Grand Prize Trip: Sundance 2010

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 5:25 PM
Received an email from Entertainment Partners announcing the “Make Movie Magic” competition.

Friday, January 8, 2010 5:20 PM
Received an email from Cleo Kass of The Regan Group on behalf of Entertainment Partners:

“Congratulations! You are the official Grand Prize winner of Entertainment Partner’s Make Movie Magic Contest courtesy of Entertainment Partners!”


Monday, January 11, 2010 6:30 PM
The Regan Group sent confirmation of booked flights on Delta Airlines.

Friday, January 15, 2010 5:34 PM
The Regan Group sends confirmation of hotel room at Park City Peaks hotel.

Monday, January 18, 2010 7:30 PM
The Regan Group gets approval from Entertainment Partners to provide an additional room and transportation on a different itinerary for Alyssa Polacsek, actor from CITIZEN PRODUCER.

Monday, January 25, 2010

... 12:48 AM
Finished sending cast & crew updates to Blake Johnson for website

... 1:51 AM
Finished sending out notices to friends and associates informing of our win

... 2:55 AM
Sent a final email from NYC to Carolina, my fiancee, telling her I LOVE YOU (and asking her to have patience with me and my schedule in Sundance)

... 3:05 AM
+ Left apartment with camera, computer, and a suitcase
+ Headed for the express 4-5 train at 86th St. & Lexington, 3 blocks away
+ Arrived to station in the early dawn hours and had the company of the station washers and the rats; the express trains were not running express so I had to take the 4-5 from the local 6 track
+ Total nightmare... waiting and waiting... I was so tired by now that I was afraid I would fall asleep on the subway before reaching JFK and miss the airport

... 4:30 AM
+ I made it!

+ Took the Air Tran to Terminal 3 (I think) Delta Domestic
+ Kiosk could not find me in the system... typical
+ Delta customer agent found me, printed Boarding Pass, put me in an exit row
+ No line at security – one great advantage to arriving at airport at 4:30 AM
+ Why do I always feel like the STRAW MAN in the WIZARD OF OZ after going through the gauntlet of radiation, metal detectors, TSA eyeballs, and plastic bins?
+ Found my gate, right next to Delta’s Crown Room
+ Entered Delta’s Crown Room and took a deep breath... I love this room... food (snacks actually) and drinks although the bar wasn’t open until 8:00 AM so no Irish coffee for me
+ Fox News was non-chalantly reporting the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner near Beirut – REALLY, is it absolutely necessary to play these stories IN THE AIRPORT? At least open the bar if you are going to do that...

... 6:15 AM
+ Descend to my gate right downstairs; its a mob scene! Flight delayed about 40 minutes.
+ Back to Crown Room
+ Fear again that I will fall asleep in Crown Room and miss my flight
+ Ask attendants if they have a “wake-up” call service... they DO NOT.

... 6:40 AM
+ Return to Gate
+ Boarding of Delta Flight 1203, Non-Stop to SLC commences

... 7:05 AM
+ Seated in my Exit Row Window seat

... 7:09 AM
+ Sound asleep

... 9:30 AM approx. (Mountain Time)
+ Awake to announcement that we are making our final approach into SLC, on schedule

... 10:30 AM (MST)
+ Arrange for “Shuttle Express” service to Park City Peaks hotel

... 11:30 AM
+ Finally arrive at hotel
+ Check into room 102
+ Check out of room 102; I have never actually stayed in a room practically in the lobby of the hotel and did not see why I should start now
+ Check into room 321; perfect, king size bed, 3rd floor, overlooking the courtyard and the far away mountains
+ Let me say here that STAFF HERE IS VERY NICE
+ Set up my internet connection, unpacked, showered
+ Called Carolina to say hello

