And That’s A Wrap! by Morgan Pigman

Thursday, January 29th, 2015–

Saw three movies again today!  Tangerine was first at 11:30 am.  My favorite aspects of the movie were how real and raw the movie was, not to mention I felt like strutting to the music and walking with them where ever they were in LA.  It was about transgender prostitutes working in an area of Hollywood I am not familiar with, the less pretty parts of Hollywood. What most impressed me with the film was that the camera used to shoot Tangerine was the iPhone 5S!  How crazy is that?!  I met the executive producer on the bus on the way to waitlist for a movie later that night and he gave me his business card.  I look forward to emailing him and asking him a few questions.  He was really excited that I wanted to talk to him about the film and was super passionate about his work.

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Next up was Chorus at 2:30 pm.  I definitely called it close between getting from one movie to the next.  I made it with a few minutes to spare!  Chorus was upsetting because it was about a family that was torn apart after their child was abducted. The mother stayed in Canada and the father moved to Mexico.  Ten years later, the couple finally was able to have closure because their son’s body was found and a man made a confession while in jail.  Throughout their time back together when they were preparing the ceremony and burying their child, you could tell they still loved each other.  I was really hoping they would end up together as the movie progressed.  Don’t worry, I won’t ruin anything…

Later on in the evening, I saw the Royal Road at the Holiday Village Cinemas with Sophia and Spencer.  It was directly across the street from our condos which was very convenient.  To be honest, that was the least interesting movie I have ever seen.  People seemed to be dropping like flies in terms of leaving while the movie was still playing.  It made me feel bad for whoever made the film because I know how hard they must have worked on it.  I can say on a positive note that the very beginning was bright, colorful, and fun.

Friday, January 30th, 2015–

Woke up early to waitlist for Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl at 8:30 am.  Tyler and I had waitlist numbers 1 & 2 (which we were VERY proud of) and still didn’t manage to get tickets.  I was totally bummed out because that was a movie on my list of movies I really wanted to see.  Took a little adventure to find amazing breakfast burritos at Albertos!  Highly recommend trying those if you find yourself near Prosepector Square.

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Got to see Unexpected at 12:15 pm today!  I adored this movie and have to say it was one of my favorites as well.  This is another one that I don’t want to talk too much about just because I want other people to see it.  I will say that How I Met Your Mother’s star Cobie Smulders was fantastic.  The humor made the entire theater laugh.  It was a reminder that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned but it’s all up to you on how you handle the situation or cards you’ve been dealt with.  It was about real people experiencing real, everyday things.  Two different women worked together through the challenges of unplanned pregnancies, one a teacher, the other a student.  It felt so real that it almost felt like a documentary.  I was able to totally identify with characters and had fun watching it.

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I got to meet one of my friends that I studied abroad with on Semester at Sea this past summer for dinner.  It was so lovely being able to see a friendly and familiar face while being here in Utah.  I’m so lucky that she took the time to drive to Park City from Salt Lake City to come see me and spend some quality time together.  The last movie of the evening was at 11:45 pm.  A larger group of us all went together to see It Follows.  In a nut shell, it was a scary movie about this demon that is passed from person to person through sex and it follows that person around trying to kill him or her.  If it succeeds then the demon comes back to the person that gave it to that person.  Somehow I didn’t have difficulty going to bed that night.  Never the less, it was suspenseful and thrilling.  Definitely felt adrenaline pumping through my veins and I screamed quite a few times in the movie.  It was a fun movie to see with friends.  Walking back was a little spooky but it was also pretty because it was snowing.  I’m really happy we were able to experience it snowing while we were here.

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Saturday, January 31st, 2015–

My last documentary of Sundance was 3 1/2 minutes.  I found the story to be very profound and moving.  I really did not recall much of this trial back in 2012.  It was about a white man that shot a black teenage boy over loud music.  What I enjoyed most about it was the opening and closing statements of both the prosecution and defense.  It’s amazing how much a story can be twisted and turned depending upon who is telling the story.  I was debating on not going to see it because I was almost “movied out” but I’m really happy I got my butt out of bed to see it.  Overall, I felt that the defendant got what he deserved and that’s that.

After the movie, I went home and got my stuff together and packed.  I then headed to Main Street with Grace to do some last minute shopping.  To our dismay, we didn’t find anything we really wanted.  We headed to Squatters to meet Jennifer, Kate, Alycia, Desiree, and Adriana for dinner.  [SQUATTER 4 LIFE] We loved that place and wish there was one in the Bay area.  The artichoke dip is delicious and the taco salad was amazing.  As soon as we got back to the condos, we checked the Award Ceremony that was being streamed on youtube.

