Slamdance DIGs into the digital, interactive and gaming world
Slamdance was founded with the mission to support emerging artists and has maintained that philosophy for the past two decades.
Throughout the years, the film festival has nurtured filmmakers, actors, producers, musicians and the like. This year, it has extended its reach to digital artists with its newly established DIG showcase.
DIG stands for digital, interactive and gaming, according to Slamdance co-founder Peter Baxter.
"This program is dedicated to emerging independent artists working in immersive and developing forms of digital media art," Baxter said during a conference call with newly appointed festival manager Clementine Leger. "We’re very excited about this year’s program and it’s been an awesome experience programming everything."
Like it does for filmmakers, Slamdance hopes DIG, which is a joint venture with Big Pictures Los Angeles, will create and nurture a community of emerging artists, according to Leger.
"In the past six months, Slamdance has done a lot of things and that stems from the fact that we pay attention to the ideas that other people may have," she said. "We’re doing it from a sense of passion. We care about cinema and art and care about those who are making those things."
The full DIG exhibit opened for two consecutive weekends in Los Angeles in December. Slamdance will bring a few of the features to Park City.
The showcase will feature meta-narrative iPad applications, short films made for virtual reality, cubist-inspired video art pieces and video games being developed for PlayStation and the personal computer, to name a few.
"These are different artistic disciplines, but you know we are here to support emerging artists and any way we can, we will," Baxter said. "We do want to make sure the artists are getting the full attention that they deserve. We’re very excited about incorporating this into the festival."
The call for DIG artists went out earlier this year with the catch phrase, "If you think the work fits, it likely does."
"We didn’t have any submission fees because we wanted it to be free and open to artists," Baxter said. "We also opened it to people who haven’t completed their projects, because we wanted those people to be able to demonstrate how their project would work, event if it wasn’t completed."
Baxter was surprised at the response.
"I don’t think I realized the scope of something like this," he said with a laugh. "When you start looking into this interactive world, you find that it’s a very large world.
"We didn’t want to pigeonhole artists working in this area, which is why we not only included games, but also included visual artists and experimented as we went along," Baxter said. "We’re like neophytes at this."
Some of the stories told during DIG will directly involve the viewers.
"We’re hearing, especially this year, how storytelling will become more interactive," Baxter said. "There are a couple of pieces at DIG where the audience decides what the story will be to them. It’s all about their decision making."
Most of the work in DIG was created in the United States.
"We do have artists in the show that are from abroad, but they, too, are based in the United States and have been living here for some time," Baxter said. "We obviously have experience in supporting emerging artists, but to really look at the work that is being created right now is new to us.
"We wanted to make sure we didn’t limit ourselves or, most importantly, the artists by setting out too many rules and regulations," he said. "That’s also why the scope of this became so large so quickly."
Leger said she is happy to be part of Slamdance during this exciting time.
"It makes sense that we’re doing this right now," she said. "It’s a new medium of storytelling and artistry, and I think it’s great that we are tackling this and giving these artists a place to showcase their work."
Leger expressed gratitude to Deron Williams, Slamdance special programs manager and Doug Crocco, founder of Big Pictures Los Angeles, for their vision on DIG.
"Peter and Deron have done a fantastic job of putting this all together and I think it’s great to have this whole new element be a part of the festival," she said. "It fits with our mentality and our goals."
"This is exciting for independent artists," Baxter said. "Just like independent film, I think the big changes will come from independent artists. It needn’t be hugely expensive, but we want to support these artists all we can."
Slamdance will run Friday, Jan. 22, to Thursday, Jan. 28, at Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main St. For schedule, tickets and more information, visit http://www.slamdance.com.
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