Navigating Opening Weekend at Sundance

January 25, 2014 : 5:36 pm | by Ben Elliot

But seriously, what?

But seriously, what?

It wasn’t until arriving at Sundance that I began to really understand the term ‘film junkie’. So, I thought I would try to provide some tips to ensure that you will have a positive experience without having your eyes clawed out by the merciless beasts that want to get into every film before you. So read these three tips and rejoice! So what if they seem pretty obvious and not all that helpful? That’s just your opinion. You haven’t even been to Sundance yet so why am I listening to you? Or maybe you have in which case this really isn’t for you. Either way I don’t care what you think. That’s a lie, I do care. I guess I’m just insecure. Shut up. Now you’re probably thinking: “What is this guy talking about? Is he actually going to give his stupid tips or not?” So, without further ado, let’s get started.

1. Talk to People. Just about everyone is excited to be at Sundance and nobody knows who you are or who you’ll be in a few years. People want to talk and a lot of them work in the industry. Ask what movie they’re going to, what they’ve seen already and what brought them to the festival. Several times I happened upon festival filmmakers who I didn’t know were filmmakers purely by accident and ended up exchanging info. Don’t feel like you need to go to any of the parties that are being hosted as my experience has been that they are among the worst places to try to interact with people. The bus is easily the most fruitful place to have interesting and unpretentious conversations and is much easier for those of us who don’t want to spend their evening jostling through large crowds.

2. Leave Early. The bus system is awesome (and free) but how could you have known that the theater loop bus would take 20 minutes just to get to a theater that is only five minutes from the terminal? If you have a ticket then just make sure you give yourself a reasonable cushion of time just in case the buses are late (they probably will be) or other stuff goes wrong (it may well). Hopefully you booked those shorts tickets for early in the festival as you will probably not want to try to waitlist films then. Several times over the first weekend I tried to waitlist films the moment they were available and failed to get a spot. Prioritize the films that you already have tickets for.

3. Be Enthusiastic. You’re at freaking Sundance! Access your inner fanboy. Get nerdy and excited about the films you want to see. Be so excited that the people you’re with get excited. Be so excited that some people can’t stand to be around you which leads you to crash into a deep depression at the festivals conclusion, isolating you from loved ones when you arrive back home. Have something to say about every movie you go to, even if you felt kind of eh about it. If you can’t find something to get pumped about at Sundance then you’re probably a boring person and you will likely find very little joy in life, or maybe you just don’t like movies…whatever.

Well, I guess that about does it. Nothing too complicated. Either way, by Monday you’ll have figured it out but hopefully these tips were helpful on opening weekend and you don’t find yourself filled with regret at the end of the festival. Good luck.

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One Response to “Navigating Opening Weekend at Sundance”

  1. Maggie Sanger Says:

    Oh, inner fangirl is being channeled!
    Good tips for future Sundancer’s or ones who still haven’t caught on yet!

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