2020 Doc Edit and Story Lab FAQs

What do I need to apply?

Applicants must submit all requirements for the Core Application. Applicants will also submit a written, verbal, or audio response to a set of questions. A visual sample is necessary and we encourage applicants to share material currently being assembled. We do not require a full assembly or rough cut yet. Portions of an assembly and/or character “string-outs” are all acceptable. 

Do you accept international applications?

At this time, Documentary Film Program labs are open to filmmaking teams based in the U.S. only.

Can I still apply if I don’t have an editor attached?

Although we encourage projects to have a primary editor attached at the time of submission, projects for which the director is also the editor may also apply.

Who attends the lab?

Director-editor teams are invited to attend. Unfortunately, due to both space and budget limitations, we cannot accommodate additional key creative team members at this time.

What kind of visual material is adequate for the application? 

Ideally, projects will attend the lab at a late assembly/rough cut stage. At the time of application, you may submit edited sequences, specific scenes, or character assemblies. The material submitted should reflect your current creative challenges and process in the edit as you work towards an assembly/cut.

Projects that are far along in the edit, for whom creative input and exploration would be detrimental to the creative process, are not ideal candidates. If you have a well-advanced rough cut in place by the time of application, you are probably not in the best stage to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Do you accept short films?

No, only feature-length projects are eligible, with an intended running time of 60 minutes or more.

What is the ideal stage of production to take the best advantage of the lab?

Projects should be in post-production, at either the assembly or rough cut stage, at the time of the application. Projects would ideally be at the rough cut stage by June 2020.

What is the contributing editor position? 

This role is unique to the Documentary Edit and Story Lab. Contributing editors are talented emerging editors selected to work with a specific team to provide technical and creative support on site. Applications are by invitation only and come from recommendations made by lab advisors and colleagues in the field. Each selected project is assigned one contributing editor. 

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 be present during the entire lab, June 19–29, 2020. The lab takes place at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah.

If I’ve received a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund, am I eligible to apply?

Yes. The lab now has an open application process, and fund grantees are eligible to apply. 

If I am accepted into the lab, does that mean my project will receive a grant 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?

Currently, there is no grant award attached to lab participation. Participating in the lab also does not better position your project to receive a grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund. You must submit a separate application to the fund to receive a grant. Conversely, if you applied previously and were not granted, this does not mean you are not a good candidate for the Documentary Edit and Story Lab.

If you are not selected, it will in no way impact future applications to the Sundance Documentary Fund.

What kind of post-lab support is provided to lab fellows/projects? 

Through the lab, fellows are introduced to a community of advisors and other fellows, building relationships that last long after their films are complete. Project teams remain in communication with advisors informally. After the lab, Documentary Film Program staff remain in close contact with fellows and can facilitate work-in-progress screenings (populated with advisors) at the Sundance Institute offices in Los Angeles or New York. There are also additional opportunities for limited financial support for further editorial and story consultations, and fellows have access to Sundance Institute resources to advise on the future festival, financing, and distribution strategies.

If I participate in the lab, does that increase my chances of my film being accepted to the Sundance Film Festival?

Receiving support from the Sundance Documentary Fund or participating in the lab does not increase your chances of screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Projects supported by Sundance Institute in development do not receive preferential treatment in the selection process and are also not offered a slot to premiere at the Festival.

How will I be notified about acceptance? Will I be notified if I’m not accepted?

All applicants will be notified of their status in the first round of review via email. Documentary Film Program staff might ask additional questions or schedule a phone or in-person interview with the filmmakers. Final notifications are made by late May 2020.

Does it matter if I’ve participated in other labs outside of Sundance Institute?

Participation in other labs and workshops does not factor heavily into consideration for the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit and Story Lab. We encourage filmmakers to utilize all of the resources available to them in furthering their work and their artistic development.

Can I receive feedback on my submission?

Due to the high volume of submissions, we are unfortunately not able to provide individualized feedback.

Does Sundance Institute pay for my travel to Utah?

Sundance Institute does provide air travel, ground transportation from the Salt Lake City airport to the Sundance Mountain Resort and back, lodging, and meals at the lab for all selected fellows.

Do I need to submit a separate application to be considered for the Music and Sound Design Lab?

No. All applicants who submit to the Documentary Edit and Story Lab are automatically considered for this lab. There is a specific section in the application where you can express your interest in the Music and Sound Design Lab. We also recommend that you elaborate on the sonic elements of your film in your application. 

Still don’t see your question answered here? Email dfpfellowships@sundance.org and put “Edit & Story Lab” in the subject line.