Academy Award winning director, Steve Soderbergh is honored at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival with the Founders Award. This is given to a Slamdance alumnus who has continued to represent the Slamdance organization and support the filmmaker community of Slamdance into their careers.
President Peter Baxter shares with the audience that when Slamdance was first getting started, Soderbergh gave them this advice, "Don't ask for permission!" Baxter states that his advice has stood the test of time for 25 years and continues to be the core of the Slamdance brand. He continues, "Slamdance filmmakers have changed the entertainment industry and Steven Soderbergh showed us the way." Adding, "Without his involvement over the past twenty-five years both as a filmmaker and mentor to our filmmakers, Slamdance wouldn't be the organization it is today."
Soderbergh gives a sneak preview of his latest film High Flying Bird filmed almost entirely on his iPhone 8 which is the hot topic of conversation between him, Slamdance Co-founder and President Peter Baxter and the audience after the screening.
Soderbergh talks about that aside from his passion to make films, he thoroughly enjoys helping other filmmakers get their start. His influence helped the Russo Brothers career and says of the two, "I took a shine to them and their work right away. I saw their talent and they were good guys." He adds, "It's often the case that talented people don't need a lot of help but often all they need is help to get them in the room." Soderbergh mentions that it's harder on young filmmakers today because while there are new opportunities available there are also new challenges to battle so one must be creative, i.e. using his iPhone 8 to film High Flying Bird. Soderbergh said it was really interesting to observer the actors reaction when they showed up on set the first day of shooting and didn't see any big cameras. They inquired of them and were unnerved when he showed them the iPhone 8. Silence! Laughter with an uncomfortable tone but when Soderbergh called out action, they were ready to go. I would have like to have been a fly on the wall that day.
Soderbergh leaves the audience with these words, "We are wired for narrative. We learn through stories. As a result stories take on a significant role in society. It's a big responsibility to tell stories because when they are transferred to a listening ear, it affects people." Continuing, "The point is to tell the (your) story. One doesn't have to agree with it because it is told; it plays a role in our history."