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Saturday, 25 February 2012 06:00

Sundance 2012: More than Just Storytelling

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In the snowy, picturesque city of Park City, Utah, filmmakers and others interested in supporting the storytelling process gathered to listen, learn and participate in seminars, sessions and other industry events offered at Sundance 2012. Here’s a recap of the event’s sessions and support services.

The Filmmakers Lodge and Cinema Cafe was a great place to relax and catch up with other filmmakers while sitting in on an informative industry session. A series of informal chats was held each morning at 10 a.m. “TimesTalk at Sundance with Julie Delpy and Parker Posey” was a conversation about women in film with a strong emphasis on img_0775comedy. In this standing room-only session, Reporter Melena Ryzik sat with Actress/Filmmaker Delpy and Actress Posey to discuss the women’s perspective on making films.

The discussion was well received and appropriate — reportedly, only 16.9 percent of the 3,879 feature films in Sundance 2012’s narrative and documentary categories were directed by women. The number of films made by women as directors and producers is higher in independent film, but there’s still a disparity between the numbers of feature-length films completed by male versus female filmmakers. “I think independent cinema is making it less black and white ... and a little more white in the grey area, which is a little more true to life,” said Posey. “That’s what independents do. At the same time, it might scare the studios because they want it a little more black and white, a little more cowboys-and-Indians kind of thing.” 

NBC Universal held a filmmaker reception at the Riverhorse on Main Street to celebrate their 100th anniversary and invite independent filmmakers to use their nationally based facilities. “I just want you to know that our services are available nationally,” said NBC Universal Marketing Manager Aaron Rogers. NBC Universal has production facilities at NBC Chicago that includes two soundstages, a carpentry and paint shop, and a grip-and-lighting facility in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and they are starting to provide services in New York. “Our philosophy has always been to support emerging filmmakers,” said Jeanne Cordova, senior VP of marketing, PR and special events at NBC Universal Operations and Technical Services. “We support you all.” NBC Universal gave away about $40,000 in credit on the lot for Sundance filmmakers and a few iPods in a drawing for reception guests.

Film commissioners were out in full force at this year’s Sundance.

img_0796They bought ads in show guides, held extravagant filmmaker receptions, rented store space to entertain attendees, and held industry sessions with notable speakers. 

The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) held an extravagant gathering in conjunction with the Utah Film Commission at the Sundance House. AFCI Director of Membership Kevin Clark invited guests to visit their Website at to learn more about the upcoming AFCI Locations Show 2012 that will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 15–16.

Utah Film Commission Director Marshall Moore was busy organizing the fabulous Filmmakers Brunch at the Sundance House that featured many filmmakers, government officials and other invited guests. He also coordinated “The Hub,” a meeting place for filmmakers at the District Gallery on Lower Main Street. The Hub held many inspiring filmmaker sessions where attendees congregated to receive valuable information about many industry-related topics, such as screenwriting, budgeting, digital workflow, short films, commercial production and low-budget filmmaking. 

In their 10th year at Sundance, the Montana Film Commission held a reception for filmmakers and friends of Montana at the Movie Media Group Studio on Main Street to announce the winners of the Pitch the 406 Contest. “This contest was designed to encourage filmmakers from all over the country to apply to Montana to win a $20,000 grant toward the production of the next film,” said Montana Film Commission Director Sten Iverson. A panel of Hollywood judges with ties to Montana judged the event, including Location Manager Mike Fantasia, Producer Marty Katz and First Assistant Cameraman Eric Brown. Filmmaker Matthew Smaglik and his team were the contest winners and will receive a $20,000 production package to produce their project Magpie.

The North Carolina Film Commission also held a memorable party and networking event. Film Commission Director Aaron Syrett reported that they were there to promote filming in North Carolina and continue the expansion of their film-incentive program. “It’s about reconnecting with our clients and maintaining those relationships,” said Syrett. “North Carolina is really busy right now, so we’re just kind of leveraging our business with our incentive to keep growing for 2012. In 2011, we hit the highest we’ve ever done, which is $220 million in production, and for 2012 we’re already committed to up to $165 million.”

The New York State Governors Office of Motion Picture and Television Development once again opened the New York Lounge on Main Street, offering filmmakers a hospitality lounge with bagels, coffee and apple cider flown in from New York. “We’re here all week as a place for filmmakers to come and celebrate New York filmmaking and meet other filmmakers,” said Pat Kaufman, director of the Governors Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. The Office also held industry panels on important industry topics, such as digital marketing and distribution, film finance, how to cash flow tax credits, general production issues, digital filming and digital postproduction.

Drew Mayer-Oakes of the San Antonio Film Commission was on hand to promote filming in San Antonio, Texas, their 17.5-percent incentive program, and Filmmakers Across Borders, a one-day film summit that will take place in San Antonio on February 24. For more information on the film summit, CLICK HERE or visit

Other sponsors at Sundance included Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, which set up shop at the Festival Co-op on Main Street to help educate filmmakers about their 23 worldwide luxury hotels. “Waldorf Astoria obviously is a brand with locations around the world, and we want to connect with these individuals in an environment where we can appeal to their passion points,” reported Richard Wolfman, director of partnerships and promotions of luxury and lifestyle brands. “Waldorf Astoria as a brand has been featured and continues to be featured in a lot of films, and this is something we are extremely open to.”

Timberland was also at the Festival to ask attendees to make a pledge to help reduce the environmental impact. “We at Timberland are really a socially responsible company and we think every little bit makes a difference,” said Timberland’s Laura Young. Timberland will plant a tree for every pledge they receive. 

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