What's The First Day of Sundance Like? Hectic...
It's easy to forget that this is about movies.
The coolest thing about Sundance so far?
Realizing that everyone else here is wearing the exact same jacket as me. I swear, there must be something in the water in both New York and LA that makes us all go buy the puffy black jacket with faux fur. If I lived in Park City I'd believe that they hand those out with the lanyards and badges.
When you're in LAX flying to SLC you can spot anyone else headed to Sundance a mile away. There is practically a uniform. It's not just the puffy jacket and the faux fur. You also need either a fedora and/or very creative facial hair.
There are a lot of stereotypes about Angelenos, and as a life long inhabitant of the city, I've born witness to them all. But they really seem to be concentrated, undiluted, and uncut on the flight to Sundance. We are at our L.A. best, or worst, depending on how you view L.A.
So wherever you are in the world, if you make the trip to Sundance, just know that you're kind of also making a trip to L.A.
Speaking of trips...
Walk, Run, Uber, Shuttle... Run...
Getting around Park City for Sundance seems like it should be easy but somehow it's not. This morning I had to pick up my press badge, then head over to a screening, then back to an interview.
What I learned today was that the items on the map are farther away from each other than they appear.
The whole process was within a walkable distance, yet somehow between the lines, and the snow, my terrible sense of direction, and the general confusion, I found myself RUNNING at one point through the snow to not miss a movie I needed to get to.
Wait, isn't this about movies?
Yes, yes it is. But it's easy to forget that. There are so many lines, shuttles, people, events, parties, and THINGS that the fact that there are movies is sort of easy to overlook until you're in the theater watching one.
Once you are doing that it's pretty special. And I have to say, it reminds you why this is worth doing. The director gets up to speak. Many members of the crew are present in the audience. You get raw insight into the process from the people fresh out of it, this isn't the canned EPK stuff that comes much farther down the line.
These are filmmakers showing their movies for the first time!
It's actually pretty cool.
But what else happens? You get to chat with people who work in the various aspects of the industry. From media and press, to public relations, to people in emerging tech, to all range of filmmakers.
Plus, they're all wearing the same jacket as you.
Sometimes it's a Sh*t Show
That's the phrase I've heard uttered most often in regards to Sundance, and it's pretty fair. Trying to link up with people, make screenings or appointments is often a fool's errand.
One truism about Hollywood is that everyone is always running late. Just because everyone is on an 'away mission' to Park City doesn't mean anyone has figured out how to be on time for things.
The whole town of puffy jackets with faux fur is in constant scramble mode, heads in smart-phones. It's a miracle we don't just bump into each other constantly, and get run over by the poor people just here to ski.
And I don't fault anyone for being 100% dialed into their smartphone, between the many things going on, and just trying to make sense of where things are, it's hard to make time to look up and see how beautiful the surrounding area is... oh wait better check my email.
I was about 50% today in terms of making appointments, which I think is solid for a first day on the Sundance beat. It'll get trickier in the coming days when I have more screenings lined up.
Takeaways From Day One At Sundance
Make sure you get the right puffy jacket (I can advise you on this if need be, but it's clearly important), be prepared for LA/NYC in all it's combined glory, try to stay afloat during the sh*t show, and most importantly: remember that it's about movies.
The movie I saw today was phenomenal. I can't wait to tell you all about it, share my interview with the director, and for you to see it later this year.
For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the coverage of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.