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We Make Movies (better): The Sundance Diaries, Vol. 1
by Élan O’Connor and Amanda Lippert

We Make Movies (better): The Sundance Diaries, Vol. 1
by Élan O’Connor and Amanda Lippert

Articles - Festival Beat

Sundance is undoubtedly the mecca of independent moviemakers. Love it or hate it, come January, it’s all you hear about in LA. Which films premiered, who sold what, the next up and coming talent that was discovered. Everyone wants to show up and be part of the inner circle of filmmaking. For one week, you have the opportunity to mingle with celebrities and decision-makers, and catch an inside glimpse of the world’s most revered indie playground.

Having never been, Park City seemed like an elusive animal. On the outside looking in, legitimate involvement seemed unreachable, a snow-kissed fairytale to be admired from afar. Sure, theoretically, a person could just go, spend a ton of money, and see all the movies. But we wanted more of a purpose, something to show for ourselves, a conversation starter other than, “So you like movies, too?”

For us, the journey to Sundance began last year, when we teamed up with a handful of We Make Movies (WWM) members on the harebrained scheme that we could create a short film (that is, fund, write, produce, shoot and edit) in the five weeks before the extended submission deadline. Not surprisingly, we didn’t premiere in Park City. The edit was rushed. The story had holes. Some of the scenes had lighting issues… But we did finish it and get it in by the deadline, and it was a worthy experiment in collaborative moviemaking. For us, the project was a success. It was a great concept piece with a strong, invested ensemble. But more importantly, we gained a small sense of pride in knowing we could bring something from idea to finished product in such a short period of time. We did what we said we would do.

This year was very exciting for us. The word about WMM has been spreading rapidly, and a lot of people are very excited about what we do. This has brought us a lot of new opportunities and introduced us to a whole new world of resources and contacts. Through this labor of love, we’ve been able to find ways to help others achieve their goals, rather than just further our own careers.

And so it was perhaps fitting, one year after trying to earn our way into Sundance the traditional way (getting a film accepted) and failing, that we were invited to go—but under very different circumstances. We’re going on behalf of MovieMaker Magazine to offer our services to other filmmakers that got accepted. Instead of trying to promote our film (a daunting task), we’ll be helping others promote theirs (apparently an even more daunting one.

It feels good to have a purpose that’s not (completely) self-serving. We say “not completely”, because, of course, by offering a service we’re in the position to meet the kinds of filmmakers and industry folk that we’d like to know, that perhaps we wouldn’t have met otherwise. And they’ll want to get to know us, because we’re there to help—not asking for a handout.

For the rest of the week, we’ll be keeping you up to date from the road—so check back next week as we interview some of the most fascinating filmmakers in Park City—from Kyle Patrick Alvarez to Jehane Noujaim, and from Alicia Scherson to Stacie Passon! Stay with us!

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