... 12:30 PM
+ Took my Nikon D-80 DSLR, Custom Bracket, and SB-900 Flash, a pen, a notebook, Blackberry, and wallet and caught the first of many shuttle buses to MAIN STREET – the epicenter of my existence for the next four days
+ First stop was a party at Butcher’s Chop House at the bottom of Main Street – Park Avenue side of the plaza where the Music Cafe is located
+ Greedily ate miniature pieces of pizza and pita dipped in humous
+ Grounded myself with the first two of many STELLA ARTOIS... this is a point to make; since Stella Artois was a sponsor of Sundance, there could be no other beer served at ANY event related to Sundance... this is not so bad as it is good beer and it is FREE; hell, I’ve even paid for Stella on occasion in other states

... 3:00 PM
+ Left the party with John; John was in Sundance looking for films to buy and finance. He is working for Odd Lot Entertainment, however if you think you are going to look them up and get some money, first you must “have money” AND an “A-list” actor attached to your project... then they come in with “a lot more money”; anyway, he was a nice person and agreed to follow me up Main Street to the ENTERTAINMENT PARTNERS display area in the NEW YORK FILM LOUNGE to have a look at CITIZEN PRODUCER (CP)
+ Literally ATTACKED from behind by Tanios and Karolina! Two great friends that I had the excellent fortune of being able to see again thanks to this Make Movie Magic competition; Karolina had a small and well reviewed part in a film called THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE and so came to Sundance while Tanios, her fiance and my friend came to join her from Switzerland... There was a lot of joy there in the middle of Main Street which I think caught John off guard, but he maintained his grace during the few moments of surprise and introduction... and so, this became my first audience, the lounge was right in front of us – I had arrived at DESTINY
+ In addition to the thrill of showing CP to a person who was responsible for opening the opportunity for a producer to find $60m to fund their film project, this was the first time I had seen the film played on a BIG screen (well, a 42” screen) rather than on a computer screen and it was BRILLIANT; I made everyone watch it twice...
+ We walked out, saying goodbye to John and heading off to look for a place to have lunch
+ It was then that I ran smack into a group of four from the EP team! Another exciting moment on Main Street...
+T&K went to lunch and I went back to the NYFL with EP’s Freddie Horstmann, Joe Chianese, Ron Cogan, and Stephen Koncelik (in photo below); it was a great meeting and they were so accommodating, adding both MM Budgeting and Scheduling to the Grand Prize in addition to the trip!

+ Off to meet up with T&K at the American Bistro on Main Street for drinks and dinner... treated by T&K

... 8:30 PM
+ Return to hotel by shuttle bus
+ Called Carolina and talked for a while
+ Read 20 pages of the romantic comedy I am considering for my next production, a feature film, called SO NOT ME written by Troy Devolld... but despite my desire to keep reading my eyes would not cooperate...

... 10:45 PM
+ Sleep

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
... 7:30 AM

+ up, shower, email, and talk to Carolina

... 8:30 AM
+ head down to the restaurant for the complimentary breakfast buffet + meet up with Alyssa Polacsek who arrived much later than I did the day before and was staying on the first floor

... 10:30 AM
+ Alyssa and I went back to Main Street by shuttle bus, taking the ride from the hotel with a young man named Jeff (I think) who was the life’s everything assistant to Joel Schumacher who directed TWELVE that was in the Premiere section of Sundance
+ Arrived and met up with Marco Cordova from EP at the NYFL
+ Picked up our tickets to the NY Sundown Party at BING bar on Main Street that afternoon from 4–7
+ Went across the street for “another” breakfast as the guests of Marco
+ Met Rhea Aquino from and Tim Ring from Fox Sports.
+ Wandered off on my own to The Filmmaker’s Lodge, didn’t do much there
+ Wandered off to Sundance House at the bottom of Main Street; checked out the Honda, then checked out Timberland (and got a nice gift of a leather notebook), then checked out L’Oreal where they were doing free make-overs and hair styling... almost got one, but decided I was in a hurry to get somewhere else.
+ Arrived at the Sundance House and wandered through the HP pavilion, got a neon green Nalgene® water bottle filled with Brita filtered water, and met some nice people
+ Wandered back up Main Street, met a manager of the photo department from AP
+ Ran into former co-worker from October Films/USA Films Sarah Eaton who has been head of Publicity for Sundance Channel for many years now... she invited me to the Sundance Channel party from 4–6 at a place up Main Street (of course) – she said my cousin, Lisa Ellenbogen, would be managing the event

