In Fear writer-director Jeremy Lovering writes for Film4.com about the experience of pitching up in Sundance with your first theatrical feature film…
Arrival in Salt Lake City. Drive into the mountains to Park City. Go past Main Street, one of the oldest in America, very pretty, small but crowded with people at this late time. There’s an immediate sense that this is a very different place, time out of time. It feels odd – like I’m an outsider but then I remember I’ve got a film in Sundance. I’ve got a film in Sundance…
We all meet up smiling, Producer Nira Park, Exec Producer Matthew Justice, actors Alice Englert, Allen Leech, DOP David Katznelson and story consultant Jon Croker. We’ve all been thinking the same thing – a year ago we were standing in horizontal hailstones and mud in the night on Bodmin Moor making In Fear, and now we are here. We feel lucky.
I go early to get a bus to go to the Director’s Brunch. It’s an hour away from Park City, the main festival venue and further into the mountains to the Sundance Resort. The clue is in the name – it’s Robert Redford’s resort, the site of the original festival and the place where the Sundance Kid lives.
Every year he invites just the directors of the films in the festival to go and have breakfast with him.
I kind of thought it might be just me and him riding our horses together through the mountains and maybe wrestling in the snow afterwards but every other director turns up.
The journey is an hour – a good chance to talk to other directors. It’s not a secret how competitive directors can be behind the smiles, but on this bus where there are no financiers, no producers, no writers it feels incredibly relaxed and friendly.
Some have their graduation films, some experimental pieces, some are veterans with their fourth movie. But all seem genuinely excited – for themselves and for each other.
Although there is also a dose of fear – many have films later that day and all know that Sundance can make or break them.
The resort is beautiful, we eat breakfast: strangers sharing the same experience, I sit next to a guy with his first short, two documentary makers and a successful writer with her first directed film.
Then Robert Redford walks to a podium to talk. Yes, Robert f***ing Redford. It’s weird but there’s still the impact of Hollywood icon, of old school glamour and he is still pretty cool.
His key point though seems to be how down in the valley, in Park City there is a zoo and up here in the resort the air is clean and the conscience is clear.
He said of course the business, the selling, the sponsorship, the parties, the photos of stars with sponsored handbags are all essential but he had invited us up there to remind us of why we were there – to celebrate the creative spirit.
Maybe it seemed a bit of a romanticized view and after all he can afford to say that cos he’s Robert f***ing Redford, but maybe all he was really saying is that we all know there are many necessary parts of making a film and all of them should be honoured and not any one neglected nor forgotten – especially the quieter, more reflective ones.
We all leave feeling energized and blessed and I swear I look back and there is a golden hue resting over the Sundance resort.
On the way back I sit next to Ben Wheatley (director of Sightseers) and my newfound love for Robert is almost dimmed because Ben is so smart and so funny. Though I’m sure he can’t ride horses.