Note to Self- James Franco is NOT the Goal By: Grace Osborne

unnamed-2The night before I headed off to Sundance, my friends/suitemates made it very clear that I had to meet James Franco and take a photo with him at all costs… or I wouldn’t be let back into our suite (a joke, I hope).  They even took the liberty to put his name all over sticky notes on my door [see left] to remind me that I was destined to meet him and absolutely had to find a way to be in his presence.  In all fairness, I was the one to tell them that meeting James Franco was my ultimate goal at Sundance, and I just had this feeling that he would spot me in a crowd and would want to buy me dinner.  Looking back, I laugh at my naiveté.  First off, James Franco is 36 and I am 19 (a 17 year age difference… try bringing him home to meet mom & dad).  Second, those lights on stage are blinding… how would he even see me all the way in the 27th row?!  And third, when and why did Opening-Credits-James-Franco-freaks-and-geeks-17545180-800-600James Franco suddenly become my goal for achieving ultimate Sundance happiness?

If you ever make someone or something the determining factor for a trip such as Sundance, it is inevitable that you are going to overlook all the other amazing encounters and only focus on the one that didn’t happen.  I have been lucky to come across several actors, directors, and screenwriters that I have been inspired by during my time at Sundance.  Jacqueline Kim (Advantageous), Avan Jogia (Ten Thousand Saints), Tobey Maguire, Ken Jeung (Advantageous), David Arquette, Emory Cohen (Brooklyn), and RJ Mitte had unnamed-4been some of the actors I came across while walking up Main Street or after having watched their film.  I agree, one should not be celebrity-hungry and only go to places to find celebrities in order to take a photo with them.  It is a human reaction to want to do this, to want to make other people jealous on social media that you were the one lucky enough to be in the presence of a well-known celebrity.  However, I view meeting celebrities as a special occurrence where you can see someone that has been put up on a pedestal by society and relate to them as normal human beings.  It is even more special when they are people that you appreciate and look up to, such as when I met Kris Swanberg, director of the Sundance film Unexpected.

Kris received many unnamed-5compliments during the Q&A about her film and you could tell she was truly a genuine person that was humbled by such praise.  After the Q&A, I told Kris off-stage that I had really enjoyed her film and was wondering if she, as a young female director, had any words of advice for me as I am an aspiring filmmaker.  “You are nineteen?  Wow.  Well, I guess I would say to just start now.  Make something that is true and honest to yourself.”  Her words of advice resembled what my professor, Virginia had told me when we sat and talked on a bench on Main Street as well as what Patrick Gilfillan (screenwriter of Lila & Eve) told me as we both walked to the bus stop after Mass on Sunday.  If 3 different people tell me the same thing, then I should treasure that piece of advice and follow through with it.  Thank you Kris, Virginia, and Patrick.

15522-1-1100Now, back to Franco.  I had received word that he was still at Sundance during the second week while many people had left to go back home to warm, sunny Hollywood.  I was thrilled to hear this, because I just so happened to have a ticket to I Am Michael, a film James Franco starred in.  I was also convinced he was going to arrive at the screening for the Q&A, like most of the actors had done for their newly-premiered films.  The film was at 9:30AM, so you know I was at the bus stop by 7:45.  I am kind of embarrassed at how early I got up, too… but let’s not talk about it.  So I got second row seats, perfect to jump up after the Q&A and wave Franco down for a picture.  Even the random tumblr_lwb5tpYbVS1qbrk2to1_500strangers in front of me knew I wanted to meet him, so they suggested that they would help me get his attention and would take the photo for me.  Let’s also not talk about that.  Anyway, I couldn’t truly enjoy the last 5 minutes of his film because I was nervous and anxious at the following events that would occur once Franco would walk on stage.  This was it, this was why I got up at (insert ridiculously early time) to get ready. Today was the day I was going to meet James Franco!

*Insert turntable scratching noise*

Yeah, he didn’t show up.