... 1:30 PM
+ Flashing the AP manager’s card and my professional camera I managed to gain access to a panel discussion at The Filmmaker’s Lodge that was overflowing with a line down the stairs... THE NEXT GENERATION: HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? I was hoping to gain some knowledge about financing a low budget film, writing the business plan, and what to expect when selling the project – apparently I did not read the description of the panel – basically these were inspired tales of “how we did it” and “what we got for free”; obviously you can learn something from every different story, but I’ve lived through the story before personally on Margarita Happy Hour and don’t want to do it again... even while I am willing to work with a LOW budget, working with NO budget is “out of bounds” when it comes to a feature film at this time...

... 2:00 PM
+ Crashed a party on Main Street in a gallery for the film MY PERESTROIKA and ran into some friends from the past... one of them, Moira, is the founder of the Woodstock Film Festival; I ate some beef stroganoff, took some photos of the filmmakers and their family and cast, had a couple shots of chilled vodka, then headed off to...

... 2:30 PM
+ Back at Sundance House where I sat in on a roundtable pitch at the MEET THE DOCUMENTARY FUNDERS session; I chose the Danish Broadcasting table and met Mette Hoffman–Meyer, the director of the Danish Broadcasting Network. After listening to a few pitches from doc makers, I left and, guess... + wandered back up Main Street

...3:00 PM
+ Toured the NEW FRONTEIR ON MAIN venue where I experienced some really amazing installations! BORDERTOWN by Tracey Snelling which was a Mexican bordertown build in miniature but with each window containing a digital video of something going on inside... it was awesome – check my gallery for pictures of this; also I think I wandered into a room called POST GLOBAL WARMING SURVIVAL KIT that was filled with mattresses to lay down on and the walls were covered with trippy video imagery – I stayed only a few minutes as it was time to make it to the Sundance party...

... 4:00 PM
+ Sundance Channel Party... met up with my cousin Lisa and talked a bit. Also saw Christian Vesper, also a former co–worker from October Films who is part of the legal department of SC. The food was great and so was the Stella... met a couple of girls from someplace like North Dakota or Wisconsin who had won a trip to Sundance in a cable network sweepstakes... so we had something in common, we both won a trip... I introduced them to the Marketing and Sales Directors for SC who I had met also...

... 5:00 PM
+ Met up with T&K outside the NY Sundown Party on Main Street, but it was too crowded, so we went back to American Bistro for drinks, then we walked down to Butcher’s Chop House... they treated again; aren’t they the best? + We talked about SO NOT ME, the romantic comedy. Tanios really would like to produce a movie but the risks may be too steep for him to be able to “sell” it to his investors... a compelling plan must be made that makes sense.

... 8:30 PM
+ Back to the hotel
+ Call Carolina and catch up with her progresses of the day... she is busy planning our upcoming wedding, which is February 20 in Venezuela
+ Sleep [Yes – this is my TAME trip to Sundance... it is actually nice to get to sleep early, but I do kind of miss the times past where we would be out until 2 or 3 AM every night...

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
... 7:30 AM

+ up, shower, email, and talk to Carolina

... 8:30 AM
+ head down to the restaurant for the complimentary breakfast buffet
+ meet up with Alyssa Polacsek; sighting of STAR – sitting at the table next to us was Adrian Brody, a truly great actor.

... 9:30 AM
+ In the lobby after breakfast we had a lucky break when someone gave us two tickets to see THE ROMANTICS starring Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood, etc... it started at 11:30 so we decided to meet and take the shuttle at 10:45
+ Upstairs for a bit of work, etc...

