Back From Sundance

I’m back from Sundance. This was one of those trips that you don’t plan. But when you get a call from someone in Utah asking if you would like to participate in a panel on crowd funding and modern movie distribution (at Sundance) you have to go!

So picture this. My bags are packed, I’m loading my car – and then I get a call from the airline. My flight has been canceled! UGH. Thanks United Airlines…

Never one to let obstacles get in my way, I pretended I didn’t know my flight was canceled and I drove the airport. I parked my car in one of the many airport parking lots, boarded the shuttle and proceeded to the United terminal.

Turns out whenever you have fog in San Francisco, (and San Francisco is your connecting flight to Utah) it becomes very difficult for airplanes to land. It also turns out that whenever San Francisco is shut down, you will have an airport with more than fifty displaced passengers presently looking for alternate flights.

At this point, you realize there is nothing special about you. And even though you may think of a gazillion reasons why you should get more of a privilege over the forty-nine other passengers in line (like wanting to attend some cool Sundance parties), you also realize that nobody cares. It is at this point when you fantasize about things you can say to get some leverage. For example, I thought about telling the ticket agent I was friends with the CEO of United Airlines – I didn’t actually tell her this. But you get my point…

While waiting for your chance to chat with ticket judge, the only real asset you have is kindness and the unyielding hope that the ticketing agent is in a good mood. When I got to the agent, she seemed to be OK with me… But she also told me that all alternate United flights were booked. So she suggested that I stay in LA for the night and come back the following day.

Had I agreed, I would have missed the Filmmaking panel at Sundance. Heck, I would have missed Sundance.

If this happens to you, I suggest you act as though you don’t hear the word no. Because sometimes persistence pays off and the universe really does provide. Ask the following question: “Are you sure you can’t do anything?” Then SHUT UP! Don’t say another word. Let the pressure of the silence build tension… Until…

“Well, we could try to get you on another Airline. What if we put you on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City?”

Bingo! Thank you United for the rare customer service!

After a two minute flight from LA to San Diego (not kidding. It really was like two minutes) and a short lay over and two White Russians – I hopped on my final flight and arrived in Utah – instantly blasted with a cold air I haven’t felt since my days living in New York City.

I’m pretty sure the airport was filled with a gazillion other filmmaker types wandering around. Maybe it was my imagination. But in some strange way, I felt at home. This feeling was further amplified when an attractive young woman smiled at me and asked if my name was Jason. I thought she was hitting on me. Turns out…

“Yes. Do I know you?”
“No. But I read your newsletter.”

And as I would soon learn, she wasn’t the only one at Sundance who reads these words. Which is surreal. I mean who are you people? Really?

Anyway, I really wish I could have stayed at Sundance for like all week. But the short notice prevented me from really planning a proper trip. So let’s focus on making a successful Sundance plan for next year.  And in this regard, in your next filmmaking article, I’m going to share the top 10 tips you need to know about a successful trip to Sundance film Festival.

In the meantime, if you feel like introducing yourself – please feel free to drop a comment below…

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