Here comes Sundance! And Slamdance! And Tromadance! And the Park City Film Music Festival! And ... well, you get the idea. If you're one of the lucky few whose films will actually play at the big show in Park City or in one of the satellite events, here's a quick set of tips that will serve you well while you're there.
1. Stay warm. I know, "duh," right? But it can't be overemphasized: it's freaking cold in Park City in January, and you're going to be outside -- probably more than you'd like. You've probably already got a coat, hat, and gloves, but it's time to consider some boots with serious traction (you'll be climbing icy sidewalks uphill much of the time), thermal underwear, and wool socks. Your ability to schmooze will be greatly impaired if your teeth are chattering, so don't let it come to that.
2. Don't assume that your cell phone will work. The Park City cell phone network (built for a town of 7000 people) absolutely dies when over 30,000 people show up and all start checking their mail at once. You may occasionally get a call through but for the most part text messaging will be the only reliable form of communication.
3. Take plenty of business cards and screener copies of your film. This may be your only chance to get face-to-face contact with the film industry's heaviest hitters, so make sure you have something they can take away from your meeting. Whether you've prearranged a sit-down or bump into someone in a hallway, be prepared and carry these basic tools of the trade with you always.
4. Arrive at parties promptly. Official parties fill up instantly and even the unofficial condo parties can be overrun. Invitations to such unofficial parties are usually pretty easy to come by if you're the type who can talk to strangers -- which brings us to our next tip:
5. Get over your shyness. Whether you have a film in the festival or not, the entire point of being in Park City is to meet people you don't already know. Filmmakers are on the hunt for someone to distribute their films, sure, but industry types are looking for the next hot talent just as anxiously. Everyone has an agenda, and sometimes the only way to advance that agenda is to start talking to the people around you. During a festival and especially during Sundance, the usual rules of personal interaction are modified somewhat (if not actually rescinded) -- it is entirely expected that total strangers will strike up conversations while waiting in line, shuffling into theater seats, or just loitering on Main Street. You've probably spent a ton of money to get to and stay in Park City; don't squander that investment by letting people and opportunities pass you by.
6. Have fun. Don't be so stressed out by the environment and your own internal pressure to get things done that you forget to enjoy one of the greatest spectacles in indie film today. There are movies to be seen, celebrities to swoon about, and (for those of us who live in the warmer climes) cold temps and snowflakes to enjoy. I'll be Twittering and blogging about my time in Park City -- drop me a line, I'd love to read about yours.