Monday, January 24, 2011

Sundance 2011 ~ Sundance Sunday Socials (Day 4)

Ideally, we'd like to see more films while at Sundance, but the parties provide such a great opportunity to network with peers that they are our first priority. That being said, my crew & I weathered the storm of parties yesterday and came out unscathed (i.e., no hangover) but we're definitely feeling the altitude after a whirlwind of party hopping yesterday:

@Noon ~ WIF Panel & Breakfast
The Women In Film 2011 panel was titled Fearlessness: Trusting Your Instincts and Getting Them on Screen.  Panelists included Sandra Valde-Hansen, Susan Saladoff, Joslyn Barnes, Karin Chien, Annie Roney, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and WIF President, Cathy Schulman. 

This is always one of my favorite parties for many reasons. For one, it celebrates the indie filmmaker in the (818) much like we do, but more importantly the Production Serviced department puts their money where their mouth is and raffles off production grants. This year, NBC Universal raffled off $45K in $5K & $10K grants and VFF friend Kate Logan won! We're very excited for her and wish her luck as she finishes her documentary.

@4:30pm - IndieGoGo Panel & Party
We missed the panel (actually, we were in the next room because there were no seats available) but dig IndieGoGo for crowdfunding projects. Unlike other crowdfunding companies, IndieGoGo lets you keep the money you raised even if you don't meet your ultimate goal. VFF will definitely be using them this year!

Casual and comfortable with pizza, beer, and lots of conversation. Now, if only I can find the business cards collected...

@6pm - Sony
Sony celebrated its new, Super 35mm, F3 camera at Sundance. Over sumptuous hors d'oeuvres and strong cocktails, two F3 cameras made their rounds for all to touch and ooh and awe over.  

@8:30pm - FotoKem (Indie Moguls Party)
Year after year, this is another favorite destination of ours...massage therapists, oxygen bars, and awesome guacamole. The Snow Park Lodge in Deer Valley provides a large and comfortable environment to network and discuss ideas.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sundance 2011 ~ Finally! Movies! (Day 3)

Day 3 was more networking inside the Sundance Channel HQ, connecting with college friends at the NYU Tisch at Sundance party, seeing Paul Reiser and Julia Fordham perform at the ASCAP Music Cafe, attending a panel on marketing, and finally seeing movies!

My favorite thing about Sundance 2011 has to be the Sundance Channel HQ and my least favorite thing is definitely the lack of organization for wait list tickets.

How the wait list has worked in the past is you're supposed to queue up at the venue two hours prior to the screening. Shortly thereafter, wait list numbers are distributed. Once you receive your number, you're free to roam about, but are told to return 30 minutes before the screening. What's happening at some venues is people are queuing up anywhere from 3-4 hours in advance and before the official "2 hour" rule, the numbers have already been distributed. And, at other venues, the volunteer staff don't know shit. Some have outright told goers there is no official wait list line, while volunteers in the same tent have directed others to a line. I've heard of fights breaking out because of this and I've witnessed first hand patrons who waited out in the freezing cold for an hour (because they were told there was no wait list line inside the tent) get shafted.

Now, let's talk about these movies. I saw Shorts Block IV and really loved Hong Khaou's Spring and The Majestic Plastic Bag directed by Jeremy Konner. There was only one questionable film in the block and audience members were vocal as to why it merited the Sundance stamp of approval. Not only was the question asked during the Q&A, but the discussion continued outside the theater, at the shuttle stop, and long into the night. As a programmer, I know it's hard to put together a showcase that everyone will like, but come on, this is Sundance. Surely there was another short more deserving.

And on a personal note, Festival Programmers should not host the Q&A unless they also happen to be engaging performers. I may be engaging, but I'm not an engaging performer and know better to hand off these duties to the talented Aaron Kaiser, Ben Boodman, Gil Baron, and Kim Estes, to name a few, who really know how to keep the questions moving along.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sundance 2011 ~ The Calm Before The Storm (Day 2)

It's the end of Day 2 and the weather could not be more perfect. While it's warm & sunny outside, it's freezing inside the condo.

