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Category: From the Labs

Playwright Ellen McLaughlin on Creating a “Brand-New Something” at Flying Point

When we five playwrights came to Joan and George Hornig’s astonishing house on Flying Point Road in Long Island for the alumni writing studio, the spring was still groping around without much conviction. After our brutal New York winter, it was hard to believe that such a promised warmth and regeneration was even possible. But then it seemed just as unlikely that the five of us would be put up in such luxury and fed for a full week by our own private chef (oh, the food!) on grounds just a few minutes’ walk from a glistening beach.

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Michael Almereyda, Sara Colangelo, and Kenny Riches Offer Up Advice on Making a Short Film

Last week, Sundance Institute and the Knight Foundation held ShortsLab Miami, a free workshop dedicated to informing and supporting aspiring filmmakers in an open forum. In attendance were filmmakers Michael Almereyda, Sara Colangelo, and Kenny Riches, who participated in Q&A discussions moderated by Sundance short film programmer Mike Plante on topics such as the actor-director relationship, transitioning from shorts to feature films, finding financing and producers, and how to engage with and draw inspiration from your local arts community. Below, we’ve distilled the day down to include some of the most enlightening points overheard at ShortsLab Miami.

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‘Appropriate Behavior’ Director Desiree Akhavan’s 7 Takeaways From the Episodic Story Lab

I’ve been encouraged by Oprah and Deepak Chopra via my mother to keep a journal. On the evening of my arrival at the Sundance Institute Episodic Story Lab, I wrote the following entry: “This evening was kind of rough and soul-crushing and made me feel like I have no place in this industry.”I was never good at summer camp, or college, or any of those supposedly fun, nurturing places that outcasts are expected to flourish in.

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“A Space to Explore”: Filmmaker Mike Day on Sundance Institute’s Music and Sound Design Lab

Sundance Institute recently hosted the second edition of the Music and Sound Design Lab for Documentary Film at Skywalker Sound. This unique residency brings together four emerging film music composers with four Documentary Film Program-supported filmmakers and world-class Skywalker sound designers to experiment and discover new possibilities for music and sound design in documentary film. Often over-looked or eschewed by documentary filmmakers in favor of an “intimate” approach to shooting and often constrained by tight budgets, music and sound took center stage at the lab.

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Overcoming Adversity to Create Longevity: A Guide to Creative Producing

Sundance Institute held its annual Creative Producing Summit last weekend, a three-day gathering at the Sundance Resort that provides a forum for top industry professionals, producers, and directors to focus on three primary avenues of dialogue: narrative producing, documentary producing, and the state of the independent film industry. Below, Sundance Institute #ArtistServices staffer Missy Laney shares her takeaways from the weekend.At the start of the Creative Producing Summit, Festival director John Cooper posed a simple question to the group: “Looking back at the last five years, are you more or less optimistic about the industry?” With budgets shrinking, marketplaces becoming increasingly crowded, and projects becoming more ambitious, it could seem impossible to be able to survive as an independent producer.

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Film Composers Share Their Favorite Scores and Soundtracks of All Time

In contemplating your favorite films of all time, chances are that most of the relevant works exhibit an exceptional—or at least serviceable—film score. At the same time, many of us would be hard-pressed to allude to a favorite score without first mentioning our predilection for the film itself. If that’s you, think of this list as a handy resource for the film-score illiterate.

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5 Things You Should Know: Directors Lab Fellows “Daniels” on Crass Humor

“It’s gonna be our Apocalypse Now, where we disappear into the forest for weeks and lose our minds and discover who we are as men,” say Daniels, the lone directing duo at this year’s Sundance Institute Directors Lab, where they’re joined by seven other nascent writer-directors and their projects. But Daniels (never to be preceded by “the,” they assure me), made up of longtime music video collaborators Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, have developed a symbiosis that renders them more operative together than apart. And while yes, it’s a testament to Aristotle’s “sum of its parts” philosophy, it has also yielded dividends in the form of countless industry accolades, from their Grammy nomination for Foster the People’s “Houdini” to countless Vimeo Staff Picks.

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Native American Filmmakers on the Importance of Representation in Hollywood

Last month, the Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Program kicked off its annual fellowship with a rigorous four-day workshop on the homelands of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico. In May, we chatted with Native Hawaiian filmmaker Christopher Kahunahana (Karaoke Kings) and Carmen Tsabetsaye (Puebloan in Praha) about their respective projects and their orientations as Native and Indigenous artists. Now we round out our coverage by exploring two disparate stories from fellows Daniel Flores and Missy Whiteman, both of which straddle issues of gender identity, depression, and the challenges of reclaiming Native American storytelling.

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