Friday, January 23, 2009

500 days of sundance, part 2

We now return to our story, already in progress.

Day 4. Sunday.

10:00 a.m. Karen gives me a ride into town. She is worried that I'm not eating. I promise her that I'm headed to a producers' lunch. (The producers' lunch is the only thing Sundance does for producers. Destin gets $500 and a Timberland jacket and Timberland hiking boots and various tickets to receptions and brunches. I get quiche.)

10:30 a.m. I take a shuttle to Main Street. I overhear the man next to me telling a filmmaker that he's a film critic and head of an Italian film festival. I introduce myself and he asks me to send him a screener of Short Term 12. I'm rather proud of my schmoozing.

11:30 a.m. I walk into the producers' lunch, steel myself, then walk up to a couple at a random table and ask if I can sit with them. Both of the table occupants (the producers of Nobody Knows You, Nobody Gives a Damn) shriek when they see that I produced Short Term 12. They tell me they love the movie, and David shows me the button on his jacket - it's the pin for Short Term 12. He tells me he was excited when he found it on the ground. I also meet a producer who turns out to be a good friend of my friend Maggie's. I congratulate myself on my excellent choice of tables as I eat my quiche.

12:00 p.m. Mary Jane Skalski, the producer of The Visitor, Mysterious Skin, and The Station Agent, among others, gives a talk about producing. Part of her talk was about tough love, letting people you respect rip your project to shreds so that it can be better in the end. I feel inspired to take criticism better.

12:30 p.m. Michelle Satter, the Director of Sundance's Feature Film Program, introduces the five fellows of Sundance Creative Producing Initiative. I would like to apply for the program but I see that I may be too pale.

12:45 p.m. I force myself to go up to another table and introduce myself. I meet the director of a short I haven't seen. She tells me she is "a shrieking atheist."

1:00 p.m. I decide two tables of producers and one film critic on the shuttle is my schmooze limit for the day.

1:30 p.m. I meet my friend Geoff (fellow LTL veteran) for coffee on Main Street. He's the co-producer of a film that I have tickets for the next day, called Adam.

2:30 p.m. I meet Destin on Main Street. We run into to a few other filmmakers from our program on the sidewalk. We chat about what a genius Destin is. I wait for his sister Joy while he goes to a press reception.

3:00 p.m. Joy and I walk around Main Street. On the sidewalk across from a fur shop is a group of scary animal rights activists who are dressed like zombies. Joy and I are kind of scared to walk past them. I'm afraid they're going to pour paint on my leather purse or grab Joy's fake fur-lined jacket.

3:30 p.m. Joy and I find a little bookshop/coffeeshop to hide out in.

4:30 p.m. Destin gets out of his reception and we head to an art gallery for an NBC/Universal reception. It's completely packed. As we stand at the door about to go in, a woman comes up to the woman checking names at the door and tells her that the place is completely over fire capacity and they have to stop letting people in. We slip in just before they close the door behind us and try to push our way through to the wine bar.

5:00 p.m. We don't win $25,000 in the business card raffle.

5:15 p.m. Two other short filmmakers and I talk about what a genius Destin is for approximately 45 minutes.

6:00 p.m. Joy and I eat dinner at Nacho Mama's while Destin meets with a manager interested in signing him. (Destin has previously informed me that he only wants to be represented by a nice person.)

8:00 p.m. I look over the list of short films in Shorts Program 1 and decide to wait list it. Ones of the shorts in this program is called Little Minx Exquisite Corpse: She Walked Calmly Disappearing Into the Darkness. And I am not even kidding. If you would like to watch it (and maybe explain it to me after,) here it is:

8:30 p.m. Joy, Destin, and I watch the program, which is very strong. A couple I like are Omelette from Bulgaria and Netherland Dwarf from Australia. Two are about boys (one English, one Russian) smoking and drinking for the first time then losing their virginity. It makes me wonder why they're in the same block. One is about an evangelical family that goes around murdering people with no faith. Another is about an elderly mother and her mentally retarded son who live in a house filled with birds and take baths together.

10:15 p.m. Alex, a documentary filmmaker working on a British show called Follow the Filmmaker, asks if he can interview me. I'm relieved to learn that the filmmaker he's following is Olivia Silver, director of Little Canyon, a short in the program that I very much liked. And understood. Which makes me sound smarter in the interview. I give him a screener of Short Term 12.

