Erik’s Unofficial Guide to Waitlisting


Wait-listing. It is an integral part of the Sundance Film Festival experience (at least for us commoners who do not have VIP passes), as well as the bane of many a festival goer’s existence. However you need not fear for I, “King of the Wait-list” (self-proclaimed, no one has actually called me “King of the Wait-list”), am hear to drop some knowledge on you. Admittedly, my advice coincides a great deal with common sense, but my experience will help you to avoid the many pitfalls associated with the wait-list and ensure you achieve great success from the moment you step foot onto the powdery snow of Park City.

AVOID PREMIERES LIKE THE PLAGUE – If you really want to make the most of your time at Sundance, I have some unfortunate news for you. Avoid wait-listing for films in the PREMIERES category. This is unfortunate because these often have the biggest stars and the most intrigue surrounding them. I do not mean to say you cannot see them, but you are better off sleeping at the box office (Editor’s Note: This actually works. Sad but true.) if you want a chance at seeing one of these films. To give you an example of why you should avoid premieres, this year Don Jon’s Addiction, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new film, had a wait-list that started six hours before the viewing… And not a single person from the wait-list was able to get in. Yeah.

ARRIVE EARLY – Wait-list numbers are handed out two hours before a viewing, however the line can start much earlier than that. You do not necessarily have to be the first person in the wait-list to get in, but it does help to show up early. I would advise showing up approximately an hour to an hour and a half before wait-list numbers are handed out. I understand this can be a significant time commitment, and as such, this brings us to my next tip.

BRING AN IPOD / BOOK / FRIENDLY DEMEANOR – Waiting sucks. It just does. There are tools we have at our disposal to pass the time effectively, though. Keep your phone / iPod charged so you can listen to music, and have a book handy as well. Most importantly, though, is the ability to meet some really amazing people! Do not be afraid to strike up a conversation with the guy behind you with the weird facial hair, he might be really cool (he also might not, but let us remain optimistic).

KNOW WHEN TO CUT YOUR LOSSES – If you are #3,549 on the wait-list at a small venue, I hate to break it to you, but you will not get in. At this point, it is better to step out of line and spend your time doing something more useful, like stalking celebrities. This does not mean you should give up too easily, though. The other day a volunteer told two women behind me they had “no chance of getting in.” They were able to get in. If you have invested enough time in waiting and your goal appears just slightly out of reach, don’t give up hope!

WAIT OUTSIDE – What I mean by this is wait outside until you absolutely must get in the wait-list line. Remember, you must get back in line no later than 30 minutes before the film begins. Up until then, you might have the great fortune of buying a ticket off someone selling tickets outside the venue and then you will no longer have to put up with the pain and anxiety the wait-list can bring. There is a saying that goes: A ticket in the hand is better than… not having a ticket and waiting in the wait-list line… or something like that.

Follow these tips and you will significantly improve your chances of being despised by everyone in the wait-list who does not get in. Trust me, in this case it’s better to be despised than to do the despising.

*Erik has achieved admittance to every film he has wait-listed for this year. It’s okay to be jealous. He has also spent an inordinate amount of waiting to achieve this. So don’t be too jealous.

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One Response to Erik’s Unofficial Guide to Waitlisting

  1. Kelli Mahoney says:

    Hi Erik,
    I don’t know you but I love your unofficial guide. It should totally be official. It’s funny and so true!

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