Sundance​ Institute​ ​Shorts P​rogrammer Mike Plante breaks down ​how he curates the Sundance Festival shorts and what​​ makes a successful film​.
Key Insights
  • The film, not the filmmaker, is the most important factor in the selection process.
  • Knowing the programmer(s) doesn't help your film get selected.
  • Don't over-complicate the story in your film.
  • The length of a short film should be dictated by the story you’re telling. 
  • A believable world and authentic, strong performances will always outweigh fancy or complicated technical details.
  • Maximize your available resources and don’t try to replicate the feeling of a feature film.
  • Successful, emerging filmmakers rely on their own voice by choosing the story only they can tell.
Senior Programmer, Sundance Festival
Mike Plante is a filmmaker and festival programmer. He directed the feature documentary BE LIKE AN ANT (2011) and many shorts including THE MASQUE (2012) and THE POLAROID JOB (2016), which is available on the New York Times' Op-Doc website.

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