The free list- Sundance Channel HQ

Where on earth can you get free lattes, mochas, lunch, wifi and other swag. Nowhere! just kidding…. It’s the Sundance Channel HQ. All you have to do is like Chase Sapphires facebook page and this can be all yours for the rest of the fest. And the coffee is made with real espresso by the way. This is unbelievably awesome. They even have chill areas including a bean bag room. This must be what it feels like to work at Google. Fair warning thought the doors open at 12 and food disappears quick. However, the coffee was flowing late into afternoon. If you are catching mid-afternoon show at Egyptian then this is the best pit stop you can make without breaking the bank.

Sundance Film Review – The Pact

The Pact blends the fear of the unknown with slasher story in a suspenseful and riveting manner. Caity Lotz steals the show with her perfect straddling of both heroine and potential victim. The slow build up leaves one to question what is going on but allows for the significant payoff at the end of the film. Intentional or not this film captures the classic theme of duality found in some of the greatest horror flicks of our generation.

The director admittedly stated that Cronenberg and Carpenter were of great influence in his upbringing and love for the horror genre. This influence is masterfully crafted in McCarthy’s unconscious presentation of the dual nature theme that recurs throughout the film. His ability to present the supernatural in a terrifying and cathartic manner brought the audience to the edge of their seats in the climax of The Pact.

For the unlucky few who inopportunely left early in this film they missed out on the amazing acting, cinematography and screen craft that makes this film a sure horror hit for this year. One must not also ignore the amazing production design as the creepiness of the house was created in the muted tones of worn-down wallpaper that gave this film a vintage horror feel. Rather than rely on ultraviolence as the main thread to instill fear in this film accomplishes it cleverly using our fear of the dark, the unknown, foreshadowing and seat gripping suspense backed by a score that complements without overshadowing the other elements in the scene. If you indulge in the delights of independent horror that is independent without b movie factor then The Pact will be a rare delight to scare and surprise you.

Icon of the Day – Festival Day 2

Today’s icon was the most on point of all the panelists I had the pleasure of listening to today. His vision of self-sustaining filmmaker/entrepreneur given the tools to promote his art was relatable and promising to those of who aspire to create an audience. Thank you Bob for your vision and your time to talk about your company in this video. Bob you are my Sundance Icon of the Day.

You can find their website at

The Social Pollinators

Social Media, film creation, and distribution are now hopelessly intertwined and the three panelists gave their view on how to take advantage of this media revolution. Wendy Levy moderated the event that included the global VP of original programming at YouTube, VP product and marketing at Topspin Media, and the co founder of Kickstarter. The hopeful exuberance of all three media mavens burst forth as they promoted the digital adventure ahead.

All three men were frank about the challenges current and in the future particularly dealing with the monetization benefits versus traditional distribution avenues. Most were in agreement that the tipping point is coming and that the pioneers of online distribution as a primary form are already here and that there are already examples of moderate success. Social media is a primary tool to create this success. Being a gregarious self-promoter or putting together a strong marketing team was a common thread mentioned as keys to success using social media in film promotion.

The founder of kickstarter, Yancy, explained why the all-or-none funding was critical in film fundraising. Along that the thread Bob from Topspin media made the important distinction that they did not do social media marketing for you but provided a software platform for self-promotion and access to potential partners that could mutually benefit from promoting filmmakers material. Finally, Alex from Youtube’s original programming team gave us some insight in to the changing landscape of niche content and the new YouTube channel format’s potential to change the way people consume media. An enlightening evening, I think anyone at this panel would feel more confident experimenting with online distribution supported by social media knowing it is is the wave of the future or perhaps for the more ambitious the wave is breaking right now.


Another Cozy Spot

If you are looking for a cozy, warm cafe filled with the aromas of arabica and the buzz of filmmakers talking shop then look no further then the filmmakers lodge. Yes, the filmmakers lodge has a large room open most of the day to the public. It is filled with comfy leather couches tables to nosh and chat and as of tomorrow free wifi. There are a couple plugs hidden around the room to charge up. Most importantly the cafe is filled with caffeine to get you going and some basic snacks. As an added bonus the bathrooms are clean and a great alternative to the public dungeon-like bathrooms main street. Come grab a coffee, relax, recharge and maybe even see a filmmakers panel in the next room for those lucky credentialed folk.


Filmmakers Lodge: It’s All About the Story

I eagerly was first in line for today’s filmmaker lodge panel at 1pm. Blending with the surreal whirlwind of movie watching, the filmmakers lodge provides opportunity for both filmmaker and public to engage leaders in the filmmaking and surrounding community. These panels are both educational and inspirational for those who aspire to influence those around them with the power of cinema.

The panel discussion was a dichotomous mixture including eye opening clips of chilling effect that juxtaposed the unwavering hope that society has the power to change when we tell a compelling story that motivates social action.

Drew Westen, the moderator, began with a story of a foreclosure victim who he felt represented the common American versus the media coverage of irresponsible masses driving the economy into ruins. This was a foreshadowing of a later point focusing on the power of the story in the wrong hands. Those who are self-serving wield much power through their ability to allocate wealth in promoting propaganda, while others must work hard to tell a more compelling story if we are to succeed in creating social justice on important issues.

Senator Barbara Boxer was the highlight of the panelists. Her connection to the movie “The Invisible War” was important piece of the discussion. This was the first of 3 important documentary films at this festival discussed. The Invisible War covers some unthinkable material. Rape in the military is not something I have ever given thought to but to see the callous disregard by military officers from the one clip shown is motivation to see this film. The fact that women in the military could be treated in such an abhorrent manner was a powerful beginning to the discussion. I look forward to hearing how much social impact this movie will have on legislation and actions in the military.

The next speaker, Margaret Atwood is a prolific author who is linked to a documentary called “Payback”. Payback delves into the world of migrant tomato farmers in Florida. The working conditions are a modern day slavery in some areas. Margaret skillfully brings an eviscerating point of view on today’s establishment that allows such deplorable conditions to exist. Another must see doc Payback is another story that needs to be told in a manner that will help end these illegal and immoral practices. Margaret also pointed out some interesting analogies of our current economic crisis. Her comparison of today’s financial woes to the French revolution was both accurate and prophetic. Te potential for explosively revolutionary change may be sooner than we think. The occupy movement perhaps is just the beginning of larger upheaval.

Finally, we got to Mark Kitchell and his film “A Fierce Green Fire”. His comprehensive story of the environmental movement was lauded by Barbara Boxer who is one of the leading figures for the environmental movement in politics. His 5 things he decided to focus on was an interesting take on the focus films must take to tell their story in a compelling way. This too is a must watch doc. In my opinion (shared largely by panel), the environmental movement is in danger from opposition forces supported by special interests and greedy business practices. The deniers (of climate change) have little science but a loud voice that may well lead to destruction of the planet. Hopefully films like A Fierce Green Fire will catalyze those people who have the authority to stop the destruction ofair, water and land.

Story is and will continue to be the juggernaut force behind social change. It might even save us from destruction of everything we have built. Story is indeed action in words.