Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Sundance Diary - Part 3 (of 3)

...So, jumping back a little in the sequence of events, as Christie and I wrapped up with our free massages and sandwiches, we observed that there was a frenzy of activity in a large dining room nearby. A dozen or so workers were setting up 200 hundred or so fancy place settings for what looked to be a lavish banquet.

Turns out they were setting up for something called Chefdance where they bring in a different world-class chef each night of Sundance to serve up a multicourse gourmet meal. It sounded very cool, but tickets were $100 a head and sold out…but back to Chefdance later.

We stopped by the bar next door for one last free Steaz organic tea / energy drink (which actually tasted much better than I expected, since half the new beverages handed out for free usually taste like crap). After some friendly conversation with the bartender who was a very nice actress, we were blessed with a few wristbands for the Ray Ban Rock Bar party later that evening.

After the Sundance Press/Filmmaker event and everything else that day, by nightfall I’d had enough and only wanted to lay my head on a pillow until my 7am airport shuttle arrived, but I was the guy holding all the wristbands for my friends who were supposed to meet me at the party. Doh!

So I dragged my ass out of a cozy warm condo later that night despite being completely exhausted from another day of humping up and down hills in chilly temperatures, I went to one last Sundance Party (you know just for old times sake and cause I had the wristbands).

Just as I arrived got a quick glance at Quentin Tarantino as he slipped into the requisite black SUV with tinted windows. (Damn! Now I’ll never get that script to him!) Met my peeps and made our way into the open-bar party which was jam-packed. Ultimately, it turned out to be the most fun night of my trip...

Met this guy (whose name I forgot, sorry) who was there with a friend promoting a new product called Icepod, which is a jewel-encrusted bling-blingcase for your iPod that comes in your choice of gold or platinum and with an assortment of jewels.- Still another item to consider when I get that big Hollywood pay day.

Met Chris Gore, founder of FilmThreat magazine and website and also author of Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide. Turns out that Chris had recently read and was a fan of my new book, “The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide”. Which is a great compliment coming from someone that has such a good book and popular filmmaking website out already. Search the bookshelves for yourself, but I’m telling you that you won’t find a better book on film festivals and festival strategy than Chris’ book. It’s the first resource I go to when it’s time to hit the festival circuit. (Check out my full list of Recommended Film Books)

Spent the rest of the night meeting more filmmakers and chilling with my film friend, Rebekah Sindoris from Cornukopia who produced Paper Chasers and some other projects I’ve worked on. We actually both worked on Maxie Collier’s feature film, B-More Hacks, back in Baltimore when I was fresh out of film school. It was the first feature film shoot for both of us and we’re still at it some 15 years later.

Also had a last drink with Nate and Meghan, occasional Down and Dirty DV bloggers and full-time filmmakers there at Slamdance with Covered Tracks.

It was another great night with good people trading indie war stories and business cards and flyers, but I was done for the night, tired, talked out and tipsy. I said my good byes, put on my fly-ass faux fur coat and headed for the door.

Just as I start up the steps to head out, a guy walks up to me and says, "Do you know where Chefdance is?". I look in his face and realize that it's Woody Harrelson and had one of those Homer Simpson brainfart moments...I drew a total blank for a few seconds then it came to me "Yes! Chefdance is right over there, my man."

Still stunned in my place I wondered for a moment then said "This will make for a good story won't it?" So I followed behind Woody and his band of two friends and simply uttered "I'm with Woody" and they let me right in.

Later I tried this same tactic to get into Harry-O's, the most coveted (and likely overrated) club on Main Street right upstairs , but discovered that just saying, "I'm with Woody" only works when you actually are with Woody or at least close enough behind him walking at a brisk pace.

Got a flick with Woody who was sporting a button for the Sundance doc, Fields of Fuel which went on to win a Sundance documentary audience award (see trailer below). Hung out for awhile smoozing with a few diners, drinking fine red wine and feeding my face with the finest of pastries and ice cream.

Fields of Fuel Trailer

I expected the crowd at Chefdance to be stuffy, but the people I met were all pretty cool and friendly enough. All in all, it was probably my finest party-crashing moment. I decided to end the night on a high note and cut out now that my belly was full and I had a good case of "permagrin". So I called it a night, or so I thought...

...Until I stopped back in the Black Lounge for just a minute to catch the end of my man, Eric Lewis', performance. If you don't know who Eric Lewis in now, you likely will one day soon. Eric is a crazy talented jazz pianist that I've shot a few times and he composed the soundtrack for Pete Chatmon's feature, "Premium". He is otherwise known as "The Black Beethoven" and if you ever see him perform, you'll understand why. The man is sick with music.

There's an amateur You Tube video clip below, so you can check out his skillz for yourself. The audio is a little whack, but you'll still get good sense of the performance. (I didn't shoot this clip.)

Here's an interview and some performance fotage with Eric that I actually did shoot for the "Premium" behind the scenes DVD and the Double 7 Diaries podcast:

At the Black Lounge, I met back up with Benedict Hadley and Analyze and we ended up bugging out on a whole other adventure that ended some hours later at a very crowded party somewhere near the top of mainstreet.

There were plenty more chill people that I met along the way, but sorry peeps I can't blog about you ALL. Besides it's already taken me damn near 2 months just to get around to summing up Sundance in words and pix.

This last night ended up being my all-around most full and fun day at Sundance yet. And to think that I almost quit, when the night was only half way through.

Yet another guerrilla lesson in the rewards of persistence and balls!

...Coming up soon, my summary of the recent world wind European "Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide Tour".