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HomeGrants & ProgrammesApply now for the Sandbox Fund 2023 for Creative artists ($125,000 USD)

Apply now for the Sandbox Fund 2023 for Creative artists ($125,000 USD)


Sundance Institute is excited to invite independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling to apply for the Sandbox Fund. The Sandbox Fund will provide participants with resources and support to create compelling nonfiction projects. The Sandbox Fund will be giving out up to $125,000 USD for cinematic nonfiction films from anywhere in the world. Application ends July 24, 2023

About Sandbox Fund
The Sandbox Fund is a program that supports independent artists in exploring the connection between science and culture through innovative storytelling. It provides grants, engagement events, and other opportunities for artists working at the intersection of science and nonfiction storytelling.

The program is administered by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund in collaboration with Sandbox Films. It aims to identify and support nonfiction projects that inspire a greater interest in science, particularly among those who may not consider themselves science enthusiasts.

Grants are available for artists at any stage of production, from development to post-production. However, proposals must demonstrate a clear vision for a finished film. Projects that lack defined characters or subjects, struggle to articulate a story or structure, or fail to explain the project’s central question may not be considered. The program does not accept proposals for story research. Prior funding or a fiscal sponsor is not required to apply.

It’s important to note that once a film has premiered, the program does not provide post-production funding support. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply at least six months before the anticipated premiere. Additionally, films that have reached the picture-locked stage are not eligible for post-production funding.

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Eligibility & How to Apply

  • The Sandbox Fund is open to filmmakers from all around the world, allowing global applicants to participate in the program.
  • Films submitted to the fund can be in any language but must include English subtitles for accessibility.
  • First-time filmmakers are eligible to apply, and there is no requirement for prior funding, fiscal sponsorship, or American producers to be involved in the project.
  • Both U.S. and international nonfiction projects are eligible for consideration, with a specific emphasis on feature-length documentary projects. The fund supports documentaries that are 52 minutes or longer, including hybrid/animated and experimental documentaries.
  • However, it’s important to note that the Sandbox Fund does not provide funding for fiction films, short films (for grants dedicated to shorts, refer to the Documentary Short Film Fund), series, NGO films, advocacy films, educational films, branded content, or VR projects.



The Sandbox Fund offers grants twice a year, with separate application windows for each cycle. Grant-making decisions are typically made during the winter and summer seasons in collaboration with Sandbox Films.

Current and upcoming grant cycles:

  • 2023 Fall Cycle: Applications are accepted from June 12 to July 24.
  • 2024 Spring Cycle: The specific dates for this cycle are yet to be announced.

Applicants can expect to receive notification regarding the status of their applications within 5 months of the application deadline.

The Sandbox Fund offers support to projects at all stages of development, production, and post-production. Average grant sizes are as follows:

Development (up to $25,000)
Production (up to $50,000)
Post-Production (up to $50,000)

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Selection criteria

Creative Narrative Techniques: The fund places importance on projects that employ innovative and creative narrative techniques in their storytelling. This includes approaches that push the boundaries of traditional nonfiction filmmaking and explore new ways to engage audiences.

Diversity in Science: The fund seeks projects that highlight diversity in the field of science. This includes stories that feature characters, topics, or disciplines that broaden and redefine the traditional perceptions of scientists or the practice of science. Projects that bring underrepresented voices and perspectives to the forefront are encouraged.

Application evaluation
The evaluation of applications for the Sandbox Fund takes into account several key factors to determine the selection of projects such as:

Artful and Innovative Film Language: The Sandbox Fund values applications that showcase the creative and innovative use of film language. This can include unique visual approaches, compelling cinematography, and effective storytelling techniques that elevate the overall artistic quality of the project.

Clear Storytelling: Applications will be evaluated based on your ability to convey a clear and engaging story. A strong narrative structure and effective storytelling techniques help in delivering a coherent and impactful message to the audience.

Originality: The Sandbox Fund will check for projects that demonstrate original and fresh perspectives. The evaluation process looks for unique ideas, storytelling approaches, and concepts that set the project apart from others.

Feasibility: The Sandbox Fund Team will consider the project’s feasibility, taking into account factors such as budget, resources, and timeline. Projects that have a realistic and achievable plan for execution are given preference.

Contemporary Cultural Relevance: The fund values projects that address current cultural and social issues. Projects that have relevance and resonance in the present time are more likely to be considered during the evaluation process.

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Potential to Reach and Connect with the Intended Audience: The Sandbox Fund will assess the project’s potential to engage and connect with the intended audience. Projects that have a clear understanding of their target audience and demonstrate strategies for reaching and resonating with them are given priority.

Science-related Considerations: Sandbox Fund will take into account the project’s alignment with the intended purpose of the fund. Projects that effectively explore scientific concepts, promote scientific literacy, or challenge traditional perceptions of science are evaluated positively.

How to apply

  • Open the online application portal and sign up for an account, or log in with an existing account.
  • Log in and select “2023 Sandbox Fund: Fall Grant Cycle.”
  • Click “Apply” and fill out the information appropriately
  • After application, your application will go through a multistage review.
  • Grant deliberations typically take four to six months.
  • Please do not contact Sandbox Fund to inquire about your status, as we cannot provide status updates. You will be notified by Sandbox Fund directly by email.


Types of opportunity: Grant
Deadline: 24 July 2023
Worth: $125k USD
Open to: Artists/Filmmakers
Organizer: Sundance Institute
Country: Global

For questions check the FAQ 
For more questions email
For more information visit Sandbox Fund

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