Special Report: Brand Livestream

Kevin Best, Contributing Editor, BrandStorytelling.tv


Highlighting Impactful Live Streaming

Sundance Film Festival Turns to Livestreaming for the First Time

The 44th annual Sundance Film Festival went virtual this year for the first time. The event, normally held in Park City, Utah every year in January, was able to be held in person last year pre-Covid, and was attended by festival goers and attendees of Brand Storytelling 2020: A Sanctioned Event of the Sundance Film Festival. This year things were obviously different and the festival pivoted to a totally at-home experience. From January 28th to February 3rd, the festival’s website held livestreams for over 70 movies, and also various panels and events.

Sundance wanted to keep the feel of a real festival as much as possible, so multiple films were streamed simultaneously, forcing viewers to pick and choose what they watched. Every film was followed by a livestreamed Q and A with the filmmakers, which viewers could participate in. There was also an “Artist’s Lounge” page, which had talks, meet and greets for the virtual attendees, and Q and As with festival artists. All of this was through the Sundance Film Festival app, which was available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and also on mobile devices through Android and iOs. The movie player was powered by Shift72, a New Zealand based livestream platform known for their work with film festivals, which includes South by Southwest and the Cannes Film Festival.

A ticket to a single film could be purchased for $15, while there was also an all-access Festival Pass for $350 that allowed remote viewers to see everything they possibly could on the schedule. There was also the Explorer’s Pass, which gave access to all programs categorized in New Frontier, which includes immersive sound projects and VR, the Indie Series, which focuses on pilots and full seasons of Indie shows, and Short Films. Individual movie streaming tickets lasted 24 hours from first screening times. For those who wanted to journey outside of their homes, Sundance also partnered with various art house cinemas and drive-ins to have “Satellite Screens” from Birmingham to San Francisco with some of the films available to view in theaters. Everything wrapped up with an awards show hosted by Patton Oswalt. CODA, a film about a hearing child who has deaf parents, won the grand jury prize, the directing award, and the audience award.

Several brands helped sponsor the festival, with Acura, the Chase Sapphire credit card, and Adobe joining Sundance TV as the main “Presenting Sponsors”. And while brands usually can be found with interactive activities on Main Street in Park City, this year Sundance gave them a webpage where viewers could check out the different offerings from sponsors. Adobe offered several events about the “art of editing,” while Chase Saphire sponsored chats with various directors. While it was a much different experience than in years past, this year did its best to capture the essence of the traditional festival.


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