Smack in the dead of winter, the Sundance Film Festival located in Park City, Utah, is the place to be for the U.S. independent filmmakers. It is considered the premier U.S. showcase for American independent film and growing in its acclaim for the international independent film market. The awards are given to two films in eleven categories: one for a dramatic performance and one for a documentary narrative. The festival director, Geoffrey Gilmore mentions, “The total number of film submissions increases every year and the overall quality has improved dramatically during the last decade.” Therefore, the competition is tough! Prior to the festival, as a member of the accredited press, I was sent the festivals selection list. I was anxiously reading the films chosen in the drama category for short films because my son had submitted a project. I was saddened to see the name of his film not mentioned and surprised by the tally of film submissions compared to the selections. The category for the short films alone was 4,000 entries with 77 selections to appear in the Festival program.
Needless to say, if a film is chosen, it is an honor for the director and screenwriter to be allowed to tell his/her story in one of the most exciting showground’s for film ever put together.
As you can well imagine, not only filmmakers who accompany their selected film make up the 38,000 festival attendees, but other film addicts (filmmakers, marketing companies, actors, the general public, etc.) attend to make connections with like minds and kindred spirits. I had the pleasure to attend a panel discussion held at the Filmmakers Lodge, called, “Dude, Where is My Budget?” I had arrived early to get a good seat, as did a very nice young man, named Curtis Dinsmore, who sat next to me. After our cordial introductions, I asked, “Are you a filmmaker?” I was delighted when he said, “Well, Yes! I am!” Through the course of our conversation, he explained his initial connection with film, his experience in the industry and how his passion for film developed. He was so friendly, open to talking and very polite. Yes! We did listen to the panel discussion with interest but he also shared his opinion on the topics addressed by the panel guests because it related to his position with Napolitan Productions, as the production manager. He was happy to mention that they just finished their latest Indie film PunchardPlayer (see review below), therefore, a lot of the information shared during the discussion was not new but he was open to listening to their funding raising journey. One can never get enough input when it comes to money. He later invited me to meet, Michael Picarella (writer/director) and Steven Napolitan (producer) which are big players in their company. I was privileged to view their latest film on their iPod which they were using to pitch their product. A very good idea! It was a delight to focus on film with Curtis that day in the cozy Main Street Filmmakers Lodge. It was a pleasure to get to know these up and coming young filmmakers cresting upon the industry’s horizon. My encounter with Curtis was a breath of fresh air especially listening to an amazing story of how his production company secured office space in the same building, Francis Ford Coppola, houses part of his business and their personal encounter with an industry giant.