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Evan Shapiro’s Festival Films to TV Series

Evan Shapiro's Festival Films to TV Series

I like Evan Shapiro (President of IFC)’s blog, 15 Film Festival Darlings That Would Have Been Better as TV Series, which just appeared on Huffington Post and am posting it here for my readers.

I have been going to Sundance every year since 1985 and am so immersed in the independent international film world that I never have the time or energy to watch TV.  We have so many remote controls, I can’t seem to learn how to use them to turn on the TV.  I had to buy The Wire on DVD to see it!  And now you can stream it on Netflix too.  We consulted on the excellent indie, Outsourced, that NBC did pick up and serialize.  People liked the series a lot too, though not enough to keep it going beyond one or two seasons.

Oddly, the films that Evan names in his excellent article are all films I completely missed in favor of viewing others.  Not to say they are not worthy of the big screen, but perhaps they are actually better suited to TV, the medium I never watch.  The comments of others about his blog are also quite interesting.  

This is food for thought: Perhaps Sundance Institute should expand its labs into the television development/ production world. It could air the programs and the lab processes on its own exclusive internet channel, beyond the current Sundance Selects or Sundance Channel. It might build a new audience as it airs its own pilots and even series, whether they are picked up by other channels or not, thus giving the filmmakers a new avenue of expression.

There are too many films in the festival to watch anyway. Maybe some are better suited to the TV series format.

Sundance could even establish a special jury to judge the festival film submissions and if they were found “better suited to TV series” they could be aired as such, be developed and produced as series and the process could be judged and commented on as their progress was witnessed by interested viewers. Socially networking the entire process ought to lead to expanding and shaping the indie minded community beyond webisodes and YouTube.

In the early days of Sundance we could see all the films over the entire course of the festival. We watched films all day and evening during the first half. At night we went to the festival sponsored parties every night – there were no private parties at that time. During the second half, we would ski all day until around 3 or 4 when we would come down to the Egyptian and watch one or two films and then eat and go to the parties. I learned to ski there with Hector Babenco and Todd McCarthy. Todd, his g-f Flo, Peter and I even went skiiing in Colorado as a result of our friendship that developed from our ski lessons at the Sundance Film Festival. Every year we’d ski Park City or Deer Valley with Ira Deutschman, Harris Tulchin, Jeff Dowd, Flo Dauman and Piers Handling.  I remember having 20 minutes exclusive time on the ski lift with some very heavy hitters up on those slopes.  

Having that extra time meant so much to us when our networks were just developing as we built our careers in the indie film world. Internet social networking seems to have replaced that face time, but having some Sundance films earmarked for new growth patterns might give us on the ground a little more time to network beyond the parties which are mostly overcrowded and too loud. There are some lunches too, but even they become more difficult to attend as watching and writing limit my time in new ways.

Anyway, if you are still with me, read Evan’s article and if you like it, help spread the word. Maybe Sundance itself will take note and I will have accomplished my mission of making this independent world of ours more accessible to more people in more ways.

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