Sundance Film Festival 2020

+PDXApril 6th 2020

W+K Production and the Sundance Film Festival: Why We Go

W+K Production's mission is to bring to life "The Best Work of Our Lives,” for this agency. This means constantly pushing ourselves to look for the freshest techniques, insights, and voices in the world to help us elevate and authenticate the way we tell stories across all platforms. There is perhaps no better place in the world to find that inspiration than Sundance.

While Sundance is known primarily as a showcase for independent filmmaking, the ground-breaking storytelling does not stop there. The Offscreen section of the festival brings in world-class artists, creators, and speakers to engage with live audiences through panel discussions, music, and performance art. These events are often centered around topics that inspire conversation, ignite debate, and encourage learning through different perspectives.

Similarly, the New Frontier section of the festival showcases creators of some of the most innovative experiential media. This includes a variety of interactive experiences in both physical and digital spaces. The purpose of these installations is to allow the audience or individual to physically experience a world from another perspective. These demonstrations encourage physical, emotional and ideological exploration. They are always innovative and surprising, and allow the viewer to access a world in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

Not only is Sundance a wonderful resource for innovative talent alone, the festival’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is noteworthy. This year, of the 65 directors across the competition films, 44 were first-time filmmakers, 46% were women, 38% were people of color, and 12% were LGBTQ. Sundance’s prioritization of diversity and inclusion of historically underrepresented communities in the entertainment industry does not only apply to the filmmakers. These inclusive values go beyond the program. As of this year, Sundance has also made a commitment to broadening both the pool of volunteers and the press corps—making room for women and people of color among the critics. Our own diversity initiatives are amplified and supported by the extensive work Sundance is doing to broaden the storytellers and makers in our industry.

In an effort to continue our work as an industry leader, and “Free The Work” we utilize our learnings and experiences from Sundance. Unlike any other, this festival celebrates our shared values for craft, innovation and inclusion and is an invaluable resource which helps us to push the work that we are here to create.

Metamorphic for Sundance

Interactive Partners

The New Frontier festival section of the festival is small but mighty. The space houses many interactive experiences and I was fortunate enough to see Metamorphic. This social VR experience lets multiple users participate in the exploration of 'majestically drawn worlds'. The participant's body is visually transformed into being a part of this beautifully painted 3D world, through the use of movement, breath and pulse trackers.

The experience's narrative guides you through this immersive world with mesmerizing visuals that constantly evolve, leaving plenty to explore. Virtual characters encourage you to dance with them as well as being able to interact with your fellow participants represented in the space. The sound design further amplifies the experience and creates a sense of total immersion.

The high calibrate of 3D design, sound design and storytelling made this VR experience a highly memorable one. I enjoyed how the strength of the art and performance made the wearable VR hardware quickly become an invisible tool that facilitated this phenomenal experience.

To find out more about the team behind it - click here

Link to the trailer

Sundance View

“The level of access was incredible. You could be a literal nobody and still see some of the best films in the world. You didn’t have to know someone or have any sort of status, you could just show up and attend. I was also super impressed with how the festival is run. All of the systems they’ve set up and refined over the years feel more like special traditions than administrative process. The box office, the theaters, the volunteers, the shuttles, the resort, the movies, the mountains, the snow -- you can’t help but see it all as magical.” - Amy Marsh, Sr. Producer

People We Want to Partner With

Eugene Ashe - Writer and Director of Slyvie's Love

Janicza Bravo - Zola

Channing Godfrey Peoples - Director of "Miss Juneteenth"

Ekwa Msangi - Director of "Farewell Amor"

Jeremy O. Harris - Writer, Zola

Derica Cole Washington - Costume Designer, Zola

Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson - Writers and Directors of "Save Yourselves!"

Katie Byron - Production design "Zola"

Braden King - Director of The Evening Hour (Declan Quinn did the cinematography as well - super impressive

Lachlan Milne - DP of Minari

Sean Durkin - Writer & Director, The Nest (and Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Matthew Niederhauser & team behind - 'Metamorphic' VR experience at New Frontier

Lana Wilson - Director of Miss Americana

Miranda July - Director, Kajillionaire

Sundance Stage 2

"The Q&A’s, which in my opinion are the best part of attending the festival. You start with an introduction from the director before the viewing, and then get their point of view on meaning, purpose, and approach after. Even better, you get to ask questions! Each and every film I attended made time to take questions from the audience. To have direct and immediate access to directors whether they are famous, emerging, foreign, or first time unknown, is a massive perk of attending the festival.” - Andrea Bakacs, Sr. Producer

Sundance View 2

Ryan O’Rourke’s “Best & Worst” Films at Sundance 2020

Ryan O’Rourke is a Creative Director at W+K Portland with a passion for movies. Each year, he heads to Park City and makes his rounds to see as many films as possible. Ryan saw a total of 28 films at Sundance 2020 - below is a list of his top 10, and a few he’d recommend skipping altogether.

Ryan’s Top 10

1. Nine Days - Emotional drama about a man who chooses the souls for birth.

2. Kajillionaire - Miranda July drama about a family of grifters in LA. Staring Evan Rachel Wood.

3. Palm Springs - Comedy from the Lonely Island/Andy Samberg about a time loop at a wedding reception.

4. Promising Young Woman - Thriller about a woman who preys on sexually abusive men in clubs. From the writer/director of Killing Eve.

5. Boys State - Documentary about a Texas high school political summer camp.

6. Minari - Family drama about Korean American Farmers in the 1980s. Won all the awards for Best Film and Audience Favorite.

7. Bad Hair - B-Movie horror film about killer hair from the director of Dear White People.

8. Possessor - Very gory Sci Fi about a company that has the technology to possess people to commit corporate murders.

9. Save Yourselves! - Comedy about an oblivious couple camping without cell reception during an alien invasion.

10. Wendy - Peter Pan fantasy film set in modern times and told from the kidnapped POV of Wendy. By the writer/director of Beast Of The Southern Wild.

Honorable mentions: Zola - Film based on the famous twitter thread story. Spaceship Earth - Documentary about Biodome 2.

Ryan’s least favorite:

  1. The Last Thing He Wanted
  2. Spree
  3. Black Bear
  4. The Evening Hour
  5. Beast Beast

The Sundance Institute and Festival has focused on diverse talent from its inception, which is why we attend to discover these incredible new voices each year. As an agency, we believe that a multitude of creative voices — Women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ — are responsible for creating the greatest work. We hope that the resources we discover and bring back to the agency inspires and allows for new opportunities to find creative talent and undiscovered voices that we may not have had access to before. On behalf of the 2020 Sundance Crew we hope you enjoy and reach out to us with questions.

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