In March of 2016 I had the incredible opportunity to sit with Robert Redford, and pitch the film festival concept, which was long exposure light drawing photography for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Redford spoke about how the key art could represent the idea of chaos becoming organized, breaking apart and coming together again. His artistic vision and this conversation was the fuel for my inspiration.
We shot the principal photography at the start of the lab season, at the Sundance resort beneath the Mt. Timpanogos mountain range, which was a key character in the film festival identity. We built a family of gestures with an in-house design and photography team, using several camping and LED lights, tied to giant rubber bands. We had previously worked with an external agency, by bringing the design in house, we were able to complete the identity months ahead of schedule, as well as deliver at the same time style guides for the London and Hong Kong festivals, and design a system that was flexible and robust enough to cover the myriad of print and digital signage, on-screen assets, environmental graphics, motion graphics, set design, merchandise, and publications for the festival. Because of my direct leadership and entrepreneurial approach, we saved money, bolstered team spirit and created truly engaged work for all aspects of the festival which ran from January 19-29 in Park City, Utah.
It wasn't until after the film festival poster was completed, that I happened to read this article by Sundance alumni and filmmaker, Kirsten Johnson. Her sentiments parallel the visual materialization that is the 2017 film festival poster:
"Then I started thinking about you and the mountain. I thought about all of the actors and directors and filmmakers who love our work, but how very very few of them specifically put their energy into imagining how to build a community and a structure that could support other people who want to live a life of making films, let alone did it and are still doing it. That is what you have done and are still doing every day. And I started thinking about all of the people I know and love who can be traced to you. And the list just kept getting longer and longer, and I thought of all the times, over and over, when Sundance has stepped in again and again when all our resources, both creative and financial, were completely drained, and somehow we felt filled up again and could continue. Over and over, you and the world you have built, have helped me overcome all of the obstacles and continue forward with hope and humility."
The light gesture is the embodiment of the creative journey and in particular, the process of artist transformation that happens at Sundance which began in that specific mountain landscape.