The Sundance App Puts the Festival at Your Fingertips

Trying to keep track of all the screenings, events, people, and parties at the Sundance Film Festival just got a little easier, if you happen to carry a smartphone.

Android- and iPhone-bearing Sundancers can download this year's version of the festival's official app, called Sundance Film Festival 2012, for free and stay on top of the latest deals and diatribes. It's like having the whole festival in your pocket. You can browse through a list of all the films or search by title, date, or venue. You can even search by actor, director, producer, studio, production company, screening time, or ticket price.

You get maps and schedules to tell you where and when your target films are playing, as well as alerts to any last-minute changes and other festival news. The app's connection to YouTube lets you watch film trailers, and once you find what you're looking for, you can chat with other film fans about your discoveries. Select all the events you really want to go to and build your own personalized schedule. Spot a celeb? Indulge your inner "TMZ" by posting and browsing photos. You can also post to Facebook and Twitter.

Having created a popular template for film festival apps, Xomo Digital felt the need, given the festival's heritage, to take its product to the next level by developing an app specifically for Sundance. "The Sundance audience is very discerning, so we needed to make the look and feel reflect that audience," says Jenna Watson-Brown, the company's sales coordinator and social media manager.

Being at an event like Sundance can be a heady experience, so Xomo Digital looked at the overwhelming number of choices faced by attendees and designed an app to meet the challenge of having too many options. "There's also a lot more data that visitors have to deal with at a huge festival like this, so we need to make sure that data can be well-curated," says Watson-Brown. "As an example, we have experience with SXSW, which hosts 5,000 events over 10 days, and Sundance is in that range of complexity."

One feature, useful for those who don't have a set schedule and just want to be surprised, employs GPS to allow users to simply tap a button and find out which films are playing close to them. "We also want Sundance attendees to be able to discover new films and know both what's happening now and what's happening next," says Watson-Brawn. "Walk out of a movie and you'll be able to choose not only the films you want to see, but how far away you want to walk. If a screening is only 20 meters away, it will bubble towards the top of the search results."

Watson-Brawn also helps assuage the fears of the tech-averse. I asked her if the app could be used by all ages, and she assured me that if your iPhone is a challenge to you, the Sundance app won't be: "We put a lot of R&D into making sure that a 65-year-old attendee and an 18-year-old tech-savvy Sundance goer will have equal ease of use with the app."