10:35 p.m. We wrap up the interview. Alex tells Destin that I was great and he could have gone all night. Destin smirks at him. Alex says that phrase doesn't mean the same thing in England.

Day 5. Monday.

10:30 a.m. Karen gives me a ride into town. I wait in line at Eccles theater. A woman near me in line shows me the picture she got with Ewan MacGregor who was at the theater earlier for his screening of I Love You Phillip Morris.

12:15 p.m. Destin shows up at Eccles and we watch Adam, the film Geoff worked on. I lurrrrve it. It would be great to make a movie like this one day. I find Geoff to congratulate him.

2:15 p.m. I try to head home on the bus to take a nap, but Adam, one of our actors, needs an extra credential, so I reroute.

3:00 p.m. I meet Destin, Joy, and our A.D. Brad at Mountain Vineyard Church, where the Windrider Forum is based while at Sundance. (Windrider is really how I know Destin - we both had films as part of the Forum last year.)

4:30 p.m. The four of us meet Adam and his girlfriend Katie and stand in line for an hour and a half to get into a Damien Rice concert. I stole this picture from Adam's Facebook page. Katie with the line for the concert in the background:

6:00 p.m. We finally get into the show. Our numb toes and fingers are totally worth it. Despite our poor view, I develop a little crush on Damien Rice.

7:00 p.m. We head over to the church, but miss the spaghetti dinner. We watch three current Windrider films, Small Change, Deface, and Unattached, which are great. I had seen (and loved) Deface at Savannah Film Festival and had met director John Arlotto there. Here's a trailer:

That's all for now. Must sleep.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

500 days of sundance, part 1

Well, maybe not 500 days. Maybe just seven days that feel a bit like 500. It's 1 a.m. and I have to be up by 8, but it's been long enough and you really deserve a bit of a rundown. Here's what happened the first three days:

Day 1. Thursday.

11:00 a.m. After staying up all night working on an arbitration (and by working, I mean going to Cat 'n' Fiddle for three hours and spending at least another three staring at a wall in a jittery, modavigil-inspired stupor) I take a 45-minute nap, throw boxes of Short Term 12 postcards and business cards as well as piles of arbitration scripts into a suitcase, after which I have approximately six square inches left for my sweaters, jeans, and new waterproof boots. (Thanks, Zappos.)

1:30 p.m. My friend Jason arrives to take me to the airport. We discuss arbitrations practically the whole way, which is fascinating to us but would make anyone else want to punch themselves in the face. I get to the Delta counter and find out my script-and-postcard-and boot-laden bag weighs 70 pounds. "That will be ninety dollars," the Delta representative tells me sweetly, as if that's even a remotely reasonable amount to charge for a heavy bag. I throw the suitcase at her and run.

3:40 p.m. I board the plane and sit next to the window. The guy next to me is a loud Hollywood type who jabs me with his elbow throughout the flight. All attempts to sleep are futile, which means I'm awake for a lovely sunset.

7:00 p.m. I take an Xpress Shuttle from the airport to Park City. I meet the editor and director of a movie called Black Dynamite and make plans to get a drink later in the week. The shuttle driver seems jittery and weird. I wonder if I'm going to make it to town in time for the opening night film at 9:30.

7:45 p.m. The shuttle driver announces he missed my stop and will have to drop everyone else off before me.

8:30 p.m. The shuttle driver, who is using his iPhone to navigate while driving on icy roads, gets lost for the fifth time.

8:45 p.m. The driver gets into a screaming match with the only other remaining passenger and threatens to leave her on the side of the road. I stop wondering if I'm going to make it to the opening night film and start wondering if I am going to die.

9:00 p.m. After much harrowing iPhone usage/driving, I drop off business cards and postcards for Destin so he can take them to the opening night film, which I will now definitely not be able to get to on time.

9:30 p.m. I arrive at the home of my host, a lovely woman named Karen. She makes me the most delicious tortilla soup I have ever had in my life, and then I retire to my room to try to finish the arbitration statement that I should have completed the night before.

2:00 a.m. With my head aching and my eyes closing of their own accord, I finish a (mostly coherent) draft of the statement and send it to my writer, then collapse into bed.

