Sundance expands Artist Services initiative

The Sundance Institute is expanding its Artist Services program, and is teaming up with New Video to provide more opportunities for projects that are distributed independently.
July 28, 2011

The Sundance Institute is expanding its Artist Services program, which provides opportunities for filmmakers to reach audiences, raise funding and receive support through an educational and resources site.

While the Sundance Film Festival has previously offered a platform for films to be acquired for distribution, the expansion of this initiative will aim to provide opportunities for projects that are distributed independently.

Through the program, filmmakers can now make their films available online to consumers via iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNow and YouTube, while still retaining ownership of their work and making independent decisions about strategies for each outlet.

“When I founded the Institute in 1981, it was at a time when a few studios ran the industry and an artist’s biggest concern was whether their film would get made,” said Robert Redford, founder and president of the Institute.

“Technology has lessened that burden, but the big challenge today is how audiences can see these films. The Artist Services program is a direct response to that need. We’re not in the distribution business – we’re in the business of helping independent voices be heard.”

New Video, the Institute’s exclusive aggregation partner for distribution across these portals, will offer all eligible Sundance Film Festival and Lab titles a gateway to digital distribution that emphasizes filmmaker ownership and control.

In addition, the Institute has also entered into a deal with direct marketing firm Topspin Media to provide its filmmakers with direct marketing tools and fulfillment services.

Among the films to use these services will be a doc from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival: Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology, by director Tiffany Shlain, which premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition section earlier this year.

The first phase of the Artist Services program, announced in January, featured a collaboration with fundraising website Kickstarter for filmmakers to build creative funding campaigns for production and distribution costs. As of July 2011, dozens of projects from Institute-supported filmmakers have raised more thanUS$650,000 via Kickstarter.

“By acting as a conduit between filmmaker and distributor, we are presenting an alternative to traditional distribution while building knowledge about online distribution strategies that will benefit the broader field of independent film,” said Keri Putnam, Sundance Institute executive director.

“We’ve worked with these leaders in online distribution to make it easier for filmmakers to present their work to the widest audiences possible.”

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.