Part entrepreneur and part revolutionary, Nodance
Film Festival founder Jim Boyd has been changing the Park City,
Utah landscape since 1998. Boyd, who became interested in film during
his college years at SMU in Dallas, started as a screenwriter (he
was a Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist) and turned to directing with
1997’s The New Gods. But when that film (which was produced
by Slamdance Film Festival founder Peter Baxter) was rejected from
both Sundance and Slamdance, Boyd knew there had to be another way
to get some publicity for his film in Park City-and the Nodance
Film Festival was born.
Says Boyd of the festival: "It started as a way
to get some publicity for my film, but it increasingly inched toward
becoming a ‘real’ festival." And it’s a festival that has gained
an increasingly faithful following. Park City regulars know that
if they’re in the mood to view some truly original work, Nodance
is the place to do it. Here, Jim Boyd talks with MM about competing
with other festivals, how it pays to be personal, and the three
things every Park City visitor should remember.
Jennifer Wood (MM): When you began Nodance in 1998,
you were already going up against Sundance, and Slamdance had begun
to secure its own reputation as a great ‘alternative’ festival.
What was Nodance able to offer moviemakers?
Jim Boyd (JB): The strength of Nodance has always
been its ability to attract high-quality overflow films from the
other two festivals. With so many first-time filmmakers all over
the globe, Park City tends to collect the cream of crop. Nodance
provides an outlet for additional films, and helps create a more
market-like atmosphere. Nodance was also the first festival in Park
City to trumpet the benefits of digital filmmaking. Since digital
technology has become ubiquitous in Park City, Nodance seeks the
best stories shot either on film or digital video.
MM: What was Nodance – Year One like?
JB: Our first year was very lonely. We started
with one film, and slowly collected nine other features and shorts
that wanted to screen in Park City. At that point, we marketed "Nodance
YEAR 1" on Main Street, and actually had a marginal turnout.
Our screening facilities were in a hotel, and were excellent. I
just happened to get a cancellation on the screening room, and walked
into an immaculate 150-seat room. We rented the equipment from the
hotel, and Nodance 1 was born. It’s frightening that I’m heading
into YEAR 5…
MM: In an MM interview a few years back, you commented
that indie moviemakers looking for distribution would not likely
find it through Nodance. Would you change that statement today?
JB: I still tell filmmakers they should come
to Park City, relax and concentrate on their contacts for their
next project. Festivals should be about the exchange of creative
ideas with fellow filmmakers, and the business side should be secondary.
With clever marketing and an open mind, they can accomplish all
their goals. However, Nodance has world premiered several shorts
films acquired by distributors, and we currently have two world
premiere features that have a theatrical release, Barstow 2008 and Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy.
MM: How would you describe the atmosphere of Park City
in January? Is there noticeable competition between the festivals?
JB: There is definitely a good-natured competition
that exists amongst the festivals, but we’re all in the shadow of
Sundance. We have T-shirts that say, "Nodance. We’re #3!!!"
MM: Because of the closeness-in proximity
and timing-of the Olympics, are there any special considerations
that needed to be made for the 2002 event?
JB: Get there early, because if you sneeze
you might miss it.
MM: How is your current call for entries going?
JB: Nodance is currently flooded with entries.
So many more are coming from all parts of the globe. I have no final
numbers for entries, but I estimate 700 – 800.
MM: From the beginning, you have always
provided entrants with the personal touch: you watch each of the
submissions yourself and provide feedback to all those whose films
were not selected. What kind of material excites you the most-technically,
JB: Technical proficiency is secondary to story.
I believe in genre, and it’s important for first-time filmmakers
to demonstrate their knowledge of it. I’m interested in seeing the
filmmakers take chances with both story and camera. Blast my mind
with something I haven’t seen before. Take me through the dark side,
but show me the light at the end of the tunnel. Sell hope.
MM: After running this festival for five
years, and seeing so many films in that time period, what are some
tips you would offer to moviemakers as far as what to strive for
and the pitfalls to avoid?
JB: As for the filmmaking, the first 10 to
20 minutes are the most crucial, and are the most vulnerable for
mistakes. The last third of the movie must deliver the climax, and
tie all loose ends. Something simpler to control is that you should
always remove the bars and tones from the front of a videotape.
Clever marketing materials help raise your film above the clutter.
MM: What are some of the highlights of this year’s festival?
JB: Nodance is returning to our headquarters
on Main Street with a balcony that overlooks the Egyptian Theater.
We’ve added an additional screening room at the Treasure Mountain
Inn, and will be sharing the lobby space with Slamdance. Nodance
has brought back the screenplay contest for the Spring, and we may
travel to D.C. for Traveling Roadshow screenings at the Hirshorn.
MM: For all those who will be visiting Park City for the
first time this year, what are the three most essential items to
bring with them?
JB: 1) Black clothes; 2) A sense of irony;
3) Business cards!!!