By Sahil Patel
With the Sundance Film Festival beginning next week, YouTube has unveiled plans to be a major part of the festival conversation both online and in Park City, Utah.
The world’s biggest video site will host “YouTube on Main Street,” a physical location at 596 Main Street, where visitors can congregate to attend panels, film receptions, screenings, talks, and various social events from happy hours to DJ sets (full list of individual sessions below). YouTube on Main Street will be open at various times between January 16 and 25.
In terms of programming, YouTube has several things planned, including “Live @ Sundance,” a daily hour-long talk show, which will air on the Sundance Film Festival’s YouTube channel from January 17–24. The live show, which will be guest-hosted by the likes of Shira Lazar, Casey Neistat, and Jimmy Conrad, will be live every weekday beginning at 11am MT from YouTube on Main Street. It will feature interviews with filmmakers, the latest news and goings-on at the festival, and sneak peeks, among other things.
YouTube is also serving as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Program. As part of that agreement, the site has made some of the competing short films available on SFF’s YouTube channel. This sponsorship works both ways, apparently, as YouTube in its announcement notes that it will show “select” short-form content from popular YouTube channels in front of official short film screenings at the festival.
Then, on Saturday, January 25, the site will hand out the YouTube Audience Award to one of the 15 short films in competition. This award will be determined by which of the films generates the most views on YouTube between January 16 and 24.
Here’s the full list of individual events to be hosted at YouTube on Main Street (there are several panels that focus on how YouTube can be a resource for independent filmmakers and “content creators” — which isn’t surprisng, but an important thing to note nonetheless):
- Make Your Voice Heard: Technology and Social Impact Panel & Reception (Jan. 17; 12–2pm MST): Hear from filmmakers, activists, and industry experts on how innovation in technology and social media are being harnessed for documentary finance, outreach, and distribution. Panel will include filmmakers from The Internet’s Own Boy (US Documentary Competition) and We Are the Giant (Documentary Premieres), two films that tell stories of individuals who have bypassed traditional barriers to communication by using technology and social media to impact lives and create change worldwide. Free and open to the public.
- Remember What You Heard Hear: Music and Film Panel & Live Set with DJ Young Guru (Jan. 17; 5–8pm MST): Renowned DJ and producer Young Guru hosts a discussion with film composers, musicians, and filmmakers on the marriage of film and music as a narrative form. Includes a reception and live set by Young Guru.
- Fundraising and YouTube Panel (Jan. 18; 12–2pm MST): With the rise of new online fundraising tools, the audience is playing a big role in how films get financed. Join us in a talk with filmmakers, film financing companies, and talent agents to learn how filmmakers use their YouTube audience to fund projects. Free and open to the public.
- Talent Discovery on YouTube Panel (Jan. 18; 2:30–4:00pm MST): YouTube is a hotbed for talent discovery. Join us in a talk as we learn from leading experts including a studio producer, talent agent, and YouTube star on how being discovered on YouTube can take creators to new heights on and off YouTube. Free and open to the public.
- Sundance Short Directors Reception (Jan. 18; 5–7pm MST): YouTube will host the official directors reception on shorts premiere night. By invitation only.
- Sundance YouTube Party (Jan. 18; 9pm-2am MST): YouTube’s official Sundance party. By invitation only.
- Dear White People Film Reception (Jan. 19; 1–4pm MST): A reception for the world premiere of the film that started as a satirical trailer on YouTube. Includes a live Google+ hangout with supporters and talent from the film including Big Boi from Outkast, Effie Brown, and director Justin Simien. By invitation only.
- How and Why to Use YouTube with Rhett & Link Panel (Jan. 19; 5–6pm MST): Hear insights from two of YouTube’s smartest creators, Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, from the hit YouTube channel Rhett & Link on how they have used YouTube to build an audience and their careers as filmmakers. Free and open to the public.
- To Be Takei Film Reception (Jan. 19; 6:30–8:30pm MST): A reception for the world premiere of the new documentary. Includes a live Google + hangout with George Takei. By invitation only.
- The Wrap Panel — How to Break Through the Digital Clutter and Your Movie Pop (Jan. 20;2–3pm MST): Join Wrap founder and editor in chief Sharon Waxman as she moderates a panel of movie and technology experts about how to make sure your movie breaks through the clutter and is seen. Free and open to the public.
- CIR Panel and Happy Hour (Jan. 20; 6–8pm MST): Join CIR’s (Center for Investigative Reporting) Stephen Talbot, senior producer for video and The I Files channel on YouTube, as he moderates a discussion that will explore the intersection of cinema and journalism in the YouTube age. By invitation only.
- New Frontiers Filmmaker Event (Jan. 20; 9–11pm MST): The Sundance Institute’s New Frontier program hosts a party for filmmakers. By invitation only.
- Women in Film Panel and Reception (Jan. 21; 7–10 pm): Join independent film producer Anne Hubbell as she leads a panel that will focus on how online and digital are enabling women to find audiences and showcase their work. By invitation only.
- Why Shorts Matter Panel and Reception (Jan 22; 4–6pm): Moderated by the Zellner Brothers, hear from them and other Sundance filmmakers on how short films made it possible for them to make features that brought them to the festival. Free and open to the public.