The advancement of modern technology today allows live-streaming for events to be shared by hundreds of thousands of audiences all over the world. Daily. In the comfort of one's own cabin, office or wherever a smart phone, iPad, laptop, or desktop may roam. The opening press conference (OPC) for the Sundance 2017 Film Festival was handled once again via live-streaming. Available for anyone who's interested.
The opening press conferences I've attended where filmmakers were featured who had a film screening at the festival added to the excitement of what to expect from the festival programming. Granted, some filmmakers were not as articulate as others but it put a realistic face on the filmmaker that he/she doesn't have to be good at everything, but just their craft to be chosen. I was delighted that two filmmakers would be featured at the beginning of this year's OPC.
Robert Redford, artist, actor and founder of the Sundance Institute, opened the session sharing the stage with two filmmakers whose films were chosen to screen at the 2017 festival. Filmmakers, David Lowery with The Ghost Story and Sydney Freeland with Diedra and Laney Rob a Train both talked about screenwriting and a teachable moment from the Institute's screenwriting lab experience.
Lowery reiterates the message that Redford shares year after year in that filmmakers have a voice and can be change-makers in our world. Freeland adds that one doesn't have to be on a soap box to message a theme. It can be a process. Filmmakers have the opportunity to influence the world through a thoughtful and deliberate process. One film at a time can claim the same message by using different tools to draw-in more and more people--slowly but surely. Today, modern technology gives filmmakers access to a variety of tools to share the same message both freely and creatively.
Teachable moments from the Sundance Institute screenwriting labs is a given. Lowery shares that a script needs to be intact before shooting. He says, "It can't be loosie-goosie while you are on set ready to film because you don't have time to work out a script." Freeland said, "I found the storyboarding process freeing." Each felt that the time spent in the labs were valuable for relationship building and collaboration with a new circle of colleagues that become friends.
The second half of the OPC featured Redford, John Copper, Festival Director and Keri Putnam, the Sundance Institute Director, each sharing thoughts about the emphasis of the 2017 festival. Redford affirmed the necessity of filmmakers being free to express themselves with their skills and equality of diverse voices continues to be key to the success of the festival. He feels that nature and art should be a focal point because it effects our environment. How we live and care for our world impacts our quality of life. Redford recalls that as a kid, he liked stories on film because he felt like he was there. His passion is the documentary film because he says, "Its long-form journalism is made to digest information." News today is simply sound-bites. Redford feels like the documentaries will eventually become the news people want.
A variety of topics were addressed but not discussed in full due to time constraints. Many questions were not easily answered but thoughts to ponder. They ranged from trying to understand how tech companies were changing the climate of the film industry and the independent filmmaker handling a new wave of entrepreneurship to the festival's new environmental category (which Redford fought hard for it some years ago but the timing wasn't right); to,"Is the festival out-growing Park City?"; to advice to filmmakers to speak out, stay alert and be informed regarding the federal budget cuts on the Arts and Entertainment Industry; to glitches in the festival organizational issues, i.e., new ticketing company; to what gives the directors satisfaction at the end of each festival year.
For those of us who have gleaned from Redford's passion regarding the Independent film, the answer rarely changes to what gives the satisfaction of a festival year: an increase in people attending, lets filmmakers tell their stories and provide a place where their films can be seen by an audience. That's gratification Pur!