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Sundance Writer/Director/Producer's Lab

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  • The Meeting with the Goddess
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on: November 21, 2013, 04:14:29 AM

After reading through that interview with the filmmaker PTA really loved from LAFF, I realized he met her through the Sundance labs, and it got me to finally look up what the whole thing is about. Our own Ghostboy got the goods through his Producers being in the Producing Labs, and you can list SO MANY FILMS that made it through this way. And I think for people with the aesthetic that this forum leads to (I think there is one), this will probably end up being one of the fortuitous paths into making one of these motherfuckers.

After they accept you for January you may get accepted for June, and then maybe even the director's lab as well. And then they start finding you producers and shit. It sounds absolutely like a dream. And it probably is. But it really doesn't seem that difficult to get in, just have 5 fucking good pages, and a good synopsis. (you know...easy...)
Maybe Ghostboy could enlighten us.
Applications for the January Screenwriters Lab are available February 15 through May 1 the year before.
    When applying online, you will be asked to provide the following supplemental materials along with your contact information:
        A cover letter 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, and how you think the Lab process could be helpful to you.
        An artistic statement describing your creative vision for the material, giving us a sense of where you are in the creative process. Here's an example of the type of information we're looking for: What is your personal connection to the material? 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, and who makes up the audience you most want to reach? Why are you passionate about this story?
        A brief biography on yourself and up to two key creative team members (i.e.: director, producer, etc.). It is unnecessary to have anyone other than the writer attached, and each bio should be no longer than 500 words.
        A synopsis of the screenplay, no more than 1000 words.
        The first five pages of your script. Do not submit script pages from any other work. Please, do not attach the full screenplay.
        A $35.00 non-refundable processing fee, payable by credit card via the online application.


  • Inspiring Actress Jacki Lynn
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Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 08:28:33 PM
The program is unable to accept open applications from international filmmakers. An international applicant is a non-U.S. citizen living outside of the United States.

Fine! I wasn't interested in it anyway!


  • The Master of Three Worlds
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Reply #2 on: December 04, 2013, 12:27:04 PM
I think I might try to do this. I turn 30 next weekend and I feel like my life is running out. Any advice Ghostboy?
He held on. The dolphin and all the rest of its pod turned and swam out to sea, and still he held on. This is it, he thought. Then he remembered that they were air-breathers too. It was going to be all right.


  • The Master of Two Worlds
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Reply #3 on: December 04, 2013, 01:58:03 PM
well, I know ghostboy got rejected once, or st. nick was rejected? I don't remember but my point is, be ready to be rejected and apply a second time.

Applying to funds and shit is the most painful process for filmmakers like us, at least to me is. I have a bunch of dossiers for psychotropic sunrise, and I only won/got selected in three of them. Sundancelab was not one of them. They give you the sweetest rejection letter though.

If they don't select your project, use that as emotional fuel to do it anyway. Give yourself a deadline to do the project, and hope for the best in terms of funds and labs like these.


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Reply #4 on: December 04, 2013, 03:01:27 PM
I applied many times over the years. I made it to the second round twice, before finally making it all the way with my newer movie.

There are three labs - the writers lab in January, the directors lab in June and then the Producing Lab in the summer. For writer/directors, the usual trajectory is to go to the writing lab. Then you may be invited to the directing lab (they also invite a few new projects that hadn't been to the lab). The producing lab is separate, and just for producers - it's both a lab and a yearlong fellowship.

An important distinction to make is that Sundance doesn't help you raise money. There ARE grants that the institute gives out every year, but they're separate from the labs. What can happen, however, is that you might get introduced to people who can help you find money. But Sundance does a great job of focusing on the creative aspects of the process. Even the producing fellowship is called the Creative Producing Fellowship. The whole focus is more about trying to tell the best stories possible.

For my film, my producers applied to the producing labs first, and got in. I have no doubt that helped me to grease the wheels with my script getting in after that, although I still had to go through the same rigorous application / interview process. By the time I went to the labs, the ball was already rolling on the movie (we'd already been working on raising money, etc). And by the time the directing labs appeared on the horizon, we were already in pre-production, so I wasn't able to go to those.