(A firsthand account of the films, celebrities, snow and occasional Mormons that compose the greatest film festival in the world, or that we've been to so far.)
INT. -- PARK CITY PUBLIC TRANSPORT BUS -- MORNING
Salt Lake City is a pleasant town with what will serve as an adequate taste of what the Sundance Film Festival is about. But the meat and potatoes still rest in Park City. Itâs a very small city full of ski resorts and enough money to make Alpharetta jealous.
Parking isnât really an option on Main Street, so my party finds a Wendyâs and hops on a bus. Transportation inside Park City is free, but the service does encourage donations. As far as I know, I donât get an expense account, so fat chance of that happening. I canât help but notice what looks like a newly developed Wal-Mart across the street from the bus stop. Seeing a Wal-Mart here is how I would imagine stumbling across Michael Vick at a PetSmart would feel. Thereâs not a lot to the town other than rich housing communities and snow.
Skiers board and exit the bus at seemingly every other stop, but they are still a minority. Everyone on the bus appears to be headed to the festival. If the brochures and film booklets stuck in every pocket and purse aren't enough, itâs obvious where weâre going because of the chatter.
Films are being analyzed, recommended, sliced and diced, and in one womanâs case, weighed on a scale of sexual content vs. lack of sexual content. Someone brings up Ballast and an insult escapes my brain before I can stop it. Iâm immediately refuted. Seriously, everyone seems to like this film, and it is beyond me. Batman & Robin people, Batman & freaking Robin.
The bus route takes about half an hour, but along the way we find the Library Center Theatre (which I read Liberty and asked for directions to twice). Morgan Spurlockâs film will be playing there at 8:30 p.m. That gives my group about seven hours of stargazing before we need to line up in the wait-list group.
Once off the bus, my friends and I find the center of town. Itâs basically just an incline of buildings swimming with average Joes, media and a variety of as-yet-unidentified celebrities. Bars, restaurants and ski shops line the sides of the road with a thin sidewalk caked in snow and a constant stampede of feet.
Moving on. My party decides to grab a beer and pizza. It seems that everyone moves from restaurant to bar to restaurant in an effort to find celebrities. I suspect an average Sundance-goer will gain about 47 pounds by weekâs end and, yes, Iâm counting all the lost calories from the walking. Before we slip into a restaurant, I pick out Rex Lee (Lloyd from Entourage) doing an interview on a second-story balcony.
In an effort to pass the time, I attend a technology exhibition in a small mall off the strip. Itâs basically a young filmmakerâs dream. Sony and other movie companies have displays for their latest equipment. I wander into a discussion and showcase on Sonyâs XDCAM EX camcorder. Itâs small, inexpensive, lightweight, saves directly to disk and can transfer 100 minutes of video to your laptop in less than three minutes. I may have ordered seven of them without realizing it.
Discussions like this are common, but not limited to equipment. There are focus groups on helping rookie filmmakers talk to studios, what equipment to buy and where to find it cheap, and various panels on the world of cinema. There are also a handful of editing workshops, all meant to help small-timers like myself.
Most recently, Boone was in 30 Days of Night â which wasnât very good, but itâs nice to see him working. I really wanted a photo, but Iâm not sure what the protocol is here. Youâre either in a position to just say hi and share a good story later with a friend or come off looking like a freak. I doubt Boone has fans, so I froze, not wanting to seem weird. Mark Boone Junior 1, Me 0.
The walk to the Library takes about 15 minutes, but even though weâre nearly three hours early, I can tell Morgan Spurlock will be lost to another day. The wait-list line is almost out the door, so our placement would be somewhere between 108-115. Where in the World has now become my white whale. My last chance to catch a screening may be in Salt Lake City on Friday. This is the difference between screenings in SLC and screenings in Park City. The hordes donât mess around up the mountain. Youâd better have tickets, arrive ridiculously early or get back in your car and drive home defeated.
It took us 45 minutes to get back to our vehicle. The drive home was about 35 minutes, and we arrive in SLC in time to grab wait-list tickets for Robert De Niroâs What Just Happened? (see review). The cast is loaded with Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Stanley Tucci and several others. I donât understand what itâs about from the description, but when you have that cast, itâs difficult to mess things up.
We get into the movie with quality seats after grabbing some food next door and a latte. On my schedule, I was supposed to be dining with Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, but when you canât even ask Mark Boone Junior for a photo, youâre not going to open many doors. Lesson learned. I'll have to try again later in the week.