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Special: Slamdance Movie Celebration Co-Founder Dan Mirvish Discusses its Roots

Dan Mirvish joins Movieweb to talk about the history of the Slamdance Movie Celebration, which he co-founded in 1995.

In 1995, Dan Mirvish launched a movie called Omaha, which might be seen on a poster behind him throughout his interview with Movieweb. He at first sent it to the Sundance Movie Celebration at a time that was essential for independent movie.

“It didn’t get into Sundance. And this was at a time in the mid-90s that was pivotal for independent film, and kind of the Hollywood association of independent film. It was around that time that Miramax had just become part of Disney, Fine Line had become part of Warner Bros., Fox was launching Fox Searchlight; because of that, Sundance went along for the ride… So for their first ten years, they had been really supportive of first-time, low-budget independent filmmakers who didn’t have distribution, who would then find distribution at the festival, and didn’t have big stars necessarily. Then all of a sudden, by the mid-90s, they started showing films with bigger budgets and bigger stars, and films that already had distribution, because those distributors were now sponsors.”


Mirvish went on to discuss that due to the fact that of this, a great deal of newbie filmmakers who had actually prospective were left due to the fact that of their specific niche. He describes them as “the first generation,” like Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh, and others who had actually formerly been found in the preliminary of Sundance.

“The industry was like, ‘Dude, if you don’t get into Sundance, you’re screwed,’ and you wouldn’t get distribution. You wouldn’t get into other festivals because other regional and international festivals would just take the Sundance program and go, ‘there’s our list of the 12 indie films from America this year.’ You wouldn’t get an agent. You wouldn’t get a boyfriend or a girlfriend,” he joked.

Filling the Space with Slamdance

“We had heard of a couple of individual filmmakers the year before in January 1994, who didn’t get into Sundance and did their own little renegade screenings. Those people were Trey Parker and Matt Stone — the South Park guys. Their film was called Cannibal! The Musical, and their own screening in a hotel room got a bit of attention. There was another guy named James Maron, and the same thing with his film… there have been a group of short filmmakers from New York called Film Crash, they had done a couple of little things like that too. So, we thought, ‘Okay, that’s our plan B — why don’t we do that?’ But then we realized how many of us first-time directors had films that were not getting into Sundance, and we said, ‘Why don’t we take that but really multiply it?’ Our first year, we had a dozen features.”

They likewise had a lots shorts, and by integrating all of their resources and choosing a “name that would look good on a t-shirt,” Slamdance is now referred to as the celebration that revealed the very first movies of people like Bong Joon-ho, Christopher Nolan, the Russo bros, Lena Dunham, the Safdie bros, and the list might go on.

The Significance of Independent Filmmaking

Slamdance contributes in filling the space for independent movie theater, an essential one for a myriad of factors. You might think about the advancement of directors and authors, providing a chance to see their tasks through to (ideally) circulation. Another factor to consider might be the significance of narrating regardless of it maybe not being a smash hit. Some documentary might fall under that classification. You might likewise think of the actors, discussed Mirvish.

“It’s a couple of things. In terms of the actors, they get stuck doing TV shows or wearing tights, which is great for their bank accounts and careers. There are not a lot of actors who turn that stuff down. But they love to dig their teeth into something else, either a character or a role that they’ve never done before. Comedy if they’re known for dramas, or non-action films if they’re known for action. It’s really refreshing for them,” discussed Mirvish, communicating how independent filmmaking truly offers them an outlet. “It keeps them happy, meaning that it keeps their agents happy. Which means if you’re an independent filmmaker, you can get some really great people, if you know how to approach it.”

Slamdance was co-founded by Dan Mirvish together with Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn, Peter Baxter, and Paul Rachman. Dan Mirvish’s most current movie is a Watergate-inspired funny entitled 18½, which launches on May 27. You can watch the trailer listed below.

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