On sort of a whim (and an unexpected gift from my parents), I went to Sundance this year. For those tenacious PAs who are heading up to Park City, Utah, later this week or mulling a trip for next year, I thought I’d prepare a handy guide of Do’s and Don’ts for the festival:
Dress warmly. You’d think this goes without saying, but the locals are secretly laughing their Mormon asses off at how a lot of Californians are dressing. They’re called layers, people. Learn to work them in your favor. And high-heeled shoes? Get the eff outta here. Your high-heeled shoes won’t keep you upright in snow and ice. Think heavy boots and jackets. Don’t worry about looking hip at the late night parties. Almost everyone is in boots, and nearly every place has a coat check.
Get on the wait list. As a PA of limited means, I couldn’t afford a festival pass. I was lucky enough to score a couple movie tickets from a friend, but they didn’t cover every movie I wanted to see. This led me to the wait list. You show up at least two hours in advance of your movie, get a wait list number, then come back no later than thirty minutes before your movie. Sometimes you get in (ahem, Wuthering Heights). Sometimes, you don’t (Celeste and Jesse Forever). A lot of it rides on luck, but you can game the system by picking movies early in the day (before noon), late at night (after 9pm), or at faraway theaters (i.e. Redstone or Temple). The Redstone is actually a perfect place to wait-list, because they’re the only theater with two screens, so you can hedge your bets.
Stay for the Q&A. If you like a movie, stick around for the Q&A. If you really like a movie, introduce yourself to the filmmaker. (Don’t forget the first commandment of networking – Keep thyself from seeming creepy.)
Talk to people. For the most part, Park City transforms self-involved L.A. mega-jerks into friendly, chatty vacation-goers. I don’t know, maybe it’s the altitude. Talk to people in line for movies, on the shuttles, at coffee shops. Park City is teeming with people. Some of them are serious players. Some of them are bottom-of-the-rung wannabes (like you and me). But what difference does it make? We’re not successful enough to discriminate. (Oh, and the locals may well possibly be the nicest and friendliest people on planet Earth.)
Hit up your friends. A lot of your friends are going to Park City sometime during the ten-day festival. By “friends,” I’m referring mostly to that protean list of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It can’t hurt to give them a quick shout-out. At the very least, they might be able to recommend a good spot for coffee. At the most, they might be able to get you into three screenings and a party.