What will filmmaking look like in the next year? Or in the next 50?

During the 40th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival, IndieWire’s Chris O’Falt sat down with Eric Kohn, head of strategy and development at Edglrd, Eric Cox, chief customer officer at Dropbox, and “Eno” producer/director Gary Hustwit and the film’s generative artist Brendan Dawes to discuss the inherently codependent relationship between technology and filmmaking. The The Future of Filmmaking panel is part of the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox.

Cox, chief customer officer at Dropbox, pointed to how storytelling in films has shifted thanks to modern technology. O’Falt acknowledged that Dropbox is in a unique position to observe changes in the filmmaking landscape. In response, Cox gave particular thought to how the industry has evolved, where it’s going, and perceiving what emerging needs filmmakers have.

“The democratization of the ability to go and tell a story — everybody’s got a story to tell,” Cox said. “And as technology has enabled more people to go and tell that story, it’s brought with it these arcs of collaboration and sharing. Technology has enabled that in new and different ways. The ability to amplify your voice has added so much diversity to the storytelling that’s happening out there. 

We watch the community create amazing content. In the early days, it [Dropbox] was about creating a place for them to keep their most valued content. But over the course of time, it’s a community that’s challenged us to try to do more around collaboration and the ability to share those stories, so we’ve tried to keep up as best we could.”

Similarly, Kohn pointed to the platform of Sundance as a pioneering force showcasing rising filmmakers who use technology in new ways.

“You can’t talk about Sundance without talking about New Frontier, probably one of the most under-appreciated and valuable aspects of the festival,” Kohn, who previously was the Executive Editor at IndieWire, said, pointing to how a New Frontier project involving immersive VR headsets later led to the creation of the Oculus.

Kohn continued of the technological achievements spotlit at Sundance, saying, “There’s an incredible amount of technological innovation. ‘Tangerine’ was here and it was shot on an iPhone, not because of a creative decision but because it was the only way to get that movie made, it was so obvious, there was no other way to make that movie. But once it was done, it was so clear that the floodgates would continue to open for that kind of innovation, and you don’t see that at the studio level.”

Among those unprecedented projects is “Eno,” a mind-bending film that is different upon every screening thanks to generative artist Dawes and producer/director Hustwit’s vision.

“The amazing stuff you can do in real time now is just insane,” Dawes said, pointing to how even the slightest shift in camera technology led to the French New Wave. Now, A.I. and other generative aspects challenge what is even considered to be a film. Dawes added, “It’s really exciting where those two worlds come in.”

“Eno” director Hustwit said, “It started from the very simple concept: Five years, I wanted to make a film that was different every time you screened it. […] It’s ridiculous now that your phone has more resolution and more effects and processing power than technology from three years ago. So the tools always keep changing. It’s still about the ideas, it’s still about the concepts, but now the accessibility of the technology let’s more people try it out. And on the other side, it lets more people experience them and watch them. So those two things together are pushing it forward.”

Check out the full video above to hear why more than 60 percent of the films at this year’s Sundance use Dropbox in their production, and where the panelists think the next frontier of filmmaking lies.

The 2024 Sundance Film Festival runs January 18 to 28, with festival talks taking place January 19 to 26. See all the videos published so far from the IndieWire Studio at Sundance, presented by Dropbox, here.

Dropbox supports and champions independent makers, crews, and teams behind the camera who bring their unique perspectives to life at the Sundance Film Festival. We’re proud that over 60% of films at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival leveraged Dropbox in their filmmaking process.It takes a monumental effort for film projects to go from ideation to completion, and Dropbox is dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects across the finish line faster. Filmmakers used Dropbox as one organized homebase to keep video files secure, to remotely collaborate with teams around the world, and to get real-time video feedback with Dropbox Replay.

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