Length of work days varies. During setup, teardown, and heavy arrival and departure days, staff work an average of 14 hours per day. There are two halves to our summer labs and, based on availability, you can apply either for one half or the whole summer. Volunteers receive air travel, ground transportation to and from the Salt Lake City airport, lodging, and meals.

    All volunteers are required to live on the mountain for the duration of the labs. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and hold a valid U.S. driver’s license.

    Volunteer positions assist our lab operations team to provide a welcoming experience for our artists. These positions are several weeks long and may span over several different labs. Operations positions include:

    • Driver
    • Ground Transportation Supervisor
    • Meals and Events
    • Administration/General Support

    For our Directors Lab and Theatre Lab, we also look for qualified production assistant volunteers. Volunteers must have direct experience in this field with production equipment in order to apply.

    For more information specific to the 2019 lab season, please email volunteers@sundance.org.

    How to Apply:

    The volunteer application for the 2019 summer labs is now closed. Please check back in December for more information. All volunteers must complete the application and submit a cover letter and resume to volunteers@sundance.org.

  • Sundance Film Festival: London

    The volunteer application for the Sundance Film Festival: London is now closed. If you are interested in volunteering in 2020, please contact volunteers@sundance.org in early March 2020 for more information.

    Volunteers for the London festival do not receive travel reimbursement or lodging.

    Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong

    For information regarding our festival in Hong Kong, please contact volunteers@sundance.org.

  • Beyond our Festivals, Sundance Institute has screenings, events, and programs that rely on the help of volunteers to make them happen. These opportunities are part of our year-round volunteer program and involve one-day events and projects. These opportunities are based out of our offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City, and typically last between four and six hours. These opportunities often occur throughout the year but are more common in the months leading up to the Festival.

    • Summer Film Series in Utah
    • In-office administrative help in Park City and Los Angeles
    • Theatre Program Events in New York
    • New Frontier Program Events in Los Angeles
    • And more!

    If you are interested, reach out to volunteers@sundance.org.

  • In addition to our Festivals and labs, we also hold screenings and sessions across the country. Volunteers are needed to assist in providing these experiences to the public. Some cities we typically visit are:

    • Akron, OH
    • Albuquerque, NM
    • Charlotte, NC
    • Detroit, MI
    • Macon, GA
    • Miami, FL
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • St. Paul, MN

    To join our email list to learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities in your area, please email us at volunteers@sundance.org.

  • The Institute provides internships in our Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City offices. All available internship opportunities are posted on our job board. For more information, please email us at volunteers@sundance.org.

Contact Us

If you have questions that are not addressed above, please call us at (435) 776-7870 Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. MT, or email us at volunteers@sundance.org.