View Full Version : the state of the sundance film festival


darkavenger
01-07-2005, 08:27 PM
I'm posting one of my blogs in here. It is rather biased, so faint of heart beware.
Ever notice that the films playing at the Sundance Film festival in Park City are just a bunch of big budget Hollywood fare. I guess "The Aviator" is independent. So is "Alexander." I guess they are independent because they are financed independently. All 200 million dollars of it.
Maybe it's time for someone to start a studio-backed film festival, where only films with studio backing are played, then they can sway the blockbusters away from the film festivals and let the independents play.
Maybe I'm bitter, but I always thought the big guys already have their big red carpet-ish awards like the Oscars, why do they have to take Sundance away from the little guys? It's pretty clear that big budgets can win any festival. Take home the $100,000 prize too, why don't ya - they really need it, I guess. Hundreds of millions is not enough.
I don't know. I wonder if this is what Robert Redford wanted out of his institution. I think it has strayed far from it's roots. And again, I'm always for the underdogs.

indietalk
01-07-2005, 08:39 PM
The word independent makes money, in the same way the music industry capitalized on grunge.

$:evil:$

darkavenger
01-08-2005, 12:30 AM
so true

LOGAN L Productions
01-08-2005, 12:42 AM
I totally agree, but at the same time...there are some movies that had no outside support, but are made by millionares (I'm thinking of "Garden State" right now)...that's technically independent...right?

Perhaps there should be a new category: Big Budget Independents???

PLUS: what studio has to finance your film for it not to be independent? Eternal sunshine was a focus feature from the beginning (I believe), but it's always referred to as an independent movie...is that because it wasn't HUGE or what?

I'm beginning to just thing all the lables mean nothing...but I think we can be proud to say that we are TRULY independent...and that really is something to be proud of...we do what we do purely for the love of film!

Anyway, you're completely right. I don't know if Sundance was ever JUST for independent movies, but it is being bombarded with big budget pictures and I'm guessing Mr. Redford or someone is getting a lot of money through that too.

There's still Slamdance and other wonderful fests out there.

directorik
01-08-2005, 11:42 AM
Wasn't one of the winners at Sundance last year the $7,000 "Primer"?

NicklausLouis
01-08-2005, 03:29 PM
I think Sundance tries to retain it's (true) indie cred by accepting films such as "Primer," and at the same time retain it's Hollywood hot spot feel with more questionable selections like those mentioned above.

Like Indie said, the "indie" title means so much more than what it infers.

Poke

alterEGOcinema
01-09-2005, 08:59 PM
Yeah, what Poke said.

They need big names to draw people in who wouldn't normally come to a festival, then they can hopefully get them into the true independent films while they're there.

(I.E. I remember the year SXSW Film Festival had Phone Booth for their opening film. Yeah, that film had a major theatrical release coming up. it's all for show. festivals need to make money some how to keep them going.)

But it does still suck for us as we feel half those big films coulda been given up for one of our undiscovered indies.

A couple of us are going to Sundance this year, so we'll get to check out this whole charade.
(but we're actually working for Tromadance, uh oh, hope we don't get caught on the other side)

Mike-B
www.alteregocinema.com

filmscheduling
02-13-2005, 06:14 AM
On Police Beat we had a budget of about $250-$300k. It was definitely not a studio film and it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. But I know what you're talking about - Police Beat seemed to be one of the exceptions in that regard. Sundance has been "Miramaxed" for some time.

Slamdance struck me as a place where the Indie vibe was well and truly alive. Most of the films that I saw at Park City were in Slamdance because it was such a pain in the (*& to get into the Sundance films. If you're cynical about Sundance then check out Slamdance.

darkavenger
02-17-2005, 05:05 PM
Police BEat - was that in Seattle? I read about something like it at wiggly world.

filmscheduling
02-18-2005, 01:18 AM
Yep it was produced through WigglyWorld. Check out http://www.policebeatmovie.com/. I totally recommend getting involved with NWFF/WigglyWorld if you have a chance to.

inyofaceprod
03-10-2005, 09:54 AM
Sundance isnt for true independant filmmakers i went this past yr .............I agree with darkavenger. In the past 7 yrs i have shot directed acted in 2 shorts and done 1 trailer and my work has only been shown at 5 festivals why .... because i cant afford an A-LIST actor in my films even though they are well written scripts.....My last short film i saw similiar trailors at the movies last week . AT sundance its about who you know and has your movie created enough buzz......I Saw so many crappy films at sundance i couldnt beleive but when i read the filmmakers bio's some were related to high profile hollywood actors who gave them the money to do the film and then had friends at major studios..... TRUE INDEPENDANT FILM MAKERS NEED TO GET TO GETHER AND FORM AND TRUE INDIE FILM FESTIVAL LETS DO THIS . www.inyofaceproduction.com

inyofaceprod
03-14-2005, 10:55 PM
I have a question maybe someone can help me out with-------my film was shot in nashville tn where i used to live it had been shown at 3 festivals in tenn even winning an award i got a small check but i was estatic about it also the film festival said they would forward my film to the nashville film festival and to inform them what response i would get from.........Them _________ shot me down i was so mad i know the people at that film festival even volunteered to screen like 100 movies for them one yr and they acted like my film wasnt worthy to be shown at they festival and people who has seen it at festivals love it

Zensteve
03-15-2005, 12:43 AM
Well, I think you may have left the actual question out of the post...

...but it happens. The bigger the festivals get, the harder it is to get in.

