As part of your cinematic diet, do you include weird, cool little indie flicks, the kind with recognizable human behavior instead of giant robots and alien invaders? Great! Us too! Do you like to see them at your local art house or multiplex? Great! Us too! But for those of us who don't live in New York or Los Angeles or a few other major cities, it can be frustrating to wait weeks or even months for the relatively small number of indie films that are acquired for distribution to open locally. (It's something I track every week for my Indie Insights column right here on Movies.com, so I feel your pain.) Now, for films that don't get the coveted and sometimes arbitrary distribution ring, the Sundance Institute is joining a recent movement to make more films available via a variety of online platforms.
The institute's Artist Services Initiative is a program intended to help filmmakers whose films have played at the Sundance Film Festival "navigate the marketplace of independent film distribution," according to a prepared statement. Henceforth, Sundance alumni will be able to make their films available through iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW, and YouTube via exclusive aggregation partner New Video; they will also receive access to marketing tools from a company called Topspin Media.
Sundance's Artist Services Initiative is restricted to festival alumni (that includes the private website, pictured) and the institute is only making tools available, not getting involved directly in the acquisition or distribution side. For that, they have Sundance Selects, which operates separately and is focused on the theatrical and video on demand markets. On the online side of things, the new program follows in the footsteps of companies like Cinetic Rights Management, which was formed in 2007 and offers expertise on "strategically exploiting content across paid, free and subscription business models." Even before that, individual filmmakers have made their films available online, either for free or on a paid basis.
What does all this mean for you? Mainly, that more indie films will be making their debut online, skipping the theatrical route entirely. So if your search for a movie to see this weekend is turning up nothing but lemons, may we suggest you begin checking iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW, and YouTube for new and exciting viewing options.