2020 Sundance Ignite Fellowship Seeking Film Submissions


© 2018 Sundance Institute / Pho

By Palak Jayswal, Arts Editor


While this year’s world-famous Sundance Film Festival has come to an end, the film world is hardly slowing. In fact, the Sundance Institute and Adobe are teaming up to encourage and guide a new generation of filmmakers. The 2020 Sundance Ignite Short Film Challenge is now open for entries — but unlike other film festivals and contests, this one is not a one week and done program. 


How it Works

The Ignite program runs yearlong and is focused on mentoring documentary and narrative filmmakers. For the 10 winners of this challenge, the program offers an entire year’s worth of intensive training, including working with a Sundance Institute alumnus, attending the festival, receiving an artist grant, having exclusive access to internships and receiving a complimentary one-year Adobe Creative Cloud membership. This program is an aspiring filmmaker’s dream. The fellowship begins with a one-week lab in Los Angeles where filmmakers will learn about what the upcoming year holds for them. 

Maya Cueva, a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow, commends the sustainability and accessibility of the program to fellowship recipients. About the mentorship, Cueva said, “We get to meet with them as often as we’d like to — get on phone conversations. They can help us with anything from pitching to if we have a grant that we’d like to apply to.”  

The application process for the 2020 program requires a one to 15-minute short film with only one requirement: “that they represent each filmmaker’s perspective as an artist.” Each submission can only have one director for consideration, the work must have been completed from August 2018 to March 2020 and ultimately only 10 filmmakers will be chosen. Submissions are open to all those passionate for creating film ages 18-25, and all of the submissions are available for viewing on the fellowship’s landing page. As of Feb. 17, 2020, a month before submissions officially close, there are 386 submissions. 


Behind the Scenes

The film industry is notorious for being one of the hardest industries to get involved with, but through Ignite, young newcomers have an insight into not only how the industry works — but how they can get involved and craft their own experience as an artist. Matty Crawford, a 2018 Sundance Ignite Fellow said,  “I feel like this whole experience has demystified how the industry works and shows you that there’s so many routes you can take to get to where you want.”

Fostering a creative and inclusive environment for these 10 winners allows each of them to get the experience they wouldn’t get elsewhere, but also to learn from their mentors. Past fellowship members have not only received a ladder into the creative community, but several have featured their films at the Sundance Film Festival itself. This fellowship is all about these moviemakers crafting their own reputations, careers and experiences with the guidance from the best of the best. Toby Brooks, Manager of Sundance Ignite, said, “We look to assist our filmmakers in creating careers that are distinctly their own by encouraging them to develop their voice and look inward for their art.”

The message from the program is loud and clear — Ignite fellows are not alone in figuring out their next steps. Yet this is just one of several learning programs the Sundance Institute offers. The Sundance Co//ab website offers learning pathways, online courses, master classes and monthly challenges for filmmakers far and wide. While the Institute is known for being the highest regard for filmmakers, there’s room for everyone to learn and adapt their craft.


How to Apply

Submissions for the 2020 fellowship close March 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. PST. All submissions should be uploaded directly to the Sundance Ignite page. You can find all submissions, rules and frequently asked questions about the Ignite Fellows program here. There is also a forum for questions and answers on the landing page for any concerns that may arise. 

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