The Return from Sundance

February 1, 2011
posted by sheric

With Trevor Anderson at Sundance 2011

As long as everyone else is weighing in on Sundance 2011, I may as well add my 2 cents.

I went to Sundance to work with filmmaker Trevor Anderson and his short film The High Level Bridge. We had a great time attending parties, doing interviews, seeing a few films (and I do mean few). The High Level Bridge is one of the lucky 12 shorts to be featured on the YouTube Screening Room and in the first 24 hours on the site, the film was watched over 30,000 times. If the goal of making your short is to serve as a calling card film, I can’t think of a better way to get it in front of people. How many other short films get that kind of traffic on the festival circuit? on digital sites? It has now enjoyed over 106,000 views, good for Trevor!

Whereas I spent the majority of my time in Park City last year with Slamdance, this year I learned some of the ins and outs of the authentic Sundance experience. I have to say the Sundance program truly is top notch in the way they take care of filmmakers. From the unique swag (special director’s jackets from Kenneth Cole) to networking opportunities within the industry and access to future opportunities in their lab programs, it is no wonder those who are invited to screen at the festival feel part of the “chosen” group. It is just not possible to get this kind of nurturing from many other places in the independent film world and they are to be commended for providing what they do.

Even if you haven’t (yet!) been chosen to screen, I think it is an educational experience just to attend the festival. Before jumping in, I think you should spend time watching. Observe how things happen, start watching what the film teams are doing before they get on the ground, how they are covered when they are there, what opportunities are presented, all of it you appreciate more when you are in the thick of it instead of seeing it from afar. Plus, seeing the films before anyone else which just raises your insider knowledge.

BUT…mostly watch. Park City is also full of the wanna-be, didn’t- make- it- into- Sundance- even- though- my- film- is- brilliant filmmakers. The more you see it, the cheesier it is and you can’t really see it when you ARE it. No, everyone doesn’t get in. That’s what makes it special. That’s why the opportunities are greater for the ones who do. Even if you don’t get in, you can still learn from it. ¬†You just have to be patient and be willing to observe. Study the articles written about those filmmakers, how did they accomplish it? You’ll see a pattern, trust me.

If you want to check out my pics, they are on my Flickr account.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention I was ecstatic to hear Kevin Smith’s announcement. Yeah, there are those who defend the status quo of the industry and bemoan how awfully they were treated at his premiere. I am not one of them. I was utterly surprised to hear his statement and can do nothing but cheer him on. He is living my Building the Community Web Around an Artist post and I can’t wait to see how it turns out for him. Can everyone copy this? No, not initially. Smith has been building his web for over 15 years. It takes time and consistency. But I wager that it will work.

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I have a few projects coming up. Lots of writing for me as well as working on a few new projects and continuing with some familiar people like Jon Reiss, Roberta Munroe and The Film Collaborative. I am also booked to attend SxSW in March, so if you will be attending, we’ll have to catch up. I really enjoyed meeting in person some people I have only connected with online while I was in Park City like Laura Costantino, Gregory Bayne, Tiffany Shlain (you HAVE to see her film Connected), Elsie Nwankwo, Zack Godshall (you HAVE to see his film Lord Byron), Ira Deutchman and Michael Barnard. It is always a good idea to extend the online relationship into the offline space. Great meeting you all!

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