Creative Producing Program


Labs & Fellowships

The heart of the Creative Producing Program is its labs, which identify and nurture emerging independent producers. There are two different lab tracks, depending on if your focus is in feature film (fiction) or documentary film (nonfiction).

  • Application The application for the 2021 Feature Film Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship is currently open and accepting submissions until February 18, 2020 at 6:00pm Pacific Time. Click here to apply.
    Dates

    Lab: July 26 - 29, 2021
    Summit: July 30 - August 1, 2021

    Size of Fellowship Five projects
    Location TBD
    Eligibility
    • Candidates must have produced at least one short or feature-length fiction or nonfiction film, but no more than two fiction features total as lead creative producer. This does not include co-, associate, or executive producer credits.
    • Candidates must have a completed, scripted, fiction feature project in hand with a director attached to the project.
    • Candidates must have the legal right (by way of ownership or option or attachment agreement) to produce the script.
    • Candidates may not be the writer or director of the submitted project.
    • Candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally.
    Description The year-long program is designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab and Creative Producing Summit, a grant to support the producer and the project, year-round mentorship from a dedicated industry mentor, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute staff. The program is designed to hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project.
    Giving Back Should you be selected to participate in the Creative Producing Fellowship, you will be asked to continue the spirit of giving back. Since securing funding for the Institute's programs is a consistent challenge, we request that lab alumni whose projects are produced contribute to the Institute's work to support new generations of emerging filmmakers.

    Projects supported by the Creative Producing Fellowship agree to sign an agreement stipulating that (a) they will make a contribution to Sundance Institute of 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). (This number may increase to 0.5 or 0.75% through the project's participation in the Screenwriters Lab, Directors Lab and/or Institute-affiliated grant support exceeding $10,000), (b) Sundance Institute will receive 1% of 100% of the film’s net receipts, and (c) Sundance Institute will receive a credit line and logo placement in the film’s end titles,“This film was supported by the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program 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.
  • What you need to provide in order to apply:

    CONTACT INFO We will use the email address you provide to correspond with you moving forward. Please make sure producers@sundance.org is cleared in your spam filter!

    LOGLINE (75 word maximum)

    SYNOPSIS (750 word maximum)

    DIRECTOR’S ARTISTIC STATEMENT The director’s creative intent for the film, which can include the genesis of the story, personal connection to the material, particular themes of interest, and visual style. This must be written by the director of your project. (500-word maximum)

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (OPTIONAL) Add any additional information such as status of the project, attachments, or additional attached producers who are not applying for the fellowship and their role on the project. (500-word maximum)

    BIOS Include these for the applying producer(s), screenwriter(s), and director(s). Please specifically list all notable credits, accolades, education, and experience. (300-word maximum each)

    ESSAY QUESTIONSYou will be asked to answer a series of seven essay questions that will allow us to better understand your point of view as a producer and also why you want to make the project you are applying with. Click here to view sample essay questions. (500-word maximum each)

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

    APPLICATION FEE $40 (credit card only)

    NO SCRIPTS OR ADDITIONAL MATERIALS ARE ACCEPTED AT THIS STAGE.

    • 1. How do I apply?

      The application for the 2021 Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship can be accessed at apply.sundance.org from November 18, 2020 to February 18, 2021.
    • 2. What do I need to apply?

      1. CONTACT INFO We will use the email address you provide to correspond with you moving forward. Please make sure producers@sundance.org is cleared in your spam filter!
      2. LOGLINE (75 word maximum)
      3. SYNOPSIS (750 word maximum)
      4. DIRECTOR’S ARTISTIC STATEMENT The director’s creative intent for the film, which can include the genesis of the story, personal connection to the material, particular themes of interest, and visual style. This must be written by the director of your project. (500-word maximum)
      5. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (OPTIONAL) Any additional information such as status of the project, attachments, or additional attached producers who are not applying for the fellowship and their role on the project. (500-word maximum)
      6. BIOS Include these for the applying producer(s), screenwriter(s), and director(s). Please specifically list all notable credits, accolades, education, and experience. (300-word maximum each)
      7. ESSAY QUESTIONS You will be asked to answer a series of seven essay questions that will allow us to better understand your point of view as a producer and also why you want to make the project you are applying with. Please click here for essay questions. (500-word maximum each)
      8. LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION Your recommender should be someone familiar with your prior creative work, such as a filmmaking colleague or professor, but does not necessarily need to be familiar with your submitted project. The recommender should not be attached to the project in any position. For example, the recommender cannot be the writer, director, co-producer, or cinematographer. You will be asked to upload a PDF of the letter of recommendation, and your letter must be uploaded by the deadline along with the rest of your application. If you are applying as a team, you can submit one joint letter or separate letters.
      9. APPLICATION FEE of $40 (credit card only)
      10. NO SCRIPTS OR ADDITIONAL MATERIALS ARE ACCEPTED AT THIS STAGE.
    • 3. Do you accept international submissions?

