2021 Development Track
We accept all application materials electronically ONLY. You will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of your application before officially submitting.
You must sign in or create an account to access the electronic application. When creating your account, please enter the name of the primary applicant (screenwriter) as the account owner.
The development track has one open application that allows your fiction feature work-in-progress screenplay to be considered for the following programs, fellowships, and grants:
- Screenwriters Lab (held annually in January)
- Screenwriters Intensive (held annually in March)
- FilmTwo Intensive (held annually in March)
- Sundance Institute/Asian American Fellowship
- Sundance Institute Feature Film Program Latinx Fellowship
- Sundance Institute | Comedy Central Comedy Fellowship
- Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and Commissioning Grant
Our application includes questions to determine your eligibility for each program and fellowship, and you will automatically be considered for all programs and fellowships for which you are eligible. (There is no open application for the Directors Lab, which is typically populated by projects that have been supported through a previous development program.) For more information about each program and fellowship, please visit our website.
What you need to complete online IN ORDER by June 11, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. PT:
CONTACT INFO for the primary applicant and up to two additional members of the creative team. Please note that only the writer(s) and director(s) will attend the Screenwriters Lab.
ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONS—a series of questions about you and your project that will determine your eligibility for all of the development track programs and fellowships.
SLOAN FELLOWSHIP AND GRANT QUESTIONS (Sloan applicants only)—if your project is eligible for the Sloan Fellowship and/or Commissioning Grant, you must complete follow up questions regarding the scientific or technological content of the material. If your project does not contain scientific or technological content, please do not answer these questions—they are optional.
BIOS (150 words max each) for the primary applicant, co-applicant if applicable, and additional creative team member if applicable.
COVER LETTER (500 words max) introducing yourself and your project. There are no strict requirements for this letter, but we’d like to get a brief idea of who you are, what your script is about, where you are in the creative process, and how you think the lab process could be helpful to you.
ARTISTIC STATEMENT (500 words max) describing your creative vision for the project. What is your personal connection to the material? What themes are you most interested in exploring in your work, and what do you want an audience to take away from your film? How do you envision the realization of this script in terms of story, character, tone, and/or visual style? Is there a budget level you have in mind? Who do you see as the audience for this film? Why are you passionate about telling this story now? If this is a resubmission of material we’ve previously considered, how has the material changed since we last read it?
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY/RIGHTS—only required if your project is based on true events or characters.
LOGLINE (75 words max)—a one to two-sentence description of your story.
SYNOPSIS (750 words max)—brief summary of the plot of your script. Please include all major characters and story points, including the ending.
FIRST 5 PAGES OF YOUR SCREENPLAY OR TREATMENT—You may submit a treatment for the Sloan Commissioning Grant ONLY. If a treatment is submitted and it is not eligible for the Sloan Commissioning Grant, the project will not be considered for any other development track programs or fellowships. Do not upload more than the first five pages.
APPLICATION FEE OF $40—You should not pay the submission fee until you have completed all other application tasks and are ready to submit your application.
Applicants will be notified on a rolling basis as to whether their application has progressed to the next stage of the selection process. Please be prepared to submit the following materials, should you advance to the second round. You will be given approximately 10 days from the date of notification to submit these materials, and will be notified sometime in August 2020.
- UPDATED SYNOPSIS—Since screenplays are often revised between the first and second rounds of our application, we request you submit an updated synopsis with the complete draft of your screenplay.
- FULL SCREENPLAY OR TREATMENT—Upload a PDF file of the most current draft of your screenplay or treatment. You may submit a treatment for the Sloan Commissioning Grant ONLY. If a treatment is submitted and it is not eligible for the Sloan Commissioning Grant, the project will not be considered for any other development track programs or fellowships.
- DIRECTING SAMPLE (optional)—If you are a writer/director or if a director is attached to the project, you will have an opportunity to submit a link to a directing sample or samples. Please include the title and run time for any sample submitted.
- VISUAL MATERIAL (optional)—If you have visual materials such as a lookbook or project deck, you may upload a PDF of no more than 40 MB - we need guidance as to size limit/SMA capacity.
All applicants will be notified about their status via email no later than August 31, 2020. Due to the high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately unable to provide feedback about individual projects. If you have additional questions, please visit the Development Track FAQ.
If you have further questions, please email email@example.com.
In light of recent events, we have decided to extend the original deadline of the 2021 Development Track from June 4 to June 11.
Development Track Selection Process Timeline
May 4, 2020 Application Available Online
June 11, 2020 Application Closes (6:00 p.m. PT)
August 31, 2020 Second-round notifications complete
December 15, 2020 Final selection notifications complete
In return for participation in a Screenwriters Lab, fellows are obligated to sign an agreement stipulating that (a) they will make a contribution to Sundance Institute of 0.25% of their film's final budget in excess of $1,000,000 (the "Budget Participation"), (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. If a Screenwriters Lab project later participates in a Directors Lab, Creative Producers Lab, and/or receives Sundance Institute–affiliated grant exceeding $10,000, the budget participation may increase to 0.5 or 0.75%. 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.
Participation in all other development track programs and fellowships also obligates fellows to include a Sundance Institute credit line and logo placement in the film’s end titles, but does not require a financial contribution back to Sundance.