TED is not a good model for Sundance

Ron Galloway has posted an odd article, What The Sundance Festival Can Learn From TED. Part of the oddness is that I can’t quite tell what he thinks Sundance should take from TED. I think he says that Sundance should be “about ideas” and make the presentations available for free, but that doesn’t really make sense.

TED is about ideas, but Sundance is about the expression of ideas. TED makes the presentations, the expressions, available because that strengthens the marketing of the idea, which is still associated with the idea-maker.

Sundance is all about expression. If you take ten years to make a documentary about Patti Smith, then give it away, you have zero. No one is going to pay you to come talk about your free film. It is entirely OK to make deals at Sundance, because that means the expressions are valued, even at the most crass level, money. That is also the level where the filmmaker can pay for food and shelter.

Here is one other thing that Sundance shouldn’t change. I can go to Sundance. I can’t go to TED. I can “join” TED’s website, but to go to the conference I would have to apply for membership and pony up $6000 if I was good enough. Then I would have to apply again the next year. For Sundance, get some friends, share an overpriced condo in Park City, and go stand in line to see movies for $10 each. Or stay with friends in Salt Lake City and go to the films shown there. $6000 would be a gold-plated Sundance experience, with an Express Pass (entrance to any movie) plus your own condo at Park City and airfare.

I’m not sure that Sundance needs fixing, but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t need TED as a model.

PS: See the Patti Smith documentary, Dream of Life. You can rent it from Netflix. It is an interesting portrait, and wonderful cinematography. Steven Sebring has an amazing touch with film. Watch it just for what he does with film and exposure, because there won’t be very many more movies like this. Film is like the Polaroids scattered on the floor of Patti’s apartment, lovely but obsolete.


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