We Sundanced Til Dawn
Supporting #IndieFilmakers From Tribeca to South Hampton, Austin to Milan, & everywhere in-between
A bloggy collection of journalistic stories about breaking into Hollywood 
from the former "Queen of Latenight."

Sundance til dawn

Your Very Unofficial Guide to Late Night Fun at Film Festivals Worldwide

Slamdance: Anarchy In Utah

By Lisa Lindo


By the mid 90s, there was already a steady posse of us who migrated to Park City once a year. As Sundance itself was growing in popularity annually, getting passes started to become, ya know, a thing. Filmmakers were finding the number of submissions they were up against increase, and the chances of getting accepted decreasing. Ticket packages for Sundance, and all-festival passes began selling out quicker and quicker, and housing was becoming more difficult to acquire. 

If you're organized, you reserved housing in August the year before. But even if you managed to pay for a festival badge before they all sold out, you'd still be facing large crowds of seat filling competition. Once the theatres filled up, you wouldn't be let in. 

All-festival badges, press badges, and fast passes - under normal circumstances - would be sufficient to get you into anything in town. But as the interest in indie titles grew, you would also be competing with long winding lines full of hopeful wait-listers who would dominate the hallways and lobbies of venues like The Eccles Theatre (our favorite) and The Prospector Hotel, with dozens being turned away seatless for every screening. That means there were extra potential audience members just laying fallow.

In 1995, some smart, cheerful, and subversive filmmakers decided to bring some films of their own, renting a conference room off that hallway in Prospector and started recruiting audiences from the disavowed, but devoted, cinefiles. These guys were film makers who had submitted various projects to Sundance (24 in total) but whose films hadn't been accepted into the Official Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead brought their indie celluloid with them, and started their own event - Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 

20 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. It has also created Slamdance On The Road, a traveling theatrical showcase that brings popular Slamdance films to audiences that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them. Notable Slamdance alumni who first gained notice at the festival include: Christopher Nolan (INTERSTELLAR), Oren Peli (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY), Marc Forster (WORLD WAR Z), Jared Hess (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE), Lena Dunham (GIRLS), Benh Zeitlin (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD), Anthony & Joe Russo (CAPTAIN AMERIA: THE WINTER SOLDIER), Seth Gordon (HORRIBLE BOSSES) and Lynn Shelton (HUMPDAY). Slamdance is the only festival programmed entirely by filmmakers, for filmmakers. With over half of 2014's feature films having found distribution after premiering in Park City, Slamdance continues to be a fertile ground for new filmmakers to begin their careers. According to Box Office Mogo, filmmakers who first showcased their work at Slamdance have now generated over 11 billion dollars. That Box Office calculation comes from the accumulated work of all of the wonderful acclaimed Slamdance alumni.

Being slightly left of the premiere Independent Festival that is Sundance, Slamdance has been able to take chances on pieces that, under normal circumstances, might make it into Sundance, but with the rising numbers of submissions coming in to the Institute, didn't stand a chance. Attending Slamdance used to mean seeing stars like James Franco in YOSEMITE, and the next screening might have been a complete cast of unknowns. 

Slamdance Today

As a result of technological advances, over the last 20 years, many of the general stumbling blocks to creating a story on film have vanished, leveling the playing field from concept to presentable piece, so now Slamdance too receives record numbers of submissions. Now, the Slamdance Festival Organization receives over 7,500 submissions annually. That's mindblowing.

In addition to the festival itself, Slamdance is able to showcase films in theatres year round. The first innovative distribution mark they made was being the first to show part of its 2010 festival program online through a partnership with Xbox. These days, they control Slamdance Studios, the rapidly expanding distribution arm of the festival. Slamdance is making a serious dent in the independent scene, and we certainly have to give a hat tip for their creation of the Arclight Presents Slamdance Cinema Club where you can see festival favorites at the Arclight Hollywood. 

During the festival this year, 2015, Hulu announced they have started to stream 12 feature programs from Slamdance alumni on their platform, and that new programs will be added monthly. Hulu viewers are now able to stream the titles on tablets, smartphones, gaming platforms and other internet-connected devices. Also, premiering in the Hulu collection is the short - DIY - about the world of do it yourself filmmaking including interviews with Chris Nolan, the Russo Brothers, Penelope Spheeris, and Rian Johnson, so the whole Slamdance machine is dedicated to paying it forward. And the Hulu knews follows the recent distribution success of Nicole Teeny's BIBLE QUIZ, winner of the festival's Grand Jury Prize which is now playing on Netfix.    

