The Sundance Channel: Redford Fading. The Filters? How Many Green Lights? Which Producers?
- Where is the Sundance Channel headed after 15 years?
- Founder Robert Redford is an occasional presence at the channel
- He’s certainly not gripping the tiller
- Is there anything left of his vision?
- A clue: What did Sundance green light at the 2011 Upfronts?
- Robert Redford, Universal Studios and Showtime Networks launched the Sundance Channel in 1996
- Rainbow Media acquired full ownership in 2008 for $496 million
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- U.S.: 40 million subscribers
- Sundance ranks well outside the Top 20 U.S. networks as measured by distribution and average prime time viewing
- Canada: A Corus Entertainment property
- Europe and Asia: Expanding footholds
- Under Rainbow’s management, Sundance has turned away from the founders’ vision of ‘super-serving’ its indie niche with edgy movies, docs and culturally-forward series
- The channel now pursues a slice of the mainstream TV audience
- Its tagline: ‘Live Your True Life’
- The Sundance Channel is still the official network of the iconoclastic Sundance Film Fest
- Adults 35-44
- Female skewing, but also appealing to men
- The Sundance Channel characterizes its audience as
- ‘Plugged into the World’
- ‘LOVE Television: watching up to 7 hours a day’
- ‘Desire for the next big thing’
- ‘Want to push their own boundaries’
- ‘Need to expand their minds and grow personally’
- OWN, Planet Green, Bravo, AMC and others
- Sundance is still primarily an acquisitions channel, and most of the acquisitions are movies
- The titles are bigger than before: less niche, less obscure
- More Pulp Fictions fewer Old Joys
- For years the Sundance Channel programming team was active in the international documentary market
- The channel has stopped acquiring docs for its Monday DOCDAY slot
- Although Sundance Channel docs live on in its digital offerings
Sundance programmers are seeking
- ‘Series that tell a story, build, and have a payoff’
- ‘Formats that are repeatable and returnable’
- ‘Programs that add value to the lives of our audience’
The channel’s ‘Programming Brief’ outlines the Sundance programming filters for producers:
Our Creative Filters Defined
The Pursuit of Living a True Life
Are you living your true life? Dreamers. Individuals. Independents – they all have one thing in common: they chase their passion and are true to themselves. This is the core of our original programming – people that are living their true life, or are on the chase for it!
We take our audience on a journey – the emotional risk, and the rollercoaster, that comes with the pursuit of living a true life.
It doesn’t get more credible than someone who is living their true life. We experience the world from their unique POV.
When you are on the pursuit of living a true life, the real story is all you need.
We celebrate what is just ahead of the curve – ideas, people and things that are on the horizon. What’s next. Now.
Original Programs, 2011
Sundance is steadily increasing its original content, but, we hear, without significantly upping the programming budget
- 2010: 35+/- hours
- 2011: ‘75-80 hours’
And which programs matched up against the Sundance filters and budgets?
Unscripted programs announced at the 2011 Upfronts were:
|ALL ON THE LINE||
|LUDO BITES AMERICA||
|North South Productions|
|GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS||
|World of Wonder|
|DIVA OF DISTRESSED (wt)|
1. Where are the Producers Located?
We keep tabs of the locations of the production companies who earn commissions
- This knowledge may help if you’re looking to commission programs
- Or get a job
New series hours:
- LA: 30
- NY: 20
- Everywhere else: 0
2. How Many New Indies?
- Each of the green lit producers is well established, and enjoys multiple commissions from other U.S. channels
What Does Sundance Pay for Programs?
- SundanceNow is an online destination where you can rent or buy ‘the best in contemporary and classic independent films from all over world’
- Sundance Selects is a leading U.S. distributor of prestige films that focuses on American independents, documentaries and world cinema
- Some of the past and upcoming projects the label has worked on are: Abbas Kiarostami’s Cannes prize winner Certified Copy starring Juliette Binoche, Werner Herzog’s 3D Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Errol Morris’ Tabloid and Sundance Film Festival Documentary Audience Award-winner Buck.
Sunnyside of the Doc
La Rochelle, France
3D Where is the Money ?
For a year now, 3D has been on the rise. Initiatives are announced by the week.
Is this new format the next El Dorado, despite the heavy technical constraints ?
Between public subsidies, industrial partnerships, TV copros and theatrical releases: What is the path to successfully finance a 3D project?
What is the cost premium for 3D vs HD?
Ghislaine Le Rhun-Gautier, head of 3D project, Orange (France)
John Cassy, Director, Sky 3D (UK)
Baptiste Heynemans CNC (NTP) (France)
Laurent Dondey, DP La Géode (France)
Modérateur: Peter Hamilton, DocumentaryTélévision.com