Before starting my internship here at MSD, I had the extremely good fortune of attending this year’s Sundance Directors Lab for a week at the Sundance resort in Utah. A week full of instagram worthy mountain views, intense on-set filming sessions and Ed Harris. All in all, it was a magical experience.
Every year, the Sundance Institute chooses a select number of promising scripts from first-time filmmakers to help develop during the course of a month under the guidance of an expert panel of creative advisers (Ed Harris being one of them). During the one week that I was there, I had the opportunity to talk to and work with some renowned veterans (directors, cinematographers, writers, producers) who participated at the event on a solely voluntary basis. Their motivation was purely altruistic – to share their knowledge and experience of cinema in order to enrich and enlighten the minds of the participants. The enthusiasm was infectious.
Structurally, the annual Sundance Lab is a perfect platform for jumpstarting good talent into the mainstage – past alumni of the program include Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Cary Fukunaga and Julie Taymor. By connecting experts in the field with budding talent, Sundance has found a clever way to act as an efficient incubator for quality productions.
I think a similar model could help start-ups as well. This is not to say that development models don’t already exist for budding techies. Start-up incubators and angel investor programs of all kinds do provide the much needed initial investment and support to young tech companies, yet the collaborative workshop-esque nature of Sundance seems to be lacking. Famous incubators such as Capital Factory, Y-Combinator and Launchbox Digital are all willing to invest thousands of dollars into start-up ideas in return for percentage equity stake, but a truly legitimate start-up workshop at the level of legitimacy of Sundance is still lacking. Future tech incubator development (either in the Valley or elsewhere) could learn a lot from the Sundance model and foster environments that allow young and inexperienced entrepreneurs to work with and learn from their peers as well as more experienced entrepreneurs who can guide them through the excitingly complex world of new business.
Sid Dhananjay, MSD Intern