It triggered a unique capacity to enlist even the most august institutions to deal with identity problems and growing difficulties. Yet, in the film industry, no organization has felt this syndrome more acutely than the Sundance Institute.
Michelle Satter, the director of Sundance Institute''s feature film program, said that we need to look back at how do we sustain Sundance for the future. Were we in a phase of slowing down and making tough decisions. You have to prioritize, and build back.
Tabitha Jackson, a Sundance veteran, retired in 2021 and the festival now seeks a new leader. Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam was instrumental in the Toronto International Film Festival''s growth, according to official results. The institutes'' most recent financial statements show program revenue between 2020 and 2021 decreased by nearly half, from $15.9 million to $8.3 million.
The Sundance labs where founder Robert Redfords'' long-time retreats at the Wasatch Mountains were also virtual experiences for the last two years. However, unlike the festival, the resource-intensive labs pose a staggering amount of money on the balance sheet. In April, the Institute expanded its Interdisciplinary and Film Music programs; it also hired seven full-time employees. The two-week screenwriting lab in January and June remains virtual.
Satter made the unusual decision to invite me to the in-person Directors Lab earlier this month. Hes often told the lab''s origin story, about how he saw the need to counterbalance studios with a support system for indies, starting with these labs. While the festival makes the most noise, the labs are the heartbeat of the Sundance ethos.
The Sundance fellows wrote that I have always believed in the power of story and independent voices. I encourage you all to keep an eye on it fully. As you pursue your vision, you must put story first.
The alumnae made labs famous, from Quentin Tarantino (1991) to Chloe Zhao (2012) and Taika Waititi (2005) to Marielle Heller (2012). Many of them, like Marvel director Ryan Coogler, still seek out feedback or return to the labs as advisors.
Sundance Institute of 2016, Photo by Sandria Miller
After seeing his short Cigarettes and Coffee at Sundance 1993, a Satters team of seven never made a comeback. She said she was hesitant to write a script. He lied and said he did, but she brought Sydney to the Directors Lab, which later became Hard Eight. After seeing Hedwig & the Angry Inch off Broadway, Tom Kalin asked Mitchell to complete the third scene, and the rest is history.
The screens of Sundance kept the screens Labs in January and June virtual, which work well on Zoom, and will likely become the new normal. But the Directors Lab thrives when we can be together, according to Satter. Its now two weeks instead of three, but its regular eight director associates each shot two scenes and shared four volunteer film crews.
Dina Amer, an Egyptian writer-producer, speaks about Michelle Satter in 2022. She is strong at preserving and caring for each and every one of us, and believing in us. She puts all of this together, so that we feel like we were empowered to tell stories. It helps the world to experience that. It gives me chills.
Directors Lab for Tammie Rosen and Sundance
Matthew Gowan, a production assistant on films like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and a former Satter assistant, returns as a driver. Ed Harris, who received four awards in 2002, first supported the Directors Lab as an advisor. Because it is not a school. It''s not rigid. Bob is really getting his money where his mouth is.
When you talk about what you know, you cant be in a bad mood, according to a senior author. It''s all about listening, giving, and you get a lot from doing that. When you talk about all of the fellows, you''re always learning to know what you know, or what you''re not aware of. It also helps you to articulate what you know, or what you''re trying to solve, with an actor, with a camera angle, or just dealing on the set with your crew.
Advisors learn quickly: Don''t say a fellow what to do or how to do it. Harris might say, "Oh, what if this, or what if that?". It''s like Scientology or a rahlets-all-be-happy place. Because the world doesn''t exist for some time. It''s just about helping people make the films they are trying to make in the best possible ways.
Directorate of Tammie Rosen and the Society of Directors
Shohreh Aghdashloo, the director of The Sundance, talked to the Iranian-American actress before embarking on an emigre and recent NYU student Hasan Hanis, a schoolboy during the Saddam Hussein regime who asked his grandmother to prepare the cake for the president''s birthday. After two movies back-to-back, Aghdashloo agreed to read the script. It enthused a panic attack.
I just left the script, opened the window, and started breathing heavily. I try to remember what brought me to this point, however, until I realized that everything I was trying to get away from it, forty-odd something years ago, is so fasting and ready to see what happens. So I went back to it. And I ended it. I basically changed suitcases and came here.
Hani is grateful. He said he works at NYU. I never heard from any faculty that we are here to train your instincts. In two weeks, you get an idea, with a blurred vision, and it becomes much clearer because the spirit is so generous, from advisors to crew.
