2022 Documentary Edit and Story Lab
Application Dates: Nov 30, 2021–Jan 18, 2022
Lab Dates: June 17–25, 2022
Location: Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah
Size of Lab: Four projects (director-editor teams)
The application for the Documentary Edit and Story Lab is open to filmmaking teams based in the U.S. International applicants are considered by invitation only. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The Documentary Edit and Story Lab supports filmmakers with nonfiction feature films in post-production. Lab fellows advance their projects through rigorous creative exploration and discussion of story structure and character development with world-class advisors. Filmmaking teams work closely with director and editor advisors and staff in a dynamic and supportive environment; after the lab, they receive ongoing creative and strategic support.
The Documentary Edit and Story Lab is rooted in the belief that nonfiction editing is an art, not just a technical craft, and that the director-editor relationship is a core tenet of nonfiction storytelling. By inviting a team of experienced editors who articulate the nuances, challenges, and dynamic nature of this essential relationship in nonfiction storytelling, the Edit and Story Lab aims to foster a creative community with a distinct focus on craft.
The lab is an eight-day residential retreat held annually in late June at the Sundance Mountain Resort near Provo, Utah. Director-editor teams attend the lab together and have access to all of their media on site at the lab. Over the course of eight days, fellows screen their rough cuts for the group and meet regularly with creative advisors and staff in small groups. Throughout the week, creative advisors also give presentations on the art and craft of editing and directing nonfiction features.
Past fellows include Jennifer Brea (Unrest), Garrett Bradley (Time), Loira Limbal (Through the Night), Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra (The Infiltrators), and Petra Costa (The Edge of Democracy).
Previous Documentary Edit and Story Lab advisors include editors Kate Amend (Into the Arms of Strangers, The Keepers), Andrea Chignoli (Cielo, No) and directors Laura Poitras (Risk), Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), Robb Moss (The Same River Twice, Containment), and Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths, The Great Invisible).
The lab is open to feature nonfiction projects in mid- to late post-production (from assembly through rough cut). There is no restriction of genre or storytelling style — we are looking for projects with a bold, contemporary vision made by courageous storytellers. U.S.-based first-time feature directors as well as mid-career artists are encouraged to apply.
To take best advantage of the lab, teams should be at a place in their edit at which creative exploration with trusted advisors will advance their project and bring a greater clarity of vision. Ideal candidates are directors and editors who are eager to engage in a collaborative, exploratory environment, and are receptive to feedback and experimentation. Projects that are far along in the edit, or for whom creative input and exploration would be detrimental to the creative process, are not ideal candidates. Ideally, projects should have an editor attached at the time of application and should attend the lab as a director-editor team. (Projects for which the director is also the editor will also be considered.)
All attendees must be fully vaccinated and provide physical or digital proof of vaccination upon arrival. Attendees who are unable to provide this document will be turned away from the event without exception.
Selection Process and Work Sample
Projects are considered in two stages. Applicants may receive emails from DFP staff with clarifying questions throughout the process. If a project advances to the second round of consideration, story and visual sample updates will be solicited at that time. Lab finalists will also be interviewed via Zoom (director and editor teams are welcome to participate in finalist interviews). Four projects will be invited to the lab by mid-May 2022. All applicants will be notified of their status at the same time.
At the time of application, you may submit edited sequences, specific scenes, or character assemblies. If you submit a fundraising sample, please explain how the finished film will different in content and tone from the submitted sample. The material submitted in combination with the written application should reflect your current creative vision and challenges and explain the edit process as you work toward an assembly/cut.
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