This year’s internationally famous Sundance Film Festival has done what can only be described as brilliant. Through a very well thought out social media campaign, Sundance joined forced with YouTube to create the cinemaphile’s dream; this dream is called The Screening Room.
The Screening Room is an excellently designed YouTube channel that is showcasing 12 short films debuting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival as well as 4 YouTube created Sundance films. The shorts were all hand-picked for YouTube by film lovers and programmers. The opportunity created by Sundance and Youtube is to bring the independent film festival to the masses. Of course attending Sundance can be difficult but the market of passionate cinema goers is immense.
Many of the channel’s nearly 50,000 subscribers, and 2 million viewers have one thing in common, they love Sundance and crave access to the event. What is beautiful about The Screening Room is that it is the perfect compliment to the heavy social media campaign that Sundance is waging. The vision of Sundance for the future of how they connect to the viewers and fans is looking very bright based on all of the festival’s social media and digital decisions.
“Intensely personal, outrageously funny, fantastically abstract…the possibilities within the short film form are limitless. The Screening Room, presented by Sundance Institute, puts exciting talent on display with work that takes risks and explores our world. We strive to find films that tell vibrant tales—vivid fiction, powerful true stories, and inspired animation all have a home here.” - The Screening Room staff describes the channel articulately.
I’d also add that this selection of Shorts capture a wide spectrum of cinematic achievements and style with age old themes, like the Shakespearean elements present in Marcel, King of Tervurento modern animation and dystopic fantasyscapes as seen in The Event to the bold short and the humorous mockumentary as seen in Broken Night and Catnip: Egress to Oblivion.
Why else is this channel so cool? The answer is simple. The Screening Room elegantly connects to the Sundance homepage, a site that a cinemaphile may never choose to visit but is now visiting because of YouTube. The Sundance website clearly points out to video consumers and makers alike how to engage, follow what’s happening live, see the archives, read the stories, and understand the event in its simple complexity. This new YouTube channel will continue to have content added by Sundance as the year goes on—very cool and very smart. I’d say that Sundance and YouTube are a match made in heaven.
Never before has Sundance empowered the film watcher in such a way. I’d contend that we are looking at the future of major independent film festivals, especially the shorts, and possibly uncovering a new way to expose all the great films made for the independent festival circuit. YouTube has struck a note here and possibly opened the doors to years of interactive film innovation that connects would be fans to the source, empowering voice and citizen critique as well as sharing the hard work of the independent film team. The Screening Room is indicative of what may come to be during the years ahead. Did Sundance and YouTube create the Holy Grail of connection for independent film events?