Five Things To Know Before Coming To Sundance

PARK CITY, Jan 17 Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s feature HALF NELSON was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Picked up by Think Films, HALF NELSON has proved to be a critical break though in 2006. In addition to being nominated by for a number of awards, the film won the Best film, and Ryan Fleck was present the “Breakthrough Director Award,” at this year’s Gotham Awards []. Ryan and Anna offer their remembrances, and suggestions, for attending Sundance.

1. Bring Postcards. If you have a film at the fest bring postcards advertising your film with screening times, dates, and locations. Our first time at Sundance was with a short film (STRUGGLE, 2003). We noticed all these filmmakers handing out postcards for their films, but we didn’t have any. So we spent our first night in the hotel room scribbling our screening times on the back of our free Vistaprint business cards. It wasn’t fun, and we were mocked on several occasions. Get postcards made before you get there. They are cheap and easy to get through online printing shops like [].
2. Bring friends. Despite all the people and parties, Sundance can be a very lonely place if you don’t know anybody. Get your cast, crew, and friends together and throw your own party in the street if necessary.

3. Make friends. If you can’t bring them, make them. There are filmmakers, actors, producers, agents, journalists, and film lovers everywhere in Park City. Just get on the shuttle and say hello to somebody. This is a good way to find DPs and composers. If you aren’t a “go up to a stranger on the bus” type (we’re not either, actually) and you have a film in the festival, a good place to make friends is at the filmmaker cocktails and brunches. (Don’t miss the director’s brunch that Redford hosts.) These events are great places to meet other shy, awkward people in a low-stress environment.

4. See movies. Yes, it’s hard to get into screenings, but the waitlist usually works, especially for late shows and short film programs, which are rarely full. If you have a film there, the festival gives you 10 tickets to other people’s films. Use them. And go see films made by your new friends (see #3) – it will mean a lot to them.

5. Stay away from Tao (formerly Harry O’s). It’s a ridiculous scene with overly protective bouncers and endless door lists that won’t have your name on them. A surefire way to ruin your night. Unless of course one of your favorite bands (like Broken Social Scene, for instance) happens to be playing there. Then you can make an exception.

Peter Bowen

Senior Editor, Filmmaker Magazine