Sundance Institute Brings Film to San José

By Lance Wyndon
sundanceOn Saturday, August 19, the Sundance Institute returned to the Hammer Theatre to host a free workshop entitled “Documentary Filmmaking: Live Case Study.”  

It was the Hammer Theatre’s second collaboration with the Sundance Institute, which previously brought a “Short Film Master Class” workshop to the city of San José earlier this year in April. Collaboration between San José State University and Santa Clara University made the workshop possible, and contributions by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation allowed it to be free to the public.

Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated toward supporting and facilitating growth of aspiring independent artists through initiatives such as labs, fellowships, and workshops to help them polish their craft. According to the Sundance Institute, their workshops are “open to all artists, and held around the country…offer[ing] participants premium resources and expert advice on topics ranging from screenwriting to digital distribution.”

Another program of the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Film Festival, is critically acclaimed within the United States and is quickly becoming the premier discovery point for many up-and-coming filmmakers across the globe.

Professor Barnaby Dallas, the coordinator for Film and Theatre at SJSU, was contacted earlier this year by former H&A Dean Lisa Vollendorf to help partner with the Sundance Institute and bring these film workshops to the San José community.

“The purpose of the Sundance Institute is for young professionals to get opportunities and exposure before they get into their career,” Dallas says. “As someone who has been a filmmaker for more than twenty years, it is an incredible opportunity.”

SJSU and the Hammer Theatre Center are at the heart of San José and are home to filmmakers and enthusiasts alike. According to Dallas, “Sundance officials praised the Hammer Theatre Center for being such a cutting-edge facility and one of the best venues they’ve ever visited.” In short, it is the ideal location for a workshop.

“Here in the South Bay, there is a huge demand for filmmaking that is not being met. For the first ‘Short Master Class’ workshop we did little outreach and 400 people still signed up!” Dallas says.

One of the Sundance Institute’s core commitments is “to champion the creation of unique work by individual storytellers.” Moving into the future, the Sundance Institute would like to see more diversity within the film world by granting opportunities to aspiring filmmakers in typically underrepresented areas.  

The success of the venue and the Sundance Institute workshop has paved the way for continual ongoing collaborations between SJSU and Sundance. “They will definitely be back every year,” Dallas confirms.