By Indiewire | Indiewire December 9, 1999 at 2:0AM
PARK CITY 2000: Online Distributors and Digital Technologies Heighten Awareness of Sundance 2000 Short Films
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE/12.9.99) -- With the emergence of new online outlets for short films and animation, short-subject work is widely expected to be a high-profile aspect of next month's Sundance Film Festival. With 2,000 entries for the 2000 Festival, short films are on the minds of many as the festival approaches.
One year ago, AtomFilms founder Mika Salmi quietly made the rounds at Sundance, passing out flyers for his soon-to-launch start-up. In subsequent months iFilm, AtomFilms, Always Independent Films, Sputnik7, Mediatrip and a host of other sites launched, intending to carve out a brand in the growing web-based film and video niche.
Conventional indie industry wisdom has pegged short films as a top priority for Sundance 2000 biz attendees. Acquisitions executives from a host of sites will be bumping shoulders and making deals alongside the buyers from more traditional distributors.
"I definitely think it will have an impact," Sundance programmer Trevor Groth told indieWIRE yesterday, "These companies seem to be creating quite a stir."
Cory Wynne and Anne Rosellini, members of the acquisitions team at AtomFilms (http://www.atomfilms.com), are just two of the buyers who will be on the scene in Park City looking to make deals. iFilm will be on hand, as will Sputnik7, Media Trip and a host of other companies.
"It is a definite reality," explained Patrick Lynn, head of acquisitions at MediaTrip.com (http://www.mediatrip.com), "There has always been a market for [shorts], now there is an even bigger market for them."
iFilm (http://www.ifilm.net) founder Roger Raderman agrees. "It doesn't surprise me," Raderman told indieWIRE late yesterday, "There is going to be heated competition to get those shorts online."
Raderman continued, "I think that we are experiencing a sea change -- a revolution if you like -- because of digital technology, the production costs have come down -- more and more people are able to finance short films."
Sundance programmer Trevor Groth agreed that this year's 20% increase in short film submissions is a result of changes in production. "A lot of it has to do with digital," Groth told indieWIRE yesterday, "A lot of people have access to equipment [and] with the quantity came quality too, I am really happy."
Groth explained that there is an increasing use of special effects and technologies apparent in the crop of Sundance 2000 shorts. The highest quality is, according to Groth, in this year's longer narrative shorts. Likening the quality to the short work that preceded features last year, Groth said, "I think the longer narrative stuff is amazing -- on par, if not better than some of the features." He also highlighted the festival's first stab at showcasing a group of experimental short films in the Frontier section. "Its the first time we've done that," he said, "[There are] some amazing films in there."
Back on the subject of the increased focus on Sundance shorts due to the emerging online distributors, Groth explained, "I enjoy what they are doing -- I like the fact that they are giving exposure to short films." While admitting, "I am not crazy about the technology for watching shorts films online," He continued, "I expect to see a lot more people talking about short films because of that -- anytime you can get more exposure for short films, that is great."
"In the end its about adding another layer of awareness for short films," Atom's Cory Wynne told indieWIRE yesterday, continuing, "Sundance is such an important festival for feature filmmakers -- there is no reason why we can't help it be that for short filmmakers as well."
[The complete lineup of Sundance 2000 Short Films is available now here at indieWIRE.com.]