      Eligible candidates must live in the United States, although the project may be filmed internationally.
    • 4. Do you accept short films?

      No, only feature-length projects are eligible.
    • 5. Can I submit a nonfiction project?

      There is a separate Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship with a separate application process. More information can be found about support for nonfiction projects on the Documentary Film Program page.
    • 6. If selected, when do I have to be available to participate, and do I have to be there the entire time?

      If your project is selected, you are required to attend the lab and summit for the entire duration of both. Sundance Institute covers domestic airfare and lodging. If you have a scheduling conflict, we encourage you to apply in a future cycle when you are available.
    • 7. What are the dates I must be available to participate in this fellowship?

      The dates for the 2021 Creative Producing Lab are July 26–29, 2021 and the 2021 Creative Producing Summit are July 30 - August 1, 2021.
    • 8. Can I re-apply with the same project as last year?

      Yes, although we encourage you to re-apply with the same project only if you have made significant revisions to the script and/or elements attached. In your application, please explain what changes have taken place in the script and the project since last submitted.
    • 9. Can I still apply if I don’t have a director attached?

      No, we can only consider candidates with projects that have a director attached. Candidates may not be involved as a writer or director of the submitted project.
    • 10. I work with another producer; can we both apply with the same project?

      Yes, teams of up to two producers may apply together with one project. If there are additional producers, they must also be disclosed on the application but would not participate in the fellowship if selected.
    • 11. Can I submit multiple projects?

      You may submit up to three projects, but we encourage you to choose two projects that are 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.
    • 12. Do I need to have the rights to the script or underlying material in order to apply?

      In order to apply, you will need the approval of your director and writer acknowledging the submission of your project for consideration to the fellowship. In the event you are selected for the fellowship, you will need to provide a copy of your attachment, option, or rights agreement for the script and for any underlying material.
    • 13. Do I submit a script or other materials with my application?

      No, you should not submit your script at this time. Starting March 8, 2021, we will begin requesting additional materials, which include a full script, a directing sample, and a producing sample for applicants invited to the second round. All applicants will receive a notification via email if they are being invited to the second round no later than March 25, 2021.
    • 14. Do I need to submit a budget with my application?

      No, you do not need to submit a budget with your application. However, you will need to provide the overall budget number (e.g., $1.2 million).
    • 15. Can my project go into production before attending the lab?

      Unfortunately, no. We consider the timing of your lab and fellowship to be a crucial component for selection. The lab is designed, in part, to focus on your creative input on the fellowship project and communication with your director and screenwriter. If your film is already in production or has already been shot, the impact and relevance of your lab experience is lessened.
    • 16. Who should I have write my letter of recommendation?

      Ideally, your recommender should be working in the film industry (e.g., producer, director, executive, film professor) and be familiar with your past work. They do not need to be familiar with the project you are submitting. If you do not have prior film work or relationships, your recommender should be able to address your past creative endeavors.
    • 17. Where do I send my letter of recommendation?

      You will need to upload your letter of recommendation into your online application in PDF or Word form. Recommendation letters must be included at the time of application and cannot be uploaded after submission.
    • 18. How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?

      All applicants will be notified via email. You will hear from us, whether accepted or not, via e-mail no later than June 15, 2021.
    • 19. I haven’t received my notification yet, but all my friends have! What’s wrong?

      We deliver our notifications on a rolling basis, so please don’t panic. All applicants will receive a response via email no later than June 15, 2021.
    • 20. Does it matter if I’ve participated in other non–Sundance Institute labs?

      Not at all. We encourage filmmakers to utilize all of the resources available to them in furthering their work and their artistic development.
    • 21. Can I receive feedback on my submission?