What was the Q?

lux
03-15-2005, 04:59 AM
my grandma does that sometimes.. but im sure when he remembers he will tell us:P

clive
03-15-2005, 07:22 AM
I think part of the issue has always been that people use the word "indie" in different ways. Which is fine.

However, what I find a little disturbing is the idea that there is a virtue in ultra-low budgets. That somehow the less you spend the more "indie" you are.

Sure, it's an achievement to bring in an ultra low budget film. However, I've always seen it as an achievement of necessity, not a position I've chosen to work from. Given the choice between doing my next picture on $750,000 and $7,500 I know for sure I'm not going to choose the smaller budget. The truth is that the more you have on a budget the more you can achieve. Personally I like to get paid for my work, I like to pay my cast and crew and I like to work on professional formats (all those things take considerable budgets).

The other thing is, I don't ever want to have my work judged on it's budget (ie. Isn't it incredible that he made that on only $4.50) I want people to leave the cinema saying "Hey that was a great film." period. The budget shouldn't be important.

The other thing to remember is that Miramax has done incredible work in bringing indie directors into the mainstream and getting films that would have otherwise never been made out to huge global audiences.

The truth of the matter is, if being indie means having no budget, shooting on consumer formats, not paying my cast, crew or myself, having an end product that I can't sell or show at major international selling festivals, then I'll without a second's hestitation hand in my indie tag and just call myself a filmmaker.

Spatula
03-24-2005, 02:41 PM
I believe you are all looking for the term "Microbudget". Independant basically means not backed by a studio, and can encompass so many meanings it gets confusing. There are "independant studios", but that doesn't mean Pierce Brosnan can't own one and star in all its movies. Mircobudget means smaller budget, independant means without backing of a studio. Our movie falls into both categories, but we expect to get more attention from the "microbudget festivals". We're still applying at TIFF and slamdance and the like, but more or less expect to just get exposure, or midnight madness screenings- but what's wrong with that? Just getting in is an honor these days.
But I agree with you- the bigger fesitvals are getting clogged with the bigger budget pictures, and it is about who you know. Someone from work I know, her brother just got a gig as a director for a music video when he has NO experience. He just sweet talked some money-bags into funding him, and now he's going to Jamacia for free to film a video. Hey, I'm not complaining, cause I might get to go as a PA, but it still makes me a little discouraged...

And guy with a question- I think what you're trying to say is that you are upset because you didn't get into a festival in Nashville even though you won the one you were in. Sometimes, different festivals look for different criteria, and perhaps your film did not meet the needs of the festival and they had no time left to put yours in.


-Logan-

filmscheduling
03-26-2005, 05:23 PM
For short films, I would not sweat Sundance. God only knows what they are looking for and your chances of getting in are less than 2%. Do fests for fun and not for $, because short films rarely sell!

For long format films, I would not overly sweat Sundance. The fact is many films at Sundance (that are not already backed by a distro company) do not sell. I'm being a little tongue in cheek, but the "Sundance Dream" is not a roadmap to reality for 99% of all filmmakers.

thatrader
05-26-2005, 04:37 AM
Clive, I think you're the most honest and articulate person I've read talk about independent film in a while. There are way too many pseudo hip, "I'm indie cuz i drink cappucino and shoot dogma 95 art movies" assholes out there. Thanks for keeping it real.

I think part of the issue has always been that people use the word "indie" in different ways. Which is fine.

However, what I find a little disturbing is the idea that there is a virtue in ultra-low budgets. That somehow the less you spend the more "indie" you are.

Sure, it's an achievement to bring in an ultra low budget film. However, I've always seen it as an achievement of necessity, not a position I've chosen to work from. Given the choice between doing my next picture on $750,000 and $7,500 I know for sure I'm not going to choose the smaller budget. The truth is that the more you have on a budget the more you can achieve. Personally I like to get paid for my work, I like to pay my cast and crew and I like to work on professional formats (all those things take considerable budgets).

The other thing is, I don't ever want to have my work judged on it's budget (ie. Isn't it incredible that he made that on only $4.50) I want people to leave the cinema saying "Hey that was a great film." period. The budget shouldn't be important.

The other thing to remember is that Miramax has done incredible work in bringing indie directors into the mainstream and getting films that would have otherwise never been made out to huge global audiences.

The truth of the matter is, if being indie means having no budget, shooting on consumer formats, not paying my cast, crew or myself, having an end product that I can't sell or show at major international selling festivals, then I'll without a second's hestitation hand in my indie tag and just call myself a filmmaker.

phoebz965
11-02-2006, 05:37 PM
I totally agree with Clive. I don't think it matters how much you spend or if you are attached to an independent branch of a big studio distributer. Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight rarely produce films, they are mostly involved in acquisitions. But these films are no more mainstream because they are later picked up by a reputable distributer. I think that both companies have had great product in the past year. What is a shame, and what I think much of the criticism on this thread has been, is that it is much easier for one of these studio-attached companies to get their films into Sundance. Money will always come into play, and these companies are mainly looking to pick up indies that they can market easily. I don't think Sundance has sold out, I merely think they have just gone along with the industry trends. Afterall, think about who attends Sundance. It's a HUGE Hollywood scene. How can we be that surprised that the product is becoming more and more linked to hollywood ties. There are other reputable companies that are managing to get their products in the door. I've heard some hype on a new film from Goldcrest Films Internations. It's kind of a bizzare twist on young love--a teeny bopper movie for the more morbid indie lover. check out the trailer on UTUBE if you are interested.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBmiN7Jemdc