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2019 New Frontier Story Lab FAQ

Is the New Frontier Story Lab open to anyone that wants to apply?
Yes, the application is open to anyone who wants to apply. The 2016 Lab was the first New Frontier Story Lab open to outside applicants, all previous years were invitation only.
What is the application process?
Public submissions for the 2019 New Frontier Story Lab are open August 22, 2018 and close October 17, 2018. Please check back for the link here on August 22nd.
The application is a three step process...
FIRST, complete the electronic application.
Sign in or create a new account to access the electronic application. Choose the New Frontier tab to access the Story Lab application. In the application form you will provide your contact info, brief bio(s), a synopsis of the project, and a short essay response about your artistic intentions.
PLEASE NOTE: The email address you provide when you create an account will be the only one mode of communication we will use to contact you between submission and the final decision. Therefore we recommend you insure that is cleared in your spam filter!
SECOND, upload additional materials:
  • A Story Design Document (PDF, 5 page limit) that provides information about your timeline, storyworld architecture, user experience/user interface, and visual material or any other framework/asset that communicates your story design.
  • Optional: Any additional assets not included elsewhere via links or Story Design that are essential to the understanding/evaluation of the project (photos, videos, etc.).
  • For help with login-related issues, please contact For questions about the content of the application 
THIRD, pay the $45 application fee.
Can I start an application and save it and come back to finish it later?
Yes. You will have a chance to save a work-in-progress version of your application before officially submitting.
Can I deliver my application in person, or via mail or email?
We accept all application materials electronically via the online application submission system ONLY. Materials are disseminated to the selection committee electronically via the application system. Not only are projects not accepted in-person or via email, submitting via these methods would increase a project’s chances of loss or incorrect versions being considered in review. Contact us if you are having technical difficulty at
Then What?
You will hear back from us via email on or before March 20, 2019, letting you know if you have been selected for the New Frontier Story Lab. We will respond to every applicant, whether they are selected or not.
Here is the timeline for application review (subject to minor variations):
  • August 22, 2018 - Application opens
  • October 17, 2018 - Deadline for application submission
  • December 6, 2018 - Round Two Notifications
  • December 12, 2018 - Round Two Additional Materials Submissions Deadline
  • February 19, 2019 - Round Three Notifications
  • February 20-28, 2019 - Round Three Interviews
  • March 20, 2019 - Final Status Notifications
  • May 16-21, 2019 - LAB WEEK
Please note: Unfortunately, due to the amount of submissions, we cannot provide individual feedback.
  1. What stage of project development is most conducive to success in the Lab environment? An eligible project is a story-centered work-in-progress with at least one component of its story design in advanced development. There should be enough concept and story for meaningful discussion; but the project should not be so advanced that there is no room for new ideas to impact the future shape of the project.
  2. What happens at the Lab? New Frontier invites six story-centered projects to the Sundance Resort in Utah for a five-day-long immersive Story Lab experience with a group of leading artists, designers, filmmakers, storytellers, technologists and innovators in the field. After identifying the unique needs of each selected project, the Sundance Institute sources leading Creative Advisors to provide individualized feedback and creates a customized agenda of activities to support the development of the projects. The Lab will include the following elements with an emphasis on storytelling:
    • Project presentations with full group feedback (Lab Fellows & Advisors).
    • Individualized story and story design sessions.
    • Conversations about key artistic, design and technology issues that relate to story.
    • Presentations, demonstrations and conversation about the evolving field of New Frontier: case studies from Creative Advisors; research on field opportunities and challenges; best practices and lessons learned in concept, design, production, audience/co-creator engagement and implementation.
    • Please note that while technical elements are certainly discussed as part of the story design, the Lab will not focus on active prototyping or technical production while onsite in May.  
  3. How many projects are selected? We invite a total of six story-centered projects to participate in the lab. Broadly defined, we accept 3 narrative and 3 documentary projects. We do consider hybrid narrative/documentary projects.
  4. How many collaborators from each project can attend the Lab? A maximum of two members from each selected project may attend the lab.
  5. Do participants pay for travel and accommodation? Air travel, ground transportation, accommodations, and meals are all covered by Sundance Institute.