Okay, so to say I was bummed would be an understatement.  I could have slept in, I could have just sat in the 27th row, and most importantly, I could have gotten a picture with James Franco.  I felt defeated, as if my efforts to meet one of my favorite actors were not good enough james-franco-as-alienand therefore led me to be sitting in the second row by myself, listening to only the director at the Q&A, with the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” playing in my head.  It took me a couple of days to shake off the disappointment and to focus on the people that I did meet while at Sundance, many who may have been more inspiring and exciting to talk to than simply saying “Hi” and “Bye” to James Franco.  Sure, meeting James Franco would have been such a memorable moment for me, and getting a picture with him would have been awesome… but that’s life.  At the end of the day, even though James Franco didn’t show up to his movie, I did.  I stood in line, I watched his film, I stayed for the Q&A, and that’s what matters more.  My time at Sundance cannot be measured by how many celebrities I saw or how many films I watched, but rather how I grew as a person and how my passion for film matured.  In just 10 days, I went from wanting to see every movie and meet every celebrity to embracing the random moments of spontaneity that came from simply crossing paths with some amazing filmmakers and writers.

My experience of Sundance transcends any meeting of celebrities or viewing of films; it has truly been a whirlwind of emotion mixed with exciting encounters and profound memories that I will take with me wherever I may go.  The people I met both on the street and in the classroom have also impacted my time at Sundance, and for that I am grateful.  Maybe one day I will randomly meet James Franco in the true-Sundance fashion, with no planning or preparation but instead by circumstance.  And that is when I will tell James Franco that although I appreciate his work and look forward to his future projects, I may not be able to ever forgive him for making me go through all that trouble to wake up at 5:50AM on that cold, Thursday morning at Sundance 2015 🙂

Note to Self- James Franco is NOT the Goal.

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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! 🙂

We About To Get Lit

It’s 3:00 AM Monday morning. The third day has ended with a major development. More on that later.

I haven’t had a lot of success at Sundance thus far. The waitlists are shady, and the celebrities are difficult to pin down. I’m not the kind of guy who is really willing to make someone stop so I can take a picture with them. I know they don’t usually want all the extra attention that comes with it…well, aside from Kim Kardashian, but I digress.

I did see my fair share of celebrities during the first three days. First there was Jason Mantzoukas (Rafi, from The League)–a solid first celebrity sighting. Then there was Kristen Wiig, Bob Odenkirk, and Cody Johns, who shook my hand (and probably stole my Fitbit!). So basically, nobody I can tell my mom about because they aren’t notable enough.

No movies were seen during the first 2 1/2 days, but then, finally, during Sunday evening, things started to turn around. I went to the box office at 6:40 in the morning to try and get good tickets, and it definitely worked. I got a ticket to 99 Homes (outstanding film, by the way) at the Eccles, at which the director of the film, Ramin Bahrani, who can be recognized from Life, Itself, gave a great Q&A session. He discussed Ebert’s influence on him (the film was dedicated to Ebert), and I got some great pictures of him.

Things had begun to turn around for me, but things were due to get even crazier…which brings me to now…

Morgan and I are sitting outside the box office right now, waiting for it to open in 5 hours because I am ready to see three Eccles premiers tomorrow night. I spent 45 minutes convincing her to come with me. It’s freezing, it’s uncomfortable, it’s tiring, but it’s 100% worth it if we get into the celebrity-infused premiers of Monday night. We’re second in line. I have very high hopes. The first few days were cool, but the next few are about to be next level. It’s time to turn up, Sundance!

THE BRONZE is Golden!

by Virginia Saenz McCarthy

After a long travel day from Oakland, CA to Park City, UT, my fabulous 18 Saint Mary’s College students and I finally settled into our condos eagerly anticipating our first full day at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.  I managed to get to bed at 2:30am and awoke at 7:30am.  I knew a few of my students had scored wait list numbers – tickets not guaranteed – to the 9:00AM screening of THE BRONZE.  At 8:25am – without a wait list number – I impulsively decided to head to the Eccles Theater to see if I could get into the film.

