For all intents and purposes, the Sundance Film Festival is the Holy Grail for many short filmmakers around the world. Need proof? Just take a look at the number of entries to this year's competition: 9,000. It would take an army to sift through that much content. Or at least a highly dedicated and skilled team of programmers. Even with that sort of team in place, it seems like there has to be some element of luck involved with getting into one of the country's most prestigious festivals. 

Then you see shorts like Dawn of the Deaf, Hairat, and Shinaab, and realize that part of what it takes is an enormous dedication to telling your story. From conception, your vision has to be totally in place, and in execution, you must be precise and resourceful. Forget drones, relevant social issues, or gimmicky lens tricks. As Sundance Short Film Programmer Emily Doe put it, "We are looking for what the story and what the style is; we don’t care if your budget was $100 or $100,000."

In this episode of The No Film School Podcast, producer Jon Fusco and writer Oakley Anderson-Moore conduct a roundtable discussion with crew members from three of the 68 films presented in this year's shorts program.

Included in the discussion are Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd and Douglas Cox from Dawn of the Deafa sign language zombie movie made with the deaf community in London; Native American filmmaker, Lyle Corbine Jr. who's latest short Shinaab marks his fifteenth film; and Jessica Beshir and Charlie Hoxie, who round out the group with their film Hairat, which details the strange nightly ritual of an Ethiopian man who feeds hyenas by dangling meat from a stick in his mouth.

The result is a fascinating dissection of the steps each filmmaker took to find their place at Sundance. We're sure you'll find more than a few nuggets of advice in there to aid in your own short filmmaking projects.

Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.

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For more, see our complete coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.


No Film School's video and editorial coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by RODE Microphones.