When I was in High School I made it a goal of mine to attend all the major indie film festivals this world has to offer, because that was when I truly fell in love with film. This past month I finally went to a prestigious independent film festival, Sundance in Park City, Utah. It was a glorious occasion to say the least. I met new people and got the know them pretty well. I fell in love with the art of the motion pictures all over again, even though it was beyond tiresome. Plus the fact that Fruitvale won the most prestigious award there is the cherry on top. The new experience was amazing, but besides that I also learned things about the independent film and the Sundance Film Festival itself. Independent filmmaking is only something that can be garnered from the heart and soul. It is not about the wealth a film can accumulate, nor about how successful it can be with the rating and critics. The filmmakers here do not make it a goal to get Oscar buzz, but to make the hearts and minds of countless audience members buzz stronger than any statue named Oscar. Most of the filmmakers that talked during the Q&A periods stressed how important it was to make something that you really wanted to do and that you really wanted to show people. Sometimes it was to send a message and inform, and other times it was to make you think and make you say “what the fuck!?” From what you see at the festival, indie films seem easy to shoot and cheap to come by. After hearing the cast and crew talk, you understand how stressful it can really be. Once you see a couple of films and your viewing starts coasting, you understand that indie films are amazing and you applaud the members of each films team respectively because you understand a little more how hard making these films actually is. You have hardly any money to start with, the quality of your equipment is poor, and you really do not know what this film is about. Those are just some problems these young filmmakers face when trying to be heard by the Sundance Institute. Yes there are companies that give loans to filmmakers, but those are only a handful of people that are fortunate enough to get that kind of opportunity. These directors from all around the world come to Sundance to make a name for themselves. They want to be seen and heard by the big name celebrities of the film industry. Sundance is an art and a business. They weed out what they believe to be not worthy of their festival, and they also try to bank on the movies that they think will be hits. They keep most of the numbers behind closed doors, but we know it is a business. They do stress publicly a lot on how their main goals are to showcase new artists and new art forms. The latter in my opinion is the most obvious and clear thing that they stress. When visiting this place you better be ready for the cold and snow. You better be ready to wait in lines for hours, and low amounts of sleep. It is pretty cutthroat the first weekend, but by the time the weekdays hit, the tempo slows down. The lines shrink and there are empty seats in the theaters. You will see celebrities and freeze up for a bit, but no need to worry, they’re just people too. There are films that are just so crazy and insane you will not know what the hell to do with yourself. Most filmmakers will be completely satisfied if you leave the theater feeling this way because that is their goal most of the time. To make you think a lot, and question everything that’s happening. And they will also leave you hanging at the end of their films. It is a wonderful thing to experience, especially at the midnight screenings, of the Midnight films. I saw the premiere of Hell Baby at midnight and it was definitely the best all around experience with a film that I have ever had. After I viewed all the movies, I decided to rest on the couch Saturday night and watch Clerks. While this goofball film was happening on the television, my mind was thinking about all the films still. They were embedded in my head still after the whole 10 days. I realized that these films might not ever get to be seen by as many people as it should. There were great films this year and it is sad to know they will never get the light of day. The 2013 Sundance Film Festival was one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget this trip, and it was great to see new faces so regularly. I had a blast and would recommend this class to anyone who loves and respects indie filmmaking. You will learn to love it and respect it a lot more after a festival like this.
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