Getting the Most from Sundance & Slamdance

By Lee Jameson / Film Education Coordinator

If you’re heading up to Park City this week, this is the post for you. Last month, we held our annual Sundance/Slamdance orientation where panelists Sheldon Candis (writer/director, LUV), Drea Clark (Slamdance Chair of Narrative Feature Programming) and publicist Annie Jeeves of PR firm Fifteen Minutes addressed such issues as: using a publicist and producer’s rep, marketing and self-promoting your film at the festival, dealing with industry executives — even getting into parties. Here are some highlights from the event:

1) Do Distribute Postcards

Leave your business cards in your pocket and forget the ill-timed, pushy pitch when networking in Park City. Our experts agree that the best way to promote your film while rubbing elbows at Sundance is with a well-designed postcard. “I find business cards are too small,” said Annie Jeeves, “but postcards with all the info about your film – you should have a ton of those in your backpack. It is what represents your movie best. It should include your website, cover art, contact info and should be easy to read.” When it comes to pitching your project at Sundance, the best way to be comfortable in your approach is to “figure out your talking points ahead of time and ease into things,” Drea Clark advises.

2) Do Not Distribute Posters

Those boxes of posters you plan to bring with you to Park City to tape up all over town and get your film noticed? Better leave them at home. According to Clark, “Posting flyers in Park City is almost impossible and there are very intense rules on what you can hand out.” Sheldon Candis knows about this first-hand. “I had all of these grand plans to promote my film at Sundance! LUV coffee, LUV snowball fights, etc. We had all of these posters printed and ready to distribute, but the rules were so strict that we couldn’t use a lot of them. You can get kicked out of the festival for posting posters in unapproved areas.” Post at your own risk!

3) Take Care of Yourself (and Others)

Sundance can be downright exhausting. What are the best ways to get through the festival in one piece? “Bring good, comfortable boots, friends!” Jeeves advised. Waterproof snow boots are essential. That, and “water, Emergen-C or Airborne, and belts.” Belts? “I had to borrow a friend’s scarf once to use as a belt because I wasn’t eating on a regular schedule during the festival.” Candis also recommended keeping a water bottle with you because “you get terribly dehydrated and sick. You don’t eat regularly and you’re not sleeping,” he warned.

Besides coming prepared and monitoring your health, it is equally important to take care of those around you at Park City. “You should be nice to everyone anyway,” said Clark, “but be nice to everyone at Sundance because you never know who is connected to whom.” Be courteous to the festival staff, they may help you in ways you might not realize. For example, at Slamdance, one of “our box office staffers pulled Steven Soderbergh into a friend’s screening and later Soderbergh helped support the film,” said Clark. Connect with as many people as possible and help out your peers. It will pay off.

4) Party. Sleep. Watch, Watch, Watch! Repeat.

What’s the point of making the trek out to freezing cold Park City if you’re too overwhelmed or unprepared to attend the screenings? “If you go to Sundance and see fewer than five films, why go?” Candis asked our members. His advice for making the most of your trip: “I always had a rule that no matter how hard I partied the night before, I always went to the morning screening. See at least 10 films while you’re there.” Annie agreed, adding that Sundance attendees should “get their individual tickets online in advance. You’ll be much happier.” Plan ahead and force yourself to see as much as possible, hangover or not.

5) Do I really need a Publicist and a Producers Rep?

Yes, yes you do. As Jeeves advised, “you need your whole team. You need press generated to start conversations and buzz. It has to start early. Have a real conversation with your sales agent. Know what offers you’re going after. In terms of press, what have you given to the festival? What haven’t you? Everyone on your team needs to be having conversations throughout the festival.”

These conversations should include communication of your expectations with your publicists. “Is it a black comedy or a sharp satire? You need to make these decisions together and be on the same page,” said Clark. You and your entire team should enter the festival with a clear idea of what the film is about so that you can champion it in the most effective way possible.


January 17th, 2013 • No Comments

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