Lisa Ogdie and Kim Yutani discuss the selection process at Sundance.
Last week, Sundance Film Festival programmers Lisa Ogdie and Kim Yutani stopped by Film Independent to do a Q&A with our members, offering insight into the selection process as well as helpful hints for filmmakers submitting their work. The deadlines for Sundance 2015 are fast approaching (official deadlines are Monday, August 25 for shorts and Friday, August 29 for features; late deadlines, at a slightly higher entry fee, are Monday, September 15 for shorts and Monday, September 29 for features), so check out their tips and then send them your movie!
They started off with some rather discouraging statistics: last year, there were over 4,000 feature films from around the world submitted, and only 121 of them were chosen. Of the 8,000+ short films submitted, only 66 screened at the Festival. “There’s always good stuff that we would love to play that we just don’t have room for,” Ogdie, who programs the shorts, admitted. In the shorts programs, for example, Ogdie explained that they try to go with at least 50% US-produced shorts, as they are an American festival, and that run time is definitely a factor. “Our official rule is under 50 minutes,” she said, “but it’s just a fact that the longer your short is, the harder it is to program.”
Both programmers explained the long process of selection, and you can rest assured, if you submit your film to Sundance, it will be viewed in its entirety and considered on equal footing with every other film there. Yutani broke down the features selection process: they send out the submissions to a highly pre-screened group of pre-screeners, from whom the team of nine programmers receives extensive coverage. “We all read the coverage of the films, even if they’re lower-rated, just to make sure nothing slips through the cracks,” she explained. “The worst thing that could possibly happen is that we don’t see a film or we pass on a film that then goes on to play at another festival and gets attention.” The team of nine shorts programmers split up the submissions, each watching about 1,000, and then watch each other’s top picks, compare notes and discuss. “We watch everything all the way through,” Ogdie assured us, “even all those 50-minute shorts, I watch every minute of them.”
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