Time is of the essence at Sundance, and the obstacles I had to face trying to make it to the Eccles in time to even have a chance of getting to the wait list line were slim to none.  Long wait for the shuttle bus. Tick Tock.  Once on the bus, decided to try a “hail mary” short cut maneuver, so jumped off the bus at Sundance headquarters – halfway to Eccles, but a long ride on the bus – and headed off on foot. Tick Tock Tick Tock.  Having attended the festival for 21 years now – bringing students for 18 years – I knew a short cut that involved crossing a parking lot (Tick), walking around the side of a commercial business building over a frozen, slippery pathway worn by sneaks like me (Tock), and then skittering through a small break in a residential wooden fence that surrounds an apartment complex (Tick).  Through the fence, still had to traverse a slick, frozen over pathway along the fence line (Tock), then up a freshly created footpath in the snow over a small hill to get to a sidewalk (Tick), then a parking lot and driveway (Tock), then to the pedestrian light in front of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Seminary (Tick), then to Park City high school where the Eccles is located.  Tick Tock. Tick Tock.  Finally, the light changed after what felt like 2 minutes and I crossed the street, and hustled across yards and yards of concrete to finally get to the coveted wait list chamber door.  I stepped inside the dark, cavernous  holding area and was immediately greeted by a Sundance volunteer who told me that they would no longer be letting anyone into the theater.  However, across the room, I could see that there were 4 people in the line where 3 other volunteers were standing, so I asked if he would mind if I went over and joined them in case a seat came available.  He said:  “Sure, go ahead.”  Off I sped, and just as I reached them, the young woman in charge said: “We have 5 seats available.”  Yes!!!!  I was the 5th of the last 5 people who made it into the screening!!!!  My first Sundance miracle!!

Within the first moments of the THE BRONZE, I realized that what I had thought would be a dramatic film was in fact a side-splitting, comedy shocker.  Tonally, think DODGE BALL meets GROUNDHOG DAY meets a teaspoon of NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE and a dash of TEETH.  This is a squirm in your seat, crack a rib laughing, “I can’t believe she said “THAT”! comedypallooza.  Hope Ann Greggory – age 25-ish and a former Olympic bronze medalist on the women’s gymnastics team, is stuck in her past glory, embittered and living in her overly indulgent father’s basement.  Hope, played brilliantly by co-writer of the film Melissa Rauch, is a girl you just want to back slap and throw over your knee for a good long spankfest.  She is a BRAT!!  A completely narcissistic, selfish, offensive little hater AND the hometown hero and only celebrity of tiny little Amherst, Ohio.  So, unfortunately, not only does Hope’s daddy indulge her every selfish whim, but the whole town indulges Hope.  Like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, Hope is in for a long overdue personality makeover…. or death and destruction, and that is the tension that drives the plot and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.  The trial of fire comes in the form of an unwanted opportunity for Hope to train the Bambi-sweet and adorable character of Olympic hopeful Maggie Townsend, a high schooler and super talented gymnast.  Of course, Hope sets out immediately to crush and sabotage the guileless and gullible Maggie’s dreams in order to protect her coveted status as the town’s local hero.  The script is brilliant with unexpected twists and gut-wrenching turns, smart, crass, in-your-face dialogue, and biting humor, and one of the most hysterical sex scenes I have ever seen.   I left the theater feeling that THE BRONZE deserves a Gold Medal and – if it has not already found a distributor – I am sure it will be one of the first films to sell at the festival and will be a huge audience pleaser among indie comedy fans.

The Start of the Festival

Two days ago, I landed in the beautiful but cold Park City, Utah. Since our class arrived, I have been able to explore Main Street a little bit and love the energy and excitement in this small town environment. It has been really neat to explore the Sundance lodges, see celebrities walking around, and getting free food and coffee. I mean what could be better than free coffee? One of the lounges that Devin, Megan, and I visited was the Sundance TV lounge. Not only did we have some tasty food but also received free tickets to go see the premiere of the film, True Story.

