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.


  1. So many comments, so little space. Instead I will send you 12 separate text messages.

  2. i could read your blog alllll day.
    keep up the fun adventures.

  3. I think I know where you are when you are talking about the Sports Authority, Albertsons, and Burger King. Maybe not. But I think I ate at that Burger King last year. I think.

    Love the adventures - can't wait to hear more!

  4. Hey there...I'd love to use the cast/crew photo of you guys for an announcement we're putting on the Akaku website...on Maui. Can I have your permission to snag the shot? Email me at sara at akaku dot org (THANKS!)