Filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival who don’t land a distribution deal don’t have to leave empty-handed: The Sundance Institute unveiled today an Artist Services program that will enable directors to show their movies on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW and YouTube. They can charge viewers if they want, and don’t have to sacrifice their ownership rights. The Institute will help with marketing and promotion, and has a new deal with Topspin Media to provide direct marketing tools and retail fulfillment services. The program kicks off with two films from the 2011 festival: the documentary Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology directed by Tiffany Shlain, and a narrative film On the Ice directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Sundance says that filmmakers of Jess + Moss, Lord Byron, New Low, Obselidia, The Oregonian, Space Tourists, and The Woods plan to take advantage of the initiative.
“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,” says the Institute’s founder and president Robert Redford. “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 Artist Services program is the second phase of an initiative Sundance kicked off in January. It collaborated with Kickstarter to help filmmakers raise cash for production and distribution. The group says that dozens of projects have raised more than $650,000. Facebook also offers filmmakers advice on ways to use the social networking site to attract audiences.