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2016 Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant & Fellowship Application Instructions

Established in 2005 to support the development of screenplays with science or technology themes, Sundance Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provides two different opportunities for screenwriters through a Commissioning Grant or a Fellowship.  Both provide a cash award to support further development of a screenplay and to retain science advisors, along with overall creative and strategic feedback throughout development
We are looking for a diversity of stories that not only highlight science (which can include math, technology, and medical research) as a central component, but also go beyond that thematically to engage us with strong characters and engaging story.  While biopics and historical films are welcome, we also encourage you to think outside the traditional mold of what a science film is, in terms of using the science/technology as a backdrop for stories about individuals, how it influences their lives, relationships, and unique perspectives. 
  1. Screenwriter(s) can be at any stage of their career, with no prior produced work or many produced works.  However, only emerging screenwriters (those with less than two produced screenplays) will be considered for the Fellowship.
  2. Project must incorporate real science and/or technology themes and/or characters.  Stories that are sci-fi or futuristic in nature are not eligible.
  3. Project must be a feature length narrative film (no documentaries).
  4. Project must be live action.
  5. Project must be English language, although the screenwriter does not need to reside in the US.
  6. Status of project may range from detailed treatment to full screenplay form.  However, only full screenplays will be considered for the Fellowship.
  7. If based on other material, the screenwriter (or submitting party) must have an option or ownership of the source material.

The Commissioning Grant recipient will receive the following:
  1. A cash grant of $20,000 to provide support during the writing period
  2. A stipend of $5,000 for a science advisor and research
  3. Creative support during the writing process from a Creative Advisor
  4. The possibility of a Fellowship to a Lab
  5. Creative and strategic support from the Feature Film Program staff

The Fellowship recipient will receive the following:
  1. Attendance as a Fellow at a Screenwriters Lab, Directors Lab, Creative Producing Lab, Creative Producing Summit, or Sundance Film Festival
  2. A stipend of $5,000 for a science advisor
  3. A cash grant of $10,000 to provide support during the development of the project
  4. Creative and strategic support from the Feature Film Program staff



Logline (75 word maximum)


Synopsis – Please be as specific as possible, not just only to the story beats (i.e. literal) but to the spirit, themes, and character throughlines.  For example, if you are developing a story about a true life character, what specific “angle” or story are you trying to illuminate, rather than just tell us the beats of the person’s life from birth to death.  We are looking to understand your approach to why are you telling this particular story, not just what you find interesting in a character. (500 words maximum)  


Brief description of the thematic core and scientific ideas being explored.  Please include what science research and consultation you would like to put this particular grant towards; this can include specific scientists or fields of research. (150 words maximum)


Artistic Statement – Screenwriter’s creative intent for the script, which can include the genesis of the idea, particular themes of interest, the emotional core driving the characters, and why this story is of interest for the writer to tell. (500 words maximum)


Additional Information (optional) – Any additional information such as status of the project, attachments, or prior science research done to date. (500 words maximum)


Bios for the screenwriter(s), director(s), and producer(s) (if applicable). Please specifically list all notable credits, accolades, education, and experience. (250 words maximum per bio)  


Recommendation (optional) - Please upload a pdf version of your signed letter of recommendation. Your recommender should be someone familiar with your prior creative work, such as a filmmaking colleague or professor, but does not necessarily need to be familiar with your submitted project. The recommender should not be attached to the project in any position. For example the recommender cannot be the writer, director, co-producer, cinematographer etc. 


Application fee of $40 (credit card only)


You will have the ability to save your application-in-progress and log in at a later date to complete and submit. Once you electronically submit your application, there will be a link to view and print your completed application as a PDF file.  Please save this file for future reference and in the case of any technical issues.