Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What to do while "everyone else" is at Sundance

Photo by Chris Runoff

Feeling left behind because you're not going to Park City this week? Here are a few ideas on how to keep yourself occupied -- either by distracting yourself with other business or by taking part vicariously. In no particular order:

• Hold some test screenings for your own film. Chances are you haven't held nearly enough test screenings to really know how an audience will react to your film, so why not have a little festival magic of your own? Get a bunch of strangers together, show them your movie, and gather some opinions. It feels good and it's good for you.

• Plan your festival strategy for the rest of the year. January is just the first month of the year, and there are plenty of important and prestigious festivals going on in the other eleven months. (OK, maybe not so many in December, but still.) Hit the web sites and really dig deep into each festival's personality. Figure out what their previous lineups really looked like, and whether they are a festival of discovery or if they're just regurgitating the Sundance lineup each year. Submit accordingly.

• Fill in the gaps on your marketing material. Maybe your press kit isn't as strong as it could be, or your postcard needs an overhaul. Go back over all of your marketing material and figure out what you're missing. Chapter 3 of Film Festival Secrets (the book) covers this in depth.

• Stay tuned to the indie film news. Old stand-bys Variety and indieWIRE are good places to start, but you can find a wealth of coverage by meandering over to Google Blogsearch and typing in "Sundance" or "Slamdance." One of my favorites is the local Salt Lake Tribune, which has some really in-depth coverage and a sense humor. Also a great read: the back entries at Drea Clark's Slamdance blog, which has been a source of much entertainment and straight talk for months now -- hopefully she'll have time to keep blogging during and after the festival itself.

• Watch some Slamdance films online. Like Fantastic Fest in October, Slamdance is screening some of its films online as well as in Park City for the duration of the festival only. It's impossible to say how well it will work since right now all you can see is a preview video, but with any luck you'll be able to have your own little mini-Slamdance in the comfort of your own laptop. Pass the popcorn!

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