Sundance 2009 and the Business of Independent Film
Sundance 2009 may be remembered as a watershed year.
20 years ago, with the Sundance premiere and subsequent success of Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), indie films emerged as a viable business for a new generation of filmmakers based on a model of a theatrical release followed by home video and TV distribution.
Sundance 2009 may be remembered as the year that theatrical deals with established distributors no longer mattered and self distribution of indie films became the new paradigm.
Evidence of this new business model was everywhere at Sundance 2009. Filmmakers and panelists discussed shrinking sales options now that Warner Independent and Paramount Vantage are shuttered. They asked how do you publicize your film if the A-list movie critics (Ella Taylor of the LA Weekly was just the latest) are losing their jobs? They searched for verifiable accounts of revenue from YouTube and iTunes. And recoiled from accounts of the smaller advances being paid for the few traditional distribution deals being announced.
Here is a telling report from indieWIRE.
And here is Ted Hope's blog, with video from a key panel entitled “The Panic Button: Push or Ponder.”