Local filmmakers are in for a special treat this month: Sundance Artist Services, a program from the Sundance Institute that “empowers filmmakers navigating the changing business of independent film,” is coming to Seattle to participate in a workshop on everything from creative funding, production, marketing, and distribution.
Washington Filmworks, always a proponent of resources around the business of film, is pleased to be one of the sponsors of the event.
The daylong workshop caps off the final day of the 19th annual Local Sightings Festival, Seattle’s only film festival dedicated to Pacific Northwest films and filmmakers, organized by Northwest Film Forum.
Though the workshop has taken place in other cities like New York, Austin, and San Francisco, this is the first time the Sundance Artists Services program will land in the Pacific Northwest. Courtney Sheehan, Executive Director of the Northwest Film Forum, says festival organizers are “ecstatic” about the chance to connect Seattle filmmakers with the Sundance Institute’s industry expertise during Local Sightings.
“The Sundance Institute is an internationally respected resource with a reputation for providing insights and professional development,” says Sheehan. “This workshop lets Seattle filmmakers engage with professionals working at the forefront of the changing landscape of independent film, from direct-to-fan distribution to what it takes to cut through the crowdfunding noise on Kickstarter.”
Local filmmakers will have an opportunity to forge new connections with the Sundance Institute, as well as peers and professionals from across the country. Says Sheehan: “What better way to convene filmmakers than to provide an awesome workshop as a way to meet each other and encounter new work and collaborators?”
Liz Manashil, the Artists Services Manager for The Sundance Institute (and a filmmaker herself) says that because the means of distribution for indie filmmaking as well as marketing tactics are constantly changing, filmmakers oftentimes get overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at them.
“Also,” she adds, “a lot of filmmakers choose to focus on the “artistic” side of filmmaking and leave the “business” side for someone else to take care of. Unfortunately micro-budget filmmakers cannot hide behind those excuses. Often there’s a sole creator behind getting the film out into the world because they cannot afford to outsource marketing and distribution.”
Manashil recently penned an article on Medium detailing several ways filmmakers can make the most the DIY distribution market, but is particularly excited about the workshop since Sundance will delve deep into “the nitty-gritty with case studies,” as well as host a general discussion about the state of distribution. By looking at distribution from a bird’s eye lens as well as detailed case studies, Manashil says, she hopes that filmmakers of all levels will leave feeling more informed and empowered.
“Because distribution is always changing, you always have to educate yourself on what your options are. Distribution is the great equalizer because if you are stuck in the old world, with years of experience of traditional distribution (selling all your rights to one distributor), you’re not necessary better informed than a complete newbie, looking at how to release their first feature.”
In addition to representatives from BitTorrent and Vimeo/VHX, who will be leading the case studies panel, Northwest Film Forum invited several local creators and filmmakers to join the mix and discuss their latest tips and tricks for success. “We wanted to make sure to tap the experiences and expertise of some of Seattle’s many accomplished local filmmakers and to put them in conversation with Sundance Institute staff and fellow film professionals from other cities,” says Sheehan.
Seattle-based Animator Clyde Peterson and documentary director Evan Briggs will talk about the challenges and advantages of creative fundraising. Documentary filmmaker and activist Tracy Rector, one of this year’s Stranger Genius nominees in Film (LINK), filmmaker, photographer and artist Khalik Allah and Jennifer Roth, line producer (The Squid and the Whale, Black Swan, The Wrestler, Laggies, Your Sister’s Sister) will discuss their insights and sources of inspiration.
To learn more and get tickets to the Sundance Artist Services Workshop, click here.