Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interpreting Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is the Holy Grail for independent filmmakers. The prestige, the swag, the skiing – every person with a camera and dream wants to say their film got into Sundance.

The 2012 Sundance feature and documentary lineup was just announced. While reading descriptions of the US dramatic films to see if I recognized any names, I noticed something.

Out of the 16 American films in competition, 14 are from writer/directors. 14 out of 16! Some films credit multiple writers, but in almost every case, one of the writers also directed the film.

So many conclusions can be drawn from data like that. If you’re a writer, you should learn how to direct. If you’re a director, you should learn how to write. If you want to do either, you might as well learn how to do both.

(These conclusions don’t seem to apply to the big studio pictures. Out of the last ten Best Picture Oscar winners, only two were directed by the writer – No Country for Old Men by the Coen brothers and Crash by Paul Haggis. Arguably it’s harder to crossover at that level, but if you’ve been doing it all along – like the Coen brothers – I suppose it’s a more natural transition.)

Questions also arise – has show business become so saturated with talent that simply being a hyphenate isn’t enough anymore? Everyone has to be an auteur?

My focus is mostly on TV writing, but this does make me wonder if I should try directing some smaller projects in between. Experience is experience, right? I directed my first short film to enter YOMYOMF’s Interpretations film competition last year. It’s an amateur effort, but I learned a ton while making it.

Perhaps from these humble beginnings will rise the next Sundance feature competitor! Hmmm…we’ll see.

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