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Sundance Institute Partners with iTunes, Amazon and more

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire July 27, 2011 at 6:52AM

Sundance Institute unveiled a multilayered expansion of its Artist Services program today, which aims to augment its artists' reach with audiences, raise funding and receive support through a new website.
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Sundance Institute Partners with iTunes, Amazon and more
Photo by Brian Brooks

Sundance Institute unveiled a multilayered expansion of its Artist Services program today, which aims to augment its artists' reach with audiences, raise funding and receive support through a new website.

Also unveiled today as part of its new initiative, Sundance Institute artists will now be able to make their work available online for consumers via iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW and YouTube while still retaining ownership of their work and making independent decisions about strategies for each outlet.

Today's announcement builds on its alliance with Kickstarter and others unveiled by Sundance Institute during the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Full Sundance Institute release and details follow:

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the non-profit Sundance Institute, today announced an expansion of the Institute’s Artist Services program, which provides opportunities for Sundance Institute artists to reach audiences, raise funding and receive support through a robust educational and resources site. While the Sundance Film Festival has long offered a platform for films to be acquired for distribution, the expansion of this initiative aims to provide opportunities for the many projects that are distributed independently.

Through the program, filmmakers can now make their films available online to consumer markets via iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW, and YouTube while still retaining ownership of their work and making independent decisions about strategies for each outlet. Each partner is highly regarded for its visibility, reach, strong and reliable security protections, and social media connectivity. They will identify and promote these film projects to their audiences, while in turn, the Institute will endorse their availability through its own marketing and promotional efforts and through the vast social community developed over the course of the Institute’s 30-year history.

New Video, the Institute’s exclusive aggregation partner for distribution across these portals, will offer all eligible Sundance Film Festival and Lab titles a unique gateway to digital distribution that emphasizes filmmaker ownership and control, with the benefit of New Video’s 20 years of marketing and sales expertise.

In addition, the Institute has also entered into a deal with Topspin Media to provide its artists with direct marketing tools and fulfillment services. Topspin is a direct marketing and retail software platform for musicians, filmmakers and authors that provides tools for independent artists to increase awareness of their work and build relationships with fans.

Among the first films and filmmakers to use these services will be two selections from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival: Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology by director Tiffany Shlain, which premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition section and On the Ice, by director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, which premiered in the U.S. Narrative Competition section. In addition, the filmmakers of Jess + Moss, Lord Byron, New Low, Obselidia, The Oregonian, Space Tourists, and The Woods are also embarking on independent, creative release strategies that will take advantage of the initiative's offerings. Details on the availability of each film to the public will be announced.

“When I founded the Institute in 1981, it was at a time when a few studios ran the industry and an artist’s biggest concern was whether their film would get made,” said Robert Redford, Founder and President of the Institute. “Technology has lessened that burden, but the big challenge today is how audiences can see these films. The Artist Services program is a direct response to that need. We’re not in the distribution business; we’re in the business of helping independent voices be heard.”

The first phase of the program, announced in January at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, featured a collaboration with Kickstarter for filmmakers to build creative funding campaigns for production and distribution costs. As of July 2011, dozens of projects from Institute-supported filmmakers have raised more than $650,000 via Kickstarter. Also announced in January and continuing is a relationship with Facebook®, which offers Institute alumni advice, educational materials and best-practices tips on how to build and engage audiences via the service.

“By acting as a conduit between filmmaker and distributor, we are presenting an alternative to traditional distribution while building knowledge about online distribution strategies that will benefit the broader field of independent film,” said Putnam. “We’ve worked with these leaders in online distribution to make it easier for filmmakers to present their work to the widest audiences possible.”

The Artist Services program furthers the Institute’s non-profit mission to support independent artists, and is designed for filmmakers interested in independent “creative distribution” as they navigate the evolving landscape in film distribution, marketing and financing. With unparalleled recognition worldwide, the nonprofit Sundance Institute is in a unique position to bring together a wide range of services and lend invaluable promotional support for artists.

The Sundance Institute Artist Services initiative is made possible by The Bertha Foundation. O’Melveny & Myers generously provided pro bono legal services for the program. The initiative was developed based on research and input from independent filmmakers, industry advisors, the Institute’s Technology Committee and its Board of Directors.

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit






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