Sundance 2014 kicks off today. This year’s festival includes screenings of several films with Washington connections, including the world premiere of state incentive feature film Laggies. Still a significant amount of buzz at the festival revolves around a local connection to the cutting edge endeavor Live@Sundance. This daily one-hour show, which fans of the festival can access via YouTube, aims to increase access to festival happenings, both inside and outside Park City.

To produce Live@Sundance, the Sundance Institute has joined forces with public relations giant Weber Shandwick, the official producing partner, director, and content creator for this daily show. Live@Sundance has also aligned with major festival sponsors including HP, Adobe, and Cannon to launch this endeavor. YouTube will provide syndication, streaming services, a Park City studio, and influential Content Creators to participate as featured hosts of the show. Among these hosts are Shira Lazar, co-founder and host of What’s Trending, and Casey Neistat, creator of the HBO series The Neistat Brothers.

Live@Sundance was recently covered by the New York Times, and while Weber Shandwick has offices in Seattle, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, Live@Sundance has a strong Washington connection in terms of production and the initiative’s creation. A team of more than 20 crewmembers, many of them Washington-residents, will be on the ground in Park City. The 24-hour, round the clock operation includes field teams, studio teams, and both day and night editing crews. Weber Shandwick is also providing publicity and marketing support.

Washington Filmworks visited with Seattle-based producer and filmmaker Basil Shadid, a leader of the Weber Shandwick team that is spearheading Live@Sundance. We wanted to learn more about the future of online content such as Live@Sundance and what we can expect when we tune into this exciting new initiative over the coming days.

Hi Basil. Tell us more about the reasons Weber Shandwick thinks programs like Live@Sundance are important.

Our goal is to engage audiences – we always create content with a sense of how we want to inspire, motivate, or inform. Striking that chord with an audience demands a level of creativity and originality.

Creativity goes beyond the video too, to the technology and means of how it’s delivered. One of the most exciting aspects of what we’re doing with the Sundance Institute is we’re taking a festival tucked away in the mountains and making it accessible live on the web. With GoLive, our live service, we now have the means and knowhow to invite audience participation no matter where they are. It’s a different experience for audiences to see something that just happened, versus being able to become a part of the moment themselves. 

How does Weber Shandwick see original online content fitting into the global market for film production?  

It’s like what they say for how to get into Sundance, “All you need to do is tell a unique story in an interesting way.” As if it were only that easy! The good news for filmmakers is that telling unique, interesting stories will always be in high demand, and we foresee increasing demand for all types of video work.

We have an added benefit of being part of a global agency with offices in nearly every major city, which makes for more diverse requests and capabilities to fulfill them with a true local’s sense, from anywhere.

Tell us more about how Live@Sundance being spearheaded by Seattle filmmakers?  

Among the lineup for Live@Sundance, Seattle has several crew involved, including me as producer, Director Paul Kiely, and Line Producer Jacob Leander. And having the benefit of a large, creative team behind us at the agency, we’ve been fueled by the experience and passion around not only creating good video content, but also how to infuse social media and audience participation into the show itself.

How can partnerships like this one this benefit Washington?

We’re hoping to expand the already burgeoning relationship between Washington filmmakers and the Sundance Institute. While Live@Sundance isn’t a film in the festival, it is a new approach to digital curation and storytelling that the festival is using to share their content with audiences both on and off the mountain. We’re excited that Washington crew gets to lead the charge, create Live@Sundance, and build on the already strong legacy of innovative storytelling that comes from our state.


Live@Sundance streams live daily at 11 am Mountain Time (10 am Pacific) from the Sundance Film Festival. The program launches a bit later today, with the Sundance Day One Press Conference. Plus Lynn Shelton, director of the Seattle-produced feature Laggies, will be a featured guest on the Sunday installment this January 19.

Be sure to tune in.