Sundance #ArtistServices Workshop 2015

AFS presented the second annual Sundance #ArtistServices workshop in Austin on Saturday, May 30. The Sundance Institute #ArtistServices program empowers filmmakers navigating the changing business of independent film. Through online resources, live workshops, and a network of allied organizations, the program provides support and insights on creative funding, marketing, and distribution. The #Artist Services workshop is a day-long event for filmmakers focusing on the most important topics in creative distribution and funding. This year's workshops focused on the new Quiver platform, the VHX distribution platform, how to hack social media, mastering Bit Torrent bundles, film financing and producing. A full list of the panels and panelists can be found below.

(Panelists, workshop leaders and supporters pose for a photo after the day's workshop. Left to right: Laura D. Smith, Joseph Beyer, Rebecca Green, Jennifer Cochis, Fred Schroeder, Holly Herrick, Casey Pugh, Chris Horton, Annie Bush, Casey Warnick, Straith Schreder, Missy Laney, Paul O'Neill, Janet Pierson)

Attendees were invited to stick around afterwards for a happy hour with drinks and complimentary pizza slices by MOD Pizza.

Thanks to our sponsors: MOD Pizza, ThunderCloud Subs, The Marchesa Hall & Theatre, Chameleon Cold-Brew and KUTX Austin.

The Sundance Institute #ArtistServices program is supported by Cinereach, Kickstarter, National Endowment for the Arts, Vimeo, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and Arcus Foundation.

Photos by Charles Ramírez Berg



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10:00 AM - Opening Salvo

SPEAKER: Holly Herrick

Since 1981, Sundance Institute has supported more than 6,000 artists who have brought original stories and authentic voices to the screen and stage. Austin Film Society has been the premier advocacy organization for independent filmmakers since 1985, championing the future of storytelling in the digital age by fostering a vibrant and sustainable independent filmmaking community. Both organizations share a primary commitment to support the development of independent film and to expose it to audiences–in any way possible.

Holly Herrick joined the Austin Film Society in 2012 as Associate Artistic Director. Since joining AFS, she has provided leadership through critical new initiatives, including the creation of AFS’ first home theater space, AFS at the Marchesa. Prior to joining AFS, she served as Deputy Programs Director at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and Director of Programming at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida. As a film festival programmer and director, Herrick collaborated with independent filmmakers and studios, developed partnered programming with national brands, foundations, non-profit organizations and museums, programmed and moderated panels, master classes and tributes, and developed outreach and promotional strategies for the festivals and participating films. She developed a passion for talent discovery, and Sarasota and the Hamptons premiered early works of many now successful American auteurs. Herrick’s film producing credits include Septien (Associate Producer, Sundance 2011) and Ping Pong Summer (Co-Producer, Sundance 2014). She has written about film and the industry on AFS Viewfinders, Hammer To Nail, IFP’s Resources blog, and IndieWire. She graduated from New College of Florida, and completed undergraduate semesters at NYU and Sorbonne Paris III.

10:15 AM - What We Love Right Now: Quiver Digital

SPEAKER: Paul O’Neill (Quiver)

(January 21, 2015) “It’s probably never been harder to get a movie made, but once your film is in the can, it’s never been easier to get it out there.” As Mashable can exclusively reveal, the tools for helping underdogs get their films onto digital services just got a nifty upgrade.

It’s called Quiver Digital, a distribution dashboard through which artists can quickly and easily push their movies to major retailers, all at once and all in one place. It offers encoding, licensing and digital delivery services, giving filmmakers exclusive access to a diverse menu of distribution models. It can be used alone, or to complement deals for certain territories, categories or time frames.”

Austin–you are the very first audience in the world to get a live-demo of this tool from Quiver Digital’s own Paul O’Neill. Whether you use it or not, we guarantee you will learn more than you can comprehend about the vocabulary and best-practices of modern digital distribution.

