New Frontier Lab

Apply and Attend

  • Application Public submissions for the 2020 New Frontier Story Lab are now open. Apply Here.
    Dates May 14-19, 2020
    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 a point or points of entry via one or more creative disciplines (broadly defined, e.g., film, gaming, theater, music, visual arts, creative coding/robotics, literature, design and web/mobile native arts). The project should make a case for how it is innovating on the art and form of story by using new/emerging technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story.
    • The project innovates story design by using new/emerging technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story.
    • 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. Apply Here.
  • Application Invitation Only. Fellows are selected from New Frontier alumni pool.
    Dates Varies
    Size of Lab Varies
    Location Varies
    Eligibility New Frontier alumni artists

    Since 2007, 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 The New Frontier Public Sessions and Artist Intensives are designed to share this learning gained through the New Frontier programs with creative communities, to inspire participants to expand their creative practices or innovate within their organizations, and to further their contribution to the evolution of story.
    • 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 Public Session Our last Public Session was in Detroit, MI October 2018. The next New Frontier Public Session is scheduled for September 2019 in St. Paul, MN, lunch provided and FREE thanks to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Please keep an eye out here in August 2019 for further details.
  • 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 for the 2020 New Frontier Story Lab is now open, and will close October 1, 2019. Apply Here.

    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 information about your timeline, storyworld architecture, user experience/user interface, and visual material 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 online 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 April 1, 2020, 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. *NOTE: dates subject to variation

    Here is the timeline for application review:

    • August 8, 2019 - Application opens
    • October 1, 2019 - Deadline for application submission
    • November 20, 2019 - Round Two Notifications
    • November 22, 2019 - Round Two Additional Materials Submissions Deadline
    • March 4, 2020 - Round Three Notifications
    • March 2-12, 2020 - Round Three Interviews
    • April 1, 2020 - Final Status Notifications
    • May 14-19, 2020 - LAB WEEK

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

    Other FAQs

    1. What stage of project development is most conducive to success in the Lab environment? An eligible project is a story-centered 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.
    2. What happens at the Lab? New Frontier invites six story-centered 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.
      • Please note that while technical elements are certainly discussed as part of the story design, the Lab will not focus on active prototyping or technical production while onsite in May.
    3. How many projects are selected? We invite a total of six story-centered projects to participate in the lab. Broadly defined, we accept 3 narrative and 3 documentary projects. We do consider hybrid narrative/documentary projects.
    4. How many collaborators from each project can attend the Lab? A maximum of two members from each selected project may attend the lab.
    5. Do participants pay for travel and accommodation? Air travel, ground transportation, accommodations, and meals are all covered by Sundance Institute.
    6. What happens after the Lab? After the New Frontier Story Lab, Fellows will participate in a strategic planning consultation to outline a roadmap for successfully completing their projects. Then, Fellows will have strategic check-in sessions as needed and semi-annually with New Frontier staff and advisors until they close their projects. 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 direct audience component for expanding the boundaries of immersive experience. See more detail under “continuum of support.”
    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 story-centered 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. Projects without a narrative or story (broadly defined) are not appropriate. It should provide an entry point from one or more creative disciplines (i.e. film, gaming, theater, music, visual arts, creative coding, biotech, connected objects, AI, robotics, 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/emerging technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story. 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 1, 2019, at the latest. Final Lab decisions will be made by April 1, 2020.
    20. Are fee waivers available? While we understand artists generally keep an eye on their budgets, 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.

Continuum of Support

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. In an increasingly complex emerging media landscape, we recognize the need for sustained support for artists through every phase of the making process. In keeping with the Institute's commitment to provide long-term assistance to our alumni following participation in a Lab program, New Frontier Lab Programs provide access to a customized suite of support designed to help artists 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, Fellows receive customized, year-round support with a focus on story development, design and technical innovation. This includes: ongoing creative and strategic advice from Sundance staff and advisors; targeted introductions to creative technologists, writers, production companies, funders, distributors, and executives; inclusion in the Sundance Institute alumni community; invitations to Sundance-hosted events throughout the year; and ongoing mentorship with emerging media artists and professionals. 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 direct audience component for expanding the boundaries of immersive experience.

New Frontier at Sundance Film Festival

Since 2007, the New Frontier exhibition at the Sundance Film Festival has provided the highest level of curation in the emerging field, incorporating fiction, non-fiction and hybrid projects to showcase emerging media storytelling, multi-media installations, performances and films. For Festival submissions click here, for the New Frontier Festival program click here, and for Festival venue and attendance information click here.

Support for New Frontier

The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Lyn and Norman Lear, Time Warner Foundation, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Turner, 21st Century Fox, Comcast Ventures, Unity Technologies, Dell, The Fledgling Fund, ThoughtWorks, Vimeo, and swissnex San Francisco.

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