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IMDb and Sundance Recharge Withoutabox for Sundance 2016 (EXCLUSIVE)

IMDb and Sundance Recharge Withoutabox for Sundance 2016 (EXCLUSIVE)

On Monday, June 29, the gates open to submit films for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, as the Sundance Institute and Withoutabox renew their long relationship. Since 2008, Sundance has exclusively used the online festival submission system, which is launching a brand new redesign to make it easier for filmmakers to upload their videos, create film pages and find information about global festivals.

“We’re able to share now,” said Col Needham, Withoutabox owner IMDb’s founder and CEO, in a telephone interview. “We’re all ready and raring to go. Sundance 2016 is open for submissions. It’s June, already time to think about the exciting films and opportunities Sundance 2016 will afford filmmakers to connect with audiences. The redesign of the site is huge; it’s a significant update and the biggest change to Withoutabox since its launch in 2001. In its history, it was able to process 2.5 million festival submissions to leading film festivals and over 100 titles went on to win an Academy Award nomination, and dozens actually won.”

Executive Director of Sundance Institute Keri Putnam and her team worked closely with Withoutabox and IMDb. The goal for Sundance was to maximize the number of potential discoveries for each festival, so that the film community wouldn’t miss out on the next breakout like “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Fruitvale Station” or “Whiplash.”

Sundance gave IMDb notes and feedback from their programming staff and filmmakers about streamlining and updating the Withoutabox interface. “We partnered with them on that,” said Putnam. “It was an ideal opportunity to take feedback from within our community and develop jointly a new and appealing version of the product. The new system is more user-friendly and intuitive.” 

According to Needham, the new Withoutabox redesign “makes it easier for filmmakers to submit to festivals, and for them to evaluate the submissions via a new film project page. We listened to feedback from filmmakers, customers, and festivals, especially with our close partner Sundance. When it came time to look at where things would go in 2016, we sat down and met with a large number of their team, listened to their ideas about product features and what they wanted.”

So IMDb simplified and shortened the Withoutabox mechanics of submitting and uploading. Filmmakers can submit their work to festivals and get discovered via overhauled film project pages including easier integration with free HD secure online screeners up to 10G. This means festivals will see the films with higher resolution. And soon, filmmakers with hosted videos on Vimeo will be able to submit their work to Withoutabox via a Vimeo link. And Withoutabox helps filmmakers to promote their project via automatically created IMDb title pages and social media. 

“We’re built for scale,” said Needham. “One of our advantages is the work we’ve done within the IMDb technology, like our Amazon video upload pipeline; we encode actual films as they’re uploaded.”

The new site makes it clear that it’s free to register and easy to upload HD videos and find the right film festivals. The search functions are more robust, including simple filters for festival deadlines and price. “Now you can search dynamically for the source of festivals, where they happen and when in the year, what kinds of films they show, and submission fees,” said Putnam. (Filters help to answer: Are they established? Currently accepting submissions? What are their deadlines? Do they qualify films for the Academy Awards? How much do they cost?) 

“Sundance more than any other is a festival of discovery,” said Putnam. “That’s what we get excited about every year—if we didn’t have a good way to ingest 12000 submitted films, we might miss out on some voices and not do such a thorough job.”

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