Dropbox Returns to Sundance to Celebrate the Art of Collaboration

The presenting sponsor of the IndieWire Studio at the Sundance Film Festival is providing the tools filmmakers need to better organize their productions.
Dropbox Returns to Sundance to Celebrate the Art of Collaboration

Making a film can be both a marathon and a sprint, with a production taking months or even years to come to fruition — with many long, tiring days on set and in editing rooms. But now filmmakers are discovering different ways to use Dropbox to streamline creative workflows and get their passion projects off the ground much faster.

Why is Dropbox at Sundance?
Dropbox returns to the Sundance Film Festival for the 4th year in a row to celebrate the massive collaborative effort that it takes to make a film. For the past 5 years, over 60% of Sundance films were made with the help of Dropbox. Filmmakers like Edward Norton (“Motherless Brooklyn”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), and Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) have relied on Dropbox to work better with their large and diverse teams.

Filmmaking is a team sport. Oftentimes there are large teams working in different locations with tight timelines, constantly shifting priorities, and razor-thin margins. Whether sharing dailies, shooting schedules, costume specs, or film finance spreadsheets, Dropbox and Dropbox Paper keep these teams on the same page so everyone’s marching towards the same goal.

As producer, writer, director, and star of the movie “Motherless Brooklyn,” Edward Norton had to harness the collective skillset of disparate teams and sought what he calls a “curatorial platform” to unify the crew. Norton and his crew used both Dropbox and Dropbox Paper to create, communicate, and coordinate without toggling through emails and apps.

“I used it personally as a place to keep track of what state of creative evolution the various layers of the film were in. I had a file for every scene with the script, photos of the costumes, photos of the locations, the sets,” said Norton. “But also what I started doing was building my full storyboards in it using photographs.”

Before he began using collaboration tools, Norton said it used to take weeks of back and forth with a storyboard artist to bring his visions to life.

“On this production any member of the crew could open up ‘Day Two’ and the shot list and sequence of work for the day, along with specific photographic storyboards of every set up,” said Norton. “Having a document like that for every day of the shoot that’s on everybody in the crew’s phone was fairly revolutionary. We’d never have been able to shoot a film this big in 46 days without that kind of team coordination.”

How do filmmakers use Dropbox?
Dropbox has gathered a lot of resources to show how it’s products speed up processes, simplify collaboration, and help teams work together efficiently through every stage of the production which can be found at dropbox.com/film. The collection of articles highlights how to use Dropbox on a film, as well as interviews with filmmakers on how they’ve used it in the past.

“We use Dropbox throughout our entire process,” said Joshua Cohen, co-producer and post-production supervisor of “TheFarewell.” Cohen says the first step is simply getting all the paperwork and timetables in one place. “On the production side, we use Dropbox for all our organization, for our contracts, and our schedules.”

Filmmakers are also using Paper for location scouting. Paper allows crews to build a visual location guide, helping the team discuss and hone in on the best places to get the shots they need. You can just drop in a Google Maps link to view and interact with a map by zooming in and out and navigating on your mobile device.

“We do call sheets, daily schedules, and maps that get uploaded into Dropbox Paper,” said James Okumura, Emmy winner and producer of the short film “Mighty.“ “So every day, it’s a repeat of daily schedules, call sheets, and maps that get disseminated to all the crew through Paper,” which allows them to go where they need to go at the right time. “It’s really like wrangling really hyper-intelligent and capable cats.”

What is the Dropbox book?
Dropbox has created a custom brand book showcasing how Dropbox is a useful tool in film creation and fosters collaboration.

The best part about filmmaking is collaboration but it can also be the most challenging part. The Dropbox book illustrates the filmmaking process and how to simplify the collaboration process. You can download the Dropbox Film Book here to learn more.

The IndieWire Studio returns to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Friday January 24th. Located on Main Street in the heart of Park City, Utah, the studio will be home to dozens of video interviews and will serve as a destination for actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, composers, and documentary subjects.

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