YES!!! Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl won the Grand Prize dramatic and we had tickets to see it!  We grabbed our things and hustled buns to the bus stop..only to all dog pile into a taxi.  We got there within minutes and waited in line, shivering.  Luckily we didn’t have to wait in line very long and we were inside Eccles!

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There is a reason Fox search light bought this movie for a record breaking 12 million dollars.  Every character in the movie was richly detailed.  The movie showed a new way of looking and dealing with cancer.  Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.  If there is anything you take from reading this, go see this movie.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I liked it.  Please and thank you!

Sunday, February 1st, 2015–

And That’s A Wrap, Time to go home!  Reflecting on my time here just makes me happy.  I loved my experience at Sundance and am hopeful of returning next year with my mom and maybe even some friends.  I don’t think I could have had as good of an experience without SMC and the help of Virginia.  I’ll end with some tips and favorites:

Favorite place to eat:   Squatters near the Yarrow

Favorite Coffee/Tea/Hot Chocolate spot:   Java Cow on main street

Favorite Lounge:   HP Lounge

Favorite Movies:

  1. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl
  2. Brooklyn
  3. Unexpected

Favorite Venues

  1. Eccles
  2. The Egyptian

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What I wish I did:

  1. Take a picture with Jason Segel
  2. Build a Snowman
  3. Take advantage of the slopes & ski

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Advice:   Go to at least one panel, don’t be afraid to ask a question at a Q&A, keep a refillable water bottle and chapstick with you at all times, it’s important to have cash on you, keep your head and toes warm

Don’t be afraid to:   Approach and talk to people, you never know what could happen!

What I’m going to miss:   my classmates, the ability to ask questions of people who invested significant time in their work, the laughter & intensity of the audience

Ideas:   look into the possibility of volunteering, don’t forget to pack a portable phone charger, take more photos!

Goals for next year:   get into a “list only” event, see 20+ movies

Until next time, Sundance!

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Not Afraid to Show Some Skin by Morgan Pigman

Sunday, January 25th, 2015–

I was feeling a little under the weather today so I relaxed at the condo for a good portion of my day.  Tyler, Luke and I headed to Main Street to explore a bit in the afternoon.  All of the free give-a-ways amazed me!  Food, beverages, merchandise galore!  Just to name a few…Speck phone cases were being handed out, Sundance water bottles, pizza, even Stella Artois beer.  Land Rover even offered complimentary 5×5 ride rides around the festival which was great because it helped me get to one of my movies later in that evening on time instead of having to wait for a bus which would have put me at risk of not being admitted to the film!  In their cars they played a set of short films on the tvs that they created on the car’s front and rearview cameras by teaming up with a view directors from Sundance last year.

A key tip we’ve picked up on was to stop by the box office whenever you get the chance because you never know what tickets they have to exchange or sell again.  A classmate heard H. was an excellent film and he already had a ticket.  The box office had one extra ticket so I snagged it while I could.  It sounded quite interesting to me from the description on the Sundance app where it discussed the setting of Troy, NY and two women named Helen, each with their own stories associated with a meteor crash nearby.  It seemed to me that it would be a great film to watch and write a review on considering it could all links to ancient Greek mythology; however, I was mistaken.  It was a very strange and weird movie.  Unfortunately, I would not recommend any of my classmates here to see it.  On a brighter note, I loved where they screened the film.  The Egyptian Theater was lovely and everyone there was very welcoming and helpful.  They even served Wine and Whiskey Sours at the snack bar!

On the walk to the bus stop, one of my classmates and I discussed how bizarre the movie we had just seen was.  We were also lucky enough to stumble upon one of Banksy’s original pieces outside of the Java Cow.  Part of me really wanted to stop and get a hot chocolate there but I was still super full from the lasagna we had at the other group dinner earlier that evening.

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I have no idea how Tyler did it.  He somehow managed to convince me to camp outside of the box office that evening.  My RA from my freshman year at Saint Mary’s, Emily, told me she did it when she was here and it was part of the experience.  Not only that, but if you do it, it guarantees you to get the movies of your choice.  There were two premieres the following day that I really wanted to see…so somehow, at 2 in the morning, I found myself walking to Main Street in the below 20 degree weather after he took about 45 minutes to convince me.  Within minutes of being there, security kicked us out and told us they would open to doors back up at 5 am.  I wasn’t exactly peachy keen on the idea of actually being outside in the cold for the next 3+ hours considering how freezing, uncomfortable and tiring it was.  I was not dressed to be outside and at a certain point I couldn’t even feel my fingers.  Luckily, we were second in line behind a man that had been camping out every night so far.  The only thing that kept me there was knowing I’d be able to laugh at this down the road and the fact that I had very high hopes in getting what I wanted.

