Sundance net sets up shop at fest

Channel rents prime spot in Park City

Sundance Channel is putting out the welcome mat this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The channel has rented a prime spot at 692 Main St. in Park City for its studio space, which will be open to festgoers for the first time as a lounge offering coffee, food and a place to take the load off in between the hard labor of screenings, panels and parties.

Sundance Channel has long set up a studio facility at its namesake fest for interviews with helmers, actors and other notables. But this year, channel execs decided it was time to open up that operation to help the channel make an impression on the roughly 60,000 fest attendees, who are naturally in the sweet spot of Sundance Channel’s target demographic. The three-story house, branded as Sundance Channel HQ, has 10,000 square feet of room for respite.

“The Sundance Channel was born out of a desire to connect what happens at the festival to audiences who could not be there,” said Sundance Channel exec veep and g.m. Sarah Barnett. “But we thought that we were missing a chance to connect with the audience that is there. We thought by taking over a house, we’d create a really cool experience for the audience in Park City and give them a chance to engage with the channel.”

As always, the channel’s studio will see a steady stream of talent coming in for interviews that are turned out quickly to air on SundanceChannel.com and on air during its annual “10 Days of Sundance” primetime block. That programming consists of screenings of past Sundance fest hits and works from Sundance faves, interspersed with interviews and other footage shot at this year’s event.

The house will offer free coffee and online access, and each person with a fest pass will be entitled to one free lunch at the house.

There will also be an “artist in residence” keeping a sketchbook chronicle of the goings-on, among other artsy amenities, Barnett said.

Barnett, who has headed the Cablevision-owned Sundance Channel for the past two years, made the decision to up the channel’s presence at the fest about five months ago. It has been a round-the-clock effort for her marketing staff since then.

There will be some corporate sponsorship on display in the house and, of course, plenty of tubthumping for Sundance’s original programming.

“There are a lot of private VIP spaces at the fest, but we hope this will become a hub where everybody can find a place to recharge,” Barnett said. “We really want to tap into the energy of the fest as a place where filmmakers and film lovers converge.”

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