Paul O’Neill works in Business Development at Premiere Digital. He is very involved with Premiere’s online indie filmmaker distribution portal Quiver, which enables filmmakers to self distribute onto digital platforms while maintaining control of their rights. In his 3 plus years, Paul has helped many global partners to successfully launch over 1500 films and hundreds of TV seasons into digital marketplaces. Prior to working at Premiere, Paul held a variety of roles at Paramount Pictures, assisted on projects for 2929 Entertainment and is a graduate of Emerson College.

11:15 AM - VHX: Stripped Down

SPEAKERS: Casey Pugh (VHX) & Fred Schroeder (Filmmaker, STRIPPED)

VHX is a distribution platform built for everyone. By empowering creators to sell directly to fans, VHX has helped push and transform the indie film community after soft-launching in 2012. Since then they’ve worked with Sound City, Upstream Color, Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing as well as artists like Kevin Spacey and Ira Glass among hundreds more.

One of the most interesting and unique case-studies is Stripped - a documentary and love letter to the art of cartoonists. VHX co-founder Casey Pugh and Stripped co-director Fred Schroeder will break down the film’s creative and financial success.

Casey Pugh is an Emmy-winning developer & designer immersed in the online video industry for almost 9 years. In 2009, he created Star Wars Uncut in his spare time, leading a crowdsourced remake of classic Star Wars movies that won him a 2010 Primetime Emmy. He was an early employee of Vimeo, lead the web development of Boxee, and is now co-founder of VHX, an open platform for selling video directly to your audience. Since 2012, VHX’s publishers have grossed over $5.6 million and served over 1.1 million happy customers to date.

Frederick Schroeder is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. His credits include over 100 commercials for clients like Sprite, Fox Sports, Coors, The Sundance Channel, and USA Network. His features include Nesting (2011), Barking Water (2009), Fling (2008), and Four Sheets to the Wind (2007), for which he was nominated for best cinematography at the Sundance film festival. 􀀀Fred has photographed material for the shows Heroes, Smallville, The Vampire Diaries, The Next Food Network Star, and 30 Rock.  Most recently Fred has co-directed the award-winning documentary Stripped with Dave Kellett about the art of comic strips.

12:15 PM - Hacking Social Media

SPEAKERS: Joseph Beyer (Sundance Institute), Annie Bush (Production For Use), Chris Horton (Sundance Institute), Missy Laney (Sundance Institute), & Casey Warnick (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema)

The emergence and maturation of lightweight, user-friendly social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, along with shorter-than-short-form video services like Vine and Snapchat have made marketing and promoting to audiences faster and easier than ever. As new technologies and distribution approaches continue to disrupt conventional P&A ideas, how do indie artists harness and navigate the shifting landscape while balancing their time and creative energy?

We’ll look at the obstacles and opportunities, successes and failures that come from the endless pressure for self-promotion. This session is about what it takes to get your posts seen in an overcrowded marketplace by using Social Media as your secret weapon.

Annie Bush came to filmmaking from the field of education, where she was a two-time Teacher of the Year Nominee for teaching the Spanish language. Annie co-produced PJ Raval’s feature documentary Before You Know It (PBS America Reframed, SXSW 2013), and produced Russell O. Bush’s IDA Nominated Documentary Short Vultures of Tibet (AFI Docs 2013), shot in Tibet, China, and India. Annie has managed and consulted on crowd-funding, audience building and social media campaigns for films and programs like Before You Know It (PJ Raval), OUTsider Festival, The Honor Farm (Karen Skloss), Vultures of Tibet (Russell O. Bush), Arvind (Evan Roberts), Nuns on a Bus (Melissa Regan), Into the Who Knows (Micah Barber), Leslie (Tracy Frazier) and Big Bitch (Susan Stern). In addition to working in film, Annie is the Executive Director for OUTsider Festival, Austin’s new queer multi-arts festival and conference. Annie applies her educational background to connect media to targeted audiences. Annie holds a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of California, San Diego

Casey Warnick is the Social Media Director at the Alamo Drafthouse head office in Austin, Texas. With more than 670 thousand followers, Casey has established the growing theater chain successfully in social media tools such as Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo, as well as Facebook and Twitter. For both film and theater promotion, Casey incorporates creative cross-channel promotions to ensure success in online engagement resulting in increased sales, high film awareness and heavy brand recognition. Casey has been in the entertainment and food & beverage industry social media game for the past five years after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin.