Monday, January 26th, 2015–

8:00 am rolled around and the box office finally opened.  I was able to purchase 6 tickets total for world premieres which made me very satisfied with the overall outcome of that experience.  I didn’t have my first movie until 11:30 which meant that as soon as I got back to the condo I was able to pass out.  I could have continued sleeping throughout the entire day except I was fortunate enough to have Kate, Adrianna and Jen call me numerous times to wake me up for The Tribe.

The Tribe was the most emotionally draining, uncomfortable, scaring, and experimental films I have ever seen.  The entire movie was in sign language.  It involved prostitution, drugs, gangs, sex, abuse, abortion, rape, and murder.  By the end of it, my entire body felt achey and sick.  I knew going to Sundance that there were going to be some weird and disturbing films, but wow; I was not expecting that.  The actors were also not shy in terms of being naked on the big screen; they were not afraid to show some skin.  Spoiler alert—the movie ended with one of the deaf boys murdering the other gang members by smashing their heads with their bedside dressers.  They all slept in the dorms together.  Locks did not exist there because they were all deaf so he was able to walk in without any of them being aware of his presence and none of them knew what was going.  Not being able to hear the others deaths or warn each other resulted in all of their deaths in the end.  I’m not saying they deserved it or didn’t but they were not good people.  Regardless of their characters, that was hard to see.  I went back to bed immediately once I got to the condo again.  Not only was I exhausted from the previous night, I was also emotionally tired as well.

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Later in the evening, Grace, Tyler, and I went to see the world premiere of Brooklyn.  I don’t want to give a spoiler alert on this film because I absolutely adored it and want everyone to see it.  Once it comes out to theaters I am going to go again without a doubt.  We found excellent seats right in front of where the actors do their Q&As and got to meet part of the cast.  Brooklyn hit home for me because part of it was about being homesick.  When I was abroad in Australia, I felt all of the emotions the main character felt when she moved to New York City from Ireland.  It was also an extremely funny and also touching film.  I felt attached to the characters throughout the movie.  Leaving the theater, I couldn’t help but smile.

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We went straight back into the ticket holder line because we had back to back movies at the Eccles.  Next up we saw the world premiere for Digging for Fire.  I thought this movie was fun.  It taught some nice lessons about marriage, love, and family.  I was hoping Orlando Bloom would attend because it was the premiere but he was a no show; regardless, he was nice to look at in the parts of the movie he was actually in.

One thing I’ve noticed so far about being here is that Sundance comedy is much darker than the comedy I’m accustomed to.  The movie included a lot of improv which was neat too.  The atmosphere in the theaters here is also unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The audience’s reactions are so much more profound than a movie at an average theater in your hometown.  Everyone is “all in.”  Three movies in one day was intense!  I can’t imagine being able to do anymore than that.  Overall, it was a truly great Sundance Day.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015–

The first film of the day for me was Call Me Lucky.  This documentary had a drastic change of pace half way through the film.  I was not expecting it at all.  The first half included friends and family describing the comedian.  This gave the audience the chance to feel like they knew him or about him on a more personal level.  All of a sudden, child pornography and sexual abuse was being discussed.  It was really alarming to learn even more about how many horrible and disturbed people there are in this world.  It really saddens me to think and question how unsafe children are today in the outside world, some even in their own households.  The comedian was very intense regarding his personal opinions and beliefs.  I think he was too extreme but he definitely got his point across.  He invested a lot of his time to protect children from having the same thing happen to diminish their innocence.  He was and is very committed to that cause and that made me consider him a good person, regardless of his foul and somewhat degrading way of communicating.

My second film of the day was 6 Desires.  I was particularly excited about seeing this film because it was about traveling.  To my dismay, I wasn’t too fond of it.  It was made with an extremely low budget which I thought was impressive; however, it just wasn’t for me.  It was a collaboration of different sceneries and places an author wrote about and the director/producer’s response to him and his wife’s words.  I felt no true connection to the movie because I did not really feel like there was anything to emotionally invest in.  I found myself wanting to leave early to make it on time to the group enchilada dinner instead.

