Five Things To Know About Sundance: Craig Zobel

Craig Zobel premiered his southern comedy of music and fraud THE GREAT WORLD OF SOUND [] at last year’s Sundance Film Festival to much acclaim. He’d been working in film and media for years — co-producing David Gordon Green’s debut feature GEORGE WASHINGTON and co-created the cartoon website Homestar Runner — but last year was his Sundance debut. His hard work was acknowledged by the Gotham Awards this fall when he was named the 2007 Breakthrough Director. His film is currently in limited distribution through Magnolia Pictures [] and will be available on DVD in February.

Craig was kind enough to tell us five things you should know before coming to Sundance.

1) First day, drink a lot of water.

When I got off the plane the first day, I was immediately running around doing things. By 6pm I had a legitimate migraine and was all light sensitive and stuff- I ended up on the floor of my room with the lights off in misery. I kept thinking, “I know I was stressed out, but this seems a little extreme… I mean, I’m not that stressed out.” It wasn’t until later that I realized that it was altitude sickness. I had heard about how it’s a lot higher and it’s important to be hydrated and all that, but I probably only drank, maybe one extra glass of water or something. Don’t make this mistake- it can hurt ya bad and make you miss fun things.

2) Don’t bother with taxis, you’re gonna have to walk.

Park City is literally not big enough to hold everything that goes on during Sundance. There are just too many people running around. And most of them are more fancy/rich/important than you and can’t deal with being out on the street, so they get driven around through all the pedestrian traffic and it ends up as perma-rush hour on Main Street. At one point I was with some people and we thought we should grab a cab to make it somewhere quick, and ended up ditching it after we’d only gone 5 blocks in 30 minutes. And don’t bother feeling sorry for the fancy/rich/important people stuck in traffic. It gives them much needed Blackberry time.

3) Don’t get all stressed out over the parties.

If you haven’t heard, the nightly parties at Sundance are real hard to get into. Even the fancy/rich/important have to stand in line sometimes. (For, like, two minutes. But still.) Let me go ahead and tell you what you are missing. A chocolate fondue fountain that has white chocolate on one side and dark chocolate on the other. Big whoop. You’ll have more fun getting your friends and bringing a bottle of Jack back to the condo’s hot tub. (Oh, yeah, all condos seem to have hot tubs up there, by the way.) Actually, it’s cold in Park City… what you ought to do is go to the grocery and get some mulling spices, and make your pals some hot mulled wine to drink in the hot tub. This will give you the bonus of being able to say the words “mulling” and “mulled” a lot, which is fun. I feel woozy and dehydrated just thinking about it.

4) Sundance is actually TWO weekends long.

The weirdest part of the whole experience is that there is this fervor- this insanity- that happens during the first 3-4 days of Sundance. It’s the source of all of the positive and negative comments anyone has ever said about the festival. But then, around Wednesday, all the lame-o’s seem to dissolve. By the second weekend it’s actually quite pleasant. You can start to see the wonderful experience that the early Sundance’s used to be- how Sundance became what it now is. The festival has an awesome staff who have taste, really really like movies, and have fun showing them. Just show up halfway through, and you get that part without the Paris Hilton effect warping it.

5) Screw Park City. Go to Salt Lake.

The biggest secret of Sundance is that almost all of the movies play once down in a big movie theater in Salt Lake City. The projection and sound are terrific (maybe rivaling some of the Park City venues), the filmmakers still show up for Q&As, and scoring a ticket is a lot easier- sometimes they don’t even sell out. If you just want to see great movies this is the way to go. Oh yeah, and a hotel down there won’t cost you the price of a new car, the way it does up in Park City. What you miss out on is the lame-o’s. So do a one day trip to Park City to remind yourself that you made a good choice and, be as smug as you want.


Peter Bowen