It’s been a juggle covering both the Slamdance and Sundance Film Festivals this week. Between panels, screenings and parties, there isn’t much time left to sleep. On Day Two of the Slamdance Film Festival, I moderated Kodak’s Fireside Chat, “Shooting Film on a Budget: The Advantages of Super 16mm.” This was a panel I put together with filmmakers screening 16mm projects in the Sundance Film Festival, all shot on Kodak film. We engaged in a lively discussion both about the creative and financial reasons of why they chose to shoot s16mm on their projects.
The New York-based Safdie Brothers have been able to shoot their last two films on Super 16mm with budgets apparently under $150,000. They are huge proponents of shooting film, and worked with cinematographer Brett Jutkiewitz on Daddy Longlegs. Co-director Josh Safdie loves the discipline that comes with shooting film and the “precious” quality of working with film. “As filmmakers, isn’t that what we are striving for—a precious quality?” I posed the question, ‘How do you weigh the decision of what format to shoot as a producer’ to Heather Rae, who has produced projects on both digital and film and is at Sundance this year with The Dry Land. She said, “It really depends what format is best for the project, aesthetically. Every project is different and you have to decide what makes the best sense for the story.” Alex Orlovsky, producer of Blue Valentine,” mentioned that they used both s16mm and the digital on the film to differentiate the past from the present in his movie.
Gavin Kelly, cinematographer of “The Dry Land, said the director had a vision before he was even attached to the project and knew he wanted to shoot s16mm. He mentioned the format was a great choice because it was non-invasive during the actor’s performance, and he was able to follow the characters in a very intimate way. Cinematographer, Benoit Debie, conducted tests to compare super 16mm and digital before deciding to shoot “The Runaways” on super 16mm. “The producers wanted to shoot this on the Red, but because it is a period piece set in the 70’s, with a very stylized and gritty look, super 16mm, in my mind, was always the best choice for the project.”
The panelists of Kodak’s Fireside Chat at Slamdance
Later in the day, I saw Nicole Holofcener’s new film, “Please Give,” at the Eccles Theater, shot by Yaron Orbach on s16mm. I also caught another film that Benoit Debie has in the Sundance lineup called, “Enter the Void,” the new experimental narrative by controversial director, Noe Gaspar, who said he “wanted to make a film that would give you a legal drug experience.” Benoit combined both Kodak 16mm and 35mm film, with CGI techniques to create a psychedelic palate that took you on an incredibly beautiful and cinematic trip.
On Day three of the Sundance film festival, the snow continued to come down on Park City, totaling a 49″ accumulation over the last week. If you weren’t taking advantage of the powder in the local mountains, the theater was the second best place to be.
Looking down Main Street from the Slamdance Headquarters
I woke up and headed over to the 8:30am screening of “Happythankyoumoreplease,” a delightful romantic comedy written and directed by actor Josh Radnor. Set in NYC, it had a fresh spin on relationships and friendships and straddled the line between feeling mainstream and indie, but at the core focused on the main character’s interesting conflict between having to decide what to do with a young boy he found stranded on the subway. This was definitely a crowd-pleaser.
I then went to see Debra Granik’s new film, “Winter’s Bone,” about a young girl’s struggle to take care of her family while her missing father is on the run cooking crystal meth. With outstanding performances, Debra really captured the naturalistic feel and look of this incredibly challenged rural life in the Ozark mountains.
One of the highlights of the day was seeing Jennifer Arnold and Patti Lee’s documentary, “A Small Act,” about how one Kenyan’s man life was changed forever when an anonymous Swedish woman sponsored his primary and secondary education. It is a testament to how one small act of kindness can really make a difference in the world we live in. Lots of buzz around this documentary that has already been picked up by HBO Films.
“The Runaways,” cinematographer Benoit Debie and producer,
David Grace enjoy the pre-concert VIP party
Later in the evening, I attended “The Runaways” VIP Party and the Joan Jett concert with “Runaways” producer, David Grace. I have to admit, I was a huge Joan Jett fan growing up, as she was the inspiration for me to pick up and learn how to play guitar. As a teenager, I embodied her rebellious rock and roll attitude and played her albums over and over again. Therefore, it was both incredibly nostalgic and wildly entertaining to be front row center to see my childhood idol and musical, punk-rock inspiration rock out just as if it were 20 years ago! I saw her play several concerts back in the 1980’s, but this was the first time she actually sang some classic Runaways tunes that included, “Cherry Bomb,” “School Days,” and “You Drive Me Wild.” Super, super fun!