      Due to the high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately not able to provide individualized feedback.
    • 22. Does Sundance Institute pay for my travel to Utah?

      Sundance Institute does provide air travel within the U.S., lodging, and meals at the Lab and Summit for all selected fellows.

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

  • Application

    The application for the 2021 Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship is currently open and accepting applications until February 18, 2020 at 3pm Pacific Time.

    Apply here

    Dates

    Lab: July 26–29, 2021
    Summit: July 30-August 1, 2021

    Size of Fellowship Five Producers
    Location TBD
    Eligibility
    • Candidates are required to have produced or co-produced at least one documentary short (experience as an executive producer only does not qualify). Candidates must be lead producer on the project they are applying with.
    • Candidates may not be the director of the submitted project.
    • Candidates must be in production / post-production on the project.
    • Candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally.
    • Candidates must be available for the entirety of the lab and Summit.
    Costs There is no cost to participate in this lab.
    Description and Format The Documentary Film Program’s Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship is a yearlong program designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab, and Creative Producing Summit attendance, year-round mentorship from industry mentors, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute staff. A $10,000 grant is also provided for costs of living and unsupported costs of project development for the fellow. The program is designed to hone emerging producers' creative instincts and evolve their communication and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project.
    Deliverables Fellows are required to acknowledge Sundance Institute and the Creative Producing Initiative support partners, to provide reporting at the close of the fellowship year, and to participate in possible blogs, interviews, and panels. Fellows should be willing to give back to the Sundance Institute creative community through willingness to coach, advise, or mentor future fellows from Sundance Institute. Accepted fellows also must provide a current producer’s agreement or memo of understanding for the project they have applied with.

    NOTE: Only one application should be submitted per project. We will consider only the lead producer on the submitted project. If there are additional producers, they must also be disclosed on the application. Additional producers are welcome to select events but do not receive the full benefits of Lab participation.

    To be eligible to apply, you may not have any role on the project other than producer or co-producer.

  • What you need to provide in order to apply:

    CONTACT INFO We will use the email address you provide to correspond with you moving forward. Please make sure documentarycpi@sundance.org is cleared in your spam filter!

    LOGLINE (75-word maximum)

    SYNOPSIS (750-word maximum)

    PROJECT SPECIFIC QUESTIONS How and why did you originate or become attached to this project? If you did not originate the project please also tell us at what point in the project’s development. If there are other producers on the project, what is your division of labor?

    How are you authentically positioned to tell this particular story?

    Sundance believes that producers are full creative partners with directors. Describe your creative vision for the finished project, including its look and feel. Explain your intended use of cinematic language or the specific creative approach that informs the storytelling. What are the current challenges to executing the creative vision for the film.

    Describe the audience you would like your film to reach and why? How does your team define success in terms of audience engagement?

    PROJECT STATUS Outline the projected production timeline from the project’s current state to the anticipated completion date. Your timeline should detail major project milestones, anticipated production and/or post-production schedule. Please share how you are managing COVID-restrictions and implementing safety protocols for crew and participants. If you have applied with this project previously, please share how it has progressed. (800-word maximum)

    BIOS Include these for the applying producer(s), editor(s), and director(s). Please specifically list all notable credits, accolades, education, and experience. (300-word maximum each)

    FUNDRAISING STRATEGY/FUNDING TO DATE Funding secured, funding sources and respective amounts, pending sources

    BUDGET Please provide a comprehensive line-item-expense budget breaking down your project’s anticipated expenses, from development through release, in U.S. dollars, including a budget total. Provide budget notes for any areas that may be viewed as out of the ordinary or which require further explanation. You may view a sample budget by clicking here (pdf, excel). This sample budget is provided as a reference tool only, you may use your own format.

    ESSAY QUESTIONS You will be asked to answer a series of seven essay questions that will allow us to better understand your point of view as a producer and also why you want to make the project you are applying with. (500-word maximum each)

    • 1. How do I apply?

      The application for the 2021 Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship will open November 18, 2020 at 1pm Pacific.
    • 2. What do I need to apply?

      Eligible candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed outside of the country. Candidates are required to have produced or co-produced at least one documentary short (experience as an executive producer only does not qualify). Candidates must be lead producer on the project they are applying with.
    • 3. Do you accept short films?

