Robert Redford

Historically, a film would be made within the confines of one of the leading studios, released to its circuit of theaters, enjoy a moment in the sun and fade. Today, the process is so multi-dimensional, involves so many varying parts (and people), there is almost no formula for a film’s creators to follow. Especially for those films traditionally considered more artsy or fringe than the typical Hollywood blockbuster. And that’s before you factor in the international community, growth of the after-market (for better or worse) and online piracy. It’s no secret what’s helped a number of the big hits of recent years is their participation in the labyrinth of film festivals where the positive momentum of winning awards and industry acclaim has led to wider distribution and a greater purse at the box office. As one of the industry’s most respected figures, actor, producer and director Robert Redford has been at the vital core of its development. In 1984, Redford founded the Sundance International Film Festival and it has remained at the epicenter of film festivals ever since. Ever wonder what he thinks about it all? Here’s what Redford shared in a recent interview…

You have kept your number of movies per year somewhat limited, what guides you in choosing projects? It’s hard enough to make a film once you have all the pieces in place but getting to that point is more and more difficult. A good story and a good script, a good cast, financing, distribution…lots of moving pieces that don’t come together quickly or easily. I just finished principle photography on a film I’m very excited about called The Conspirator, which I’m editing as we speak. But I have a number of films in various stages of development that I’d love to move right into after I finish this one // What sorts of movies are you most attracted to? What do they all share? I’m attracted to good stories, well told. Stories that reveal themselves in ways that don’t have to slam you across the head with bells and whistles interest me a lot. It doesn’t mean there isn’t merit to other genres. // Like most forms of art, movies are sometimes a means for delivering social or political commentary. Do films better serve audiences when they offer some larger perspective or should filmmakers try not to do too many things at once (ex: a romance is a romance, a political piece should be just that, etc.)? I don’t want to be redundant but I think it all starts with story and genuinely having something to say. A rich, compelling story that trusts its audience to take what they will from it is the most powerful in my opinion. // With all the hot spots of film around the world (Hollywood, Berlin, Bollywood), is there a sense of an international film community or is it so vast the various satellites are more like islands? This is a great question. I think there is more than a “sense” of an international film community. I think there is one. The non-profit Sundance Institute has worked for many years with filmmakers all over the world via filmmaker labs and of course the Sundance Film Festival. They continue to do all that and of course Sundance Channel and lots of other broadcast and exhibition outlets bring international work here and American work around the world, as a matter of course now. The global nature of how we live and communicate and do business has really helped integrate it all into a more cohesive sector and community. It’s a very important evolution. // You are listed as Executive Producer of Sundance Channel, but juggle a few hefty things already. How much are you able to get involved in development of the channel? I have been very involved in the creative direction of Sundance Channel since it’s inception 13 years ago, oftentimes struggling against too much corporate think. I’ve worked with creative executives along the way to build it into a dynamic cultural offering. // How has Sundance Channel progressed compared to your initial goals/motivations at the start? Sundance Channel started as a natural next step for the core mission of our overall Sundance brand, which was to support artists in new ways and bring original and independent work and voices to wider audiences. I’m pleased with where we have come with this company in this regard over the last decade, as we’ve been able to create and acquire content not seen elsewhere and deliver it over multiple platforms in dynamic ways. // Any big changes since joining the Cablevision family? Joining the Cablevision/Rainbow family a year and a half ago brought with it an international reach I’d always wanted for Sundance Channel and resources it might not have had otherwise.

melissa flagg

Melissa Flagg is in charge of Communications for LI Pulse. She is also a freelance photographer specializing in vintage automobiles. View her work at