  6. What happens after the Lab? Fellows who complete a Lab at the Sundance Institute become part of a community of storytellers that support independent artists in furthering their craft and bringing great projects into the world. After the Lab, Fellows will participate in a strategic planning consultation to outline a roadmap for successfully completing their projects. Then, Fellows will have semi-annual check-in sessions with New Frontier staff and advisors. Additionally, Fellows will be eligible to access to the Sundance Creative Distribution initiative , which assists alumni with creative funding, distribution and marketing. If appropriate, projects supported through the Lab will be considered by New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival as a way to platform the new work and provide a live component for expanding the boundaries of interactive experience.
  7. Certain components of my project are not ready yet. Does that hurt my application’s chances? We work with “in-progress” projects and do not expect finished elements. For multi-platform works, at least one component of its story design should be in advanced development.
  8. I don't have much experience. Does that affect my application’s chances? Applicants may be early-career or emerging artists, but must have completed some previous work in one or more fields related to their project.
  9. I am an established artist. Am I too advanced in my career to apply? No. Unlike other Sundance Institute Labs, the Story Lab accepts projects from artists or storytellers with advanced careers, as long as they are an independent artists working to innovate the art and form of story.
  10. A particular application section doesn’t apply to my project. Does that mean my project is not aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab? What kind of project is aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab? Not all sections will apply to everyone due to the wide variety of story-centered projects considered. A project aligned with the New Frontier Story Lab tells or co-creates a fiction, non-fiction or hybrid story (or stories). Stories do not have to be linear and can evolve inside the storyworld or story experience of the project, rather than be pre-determined. Projects must be a work of an artist or storymaker or a collective of artists or storymakers. Concepts for story-enabling tools, technology or platforms meant to be a product or service for a community or consumer-base are not appropriate. Projects without a narrative or story (broadly defined) are not appropriate.  It should provide an entry point from one or more creative disciplines (i.e. film, gaming, theater, music, visual arts, creative coding/robotics, comics, literature, design, web/mobile arts, etc.). The project should make a case for how it is innovating on the art and form of story by using new/emerging technologies and platforms to enable the creation of story. We are excited by a very wide range of projects!
  11. How many projects can I apply with? Because we want “front-burner” projects that applicants are enthusiastic about completing, you may submit up to two projects in separate applications.
  12. Can I re-apply with the same project next year? You are eligible to apply more than once with a given project, provided there has been a significant development since the last submission.
  13. How long/short is too long/short for a project proposal? The application material should give the reviewers sufficient information to understand the project. However, overly detailed materials will not necessarily help communicate the value of your project. In fact, that approach may bog down the exciting and pertinent details of your project. The project synopsis is a maximum of 500 words (approximately 1 page); the Story Design Document is a maximum 5 pages (including visual and text components)- or less.
  14. Would my submitted ideas be protected? Information submitted is only used for review purposes and will not be shared beyond the selected readers, selection committee members, and internal staff use.
  15. Do you accept projects that have been submitted elsewhere? Yes.
  16. Does Sundance own my project? No. The Sundance Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not have an ownership stake in any projects that are submitted to, or selected for the Lab, nor are we attached in any producorial capacity. However, in order to help sustain Sundance Institute’s commitment to supporting independent artists going forward, selected Lab projects whose income exceeds $500,000 agree to give back 1% of receipts to the Sundance Institute. If the Fellow(s) sell the project to a third party, they also commit 1% of the sale price back to Sundance Institute. All Lab Fellows must own or have approval from the project owner to participate in the New Frontier Lab.
  17. What kind of grants / support / production help can Sundance offer our project? The Lab is a robust week-long creative and supportive experience, followed by a continuum of support for alumni of the program. The Lab is not directly attached to granting funds nor are we attached in any producorial capacity, however we do recommend fellows for granting and funding opportunities when appropriate.
  18. Can International artists or projects apply? Yes. International projects will be considered, but all project materials must be provided in English.
  19. Why haven’t I received my notification yet, but all my friends have! What’s wrong?? When will I know if I’ve made it to the next round? Our notifications are made on a rolling basis. You will hear whether you have proceeded to the second round of the application process by around December 6, 2018. Final Lab decisions will be made by approximately March 20, 2019.
  20. Are fee waivers available? While we understand artists generally keep an eye on their budgets, we do not offer waivers, as the application fee is thoughtfully derived to help cover the high cost of thoroughly reviewing your application. There may be a very limited number of exceptions for those who can demonstrate unusual economic hardship. If you feel you have an appropriately unusual economic constraint, please contact with further information.
  21. Is it New Frontiers (plural) or New Frontier (singular)? Singular... New Frontier. :)
Still don't see your question answered here? Email with further questions.