1:15 PM - Lunch, provided by ThunderCloud Subs

2:15 PM - Mastering the Art of the BitTorrent Bundle

SPEAKERS: Straith Schreder (BitTorrent)

BitTorrent has over 170,000,000 users worldwide. WOW. 10-15% of those users will travel from a BitTorrent Content Bundle and go on to visit the fan or store site for a film. Drafthouse Films’ Oscar-Nominated Documentary The Act of Killing, Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel and David Cross’ Hits created chatter when they used BitTorrent Bundles to circumvent tradition and deliver their films across the Internet’s Torrent Ecosystem. Let’s talk about that. And Artists’ Rights. And Economics. And the dreaded word: piracy.

Straith Schreder joined BitTorrent in 2012 to develop the organization’s publishing platform: working with artists, filmmakers, and fans to design a new storytelling format built for the Internet. BitTorrent Bundle, launched in 2013, is an immersive experience that emphasizes the connection between viewers and creators, a toolkit that allows for sustainable direct-to-fan engagement and distribution, and a social object that increases in value each time it’s shared. Recent Bundle projects include Moby’s community songbook, downloaded over 8 million times, the world’s first 3D printed music video, created by Cut/Copy, digital download as global testimony, in partnership with the Oscar-nominated filmmakers of The Act of Killing, and the crowdfunded original content series, Children of the Machine.

3:15 PM - Chasing the Cheddar: Film Financing

SPEAKERS: Kevin Iwashina (Preferred Content)

Kevin Iwashina is one of the most sought-after producers and sales agents in the business. In this Saturday afternoon film financing crash course, he will guide us through up-to-date waterfalls and deal models that explain how you can combine various sources such as equity, soft money, international sales, tax incentives, in-kind commitments, crowdfunding, and non-profit grants into the right model for your project. This is an encore presentation that until now has only been seen by closed-door attendees of the Sundance Institute Producers Summit in Utah.

Kevin Iwashina is the Founder & CEO of Preferred Content, a film, television and digital sales & finance company.

Founded in January 2010, Preferred Content (PC) specializes in the sale of North American and Worldwide distribution rights for both narrative and documentary filmed entertainment content. Additionally, PC represents filmmakers to assemble creative and financial elements for film, TV and digital projects.

Recent PC sales projects include I’ll See You In My Dreams and Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare which both premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the 2015 SXSW documentary ROLLING PAPERS and narrative feature The Diabolical and The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir acquired worldwide by Netflix as an Original Documentary. PC also produced and handled worldwide sales on the hit documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi released by Magnolia Pictures.

Iwashina is active in the non-profit sector and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (IDA).

4:30 PM - The Producorialists

SPEAKERS: Jennifer Cochis (Sundance Producing Lab Fellow), Rebecca Green (Producer, IT FOLLOWS), & Laura D. Smith (Producer, IT FOLLOWS)

Second-Ever Edition! “The Producorialists” begins with the simple idea of creating a group keynote about the world of independent film and its strange and unexpected relationship to daily life. We will enforce a truth-only chautauqua and a no-bullshit zone that will challenge your expectations, demystify your fears and leave you inspired to forge your own path on the road to creative success.

Jennifer Cochis is a writer/director shooting her feature proof of concept later this summer. Before directing, Jennifer produced a large number of award-winning short and long form narratives. She is a Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow and the recipient of the Sheila C. Johnson fellowship. Jennifer is also an Independent Film Week No Borders alumae and LA Film Fest’s Senior Programmer. She likes to dance and wear capes.

Rebecca Green & Laura D. Smith Under the newly formed TWO FLINTS banner, Rebecca Green and Laura Smith produced the indie horror sensation IT FOLLOWS, which premiered to rave reviews in Critics’ Week at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The film also screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and is currently in theaters worldwide. The duo also produced I’ll See You In My Dreams starring Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Martin Starr, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Malin Akerman. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and will open theatrically in May.

