The Slamdance Film Festival, which runs January 17th-25th in Park City, Utah, has announced the appointment of Drea Clark to the position of Executive Director. Peter Baxter, co-founder of the Festival, remains its President.
In her capacity as Executive Director, Clark will manage all aspects of festival preparation and production and serve as chair of narrative feature competition programming, in addition to overseeing the year-round direction and activities of Slamdance. Clark has worked with the organization since 1998, starting as an intern, then producing Festival events for several years before serving as Festival Producer for 2006-2007. Previously, Clark was Executive Director of the Music Video Production Association (MVPA), coordinating communications, union negotiations and events, as well as producing the association’s annual music video award show. She remains a member of the Professional Faculty for the University of Southern California, teaching Music Video Production.
Slamdance co-founder Baxter notes, “I’ve known Drea for years and have seen her grow tremendously within the Slamdance organization. Her contributions from the outset of her involvement have been invaluable to us,” he says. “She’s a natural leader, a favorite with staff members and filmmakers and a real visionary who’s able to step back and keep the big picture top of mind, at all times. She knows where we want Slamdance to go and how to get us there. I can’t think of a more qualified person to helm Slamdance day-to-day, year-round.”
Clark’s years of experience with Slamdance have helped her establish a clear direction for the future of the organization. “My passion for Slamdance is anchored by my belief in what we’re doing for independent artists and the relationships we develop with them,” she says. “My vision for shaping our year-round programs and services is centered on expanding the sense of camaraderie that evolves at the Festival every year. I want to provide this family of talent we’ve amassed over the years with platforms to share their ideas, updates and insights; to ask for help, referrals and recommendations – to really take advantage of the network and community that Slamdance brings together.”
One of Clark’s immediate undertakings in her new position is the relaunch of the Slamdance website (www.slamdance.com). In addition to an overall design change, the site will feature more interactive capabilities for filmmakers in the News & Community section. This expanded section will include regular blog postings geared towards the independent film community – updates from other festivals, programmer insights, film reviews, production resources and recommendations, Slamdance staff opinions on events and behind-the-scenes happenings, and video content. Slamdance.com will also provide updates on Slamdance-related films, filmmakers and writers.
Slamdance alumnus and working independent filmmaker Heidi Van Lier (1999 Grand Jury Prize winner for “Chi Girl”) is creating a significant amount of video content for Slamdance.com. Van Lier will be shooting, directing and editing 20 behind-the-scenes podcasts to give those who can’t attend the Festival or want to learn more about it an idea of what a typical filmmaker experiences during Slamdance. Van Lier will create videos that highlight Festival programming, filmmaker promotions in Park City, filmmaker preparation leading up to the Festival, and other relevant topics.
“We want Slamdance.com to be a one-stop information shop for independent filmmakers and a year-round virtual experience of what the Festival offers,” says Clark. “A place where people can exchange ideas with other filmmakers, get advice, tap into resources that are available to them, and really get a sense of what’s going on in the indie film community and, more importantly, feel a part of that community.”
The overhauled site was designed by Sense, programmed by Open Edit and is scheduled for relaunch on December 5th. The narrative and documentary film lineup for the 2008 Festival will also be announced that day.
Another one of Clark’s responsibilities will be to lead Slamdance’s greening initiative, which is being undertaken on a large scale for the first time at the 2008 Festival. The Treasure Mountain Inn, the venue that houses the Slamdance headquarters in Park City, and where all Slamdance film screenings take place, is greening the way it’s doing business at the 2008 Festival by minimizing the hotel’s impact on the planet. The hotel recycles, supports wind energy, encourages water conservation and public transportation, serves organic foods, and contributes to organizations that protect and preserve the natural environment. Additionally, Slamdance.com is being maintained by servers that are exclusively run on green power, and the Festival as a whole is making a commitment to a heightened awareness of the environmental footprint it will be making in Park City in 2008.
As a year-round organization, the Slamdance Film Festival serves as a showcase for the discovery of new and emerging talent and is dedicated to the nurturing and development of that talent. Slamdance began in 1995 with a group of independent artists. The Festival is still organized and programmed exclusively by filmmakers, for filmmakers. This is just one of many elements that make Slamdance a pioneering standout among its counterparts. At Slamdance, the link between artist and festival – and, subsequently, artist and industry – is a direct and cohesive one. Slamdance alumni are recruited to serve as programmers, so first-timers are represented and assisted by Slamdance veterans. It’s what put Slamdance on the festival map to begin with, and what’s made it the viable, big-time contender it is today.
With a renowned Festival as its core, Slamdance has expanded its ventures to include the popular slamdance.com website, writing competitions for both screenplays and teleplays, the Anarchy Online Short Film Competition, a $99 Special short film production project, a Games competition, international film programs and the Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition. Launched as part of Slamdance 2007, the Horror Screenplay Competition guarantees the winning screenplay will be made into a feature motion picture, with the writer receiving an upfront payment of $10,000 against 5% of the film’s budget, plus net profits participation on the movie and payments for any sequels made. Angel Baby and Maverick finance and co-produce the film in association with Slamdance. The winning screenplay of the inaugural Horror Screenplay Competition, “Slaughter” (by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby), began shooting principal photography in Los Angeles this fall.