Creativity for All: Adobe and Sundance Nurture Next-Generation Filmmakers in 2020 Challenge

These student filmmakers thrived as Ignite fellows — and now it’s time for the next class to join the ranks.

Sundance ignite short film challenge.
Creativity for All: Adobe and Sundance Nurture Next-Generation Filmmakers in 2020 Challenge
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Everyone has a story to tell, but for aspiring filmmakers who want to share their stories with the world, having mentors, a platform to showcase their work, and the resources to invest in creative exploration can make all the difference.

To give everyone an opportunity to tell their story, we’re once again collaborating with the Sundance Institute on the Sundance Ignite Short Film Challenge. Both Sundance and Adobe, a founding partner in the program, share a mission to inspire creativity and bring diverse stories to life. Through the challenge, we’ll identify 10 new Sundance Ignite Fellows, who will have yearlong access to powerful mentorships and professional development opportunities.

The challenge is open now through March 17. To enter the challenge, documentary and narrative filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 25 must submit a 1- to 15-minute short film that demonstrates their creative vision and unique voice.

Designed to ignite your film career

Since 2015, Adobe has partnered with Sundance Ignite to create a path for 70 young filmmakers to become better at their craft, giving them the opportunity to be mentored by experienced filmmakers, receive feedback and direction on their work, collaborate with peers, and gain more exposure to the industry.

The 10 challenge winners selected as fellows will begin their fellowship with a weeklong lab and orientation in Los Angeles. Throughout the year, they’ll work with a Sundance Institute alumni mentor, be eligible for internships and program opportunities, receive an artist grant to produce future work, and receive a complimentary one-year Adobe Creative Cloud membership.

Along with these opportunities, one of the program highlights is that fellows will attend the Sundance Film Festival, one of the premier industry events for independent filmmakers.

Don’t just take our word for it…

The Sundance Ignite program has laid the groundwork for fellows to grow their careers. Eight fellows have premiered their films at Sundance. Nine fellows have interned at labs in the film industry, and five fellows have participated in other fellowships, intensives, or summits.

Both the challenge and fellowship are opportunities of a lifetime, past fellows say.

“For a lot of young people, Sundance has been an alternative film festival to celebrate independent film and independent filmmakers. So, to me as a young person, the Ignite program and Sundance represent everything that I want in the film industry, which is inclusivity. It represents diverse voices. It represents democratizing creativity, filmmaking, and just storytelling in general,” says Carol Nguyen, a 2018 Sundance Ignite Fellow who debuted her latest film, “No Crying at the Dinner Table,” at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Lance Oppenheim, a 2019 fellow, recently produced a feature documentary, “Some Kind of Heaven,” that was named an official selection for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. He says one of the best parts of the Ignite program is the mentorship element. Lance’s mentor was Jeff Orlowski, a filmmaker he’s long admired. Jeff and Lance would talk several times a month and he eventually became a producer on Lance’s film.

“With Jeff, we really bonded. Being in a very specific situation where I was dealing with so many different kinds of creative and business worlds while we’re trying to get this feature off the ground, our relationship really deepened,” Lance says.

2017 fellow Charlotte Regan, whose film “Fry Up” premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, adds that the support from peers is invaluable.

Sundance Ignite really showed me how much your work can improve with collaboration. I’ve never had a group of peers to pass work back and forth between each other, give each other notes and help out on each other’s shoots,” she says. “I come from a background of self-shooting music videos, and they’re a pretty lonely place creatively — it’s you, your camera, and, at most, a camera assistant. So having this group of friends who actually gives you the time you need to chat about and improve your work is incredible.”

Lance says that aspiring filmmakers who are interested in applying to the challenge should “submit stuff that you believe in and that you are very passionate about.”

“You don’t need to have made 10 short films to be an Ignite Fellow,” he says. “Some filmmakers who were in my class, it was their first film, so don’t be intimidated by the idea of being an experienced filmmaker. Just make the things you believe in and put your best foot forward.”

Learn more about Adobe Scholarships, the Sundance Ignite program, and get ready to submit your short film.

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