Smith also produced the documentary feature Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, which premiered in 2014 as the Opening Night film of AFI DOCS and continues to garner praise as it tours the film festival circuit. Previously, Smith produced the award-winning feature That Evening Sun, which won the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize at its 2009 South By Southwest premiere and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Smith also served as co-producer and associate producer on many notable independents, including Factory Girl, Happy Endings, Come Early Morning, Lonely Hearts, The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, The Year of Getting To Know Us, and The Tenants. She received her B.A. from UCLA.

Green was Manager of Producing Initiatives for the Sundance Institute for three years, worked at Paramount Pictures as vice president of Lynda Obst Productions, and spent four years at Lionsgate working in both acquisitions and development. She has also worked for the Sundance and Los Angeles Film Festivals and has spoken on panels for organizations such as SAGIndie, the American Pavilion at Cannes, the Sundance Institute, UCLA, and IFP, and is a contributing blogger for Film Independent. Green has a B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and serves as a board member of the school’s Alumni West Steering Committee.

Green and Smith were 2012 Film Independent Producing Lab Fellows with the feature project And Then I Go, which is currently scheduled shoot in summer 2015.

5:30 PM - Takeaways

SPEAKERS: Joseph Beyer (Sundance Institute)

When our workshop is all said and done, and the notebooks are filled with data and the minds race with new ideas and deeper questions–we’ll recap with this cool-down refresher of highlights and the takeaways that stood out most dramatically.

Joseph Beyer currently works as Director of Digital Initiatives for Sundance Institute, where he managed the development team and launch of the Sundance Institute #ArtistServices Initiative under the direction of Executive Director Keri Putnam and the Board of Trustees. #ArtistServices provides exclusive creative funding, distribution, marketing and theatrical support to 6,000+ Sundance Institute alumni artists. Filmmakers are eligible for innovative universal and pre-negotiated deals to self-distribute their work to top digital retailers - all while retaining and controlling their creative rights and release plans. Beyer led the team that developed the first-ever collaboration with crowd funding leader to provide Institute alumni exclusive training and promotional support in creative funding. He has been a proud Sundance Institute staffer for 14 years.

Chris Horton joined Sundance Institute in 2011 to launch #ArtistServices, an initiative that further extends the organization’s mission of connecting artists with audiences. Through a series of innovative deals and partnerships, #ArtistServices provides Institute alumni with tools that enhance creative funding and self-distribution opportunities. Deals include an exclusive partnership with Kickstarter, and arrangements that allow filmmakers access to best-in-class terms and digital distribution on outlets such as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Google Play. Notable projects include Particle Fever, BURN, Upstream Color and Detropia. Over 300 titles have been directly supported by the initiative. Horton was previously the head of acquisitions for FilmBuff, a pioneering New York digital distribution company. Under Horton’s leadership, FilmBuff acquired sales rights to hundreds of feature-length movies including Exit Through The Gift Shop. Horton spent nearly nine years working with John Sloss in the FilmBuff/Cinetic/Sloss Eckhouse LawCo family of companies. Horton began his career with Miramax Films, following his graduation from the University of Colorado with degrees in film studies and psychology. He lives in Los Angeles.

Missy Laney is the #ArtistServices Manager at Sundance Institute, overseeing the program’s creative funding initiative and manages creative distribution efforts. Missy has guided over 150+ artists through successful Kickstarter campaigns totaling nearly $9 million dollars since joining Sundance Institute in 2012, including Sean and Andrea Fine’s Oscar Award Winner “Innocente”. As digital distribution manager for #ArtistServices, Laney strategizes with filmmakers leading up to their digital premieres and specializes in organizing their marketing efforts to maximize success including titles such as Upstream Color and BURN. During her tenure, she has presented salons, panels, and workshops, working with collaborators such as Knight Foundation, San Francisco Film Society, IFP, and South by Southwest.

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