Sundance Institute today [Jan 20] announced the Sundance Creative Producing Initiative fellowship programme to nurture the next generation of film-makers.

The Initiative, unveiled during the Producers Lunch, will be a year-long fellowship that includes a five-day Creative Producing Lab, attendance and industry meetings at the festival and the Sundance Institute 's Independent Producers Conference, year-round mentorship and ongoing support from Institute staff.

Maria Full Of Grace producer Paul Mezey gave the keynote speech at the lunch and will be one of the mentors.

Applicants will be glad to hear the fellowship includes a living stipend and pre-production grant. Five fellows and their projects will be chosen this spring to attend the inaugural Creative Producing Lab scheduled for July. In subsequent years the programme will support eight fellows.

Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford said the Initiative completed the circle of support that Sundance began more than 25 years ago with the directors and screenwriters labs.

'It has become clear that in an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace, emerging film-makers need knowledgeable creative producers equipped to bring their stories all the way from production to the increasingly difficult area of distribution,' Redford said.

'To work effectively with film-makers, producers need an opportunity to develop their own skills and voices,' Sundance Institute Feature Film Program director Michelle Satter said. 'The Creative Producing Initiative is designed to develop a producer's creative instincts in the scripting and editing stages and to evolve their communication and problem-solving skills at all stages of realising a project.'

The deadline to apply for the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Initiative is Mar 1. Candidates must have produced at least one short or feature (no more than two features in total) and have a legally-optioned script in hand.