Our Approach

To tell a science story is to tell a human story.

At Sandbox Films, we collaborate with production partners and visionary filmmakers around the world, providing co-production and financing opportunities for feature-length documentary projects.

A culture of questioning.

At its core, science is the art of asking questions. Its a way of thinking — based on evidence, inspired by curiosity — that invites nuance and imagination. Our films celebrate this sense of possibility, in pursuit of revealing deeper truths about our world. Our films ask more questions than they give answers. They convey scientific ideas, embedded in culture, designed to inspire new and diverse audiences.

Our model.

As a film company, we invest in feature-length independent documentaries intended for top-tier festivals, a theatrical release, and mainstream digital streaming and/or a broadcast release. We can come onto a project at any stage — from early development seed funding to core production financing to finishing funds. We support films that are artist-driven, providing creative, editorial, practical, and strategic support, guided by a projects needs. We work with independent filmmakers at all career stages, from emerging artists to celebrated auteurs. We also work to nurture new voices in science documentary and to inspire the worlds leading nonfiction storytellers to dabble in the sciences. We prioritize projects that feature topics, disciplines, and expert voices that arent typically featured in science media.

Inclusive storytelling.

As in life, we believe science is richer when more perspectives are considered. This is especially true for science storytelling — wherein the experts we showcase and the voices we elevate have untold impacts on shaping the public face of knowledge and authority. With this in mind, one of the founding motivations for launching Sandbox Films is to make science documentary more inclusive. In addition to increasing diversity onscreen, we seek to collaborate with artists behind the camera who have different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives.

Ethical financing.

As a philanthropically supported and mission-driven company, we believe the independent artists we collaborate with should be fairly paid for their work. In addition to our creative and scientific contributions, we invest what we call artist-friendly equity, or ethical financing. In practice, this means we ensure all key creative members are appropriately compensated before we recoup our financing. Having philanthropic backing allows us take risks on creative and experimental approaches. Whenever we recoup on an investment, we reinvest these profits into other films and emerging voices, furthering our mission. We hope our financing model can inform the way others in the industry think about mission-driven equity financing. Sandbox Films, LLC is a nonprofit company, powered by the Simons Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing the frontiers of scientific research.

Work with us.

Sandbox Films does not accept unsolicited pitches. However, if you have a project in the works, feel free to submit it to the Sandbox Fund, our open-call grant program administered by the Sundance Institute (details below). To explore co-production opportunities, find us at key pitch forums and nonfiction industry gatherings around the world.

  • Open Call Grant
Sundance Institute

Sandbox FundSundance Institute

In addition to our direct financing, the Sandbox Fund offers grants, mentorship, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The program is administered by Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, in collaboration with Sandbox Films.

More info and apply here


Have questions? Interested in partnering? Want to grab a coffee at a film festival? Drop us a line.


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