2023 Documentary Film Producers Track FAQ

How do I apply?
Candidates for the 2023 Documentary Film Producers Track must apply online anytime before Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 5 p.m. PT.

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.  Applicants will be considered for both the Producers Lab and Fellowship and Producers Intensive.

Do you accept short films for the submitted project?
No, only feature-length projects are eligible for this opportunity.

Do you accept limited series projects?
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 for the Documentary Producers Lab & Fellowship,  you are required to be at the Documentary Producers Lab (July 24–27, 2023) and the Producers Summit (July 28–July 30, 2023). 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.

If you are selected for the Producers Intensive, you are required to be present for the two-day program in Fall 2023.

What are the dates I must be available to participate in the Documentary Producers Fellowship?
The dates for the Documentary Producers Lab are July 24–27, 2023, and for the Producers Summit, July 28–July 30, 2023. The Fellowship year is active through May 2023.

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 full line-item budget with your application. We ask that you break down 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 or Intensive?
For a project to take best advantage of Lab, Fellowship, and Intensive 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. We consider the timing of your project to be a crucial component to selection. Candidates in production or post-production are positioned to take best advantage of the Lab and Fellowship. Candidates in development or early production on a project are better positioned to benefit from the Producers Intensive.  The Lab and Intensive are designed, in part, to focus on your creative input and communication with your director and other collaborators on your project.

If I am accepted into the Lab or Intensive, 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 or Intensive, this does not mean your project will automatically receive a grant from the Documentary Fund. The Lab and Intensive selection process is separate from Fund selection. SDF grantees do not receive preferential consideration for Labs or Intensives. Conversely, if you were not selected for a Fund grant, this does not mean you are not a good candidate for the Producers Lab and Fellowship or Intensive.

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 email by mid-June 2023.

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 mid-June 2023.

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 provides air travel, lodging, and meals at the Lab and Summit for all selected Lab and Fellowship fellows.

Still don’t see your question answered here? Email docproducers@sundance.org with “2023 Documentary Producers Track” in the subject line.