With 15 panelists combining into a impressive hive-mind and two 'ringmasters' directing the wide-ranging discussion, Monday's 'The Doctors Are In!' proved how complicated the modern independent distribution climate truly is. IndieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez, one of the ringmasters, set the candid tone at the beginning of the event, giving the entire audience his personal email and soliciting their responses. His counterpart Peter Broderick followed suit, declaring the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to be a 'turning point' for the film industry, citing that the simultaneous online release of three films premiering in the NEXT section.
From there, the group tackled the so-called 'death' of traditional theatrical distribution, with Magnolia's Tom Quinn and IFC's Arianna Bocco engaging in a fascinating back-and-forth on the changing definition of 'success' for Video On Demand releases. Producer Ted Hope cut in, making an impassioned plea for VOD distributors to share the data with filmmakers, something he's been advocating since the services first appeared 25 years ago. The audience greeted Hope's request with applause, as many there were Sundance Institute Producing Fellows, participants in the Institute's Feature Film Producers Lab or other associates with Sundance Institute's many programs that specifically offer help to independent producers.
The conversation mutated as groups of panelists jumped in and out of the discussion, touching on the great advances being made with specialized distribution that harnesses existing communities, both online and in the real world. Cora Olsen, producer of Sundance Film Festival hit Good Dick, told of the success her team found in bringing the film to college campuses around the country. And B-side Entertainment's Chris Hyams revealed how his company utilized numerous online communities to make the documentary Super High Me such a success.