Monday, February 11, 2008

My Sundance Diary - Part 2

Sundance Day 2 Continued:

So I totally forgot to mention that I also went to the NYU/Sundance Party also on Sundance Day 2. Saw many of my NYU colleagues and current and recent students. Grad student, Dee Rees was at Sundance with her film "Pariah" which seemed to be getting some very good buzz.

Sundance Meet the Filmmaker Interview w/ Dee Rees:

Pariah Trailer:

Also, met up with an old friend or two from back in my film school days. Saw my fellow alum, Alan Jacobson, for the first time in about 15 years. He was a D.P. on the Sundance film, TheAuteurMovie and has also been shooting a number of other projects that have been getting noticed including HBO's "The Journalist and the Jihadi, the Murder of Daniel Pearl".

It's really satisfying to meet people that you started out with and to see that we are still grinding in the business and putting in work doing what we love. Everyone's followed a different path to get where they are, but the one common thread is always persistence.

Sundance Day 3

Started off the day with an early morning appointment to speak to a group of students taking an independent cinema class at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Their professor , Nathan Anderson, assigned "The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide" and got in touch with me before the festival. Nathan is a genuine fan of the book and left an extensive review on

I gave the class a private presentation on guerrilla filmmaking philosophy an tactics and spoke about a few specific production issues they were encountering. For a group of college students they were surprisingly awake and alert before 10am.

Headed over to a Slamdance Filmmaker's breakfast with my filmmaking friends and Down and Dirty DV bloggers, Nathan Kensinger and Meaghan O'Hara who co-directed and produced the documentary short, "Covered Tracks" about a mysterious abandoned section of NYC Subway. (FYI- There is also another Meaghan O'Hara that is an established documentary producer, but I'm sure that my friend, Meaghan O'Hara, will match her noteriety in a few more years.)

I first met Nate and Meaghan at a DCTV Open House in NYC about two years ago. We hit it off and they were instrumental in helping me complete my book and tieing up the final loose ends.

Dashed out of the breakfast to my booksigning at Dolly's Book Store on Main Street...the only book store on Main Street. The booksigning went very well, especially considering thye fact that I was signing at the exact same time as the NFL Playoff game was starting. Goooo Giants! (I should point out here that I remain a devout Ravens supporter, but I'm also a firm believer in sticking up for the underdog and I do actually live in NYC, hence my support of the Giants in the playoffs.)

I met fans and fellow and aspiring Down and Dirty filmmakers from all over the world including, fellow writer, Neal Thompson, who was looking to make a film based on his new novel, Hurricane Season, about a football team in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

All set up for the booksigning. - A True Sundance Digital Video Pimp in full pimp outfit feauturing 3/4 length fur coat and of course the Digital Pimps Guide to the Universe a.k.a. "The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide"-->

Signing a book for some new fans from Spain. -->

My old friend, Christie Pesicka, of Film Trix fame stopped by as well. Christie is featured in the book along with my long-time colleague and fellow producer, Rebekah Sindoris, who both give excellent tips for networking and party-crashing at Sundance. Trust me these ladies know this festival inside and out. My experience this trip would not have been nearly as cool without their guidance and connections. Best Sundance parties ever! -->

Video from the Film Trix Archive:

After the book signing I headed across the street with Christie and wandered into a venue sponsored by the all-new and super-swanky Dakota Mountain Lodge.

There are so many small cool events and little perks all over Sundance if you know how to sniff them out between the flyers, listings, blogs, and trading rumors. I think we honestly just stumbled into this drinks (non-alcoholic unfortunately), free fancy sandwiches and hourse-devres, and free massages from the Golden Door Spa at the Lodge.

So needless to say we hung out there for awhile feeding our faces and getting massages while some very nice reps touted the virtues of the Dakota Mountain Lodge, which definitely looked like a very cool place from the videos, but undoubtedly one that we can't afford until after our big Hollywood pay day- whenever that comes. In the meantime it was good to close our eyes and pretend we already got that big pay day as our attractive and skilled masseusse rubbed away our worries.

Next, we headed to the Sundance Filmmaker/Press reception where all the hot filmmakers were gathered for a big smooze-fest with the press including yours truly. Although I tried to shoot a few interviews, it was just too noisy with music blasting and a loud crowd, that I eventually gave up and gave in to the open bar and smoozing with the filmmakers myself.

Some woman who wasn't looking where she was walking bumped into me and treated her sweater to a healthy helping of my glass of red wine- then got pissed at me eventhough she bumped into me. She was a stereotypical self-absorbed wanna-be Hollywood producer-type.

No doubt I'll find myself across the table from her at some crucial studio meeting in the future. Apart from seeing the guy who fell off the roof, this was my only bad Sundance experience this trip, but I was kinda happy it took her down a peg. Actually, in hindsight it was more of a funny moment that reminded me of why I left Hollywood in the first place.- I ran into too many delusional narcissistic people with a warped sense of self-importance...and the traffic sucked.

Stay tuned for the final Part 3 in which I will regale you tales of my funny chance encounter with Woody Harrelson...