... 10:45 AM
+ Shuttle to the Library Center for the world premiere of what turned out to be the rough cut of Galt Niederhoffer’s film.
+ It was good, very intimate, honest acting; there were some very funny moments in the film thanks to Wood. The blond girl with a tattoo did a lot of coke and kept grabbing her vagina which may have been a signal that she was sexually charged, or frustrated... the cameraman definitely like shooting low angle up her dress though – interesting acting and camera choices
+ Ran into Russell Schwartz, a former co–worker from USA Films who for six years after that was head of marketing for New Line where his credits include the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Elf, The Notebook, Austin Powers 2 and 3, Blade, and A History Of Violence; now he is doing his own consulting I believe

... 2:00 PM
+ Back to Main Street, back to NYFL to get my fix of CITIZEN PRODUCER
+ Met national director of marketing for JVC and talked about their new digital camera that uses 16mm lenses – it looks real beautiful!
+ Relaxed in the Filmmaker’s Lodge for a bit
+ Grabbed a quick bite at the Main Street Deli – what a great place that is!

... 3:20 PM
+ Wandered into the ASCAP Music Cafe and caught The Rescues – I like them a lot; saw that Califone was playing at 4:40 PM and just had to wait it out to hear them as I have recently been introduced to them by my uncle Bob and shared them with Carolina on
+ After The Rescues I sat down on an empty mushroom stool and then soon after got harassed by a woman with psychological problems that ran the gamut from abused girlfriend to unjustifiable sense of ownership to angry that Palin lost to just plain loon – so I moved
+ Heard Isobelle Campbell (Belle & Sebastian) and Mark Lanegan who were fantastic
+ Califone finally came on at 5:30, only 40 minutes late... but they were just great to listen to... and they announced their film that was playing called ALL MY FRIENDS ARE FUNERAL SINGERS – after their show I asked if tickets were still available to the 2pm show the next day and they said they were sold out...
+ Met Renee who was wearing a PANDA BEAR hat, took a photo of her and talked a bit... when I said I wanted to see their film the next day she said she had a ticket that she was not going to use since she was going skiing instead... love these happenings!

... 6:30 PM
+ Back at Sundance House a big party was in full swing... I met up with Alyssa who had had an accident in a theatre that afternoon and hurt her knee – now she was hobbling along Main Street... poor girl
+ Filled up on some good food and wine from the party
+ talked to some producers

... 8:30 PM
+ Back to the hotel
+ Call Carolina and catch up with her progresses of the day...
+ Sleep

Thursday, January 28th, 2010
... 7:30 AM

+ up, shower, email, and talk to Carolina

... 8:30 AM
+ head down to the restaurant for the complimentary breakfast buffet
+ meet up with Alyssa Polacsek
+ Renee happens to be at same hotel and meets us in restaurant to give me the ticket to ALL MY FRIENDS ARE FUNERAL SINGERS

... 10:00 AM
+ Back in room, pack bags, shower, talk to Carolina, arrange for transport to airport at 8PM
+ Check out of hotel, leave bags, take camera

... 2:00 PM
+ Stay for Q&A and meet Tim Rutili and also producer Glen Sherman and distributor from Indiepix Jason Tyrrell
+ I really enjoyed the film... it was an hour and a half well spent

... 4:30 PM
+ Back to Main Street
+ Run into my friend Jeff Abramson, VP Film at Gen Art and join him for the Sundance Institute / NHK event at Sundance House
+ BEST FOOD OF THE FESTIVAL! Amazing Asian cuisine... great drinks too... wine or vodka infused with Tea Forte teas; I tried it all.
+ Met Morihisa Matsudaira, Exec Dir of Dramatic Programs at NHK Enterprises in Japan – a very good connection

... 6:30 PM
+ Back to American Bistro for drinks and final dinner with T&K... again, they treat. I’m officially spoiled now.
+ We say goodbye...

... 8:30 PM
+ Catch shuttle from Park City Peaks to SLC
+ Spend an hour in Delta’s Crown Room sipping “Caucasians” – remember The Big Lebowski?
+ Red–Eye flight back is truly that... red eyes. Slept only about 3 hours on Flight 1002 to NYC