January 22, 2013
Last year I showed up to Sundance because Steven Beer said to me: "If you want to be a player, you have to show up where the players are." I didn't know what that meant and it sounded really Hollywood. But he hadn't led me astray yet, so I loaded a little wireframe of something I was calling "IndieWish" onto an iPad and bought a ticket for Park City.
It is utterly overwhelming when you first arrive in Park City. Papparazzi are waiting at the airport for the arrival of the movie stars, people are greeting each other (everyone knows everyone, or so it seems) and they're making deals in the baggage claim. It IS like that. I thought, "Maybe I don't belong here."
So I started attending screenings, afterparties, hanging out in the New York Lounge (one of the great free, comfortable places to re-charge your phone batteries and your own on Main Street), and meeting people.
And while everywhere you look are elements of big-budget filmmaking, everywhere you go people are fighting the good fight on behalf of truly independent filmmaking. The people here are (for the most part) really good people, really talented artists, really savvy and inventive businesspeople. They want to tell more, different kinds of stories to broader and broader audiences. And while of course they're looking to make money, the goal is still really pure: to change people's lives through the medium of filmmaking, even if in some really small way.
So I'd show my ipad to anyone who would talk to me and say I wanted to do something for indie filmmaking and would they mind taking a look at my idea and telling me what they thought? And no they wouldn't and of course they would! In two days I was convinced we could build something from the wireframes that would be really valuable to the people I was meeting. And I met my first advisor, Scott Osman, who would change the course of the business.
This year, we return to Sundance with a platform that is raising money for incredible projects (with several on their to success), and the incredible support and buy in from folks I would never have dreamed of meeting last year. (I'm looking at you Ted Hope and Nancy Schafer!)
And yet, it can still be hard not to get distracted or feel unimportant when you're bombarded at every term with BIG BRANDS and RED ROPES and unfriendly doormen.
If exclusivity is not your thing you might spend more time at the top of Main Street at Slamdance, Sundance's punk little brother. He's the kid who dresses funny but has the best sense of humor and a wry look at life. He doesn't care what you think. It's easier to get in to screenings, parties, and much less expensive. Most of the films we've seen so far have been astonishing: fresh new voices from all over the world.
So this week in Park City, "independent filmmaking" has lots of different meanings to different people. We're asking everyone we meet (filmmakers, businesspeople, actors, and crew) what does Independent Cinema mean to you? We give them 15 seconds to answer, and we're posting the interviews on our twitter feed @seedandspark. Join the coversation! Post your own 15 second videos and tell us what independent cinema means to you.
Today we will host the Innovators' Brunch from 11am-2pm mountain time, and you can join us there, too, by tweeting to @stayindiefilm or using the hastag #stayindie. You can monitor the whole conversation at www.stayindiefilm.com. We need to hear from you. We'd be missing an essential piece without your voice!