Anyway, I haven't quite figured out which screenings my industry pass gets me into, or which screenings I actually want to attend, though I am planning on wait-listing for the Sigma Films feature, Perfect Sense, Directed by David Mackenzie (Mister Foe). If you have any recommendations, bring them on!

Before the insanity of the weekend hits, I'm enjoying the calm before the storm. Once Ashley Cozine (VFF10, By The Numbers) arrived, I took this Sundance newbie on a tour of Park City. While picking up her pass, we ran into the fabulous Kate Logan, who is currently in post on a feature doc, and on Main Street we added Bob Giovanelli (VFF07, Tis The Season) to our posse. Our quartet had a late lunch at Bangkok Thai (do not order the Petite Sirah) and then headed to the Sundance Channel HQ, which is where the evening fun began.

Sundance Channel HQ was all abuzz since Robert Redford was there, so we grabbed our drinks (Ashley & I went for the Bogle Chardonnay, while Kate & Bob opted for a Stella Artois) and watched the interview. Once Mr. Redford left the building and the crowd thinned out, we discovered the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas sponsored area which included a photo booth, hot-from-the-oven cookies, and insanely delicious five-spiced margaritas. The staff hired to promote the hotel did a fantastic job and won us all over. Great work guys!

We closed the party down. Really. We had to be asked to leave by security since they had closed up shop, and the four of us parted ways.

But wait, there's more.

The marketing team from Rockstar Energy Drink were in town, en route to the X Games in Denver, and contacted VFF to drop off product & schwag for our friends & fans. We have 5 cases of Rockstar, plus ski caps, hats, and shirts just waiting for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sundance 2011 ~ Bring It On!

It's VFF Tracey and this week I've joined tens of thousands of other industry types and cinephiles from around the globe in sunny Park City, Utah for Sundance 2011.

This is my 10th year attending (I skipped 2010) and my festival going experience has evolved from *must* seeing 4 films a day and attending every panel possible, to maybe seeing 1 film and networking. Besides the American Film Market, Sundance is the only other U.S. event (I can think of) where filmmakers from all over the world converge, and the international energy in this small mountain town is intoxicating.

Day 1 was jam packed with meeting new people: Floyd Byars (Producer, Pete Smalls is Dead), Michelle Latimer (Director, Choke), David Miller (Producer, A71 Productions) and connecting with friends: Sarah Baker, Hila Shani, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach. And while I was not the target, it was also the day of over-served men calling women "vagina's" at the opening night party at Legacy Lodge.

Anyway, normally, I'm pimping out The Valley Film Festival, but this year I'm wearing several industry caps: Festival Director (of course), Producer (The Human Race), and...Director! Yes, you heard me right. I've re-entered the world as a filmmaker again. I'm representing a fantastic action feature, The Human Race, directed by the uber talented Paul Hough, and am currently in pre-production on a documentary about fluffers. Yes, those fluffers.

If you're in the (435), let's meet up!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It Happened in The Valley...The Birthplace of California

The Valley Film Festival has always celebrated The Valley for all of its contributions, so we've decided to blog about them too! Our "It Happened in The Valley..." posts will point out the overlooked treasures of the fabulous (818)! Like, did you know that The Valley is the birthplace of California as a state?

Directly across from Universal Studios, and hidden behind native plants, sits Campo De Cahuenga, where on January 13, 1847 General Andres Pico (Mexico) and Lt. Col. John C. Fremont (United States) signed the Treaty of Cahuenga which ended the fighting between both countries during the Mexican-American War. While it's not the actual treaty that ended the war and ceded California to the United States, it was where the idea was born and is celebrated each year.

Since 1950, a live re-enactment of the signing has taken place at Campo De Cahuenga and 2011 marks the 164th anniversary of this historical event.

Join VFF at Campo De Caheunga to celebrate The Valley and after we'll go to a nearby cafe to talk about film! Let us know that you're coming by posting a comment below or on Facebook.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Campo de Cahuenga

3919 Lankershim Blvd.

North Hollywood, CA 91604