Sundance 2013: The Indie Business Lives

January 28th, 2013 by

From TheWrap, a brief video excerpt from Sundance 2013 featuring director Lynn Shelton (“Touchy Feely”), Chris Williams (Maker Studios), Slated CEO Duncan Cork, Maker’s Williams, producer Rick Rosenthal, producer Jonathan Dana, and Indieflix’s Andreen:

Theatrical, online, RPM models. Things are changing quickly in the indie film world. The nice thing is not even 5 years ago, people were ready to write off indie films. Compare to Sundance this year where there was an active buying market.

My gut says we are in for a renaissance in independent movies. Digital filmmaking and post has made movie production much more accessible to young talent and visionaries. Digital distribution provides worldwide viewers. Yes, financing and marketing are still big issues. But when movies like last year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild can come along and do what it has done, it proves talented filmmakers who craft great stories will always find an audience.

For more of TheWrap article, go here.

3 thoughts on “Sundance 2013: The Indie Business Lives

  1. To me, what’s interesting about that interview is the fact that when Lynn & co discuss the Theatrical Experience, what they’re really talking about is a social experience rather than a technological one and are truly aware of the distinction.

    I know people like Quentin Tarantino have railed on about the purity of projected film as the best way to see film, but imho he’s fundamentally wrong for a very simple reason: almost every movie that gets made goes through a digital workflow and is processed and printed digitally.

    Digital’s eventual dominance over film is inevitable. The following two press releases put the writing on the wall, as far as I’m concerned, as NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster starts to transmit 4K content next year (4K is the same resolution as 35mm film) and 8K (70mm film) in 2016:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/japan-planning-4k-tv-broadcasts-415827
    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/010613-japan39s-nhk-eyes-8k-tv-265522.html

    Regardless of whether we’re talking about indie or mainstream, if theaters are to survive and thrive, moviegoing has to be enjoyable and uniquely different from the home viewing experience. Does that mean more IMAX & 3D, more theater chains taking the same approach as Alamo Drafthouse, or something else entirely?

    1. Scott says:

      First off, I’ve never been to an Alamo Drafthouse, but everything I’ve ever read or heard about those theaters suggest I would want to curl up and live there!

      Your point is well taken, pliny. I’ve heard this basic perspective for decades, whether it was fear about videocassettes, DVDs, home theater, piracy, whatever, there is a fundamental belief in Hollywood that people will always want to go out to a theater to see a movie. Maybe not as much in the future, but there is something about the experience that is distinct from watching a movie at home. Even if it’s just an excuse for a date or a chance to go out with some friends.

      Now that may very well be changing. Part of the decisions about what movies are getting picked up and produced are being driven by Hollywood’s recent ‘discovery’ that Baby Boomers LOVE movies, unlike the more fickle nature of young people who didn’t grow up with the limited entertainment opportunities we ol’ farts had.

      But what happens when we die off? Will young people continue to be interested in movies, especially going out to theaters? My guess is you are right, unless the experience is significantly different than sitting around watching a movie on a computer screen or even on a big screen TV at home, theatrical attendance may plummet.

      Which is why we see some theater chains muttering about allowing people to text in a movie theater, a nod toward young people’s ‘addiction’ to social media. But then THAT would piss off ol’ farts.

      So rock meet hard place.

      It will be interesting to see how things shake out in the next decade or so…

      1. I’m not sure there’s any easy answer.

        If TV (and by extension cable & on-demand) can deliver a picture and sound quality that is in fact superior to that available in most theaters, then something has to give.

        http://connect.dpreview.com/post/5972070381/sharp-shows-8k-tv-prototype

        Any hope, as the interviewees pointed out, derives from the fact that movie going at its best *is* a social and immersive experience. For example, the scene where the aliens destroy the White House in Independence Day is exponentially more impactful and visceral when seen in a full theater. Or when Thelma and Louise drive off the cliff. And would you *ever* watch Rocky Horror at home?

        For theaters, digital distribution is the joker in the pack, because it means that at any time, any movie can be downloaded and presented, and that levels the playing field for indie and mainstream. This also puts power back in the hands of theater owners, because they can now be far more selective about what they show.

        Combine that with social media and data mining, and now you have the possibility of intelligent real-time theater programming or the throwback practice of booking different movies at different times for a specific screen. Leveraging the data from social media to customize and target the experience for that specific audience (think something like Rocky Horror & flash crowds).

        To be honest, Alamo’s (http://www.drafthouse.com) signature events model relies on humans to do the movie programming, but the end result is similar to what I have in mind.

        And yes, they don’t allow cell phones, etc when the movie is on: http://drafthouse.com/blog/entry/a_letter_from_tim_league_on_texting_friendly_movie_theaters

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