Somehow I was able to fit in the group dinner in between my next movie, Cronies.  Watching so many movies doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, but it is!  Going from theater to theater on public transportation actually takes a significant amount of time and fitting in a meal isn’t east either.  So I was really happy I got to eat with our group and talk about the most recent movies we had seen in the past few days.  I learned a new word that evening.  Cronies means a close friend or companion.  That’s exactly what the movie was about, a group for friends.  The actors in this film had never acted before which I found quite impressing.  They were also natives/locals to where the film was filmed which was cool. Funny story, we found one of the 3 main guys (far right in photo) in the movie on tinder. HA!  Anyways, I’ve never been a big fan of black and white movies; however, it added an extra touch to this one that I liked.

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Wednesday, January 28th, 2015–

One of the Sundance rules is that you are required to be at the theater 30 minutes before the film.  This allows them to get a true count of how much room they have for those waiting in the waitlist.  Well, my first movie of the day was at 8:30 am.  That doesn’t sound very early; however, when you factor in getting dressed, possibly having breakfast, walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, traveling to your stop with the other stops included, not to mention traffic, that’s a lot earlier than 8:30!  It’s more like 7 am.  Any ways, Advantageous was a good film.  It truly depicted what a parent would do out of love for his or her child.  It also showed the struggles a family can go through and the challenges everyone can encounter when growing older.  Advantageous introduced the idea of moving our minds into another younger body to be more aesthetically pleasing to others.  There’s plastic surgery and then there’s that.  Part of life is growing old.  If you’re in a different body, that isn’t really you.  I was not supportive of these concepts in the movie.  I know her mom had the procedure to support her child and ensure that she was taken care of, but it was sad having to watch the daughter suffer because she ultimately lost her mom.

(On the plus side, I got to meet Ken Jeong, AKA Leslie Chow from the Hangover.  He was in Advantageous as a much more serious role than his usual.  He did a great job too!)

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Later that evening I watched Eden.  I was drawn to this movie when I had to pick my tickets because Daft Punk was in the description.  This was the second film I saw by myself.  I’ve always thought going to a movie alone was kind of weird.  Surprisingly, I found it kind of enjoyable.  Eden was really long!  Regardless of the length, I liked the movie and it didn’t even seem as long as it was.  I didn’t even realize the length until I looked at the time when I was walking out of the theater.  Drugs, sex and partying galore!  Shocker, huh?  Once again, that’s just to be expected for Sundance.  I can promise you that you will see numerous butts, boobs and penises on the big screen while at Sundance…whether you like it or not! 😉

Like A Little Kid in a Candy Shop by Morgan Pigman

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015–

The morning began with me scrambling to get my things together to leave for the airport.  It was probably a mistake that I stayed up almost the entire night looking up films, celebrities, and things to do at the festival; however, considering the fact that I threw stuff into my two suitcases, I’ve been very happy with everything I packed…aside from spacing on pajamas!  Whoops.

A friend of mine took Jennifer, Kate and I to the airport so we wouldn’t have to über there.  It began to hit me quickly how excited I was for this opportunity to experience Sundance.  I also hit a wall of pure exhaustion and realized that a nap would be crucial on the plane there so I could make the most out of my first few days without being too tired.

The plane seemed to be filled with individuals going to the Festival.  I caught myself people watching and even eaves dropping on a couple talking about the upcoming movies they looked forward to seeing.  They’ve attended the past five years or so together.  I asked myself if I would try to attend again in the future, making me even more excited for the next ten days.  There was so much to look forward to!

Once I finally fell asleep, the flight seemed to literally and figuratively fly on by.  We were now in Salt Lake City, Utah!  Our group collected our luggage and headed to the bus.  I was surprised at how little snow was on the ground there.  After a quick switch to another bus (due to a potential problem with the air in the breaks,) we were on our way to Park City!  That bus ride went by in a flash because I slept the majority of time as well.  To my surprise, I woke up to an abundance of snow around me which made me smile.

We checked into our condos at Park Avenue Condominiums and dropped our belongings in our rooms.  Grace and I lucked out and got the rooms with individuals beds.  This made us laugh because that meant the boys were going to be snuggling up together at night.  Come to think of it, that was probably evil on our parts but sleep is crucial to your well-being and in doing this we knew we would be getting a good nights sleep each night we were here.

We made our way to the bus stop and somehow managed to get 20 of us together on one bus.  We rushed into the box office with a few minutes to spare before they closed and locked their doors for the night.  Ignite Packages in hand, everyone was so excited.  We were all like little kids in a candy shop.  Off to dinner where we indulged in massive quantities of pizza and garlic knots.  Afterwards we explored Main Street for the first time.  At one point we were all around a fire pit with a few locals who were singing Let it Be together while a young man played his guitar.

