2021 Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship: Documentary Film FAQ

How do I apply?

Candidates for the 2021 Documentary Creative Producing Fellowship must apply online anytime before Thursday, February 18, 2021, at 3:00 p.m. PST.

What do I need to apply?

Eligible candidates must live in the United States, though the project may be filmed internationally. 

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.

Do you accept short films for the submitted project?

No, only feature-length projects are eligible for this opportunity.

Do you accept series-length work?

No, we are not able to support series work through this program at this time; however, nonfiction series projects are considered through the Episodic Lab. For more information, please visit the program’s page here.

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 at the Creative Producing Lab (July 26–29, 2021) and the Creative Producing Summit (July 30–August 1, 2021). The Sundance Institute covers airfare and lodging for both events. If you have a scheduling conflict, we encourage you to apply in a future cycle when you are available.

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 Creative Producing Summit are July 30–August 1, 2021.

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 cannot be director of the submitted project.

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 but would not participate in the fellowship if selected.

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 breakdown all expenses from development through release in U.S. dollars, including a grand budget total. Here are two sample budget examples in PDF and Excel formats. This sample budget is provided as a reference tool only; you may use your own budget format.

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

For a project to take best advantage of lab and fellowship opportunities, you must be solidly in development with characters and access secured and enough shooting to have a sense of film structure and dramatic potential. Candidates in production or post-production are positioned to take best advantage of the lab and fellowship. We consider the timing of your lab and fellowship to be a crucial component to selection. The lab is designed, in part, to focus on your creative input and communication with your director and other collaborators on your fellowship project.

If I am accepted to the lab, does this mean my project has a better chance of receiving funding from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Fund? Conversely, if I am not accepted to the lab, will this impact future grant applications to the Documentary Fund?

If you are selected for the lab, this does not mean your project will automatically receive a grant from the Documentary Fund. You must apply separately 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 Producing Lab Fellowship.

If you are not selected, this will in no way impact future applications to the Documentary Fund. The lab selection process is not connected to fund submission review.

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 11, 2021.

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 11, 2021.

Does it matter if I’ve participated in other non-Sundance labs?

Not at all. 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 the Sundance Institute pay for my travel to Utah?

The Institute does provide air travel, lodging, and meals at the lab and summit for all selected fellows.

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