Day 2. Friday.

10:00 a.m. I wake up to find a dishearteningly long list of notes from my writer on the draft. I work on changes for the next three hours, then shower and race to catch a cab into town to make the premiere screening of Short Term 12. Ryan (our publicist) meets me in front of the theater with a ticket.

2:15 p.m. The shorts program begins. To my shock, I at least like every single film. The audience is amazing, they're laughing at everything.

3:15 p.m. Short Term 12 plays and goes over amazingly well. The audience is laughing at everything that's even a little funny, and gasping in shock at parts.

4:00 p.m. The program ends, and Destin hands me his video camera so I can record his Q&A. One of the Sundance staffers comes over to me and says, "Ma'am, I need you to come with me." He's looking right at me, but the tone of his voice is bizarre, like my visa is expired and he's about to deport me, so I look around to see who he's talking to, and he says, "You, ma'am. Come with me." I say, "What, are you serious? I want to see the Q&A." He says, "I need to make sure you didn't record any of the shorts, I need you to come with me and show me your footage." After arguing with him for a couple of minutes, saying that I'm not trying to pirate short films, for pete's sake, and I want to be there to see the Q&A, Destin finally goes with him to show him footage and makes it back in time to give me the camera and go up front.

4:15 p.m. Destin's footage of the Q&A is made significantly less watchable as I go into a huge coughing fit and nearly fall on the floor.

4:18 p.m. I go into another coughing fit, hand the camera to Bekah (our production coordinator,) and stumble out of the theater. As I walk by the Nazi staffer guy, he says, "Thank you," in a voice that may or may not be snotty. I cough on him a little just in case.

4:20 p.m. I grab a shuttle, where I try to hold on to the railing and talk on the cell phone to my writer, who is freaking out about the nearing WGA deadline of 5:00 PST, without pouring Diet Mountain Dew all over myself. I pour Diet Mountain Dew all over myself.

4:30 p.m. I arrive at Sundance Headquarters and grab a spot on the floor, where I pull out my laptop and make frantic changes to the statement for the next hour and a half.

6:00 p.m. We finish the statement and my writer turns it into the Writers Guild just in time, only to find out that the people at the Writers Guild have gone home early for the weekend. I make a note to egg the Writers Guild when I get back to LA.

6:10 p.m. My crew arrives at Headquarters after a long and very frustrating shuttle ride in which they passed Headquarters twice. We head over to Main Street.

6:30 p.m. I grab dinner with some of the cast and crew of Short Term 12 at Main Street Pizza and Noodle. The caesar salad and pizza seem incredible to me, possibly because I haven't eaten all day.

12:00 a.m. I wait list another shorts program with Tania (who plays Natalia in our film) and her boyfriend. These films are slightly weirder than our block, I think. One I like is Captain Coulier, Space Explorer, about an aloof, bipolar, Gen X space captain who is looking for new planets and true love. Another is Boutonniere, which I actually read as a script when the filmmaker applied to the DWW.

Day 3. Saturday.

11:00 a.m. I oversleep, then get ready and walk to the bus stop near my place. I wait outside for a while.

11:10 a.m. I decide I have missed the bus and call a taxi. I am supposed to be at Headquarters by noon to catch a shuttle to Salt Lake City for the second screening of Short Term 12, which Destin cannot attend (as he is at a brunch meeting John Krasinski.)

11:20 a.m. The bus drives past me as I continue to wait for the taxi.

11:40 p.m. I continue to wait. I begin mildly freaking out.

11:41 p.m. Now that there's no way I can get to HQ by noon, I call Tania (who is going with me to the screening) to ask if she can try to get the shuttle driver to meet my cab driver on the side of the road somewhere and pick me up.

11:46 p.m. My cab driver arrives. He races into town. We discuss the possibility of us catching the other shuttle on the road to Salt Lake City and me climbing from one van to the other while they're both moving, a la Speed.

11:58 p.m. Tania speaks to the driver at HQ, who tells her that he's waiting for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who directed a short in our program called Sparks) anyway and won't leave right at noon. I silently thank God for tardy movie stars.

12:10 p.m. Tania and I ride down to Salt Lake City with JoJo (as I now call him) and his producer Beau. We discuss the craziness of my near-arrest for piracy at the last screening and JoJo records the conversation on his camcorder.