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Friday, January 23rd, 2015–

I caught up on some sleep and then headed to Main Street with the boys in my Condo.  We met up with Virginia and explored the HP lounge.  I got to play with the new HP Sprout product and to say it was awesome would be an understatement!  I took a handful things out of my bag and put them on the scanner.  I was then able to manipulate the images and make a post card out of them.  I would definitely like to invest in a product like that!  A few of us then walked up and down main street.  We spotted our first celebrity, Rafi from the League.  We found a neat heated stone bench outside of another lounge and relaxed a little bit while I talked to paparazzi man.  He gave me the low down on the celebrities here.  Talking to him got me excited to potentially run into a few of the people he had seen that day including Ryan Reynolds, Kim & Kanye West, James Franco, and Jason Segel.

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At five 5pm, a group of us did our first waitlist for The End of the Tour with Jason Segel.  Each of us got pretty good numbers considering the size of the venue (+1300 people.)  It was about the Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and his five-day road trip/interview with David Foster Wallace.  The fact that this was a world premiere and I had to chance to potentially see Jason Segel made me so eager!

On our way to the movie, there was an accident which caused Alex, Jake, Sean, and I, along with everyone else headed to the same place, to be late.  We got off the bus early because we figured running, even walking would get us there quicker.  Looking at the time, we were frantic.  We needed to run the rest of the way to Eccles theater!  There was no way we wanted to loose our good numbers for the waitlist!  Unfortunately, we got there two minutes late and lost our spots.  Jake, Alex, and I decided to wait it out and see if we could still get in.  They stopped letting people in right when we got to the front.  We couldn’t believe it!  Being first in line was so tantalizing!  We were so close!

After what seemed to be the longest couple of minutes, the volunteers told us that there was some seats in the reserved section that were open.  The three of us along with two others behind us were allowed in.  Was this really happening?!  We quickly handed our money over and were ushered to our seats.  How we managed to get some of the best seats in the house was beyond me!  I didn’t really get the chance to look around us because everything happened so quickly and the movie had already started.  Jake tapped my shoulder and pointed to my right and smiled…

Jason Segel was sitting right next to us!  From that point on, I had the biggest smile on my face.  To think this was my first film at Sundance and I got this lucky was unbelievable.  Staying for the Question and Answer portion made me like Segel even more.  Instead of waiting to talk to him after, I made the mistake of rushing out to try and catch the bus.  Lesson learned that buses literally come every 5 minutes here.  To say that I’m bummed that I did that would be an understatement.  Nonetheless, I’m so happy that things worked out and I was able to see the movie.

I met some of the girls for dinner at a place down the road from our condo and had a yummy taco salad for dinner.  We exchanged our first day stories eagerly, smiling from ear to ear.  We could tell this was going to be an amazing next week.

Saturday, January 24th, 2015–

We went to the box office in the late morning/early afternoon to see what was available.  I accidentally asked the sales guys if he “was sleeping with other people” when I meant to ask if he had any tickets for Sleeping With Other People.  Eeek, that made my cheeks turn bright red!  No tickets were available to that showing which meant I was waitlisting tonight!

We went to lunch with a large group of us and squeezed into a booth all together.  At lunch we had a really good view of the slopes.  This made me wish I brought my ski gear to take advantage of the snow while being here in Park City, Utah.

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Mae Whitman from Perks of Being a Wall Flower and Arrested Development was right next to us enjoying a glass of wine by herself.  After lunch we explored Main Street again.  I casually ran into Chris Pine; no big deal or anything that his hands brushed my chest when we ran into each other on the sidewalk as he was trying to get away from a mob of people.  I now understand even more why celebrities keep their faces down in crowds!

The majority of our condo went to the store to get the necessities for group dinner.  We decided on chicken teriyaki & fresh vegetable stir fry, rice, oriental salad, and cookies for dessert.  Although it was a lot of work cooking for 20 people and took a few hours to prep, I still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed making a healthy meal for everyone.

Four or five of us made our way to Eccles and tried to see Sleeping with Other People.  We didn’t have good enough numbers that time which was a bummer considering we went all the way to the theater and waited for over an hour.  Another lesson learned was that even if you think you have a decent number for the waitlist, there is no absolute guarantee that you will get it.  Everything is going to be a learning process but I’m excited to become a Sundance pro by the end of the festival! 🙂