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The Business of Sundance

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Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Peter Decherney walks us through the types of deals likely to be made during the Sundance Film Festival and the relevance of the festival in the changing media environment.   

While the signs on Main Street promoting the 2022 Sundance Film festival are up, this weekend was fairly quiet here in Park City. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Like so much in the last two years, the COVID virus  was cited as the cause for the festival to go virtual for the second year in a row.

But while the crowds dressed in black and smoking cigarettes may not be overwhelming our restaurants and hotels, much of the business of Sundance will go on.  Sundance is perhaps the most important showcase for independent films in the nation – and for filmmakers, the business of Sundance is all about getting distributed.  

So how does the business of independent filmmaking work?  How do films get made if there is no assurance of any kind of back-end revenue?  What are the economics of making an independent film?  Who buys films at Sundance and how do they decide what they are worth?  And what happens to all those documentaries?

We are so lucky this morning to welcome back one of our favorite guests, Professor Peter Decherney of the University of Pennsylvania. 

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Roger is a retired partner in the international law firm of Latham & Watkins. He is the co-founder and Chairman of Buildable Hours, a non-profit group that organizes law firms to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in several cities around the country. He and his wife Rana Tahtinen enjoy skiing and many of the other recreational activities offered by Park City. He is passionate about KPCW and its important role in our community.