1:00 p.m. We arrive at the theater in Salt Lake City.

1:10 p.m. The moderator introduces us to the half-full theater twenty minutes early, when JoJo, Beau, Tania, and I are all out in the lobby getting popcorn and such. It's awkward.

1:30 p.m. The theater is full now. The shorts program starts, and I watch them all a second time. They hold up surprisingly well, and I notice little things about each of the films that make them more interesting.

3:15 p.m. Tania and I do a Q&A with the other filmmakers, including the producer and actress from Our Neck of the Woods, a great film about spontaneously combusting lawn deer that was shot in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. I give my camera to an audience member to record the Q&A. I chew gum the whole time, which, shockingly, looks obnoxious on camera. Hence me not posting the video. We climb back in the shuttle and head back to Park City.

5:30 p.m. I wait list for Prom Night in Mississippi with Katie (our casting director) and her sister Kari and cousin Amy. (How it works: you line up two to three hours before the film you want to see begins. At two hours before, they give a number to each person in line, and you're free to go. Half an hour before the film, you come back to the theater and get in order according to your number. Fifteen minutes before the film, they allow all ticket holders in to the theater, count the empty seats, and allow that many people from the wait list line to buy tickets and come in.) We sit on the floor for an hour to get our numbers and play "I'm Going to the Moon" to keep ourselves occupied. A woman behind us in line gives us some popcorn, which is the first thing I've had to eat all day.

6:30 p.m. We get our numbers and walk to Sports Authority to buy gloves, Albertson's to buy trial-size conditioner, then to Burger King so I can eat actual food. Somewhere during this time, I lose my wait list number, but don't realize it.

7:45 p.m. We return to the tent to get into our wait list line, which is when I realize I don't have my number anymore. I try to explain the situation to the staffer in the tent, but she says there's nothing she can do for me. Kari goes with me to look for the number in Sports Authority, but it's no use. I stand on the edge of the line and try to make plans to meet up with the girls later. After we complain loudly for about ten minutes about my missing number, the woman behind us in line offers us an extra number that she's not using. I get in line, and we make it into the theater.

8:30 p.m. We watch the movie, which is about the first integrated prom in Charleston, Mississippi. The first integrated prom, which happened in 2008. Before that, they had black proms and white proms. Before that, meaning in 2007.

11:30 p.m. We join the rest of the cast and crew present and I watch the shorts program for the third time in two days. And I can still tolerate it, which I think says something. I find out we got a great review on a website called Gossip Sauce:

From left to right, this is the cast and crew that was there that night: Bekah, Katie, Phoenix (who plays Jayden,) Katelin (who plays Chelsea,) Adam (who plays Scott,) me, Tania, and Destin.

2:00 a.m. Bekah and Destin drive me home, twenty minutes in the wrong direction. Bekah hates me a little.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

it's not about the money, because i'm not making any

There's an interview with Destin about Short Term 12 here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

chinese new year

My dad, Micky, and Sean are leaving for almost nine months in Africa tomorrow. They each get to take one suitcase weighing 44 pounds. You don't realize how much stuff you use, how much stuff you need, until you have to fit it all into one suitcase. Think about all the stuff you use that you might not be able to get in Benin. Contact solution... toothpaste for sensitive teeth... your special conditioner that you like... your new Legos Star Wars Republic Gunship... not to mention clothes and books. I am not jealous, and I will be a little bit more thankful next time I walk into Rite-Aid.

We went out to lunch for my dad and Sean's last meal out in America until next fall. (Micky stayed home to kick her suitcase against the wall repeatedly.) We stopped by Andy's, a fifties diner, then walked out because of poor service (apparently we're that family,) then went to Waffle House (yes, for their last meal in America for nine months, we went to Waffle House,) then walked out because Waffle House was just a terrible idea to begin with. Then we went to a Chinese buffet. Sean doesn't like Chinese food, so he wasn't happy, but breaded, fried chicken is basically the same anywhere, so we found him something to eat. He picked up each piece of sweet and sour chicken to show me before he ate it, saying "This is an eyeball," or, "This is a nose," or, "This is a brain." I asked him how the brain was. He chewed for a minute and said, "Tastes like chicken."