Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

BoomTown Heads to Sundance Film Festival in the Fifth Annual Meet-the-Geeks Pilgrimage

Today, BoomTown is loading the wife and kids, along with mom, into our tricked-out All Things Digital Winnebago and heading to Park City, Utah, for the 26th Sundance Film Festival.

Now, what I know about independent filmmaking could fit neatly into a thimble, with room to spare.

But what has brought me back there for five years running is the chance to introduce those auteurs gathered on the frozen tundra to a slice of what’s to come from the digital world–for Sundance’s terrific New Frontier on Main series.

Increasingly, that matters a lot to those who make movies, especially those associated with smaller film efforts that might never see the light of a theater projector.

Thus, the tech sessions at Sundance are packed to the gills, with huge crowds turned away, because Hollywood knows what’s coming, and it has increasingly less control over it.

Imagine, for example, what the Apple (AAPL) tablet will mean to media giants in relation to entertainment distribution. And exactly how might you tell a story on a smartphone? Or not!

They can’t say they were not warned.

Last year, I interviewed a trio panelists: Chad Hurley, co-founder and CEO of the Google (GOOG) video service YouTube; Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, the premium online video service and joint venture among News Corp. (NWS), Disney (DIS) and GE’s (GE) NBC Universal; and Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix (NFLX), the largest online DVD rental service, which has been moving into an ever wider range of movie distribution on the Web.

This year, my panel–which takes place Friday at noon and runs 90 minutes–is titled: “Spotlight on Social Media: Successful Strategies for Storytellers.”

Here’s the description:

“Today’s social media sites have the potential to bring content creators closer to audiences than ever before–creating new marketing opportunities for independents. But what more can be achieved? Can we create meaningful experiences through our profiles pages, or is it all just self-promotional clutter? Are the popular sites we use today the end of the line, or just a peek into the future?”

In other words: Will Twitter’s 140-character influence murder all creativity? Or just bruise it a little bit?

The subjects of my prying interview questions on this important issue include Robert Tercek, president of digital media for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network; filmmaker Ondi Timoner; Chris Gebhardt, head of Participant Media’s TakePart social media platform; David Eun, head of film partnerships for YouTube; MySpace’s Chief Product Officer Jason Hirschhorn; and Matt Jacobson, Facebook’s market development dude.

Whatever that means, since the hot Silicon Valley social networking site has done little in the way of storytelling as yet and much more in the way of pokes!

But, as ever, I shall strive to drag answers about innovation and more out of the lot of them.

Video to come, of course!

So, until I get there and thaw out the Flip digital video camera, here is my longish video from last year with the panelists, as well as cameos from my kids and once-indie film star and now TV hit queen Jane Lynch.

And below that, my 2008 Sundance video featuring Lynch and MySpace co-founder and former CEO Chris DeWolfe.

And if you want to know even more about Sundance, there is a new app on the iPhone for the festival. It costs $4.99, with the proceeds benefiting the not-for-profit Sundance Institute.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work