Avid Supports Independent Filmmakers and Diversity at Sundance Film Festival

By in Audio Post, Video Editing

Record snowfall didn’t dampen the energy, enthusiasm or crowds at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Once again, Avid was in Utah to support our many university customers whose student and alumni films were showcased at the nation’s largest and most prestigious independent film festival.

“Premier West coast film schools like USC, UCLA and Chapman are true partners of Avid,” says Don Rohrer, territory account manager at Avid. “They not only teach Avid hardware and software, but also help us further our reach with future storytellers.”

Alumni from the University of Southern California’s Cinema School had some 40 projects at Sundance—from high-profile feature films to student and VR projects. Avid has a long tradition of supporting USC’s presence at Sundance and this year was no exception. We sponsored USC’s Filmmaker’s Brunch, a casual, intimate gathering for filmmakers at Sundance, and its cocktail party for alumni, students and faculty members with projects at the festival. We also donated Media Composer and Pro Tools software for prize drawings at the events.

“USC has had a presence at Sundance for the past 17 years,” says Justin Wilson, senior director of alumni relations at USC. “The cocktail party gets bigger every year, which is in no small part due to Avid. Avid has supported USC at Sundance for over a decade and has been a great partner.”

In addition to the USC events, we were also proud to support the University of California, Los Angeles’s School of Theater, Film and Television’s alumni reception, Chapman University’s festival event, and Scottsdale Community College’s screenings and Q&A.

Avid also supported film-centric crowd-funding platform Seed&Spark’s #100DaysOfDiversity, an initiative launched at Sundance, designed to make the entertainment industry more inclusive in 100 days. Seed&Spark is curating crowd-funded projects and streaming films that actively increase representation and diversity, and inviting industry leaders and filmmakers to join them. Attendees at the launch event filled out cards to define how they plan to act on their commitment to diversity in the next 100 days.

“The mission of #100DaysOfDiversity is to increase diversity in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera,” explains Emily Best, Founder & CEO, Seed&Spark. “We’re lucky to have partners like Avid and it’s cool for filmmakers to find out that companies that make the technology tools they use actually care about diversity and are supporting filmmakers.”

A great example of a filmmaker who’s actively contributing to diversity both behind and in front of the camera is Barri Chase. Barri’s film The Watchman’s Canoe tells the story of a fair-skinned Native American girl who struggles to fit in with her peers on the reservation and embarks on a spiritual journey with the help of a tribal Watchman. Loosely based on Barri’s experience growing up on a reservation in the 1960s, the film explores cultural and social challenges that are just as timely now as they were then.

Barri cut the film at Under The Knife Post Production in Scottsdale, Arizona using Media Composer. With multiple tracks in the timeline and the need to collaborate with different facilities, Barri says she never considered using anything else.

“I’ve talked to other directors who have tried other tools and had a lot of issues, and as an indie film, we just can’t afford that—we have to be up and running all the time,” she says. “The people doing the sound and color all needed to access the film as well, and Media Composer is the only platform that lets you collaborate. With Media Composer, everything was simple and streamlined. We never had any issues with the output. It was easy to find media and get everything lined up. And it’s very user friendly, which for the indie world means that other platform users can step right into it.”

Brian Hathaway, owner and post-production supervisor at Under The Knife Post Production and adjunct professor at Scottsdale Community College, got involved in the film after its original editor landed a job with a major studio and recommended Brain to Barri. Brian echoes Barri’s thoughts when he reveals why he used Media Composer.

“When you have multiple editors working on one project, Media Composer is far superior to any other software,” he says. “We had four people working on the project in my office simultaneously, and we were able to share media back and forth with each other, and with the assistant editor in California. Being able to work so seamlessly in two different states is a huge thing.”

Brian also highlights Media Composer’s benefits for independent films: “The trimming mode is far superior—if you’re doing something long form where you have more than an hour in the timeline and 50 tracks, it’s far easier in Media Composer to maintain sync, and that intricate frame-by-frame editing is a lot easier. For an independent, lower-budget film, it’s a much better system. It has all the functionality you need of an editing system. I teach it at school and I love it. It’s by far the best software there is out there.”

While The Watchman’s Canoe wasn’t part of the official Sundance program, the film garnered lots of buzz and momentum with its premier—in true indie fashion—at a private screening in Park City. Riding the high, Barri is now in pre-production on her next project, supernatural-psychological thriller Coyote Howls.

“Sundance was a great opportunity to connect with our indie filmmaker user community and it was heartening to hear so many of them tell us how much they love Avid,” says Greg Lawler, Avid’s director of sales, West. “It was my first Sundance experience and we got first-class treatment. We’ll definitely be back next year.”

To find out how Avid’s creative tools can take your project to the next level, visit the Avid website.

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As the Head of Channel Marketing for the Americas, I am passionate about helping tell Avid’s story. My team helps create programs to leverage our channel partners and we also drive activities in the field. I truly believe that we have the best customers in the world and I love being part of this industry.