I have also started to figure out how the wait list process works for the films. After having anxiety over not getting into a few of the films I wanted, I finally got a number for the film Wild Tales on Saturday night. The film was spilt up into six different short stories that all had the common theme of revenge. I would definitely recommend the film as it was very comical and dramatic. I also stayed for the panel which was interesting because we got hear about how the director came up with the various story lines and how it all came together. The next film that I got on the wait list for was The Overnight which was playing at the Prospect Theater. I didn’t really know what to expect but the film was hilarious. The dialogue between the characters was really entertaining which made it great. Since I have had such a positive experience so far, I am really excited about all the upcoming films on my list!

Creating Comedy!

I knew the Sundance Festival would be beneficial for me as an actress by seeing films and possibly networking, but I honestly did not think there would be many “comedic” opportunities. As a sketch comedy writer and improviser, I was hoping that there might be a few parts of the festival that would cater to the art of comedy. When I saw that there was a slight chance to get into the world premiere and only Sundance screening of “Misery Loves Comedy,” I did the best I could to get a wait list spot. After receiving number 46, my “chance” became more realistic. The waitlist line was somewhat unorganized and stressful, but everyone at the festival has been extremely friendly and helpful. I have never seen so many goal-oriented and artistic people in one place at the same time. It’s a healthy and productive environment.

Adriana and I luckily became the last two people to get into “Misery Loves Comedy.” We got seated in the cast section as we soon found out as the faces in the documentary started to match the people sitting around us. The legendary Kevin Pollack introduced the film and my excitement could not be contained. Wow! My first Sundance film and it happened to be a documentary on comedian’s lives and their struggle. The film was hilarious, and the Q&A after featured Lisa Kudrow, which was wonderful to get her perspective as a working female comedian who currently has a show on Showtime.

After an extremely successful first day at Sundance, I honestly did not know how it could get any better. While perusing Main Street the next day, I found a little haven called The Cinema Cafe and walked right in. Greeted by friendly faces, as usual, they told us to grab some coffee and have a seat for a talk back. While Kate, Adriana, and I were looking around and saw the Cinema Cafe schedule, I freaked out. On January 24th, one of my favorite comedians and idols, Sarah Silverman, would be at the Cinema Cafe with Tig talking about their films at Sundance. You didn’t need a ticket! You just showed up early to get a seat! I almost cried from happiness and knew that I needed to look my absolute best to meet one of my favorite entertainers.

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Needless to say, I did meet Sarah Silverman and really listened to her advice for bold comedians. I will never forget that moment and will remember that as I continue my work in the future. Sundance has given me so many memories in the past three days that it’s hard to imagine how it will get better.

I’m Tired

I need sleep! In the last few days I have barely had a chance to get any. Staying up late to wait-list midnight movies, and waking up early to wait-list the morning movies has already taken it’s toll on me. Now it definitely doesn’t help that when I do try and sleep my bed partner (Zane) apparently loves to try and cuddle. His arm’s flailing hitting me in the face while I try and sleep is keeping me to only two or three hours a night. It seems like I may have to relocate to the couch in the near future.

Trying to wait-list all these movies has taught me a valuable lesson about patience. When you end up in the back of the wait-list line that does not mean their is no hope. Don’t try and leave the line early to see a different movie because when you do that you end up missing your opportunity to sit next to Jason Segel. Then the only thing you get is stuck in another wait-list line that  ends up not allowing you into the movie. The D Train is apparently a very sought after movie to see as I have wait-listed for it twice and gotten 9th, and 15th and not gotten in both times. But even though I’m disappointed I didn’t Get to see the The D Train the fact that I was able to see one of my most sought after films The Overnight more than made up for it. I don’t want to give anything away about The Overnight all I will say is it’s hilarious and everyone should try and see it. It’s better than The Bronze and I loved The Bronze.