As the plane landed in Salt Lake City, UT, I am geared up mentally to take on Sundance but with contrast to how I’ve taken on Sundance in the past. This year, I am independently screening the short film, Mingle, a film I directed, filmed, and edited. It was a pleasure to work with a talented team.
Mingle was one of the 14,000+ films which did not get selected by Sundance in 2019. You read correctly, over 14,000 films were not selected. Well my friend, I was still on a high from receiving the Grand Jury First Short Film Award in December 2018, just a month prior to Sundance so not being selected was not such a big deal. But ironically, a friend and local business owner in Park City reached out to me offering to screen Mingle in his place of business which is located in the same building shared by the Sundance ticket box office. PERFECT LOCATION - YES!!! I jumped at the opportunity and we made it happen.
So, I grab my belongings and exited the plane. I head downstairs with a fellow Sundance volunteer who I met waiting for my connecting flight and when I arrived at the area to meet my shuttle driver, Susan Sisson, I realized my tube with all of my movie posters for Mingle is not in my hand. By this time, I am actually at the carousel downstairs so I convinced the ticket agent to grant me access to return to the gate where I departed the plane. I take off my shoes and head back through TSA, get cleared, and run upstairs. I arrive at the gate sweaty and out of breath, the employee at the gate stares at me with a look of confusion since there is no plane leaving anytime soon then I tell her that I left a tube of movie posters on the plane. I provided her with the seat number and when she returned, the helpful representative hands over my white tube and once again geared up mentally to take on Sundance.
Putting up posters and passing out flyers promoting Mingle were energizing and morale boosting. When you have received the infamous rejection language from film festivals, “We regret to inform you…” depending how many comes your way, it can be quite demoralizing. Screening your work in front of people who came to Sundance to see the likes of Walton Gossing, Julia Moore, Toni Collette, and many others, you know that you are in great company. I was on a mission to have Mingle recognized, displayed, viewed, and appreciated. The 24”x36” posters were larger than many of the distributed movies actually scheduled at Sundance. One thing about the posters which I should share, your poster will last on the boards for a short while before someone comes by and staple their posters on top of yours. Frequent visits are needed to uncover those layers to regain visibility.
I felt extremely humbled by the level of support I received by attendees. My friends Colter and Meg, owners of the Backdoor Deli where the screenings were facilitated made me feel like an A-List filmmaker. They actually closed operations to screen my 11m30s short film followed by a 30m Q&A. The attendees could have been on Main Street feeding off of free food, attending a major screening, at venues getting free swag, or doing whatever they wanted to do at Sundance, yet they were with a no-name filmmaker showing his work and talking about the craft. That was humbling and was the highlight of my Sundance 2019.