Our Sundance journey began when a major brand engaged with us to create a multi-day activation at Sundance Film Festival. The brand’s intention was to be a high-level festival sponsor and create a space for a consumer engagement, talent photo studios, panel discussions and evening receptions. From our experience at Sundance in previous years, we had insider information on a brand new event space that has never been used in Park City, and were able to contract with Kimball Terrace in the summer while our client was finalizing their sponsorship deal with the Sundance Institute.
As the fall approached, plans suddenly changed, and for unforeseen circumstances decided to abandon their Q1 experiential plans at Sundance, as well as their overall event sponsorship, obviously causing a lot of alarm not only for our agency, but for the Institute itself. Despite the setback, we were equipped with a new venue in the center of the festival and wanted to see if we could parlay the change in plan into a multi-day event series for multiple clients.
Many brands, films and studios are looking to produce smaller-activations at Sundance that aren’t produced over multiple days but the chances of being able to do so on Main Street, and the costs, prevent that. We decided to adapt our space into a communal opportunity for brands – providing a base-level design and functionality that could easily adjust between receptions, panels, studios or networking lounges. We amortized the cost of the space over the first weekend of the festival to provide a turn-key, affordable solution for brands looking to host a simple one-off event in a central location. The concept sold, and we were able to engage brands Quibi, Hulu and Outfest in hosting their events.
Quibi, the short-form, mobile streaming video platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, spent the day at Sundance discussing the platform and it’s content, before allowing 300 lucky invite-only guests to preview several of it’s new shows for the first time. JJLA transformed Kimball Terrace into part screening room, part reception area, where guests grabbed a cocktail and “quick bite” before cozying up in the screening room lounge to enjoy a show – anywhere from 6 to 20 minutes in length. Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman were among the guests while DJ Michelle Pesce entertained the post-screening crowd.
Hulu’s highly-anticipated original “Hillary,” a 3-part documentary series following the life and career of Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election, made it’s debut at the festival. Hulu and our event production partner Swisher Productions hosted the series premiere afterparty at Kimball Terrace in a reception-style set up that allowed for easy gathering and mingling with guest-of-honor Hillary Clinton. The installation of rustic walls featured a gallery of iconic images of HRC and allowed the space to feel intimate and special for the 150-person event.
The LA-Based LGBT oriented film festival OUTFEST has long produced their annual “Queer Brunch” – a gathering space for LGBTQ and allied festivalgoers, at a destination off the beaten path. For the first time, the LGBT community had a central presence on Main Street with the creation of OUTFEST House. OUTFEST hosted a day-long event series at Kimball Terrace that began with the traditional brunch and morphed into an afternoon of intriguing panel discussions from buzzworthy queer films making their Sundance debut. The filmmakers from the documentary “Welcome to Chechnya” and the cast of the trans film “Disclosure” were some of the highlight moments of the day. The filmmakers from Disclosure hosted a pre-screening reception to end the day with the lively crowd. Over 650 attendees enjoyed OUTFEST House throughout the day.
Finding a great space in the heart of the festival was a mix of timing, luck with a little industry-know-how. It was exciting to have the opportunity to unveil a new space that festivalgoers were enjoying for the first time. It’s our goal to work more closely with the Institute to reserve the space for official partners in future years but allow for the same open format of multiple brands working in a well-designed, flexible space.