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2018 Creative Distribution Fellowship Application

Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative is committed to helping independent storytellers build audiences and sustain careers through innovations in marketing, distribution, and data transparency. We imagine a world without barriers between artists and audiences.

Formerly named Artist Services, our department has supported the release of 200+ films into the market through partnerships with leading digital retailers; notable films include pioneering self-releases First Girl I Loved, BURN, Upstream Color, and Detropia. We have also supported nearly 400 crowdfunding campaigns - over $20M raised - by consulting with filmmakers on audience building techniques. We’ve been on the front lines of creative distribution for nearly seven years - and with our Creative Distribution Fellowship, we’re expanding our efforts.

The Importance of Marketing and Distribution for Artist Sustainability

You own the rights, you make the decisions. Sundance Institute supports you.

We live in a world with an overabundance of content. Breaking through the noise requires skill, agility, and creativity. With the Creative Distribution Fellowship, we want to inspire cutting-edge strategies that will amplify your film’s potential to reach audiences and maximize revenue.

Audience engagement is a critical skill for the 21st-century filmmaker. This fellowship is not just about getting your film seen; it’s about sustaining your career and acquiring knowledge that will benefit you for years to come.

The Creative Distribution Fellowship Overview

The Fellowship - inspired by the Institute’s longstanding artist labs and entering its second year - is an immersive, rigorous program for entrepreneurial producers and directors seeking new ways to build and reach audiences with their finished work. We are now accepting applications for films preparing for a 2018 or early 2019 release who are open to a creative release - i.e. without a traditional distributor.

The Fellowship is a curated program that includes grant funds, access to premium pre-negotiated distribution deals, and connections to experienced industry mentors with the Institute’s Creative Distribution team playing a strategic advisory role. We’re currently engaged in the Fellowship’s pilot year, and supporting two films: Columbus, a fiction feature; and Unrest, a documentary. Both films have excelled with the framework provided by the Fellowship and we are thrilled with the results. Case studies will be finalized on each film in early 2018.

We are seeking films at all budget levels featuring distinctive, singular voices. We will select three or four films on a rolling basis, and we will support fellows during their initial release period (6 - 12 months). Films will be selected by a committee comprised of the Creative Distribution team along with key representatives from the Institute’s Feature Film, Documentary, and Festival programs. Our evaluation process will have two stages. We will initially review applications reviewing essay questions and a trailer or clip. After this initial review, we will invite select applicants to submit their feature in its entirety, and notify others that their project has been declined.

Selected Films Receive

  • $25,000 grant for marketing expenses with an emphasis on digital marketing.
  • A mid-five-figure minimum deal from either Amazon, Hulu or Netflix, and preferred access to other Sundance Institute brokered digital distribution opportunities through its relationship with Quiver Digital.
  • Guidance from the Creative Distribution Initiative and leading industry advisors prior to the release.
  • Referral to key marketing and distribution consultants to help execute campaigns.
  • Sundance Institute branding and promotion to support the release of the film.
  • Half-day marketing strategy session with leading industry marketing and distribution executives at Institute offices.
  • Sundance alumni designation and benefits.

What Sundance Needs

  • Fellows participating in the program will be expected to devote significant time and energy to the release of their film.
  • Fellows will be required to be fully transparent about their experience, including audience data and revenue numbers. This information will be turned into detailed case studies that will be publicly released by the Institute.
  • Fellows will be required to participate in weekly calls with Sundance Institute to discuss goals, strategy, and progress.
  • The Creative Distribution team will be available to advise fellows on major marketing and distribution decisions throughout the process.

Eligibility

  • The film has premiered at a 2017 US Film Festival or been accepted to a 2018 US Film Festival. The festival must be continuously operating for five years or longer.
  • Films must be completed and feature-length (minimum 70 minutes).
  • The film’s country of origin is the United States or Canada and the film team lead(s) are based in the United States or Canada.
  • The film has all of its US distribution rights free and clear to exploit. Notable exceptions may be granted in this case - for instance, films that have licensed their educational/non-theatrical rights.
  • The film has not been exploited anywhere in the world (e.g. theatrical, home video, subscription video, broadcast) other than through festival screenings.
Application Process

To apply, click sign in or signup in the top right and create an account. Then select the Creative Distribution Fellowship from the dropdown.