      No, only feature-length projects are eligible.
    • 4. If selected, when do I have to be available to participate? And do I have to be there the entire time?

      If your project is selected, you are required to attend the Creative Producing Lab (July 26–29, 2021) and the Creative Producing Summit (July 30-August 1, 2021) . Sundance Institute covers airfare, ground transportation, and lodging at each event (however, note that the 2020 lab maybe hosted digitally). If you have a scheduling conflict, we encourage you to apply in a future cycle when you are available.
    • 5. Can I still apply if I don’t have a director attached?

      No, we can only consider candidates with projects that have a director attached. Fellowship candidates may not be the director of the submitted project.
    • 6. I work with another producer; can we both apply with the same project?

      We will consider only the lead producer on the submitted project. If there are additional producers, they must also be disclosed on the application. Additional producers are welcome to select events but do not receive the full benefits of lab participation.
    • 7. Do I need to submit a budget with my application?

      Yes, you will need to submit a line-item budget with your application. We ask that you break down all expenses from development through release in U.S. dollars, including a grand budget total. You may view a sample budget on the Documentary Film Program’s webpage in PDF or Excel format. This sample budget is provided as a reference tool only; you may use your own format.
    • 8. What is the ideal stage of production to be in to benefit the most from the lab?

      For a project to benefit the most from lab and fellowship opportunities, you must be solidly in development with your characters, have access secured, and have enough shooting to have a sense of film structure and dramatic potential. Candidates in production or post-production are best positioned to take advantage of the lab and fellowship. We consider the timing of the lab and fellowship to be a crucial component of selection. The lab is designed, in part, to focus on your creative input and communication with your director and other collaborators on your project.
    • 9. If I am accepted into the lab, does this mean my project has a better chance of receiving funding from the Sundance Documentary Fund? Conversely, if I am not accepted to the lab, will this impact future grant applications to the Sundance Documentary Fund?

      The Sundance Documentary Fund application is separate from the Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship application, and applying to either one does not affect your chances for the other.
    • 10. How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?

      All applicants will be notified via email. You will hear from us whether accepted or not no later than late June.
    • 11. I haven’t received my notification yet, but all my friends have! What’s wrong?

      We deliver our notifications on a rolling basis, so please don’t panic. All applicants will receive a response via email no later than late June.
    • 12. Does it matter if I’ve participated in other non–Sundance Institute labs?

      Not at all. We encourage filmmakers to utilize all of the resources available to them in furthering their work and their artistic development.
    • 13. Can I receive feedback on my submission?

      Due to the high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately not able to provide individualized feedback.
    • 14. Does Sundance Institute pay for my travel to Utah?

      Sundance Institute does provide air travel, lodging, and meals at the lab, as well as air travel and lodging at the Festival. (However, note that the 2020 lab will be hosted digitally.).

    Still don’t see your question answered here? Email documentarycpi@sundance.org with further questions, and put “2021 Creative Producing Fellowship” in the subject line.



Awards and Grants

Feature Film Creative Producing fellows receive a grant of $5,000 per participating project with $2,500 to spend toward a living stipend and $2,500 to spend toward pre-production.

Documentary Film Creative Producing fellows receive a grant of $10,000. Grants can be applied to personal expenses or unsupported costs of project development.

  • The Sundance Institute Producers Awards are $10,000 grants awarded to producers with films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in both fiction and nonfiction categories.The awards are presented annually during the festival at the Producers Brunch.

    The 2020 Narrative Producers Award went to Huriyyah Muhammnad (Farewell Amor), and the 2020 Documentary Producers Award went to Diane Becker and Melanie Miller(Whirlybird).

    Another highlight of the Producers Brunch is the keynote speech given by a prominent member of the producing community. In 2020, the keynote was delivered by producer Effie Brown (Dear White People, Real Women Have Curves, and But I’m a Cheerleader) ). To read the keynote address,

  • 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 to an emerging producer or producing team selected for the Creative Producing Fellowship. The 2020 Mark Silverman honoree is Elizabeth Charles(Neon Tilapia).


Advice for Applicants

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


Support for the Creative Producing Program

The Sundance Institute Creative Producing Program is supported by an endowment from the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation, with generous additional support from Amazon Studios, Cinereach, National Endowment for the Arts, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and SAGindie.