Satter said on the evening that the group gathered to screen their first scenes, but what is more important than what you see on the screen is what you learned and learned in the process. Keep an eye on that, and bring your most generous self to watching these accomplished first things. Remember, when we get into the lab, it is about risk-taking. That''s what the lab is about for us: learning and discovery.
Satter is grateful to the eight fellows and their advisors, including cinematographer Adriano Goldman (Sin Nombre); Oscar winner Sian Heder, who has received the CODA from Sundance 2021; Columbia film professor and one-time fellow Hilary Brougher (Stephanie Daley). This is the extraordinary support system that you have, year-round.
Heder expressed her sadness that she went out of the studio for three days after the Oscars on Apple TV+ series Little America. She meets Caledonia Curry, a visual artist known in New York art circles as Swoon. Curry is disgusted by how her Sybilant Sisters scene played more intensely than she anticipated. Shell then take this with her into tomorrow''s rehearsals for Scene 2.
Curry said that it''s like, you get your perfectionionism out of the way. What are you gonna finish? Just try this and learn things and take the risk because there isn''t a finished product that youre wants for. Just iterate, iterate, make, go do it, and then let it go.
Satter attends the next morning''s advisors meeting, receiving feedback from advisors who visited sets and editing rooms or met with their colleagues. Heder is curious how much she might require to assess the scene, but believes that it is more useful to assist them in identifying their own issues or even fail.
Directors Lab for Ash Gerlach and Sundance
If you had one-on-one mentoring the whole time, you''d become a dangerous god-teacher act, according to veteran TV director Keith Gordon. Or they just begin listening to somebody, okay, you should keep it mixed up with different points of view, having an Ed Harris one day, a cinematographer the next day, a director the next day, and all sorts of things. It makes it about them.
As Neo Sora, a Tokyo-based company that applied to the Lab four times before getting accepted, shoots a long take for Earthquake, Gordon shoots his first scene in Japanese, the second in English. Each fellow has a day of rehearsal, one day to shoot, and a day to edit each scene.
At the end of the day, Gordon said, "It''s a lot of challenging to get involved in filmmaking and storytelling." This is a chance to get back to basics of where we all live. When you''re out in the real world, you''re worried about budgets, making your days, and raising money for your projects. Here''s what you need to know about each other. It''s inspiring and energizing. Every time I come, I say yes.
Yuan Yuan (Late Spring) told me she attended a second non-Sundance workshop last year. It was always about teaching you who your audience is, and how much is the budget?, she said. Maybe, if youre doing an art film, it might be better to reduce the budget and make it more arty. I felt like I''d return to childhood, and I wanted to be a director. Here, I found the beauty.
Directors Lab for Tammie Rosen and Sundance
Eliza McNitt, a science ner who released the Darren Aronofsky film on Sundance 2018, is soaking up fears. The day before, Ed Harris questioned whether or not the actors were fully prepared for rehearsals for Black Hole. She said, "It was completely true that the entire point of the scene was not physical distance, but feelings." I went into the room and said, and I had decided to let them sit in a circle and make them shake and smile. But I did that again,
McNitt added that the issue is to be so exhausted that you are working on your instincts. I keep telling everyone that I got Sundanced.
The Sundancing is far from over. Upon leaving the Sundance Resort bubble, the fellows return home and a week later continue their relationship with the Screenwriters Lab. After that, they share these experiences and relationships with Satter and her extended team at any time.
According to Hani, Sundance, if cinema is a temple, filmmakers may go, confess their weaknesses, embrace their fears, open themselves up, and come out like a new, happy filmmaker. Only the blessed ones.
Directors Lab for Tammie Rosen and Sandage
Directors Lab Fellows and Projects
Eliza McNitt, writer and writer of Black Hole (U.S.A.)
Dina Amer (U.S.A./France/Egypt) is a film and actress.
Michael Leon, co-writer/director of Crabs in a Barrel (U.S.A.) Ashley Alvarez, co-writer
Neo Sora, a writer/director of Earthquake (U.S.A./Japan)
Yuan Yuan, a late spring writer/director of the USA/China business.
Zandashe Brown, the author/director of The Matriarch (U.S.A.)
Hasan Hadi, the writer/director of The Presidents Cake, United StatesA./Iraq
Caledonia Curry, directed by Sibylant Sisters, Meagan Brothers, is a British writer.