Sundance: An inside look

The Egyptian Theatre on Main Street in Park City, Utah. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
The Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre on Main Street in Park City, Utah. Every year Park City plays host to the Sundance Film Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The 37th annual Sundance Film Festival kicked off this week with many celebrity sightings, including Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Morrison, James Franco and more.

I had the opportunity to interview Jenny Evans, an avid Sundance attendee and event coordinator. This year at Sundance she is promoting the Park City Film Studios company and giving a preview of the film company for next year’s film festival. She gave me an inside look on what to see at Sundance, and how to make sure you get the full experience for future Sundance Festivals.


Q: What make Sundance a unique experience?

A: At Sundance there is so much to do. The films are fantastic. Some things at Sundance you don’t have the opportunity to see again, and may not get distribution. Sundance is basically a big forum for independent film makers to meet buyers and distributors. When the films are playing here they don’t have distribution, so some films will get picked up by major distributors and some won’t.  The cool thing is there is a daily buzz and a newspaper that comes out daily on what is hot, so you can follow that to see what films to watch.  Typically if it is a film I’m hearing a lot about, it is a film that will get released (later on), so I don’t tend to see those.


Q: What would you recommend for someone who has never been to Sundance?

A: There are a few different ways to do (Sundance). I drove past a parking lot today that was charging $20 to park. Park City has done a phenomenal job with their bus system. The buses come frequently so you really don’t need a car, and you can get around quickly on the bus system.

Park City is the place to go for Sundance because you get the full experience here. Here in Park City, you get to interact with directors and movie-goers. In every café and lounge there are interesting people to talk to.

If someone is going to Sundance for the first time, come to Park City and go to Main Street. Sundance does a really good job. They have a music lounge, filmmaker café and a bunch of different things to go to, which the public may or may not be able to go to. But half the fun is coming up and seeing what you can do. Half the time you can be walking past some place and they’ll tell you to come on in and check out this film or (say) “Hey, come in and try this food!”, so you just never know. The Chase Sapphire Lounge will always have a really cool set that you can go in and take a really cool photograph, and they print them off and just give them to you.


Q: How do tickets work?

A: It is actually really cool to do standby for tickets. A lot of tickets are sold before Sundance even opens. Here in Utah you have to be on a list to buy a ticket packet at the end of September, so in October the ticket packages go on sale. They give it to the Utah residents first and then they release them individually. They do the same thing for individual tickets in January. Most of the time there isn’t much left.

You can go to any of the films you want to see though and do standby, which means you line up about two hours before, and then they give you a number. Then you come back a half hour later to see if they could get you in. In all the years I’ve stood by for ticket,  I’ve seen fights, movie deals, marriage proposals and (you) get to interact with people who are as passionate about film as you are. The number one question in line is: What have you seen? It is a really fun environment.


Q: How much do tickets cost?

A: Last year individual tickets were $20 each. The Utah ticket packages range anywhere from $300 to $600, they usually come with 20 tickets, but they vary. They have something for everybody, but the cool thing is when you buy a ticket packet you get Festival Credentials, and once you get that it gives you access to all of the lounges on Main Street, so there is probably about six to eight of them.  There are a lot of different things you can do that Sundance sponsors.