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22/01/2013 by

How Sundance Is Creating Movie Buzz With Social Media

The Sundance Film Festival, that is currently taking place in Park City, Utah, isn’t just for indie people anymore. Through social media, the festival is creating buzz for its movies all over the world. How are they doing this? Let’s take a look.

Sundance Film Festival, part of the Sundance Institute founded by Robert Redford (among others), has been around since 1978. While it was hardly known outside of Utah, the organization and the festival’s featured filmmakers have been making optimal use of social media in recent years.

Organization & Social Media
Sundance has a big presence on different social media platforms, and so does its staff. With official and active pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+, the festival has the social media basics mastered. They have launched an app that offers news, schedules, trailers and more. Staff is encouraged to share their experiences during the festival through social media, to spread the cheer as much as possible.

Audience & Social Media
When the directors of both the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Festival were asked during a press conference how social media and technology have changed the festival, their answers were clear. The presence of social media means audiences get to decide which films are featured, and more people have access to the movies:

We’re working heavily with social media to bring the festival to people who can’t be here on the mountain.

What this ultimately means is that the audience can decide which movies make it to the big Hollywood screens and which don’t. Those visiting the festival can directly talk about the movies they loved on the internet, which consequently creates buzz for these films.

Big Hollywood studios have been looking to Sundance for recommendations for several years now: four out of five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary this year saw their debut at the 2012 Sundance festival. So see a movie you loved? For God’s sake, tweet about it!

According to Royale Ziegler, Sundance’s social media manager, social media also democratizes the festival. Because of its omnipresence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube for example, people can follow the Sundance news in every way possible.

Social media connects our artists with audiences who are hungry for independent film, new voices and untold stories. That’s powerful stuff.

Filmmakers, Movies & Social Media
Filmmakers themselves are also actively using social media to bring their films to a bigger audience. What is especially important is the direct-to-fan approach, filmmaking teams agree. According to an interview with Ziegler, Vimeo, YouTube and Instagram have been the biggest social networks used by filmmakers to spread the news about their movies.

Especially Instagram has been great, because of its visual nature. So how are Sundance filmmakers using Instagram?

The skateboarding documentary Bones Brigade, directed by skateboard legend Stacy Peralta, was actively promoted using Instagram before winning awards at Sundance. The filmmakers asked users to post skateboarding-related photos accompanied by the hashtag #bonesbrigade.

People were then given a password that would unlock a website that featured the photos, and gave away free goodies. Users had to enter the password and their emailaddress, and got a free download of the director’s previous film. It was also possible for these users to buy movie merchandise.

On Instagram, the hashtag page contains over 16.100 photos, and the filmteam claims their emaillist went from 0 to 46.000 addresses, also containing demographics and social influence data.

My Opinion
I love Sundance, I love social media. This combination seems like a match made in heaven, and I think the way the Sundance organization is omnipresent is impressive. The Institute’s Instagram account is full of pictures everyone would like, from the beautiful surroundings of Park City to the big moviestars attending the festival, everything can be found. Facebook and Twitter are there to answer any questions visitors might have, and the app is useful above all.

As for the Bones Brigade documentary being promoted by using Instagram is a stroke of genius. Skateboarders are heavily using the platform to show others their tricks, and even pro-skaters like Tony Hawk and Steve Berra are fans of posting pictures.

The filmteam chose the right platform, and executed the idea perfectly. They got a database full of useful information about their fans, and skateboarding lovers in general.

What do you think?
Do you like the way Sundance is present on every social medium? Or do you think they could tone it down a little?

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