Sydney Freeland: Working with Netflix & Maintaining Creative Freedom
SPECIAL SUNDANCE EDITION of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast
I ran into many filmmakers while fighting the blizzard at this year’s Sundance Film Festival but one of the most impressive of the bunch was director Sydney Freeland. Sydney has had a challenging journey to become a director and her story is inspiring, to say the least.
Prior to making her first feature-length film, Sundance darling Drunktown’s Finest, Sydney Freeland previously worked as a production assistant, as a writer, and as a camera intern. Freeland worked in a number of areas, including; National Geographic, Walt Disney, The Food Network and Comedy Central. Freeland garnered her first taste of success with the six-minute short film, Hoverboard, utilizing Kickstarter to help fund the short. The film was inspired by her love of Back to the Future Part II.
Drunktown’s Finest is her second venture into filmmaking. The 95-minute long film is a coming-of-age story about the complex issues surrounding identity and the struggles faced by Native American people. The film’s name is inspired by a controversial 20/20 segment on ABC News, which branded the town of Gallup, New Mexico as “Drunk Town, USA“, after the increase of instances of alcoholism on the border of the Navajo Nation.
Freeland wrote, directed Drunktown’s Finest as means to combat the negative stereotype of her home community. Sydney Freeland, who is herself a transgender woman, is also directing a digital series about queer and trans women called Her Story.