In an extension of its Artist Services programme, the Institute has partnered with digital content aggregator New Video and direct marketing specialist Topspin Media to offer a suite of online platforms for eligible feature filmmakers. Separately, festival director John Cooper shed a little more light for Screendaily on next year’s inaugural Sundance London.
Creators of features who have gone through a Sundance Institute Lab will be able to access online distribution through iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, SundanceNOW and YouTube while retaining ownership. Digital distribution specialist and content aggregator New Video will act as the gatekeeper.
Executive director Keri Putnam unveiled the arrangement at a press conference in West Hollywood on Wednesday  and referred to it as a “process” that would evolve and due to its modular nature could grow to encompass new partners.
Putnam stressed it was “complementary [to] and not competitive with the professional film distribution community.” Kevin Iwashina, who handled sales at Sundance on Jess + Moss, one of the first titles that will benefit from the new distribution opportunities, told Screendaily the alliance was a progressive move that was emblematic of the new regime of Putnam, Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper and director of programming Trevor Groth.
It is understood that filmmakers whose projects have received Institute support will be able to fashion digital distribution arrangements to suit their requirements. Topspin’s marketing expertise, however, will be available to all Sundance Film Festival alumni.
Asked during the press conference about revenue sharing, Putnam said the deal was essentially a trademark and marketing partnership, adding that while New Video would take a percentage of the gross and the Institute would take a “very small” amount, the aim was for the filmmaker to benefit.
The Institute is also testing a dedicated educational and resources site that is currently in beta and was blasted out to around 4,500 alumni on Wednesday.
Tiffany Shlain’s Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology and Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s On The Ice (pictured) will be the first 2011 festival selections to benefit from the arrangement. The filmmakers behind Jess + Moss, Lord Byron, New Low, Obselidia, The Oregonian, Space Tourists and The Woods will also devise distribution strategies under the aegis of the scheme.
The distribution initiaitive is Phase II of the Institute’s strategy to support filmmakers and help them find their audiences. Phase I of the programme featured a collaboration with the crowdsourcing enterprise Kickstarter, announced during the festival at the start of the year. Since then, 21 projects supported by Kickstarter have generated more than $650,000. Back in January the Institute also unveiled an alliance with Facebook offering social media advice.
Meanwhile Cooper said staff were busy planning the first Sundance London event, set to take place at the O2 from Apr 26-29 2012.
The aim is to turn the film and music jamboree into an annual event and the roster will comprise approximately 12-14 films from the Sundance line-up in January. Cooper, Groth and their staff aim to identify around six London-bound titles by January.
The programmers reserve the right to premiere a film in London that is not ready in time for Utah where strong ties exist with the filmmaker. Cooper said there were no plans to do this on any specific title, adding that it remained a possibility should the situation arise.
Robert Redford is said to be gung-ho about the new venture and was in London recently to discuss environmental matters with Prince Charles.