2017 has started out quite auspiciously as I was able to attend two super cool cinephile events that I had never been to, back to back – Art House Convergence & Sundance!
Since I am currently looking for a new position AND looking for help in making my next film as well, these two cinema & film centered events were perfect places to schmooze and meet folks who share the same interests. I went in with a finished DVD copy of my first film – which was fantastic to have – and an openness to new adventures in cinema wherever they may be. I love film so much, as long as I am working with in it in someway, I’ll be happy, and I knew I would meet lots of folks that felt the same way.
First was the Art House Convergence, held in Midway, Utah Jan 16-19. I had heard about the Convergence when I was with the New Bev, but never got the chance to attend. When my friend Anna Feder (who programs the Bright Lights Series at Emerson, and who brought the 35mm print of Out of Print out to Boston in 2015) told me she had an extra bed in her hotel for the Convergence, I jumped at the chance to tag along. The opening night film was the incredible Nacho Vigalondo’s newest Colossal, which was super cool AND I got to karaoke White Lines by Grandmaster Flash while Anna rocked out Maneater by Hall and Oates.
I volunteered for the Convergence, which meant I “hosted” one of their conference rooms for two days of cinema related panels. I got to hear all sorts of diverse panels, from building your social media audience and fundraising for galas to – my favorite – the After Midnite panel hosted by Mark Anastasio from the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA. A man of incredible style and taste and owner of the coolest pin collection ever – see below.
Mark talked about how seeing Holy Mountain at midnight blew his mind and made him want to focus on midnight programming – as a Jodorowsky fan myself, I totally related.
It was super cool to meet dedicated cinema owners and programmers from all over North America, and everyone I met was incredibly kind. I ran into my chum Jessie Maltin, and had the pleasure of having dinner with her and her lovely husband and amazing parents for two nights in a row. Chatting casually about 16mm film with Leonard Maltin was pretty damn rad.
The closing night party of the Art House Convergence was held at a resort that had an ICE CASTLE. I didn’t know these things existed, and it was absolutely magical. They played epic music and the castle changed colors and there were three ice slides. SO COOL.
I took the shuttle from the Art House Convergence on Jan 19 to Sundance in Park City, where I stayed through Jan 25. Again, friends came to the rescue when my BFF Teri Gamble offered to share her bed with me at the amazing condo she was staying at in Sundance, and another friend helped me in getting a super sweet badge for the festival. (I have wonderful friends!)
Teri works as PR for Media Circus/Circus Road Films, and over the course of my staying there, I got to know all of the cool folks who work there – including Adam Bowman, Glen Reynolds and Sebastian Twardosz – and their cool friends Michael Philip, Alex Ferrari & Austin Nordell.
I was able to see 11 films at Sundance, my very first film being an 8:30am screening of I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore. I have loved Melanie Lynskey since I saw her in Heavenly Creatures on opening day, and Elijah Wood since I was ten, so I was majorly stoked to see them act in a flick together. And they didn’t disappoint. I loved I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, loved the characters and the crazy directions it swerved into, and its very unique tone. I am so thrilled that it won the Grand Jury award – it deserved it.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore ended up being the film I recommended to everyone I spoke to (and I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly absolutely everyone is at Sundance!) and at the end of the day the first film I saw was the best film I saw there – even after 10 others. The others being Person to Person, LA Times, I Dream in Another Language, Before I Fall, The Discovery, Marjorie Prime, Machines, Quest, Its Not Yet Dark, Band Aid). Some of these films were very good, but nothing touched I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore for me.
Being that I was staying in the Media Circus condo, I also got to be involved in two super duper rad events that became the highlight of my trip. The first was to get to sit in on an interview that Indie Film Hustle conducted with Spectrevision/Company X.
I’ve loved all of Spectrevision’s releases so far, and after attending the Spectrevision/Cinefamily produced staged reading of Joe Dante’s incredible script for the Roger Corman Biopic The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes – which was AMAZING – I was so delighted to hear that they were going to produce the full film version. Joe Dante is obviously a genius as a director, but he is also one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I am so excited for him to finally get to tell one of his amazing Corman tales on screen!
The Indie Film Hustle interview was such fun, with Daniel Noah, Elijah Wood, Josh Waller & Lisa Whalen giggling and riffing each other, and Alex and Sebastian asking the right questions to get an honest and heartfelt answer. And I unexpectedly got a shout out in the middle of the interview, which was pretty rad. (Elijah is pointing to me off screen at 35:13 when he mentions the New Beverly – which I yelled back “They fired me!” which is why Josh is doing the finger across the throat and Elijah is saying “I Know, I know…Julia’s gonna kill me!” )
If I was merely interested in working with Company X before this interview, after it, I am completely determined. Their whole lookout on their jobs, on how they support their filmmakers and aren’t afraid to take chances, sounded like heaven to me. They are the producers every filmmaker dreams of meeting. So excited to see what they produce in the future.
As if that wasn’t enough awesomeness for one day, that night those crazy Media Circus folks threw a RAGING party at the condo, for the upcoming doc On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone. I jumped right in and ended up being a bartender for the night, and it was the most fun bartending I have ever done. (And yes, I was suckered into paying for a bartending license when I first moved to LA).
Apparently, props must be given to Tim League for inventing this game (and for just general radness), but it’s called Shot Roulette. A D20 is thrown three times, and each number corresponds to a bottle of some beverage. Three beverages are added to your shot, which you then shoot, and name.
I say beverage because it wasn’t all booze – although there was moonshine, whiskey and all sorts of flavored liquors – there was also fish sauce, clam juice and cream of mushroom soup. I must have poured hundreds of shots during that party, and about 75% of them were absolutely repulsive, but no one refused to drink theirs. It would be against the spirit of the game! So to your health to everyone I served that night, and well done on your sense of adventure! The game is complete genius, and turned the party into an absolute blast – it was so much fun to be in the middle of it all.
Many thanks to all of the fellows and ladies that I met during the Art House Convergence & Sundance – you were all so kind, and it was thanks to you that I had such an amazing time. It was so great to be back with cinema focused folks again, and talking about the future and its possibilities. I am so excited to go through the stack of business cards I got & get back in touch with you all – and am hopeful that one of these cards represents someone to help guide me to my next adventure – wherever that adventure may be.