It's fantastic that the founders and hardworking staff at Slamdance continue to work with filmmakers outside of just showing film at the festival in Park City once a year. By bringing a wealth of diverse films to venues like Hulu, Netflix and Arclight, Slamdance has become a player populating the independent distribution stream. Slamdance also runs a screenplay competition. Over 2,500 submissions competed for prizes in the 2014. This year’s Grand Prize winner was the Original Teleplay SEARCH FOR LIFE by Andrea Janakas, which was awarded a total of $7,000 in cash prizes. Submissions for the 2015 Slamdance Screenplay Competition open February 23rd.
2015 Slamdance Film Festival Sponsors include Digital Bolex, The International Fusion Doc Challenge, Directors Guild of America, Pierce Law Group, CreativeFuture, Writers Guild of America West, Different By Design, Carhartt, Festival Scope, Final Draft, Park City's Treasure Mountain Inn, and Salt Lake City's BlueStar Juice Bar & Cafe, Beehive Distilling, and Xmission. Be sure to drop in to their longtime spot at 255 Main Street and show your support. Their evening parties are usually a blast too.

Slamdance Films on HULU

D.I.Y. (Directed by Peter Baxter, Ben Hethcoat & Eric Ekman)  
A documentary about the do it yourself filmmaking movement.

BINDLESTIFFS (Directed by Andrew Edison)
Three high school virgins, suspended on a bogus graffiti charge, fee to the inner city in an attempt to live out the plot of The Catcher In The Rye - A book they have neither read or understand.

THE FIRST SEASON (Directed by Rudd Simmons)
A documentary about the trials and tribulations of a couple attempting to survive their first season as dairy farmers.

HYBRID (Directed by Monteith McCollum)
A documentary about Milford Beeghly, a radical farmer in the 1930's who pioneered the process of genetically enhanced crops - considered a madman, this documentary is a portrait of one man's obsessive vision with plants.

AMERICAN JIHADIST (Directed by Mark Claywell)
Isa Abdullah Ali grew up in the ghettos of America's capitol and was surrounded by physical and psychological violence. American Jihadist looks at what role violence and a lack of hope for the future play in the development of radicalism.

OK, GOOD (Directed by Daniel Martinico)
A character study of Paul Kaplan, an unremarkable actor whose increasing inability to communicate in situations where there's no script slowly turns him into a ticking time bomb of inner rage.

OMAHA (THE MOVIE) (Directed by Dan Mirvish)
The story of a young man who returns home from a trip abroad to confront not just his peculiar family and friends, but also a pair of Colombian jewel thieves and a roving gang of Iowa kickboxers, culminating in a showdown at Carhenge.

SLAM (Directed by Marc Levin)
The story of Ray Joshua, an original, gifted young MC trapped in a war-zone housing project known as Dodge City.

STRANGER THINGS (Directed by Eleanor Burke & Ron Eyal)
Stranger Things is the story of an unexpected encounter which leads to a surprising friendship between a vulnerable young woman and a streetwise homeless man.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY (Directed by Cullen Hoback)
This film reveals the information corporations and governments are legally taking from you and the consequences of clicking “I accept.”

TONY (Directed by Gerard Johnson)
A thriller centered on a serial killer in a rundown London suburb.

TRAILER PARK OF TERROR (Directed by Steven Goldmann)
Six troubled high schoolers and their leader become lost after their bus crashes during a raging storm. They seeks refuge for the night in an abandoned trailer park, managed by a sexy woman, Norma.

WILD IN THE STREETS (Directed by Peter Baxter)
An ancient football game is the lifeblood of an English market town and the origin of soccer, rugby, and American football.

Opening Day of Slamdance: 2015 Starts Off With A Bang

Slamdance begins with a story about a couple of pro-wrestlers (THE RESURRECTION OF JAKE THE SNAKE), offers up a Batkid (BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD), mixes in some stalker-action (RATTER), takes us through a mid-90’s Cable TV Show Reunion (20 YEARS OF MADNESS), and really pours its heart out in the fiendishly wicked BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS!! 

2 p.m. (JAN 25) 
Official Slamdance Red Carpet Starts

Check out the trailer for the frightfully funny opening night film which premieres at the Slamdance Film Festival: BLOOD SUCKING BASTARDS. Billed as Shaun of The Dead meets The Office, this brilliant team of comedy writers and actors have delivered a punchy piece of cinematic fun. From the opening credits, we like these filmmakers. Thinking it would be a good idea to just create their own comedic vehicle, the upper NY based comedy troupe - DR. GOD - decided to manifest their very own SHAUN OF THE DEAD. How very independent of them. 

If you like vampires and zombie movies, this film is for you, and if you really love horror, you'll be happy to know they in no way skimp on the blood. For Fran Kranz, who plays "Evan," this is nothing new. His appearance in Joss Whedon's CABIN IN THE WOODS also came with a ton of blood. In fact, www.bloody-disgusting.com claims CABIN IN THE WOODS used 200,000 gallons of blood on that shoot. BLOODSUCKING is no different. I guess if you are working with swimming pools full of blood, Fran's your man.
4 p.m. (JAN 25)
Coffee With...Danny Zappin 
Be sure to drop in on an intimate Q&A session moderated by one of the Slamdance founders Paul Rachman. During the discussion, Danny will share insights into his career from a struggling filmmaker and founder of Maker Studios to his current endeavor - President and Co-founder of Zealot Networks, the most successful digital content studio on the Internet. For those less familiar, Zealot Networks is a digital-first media company that empowers independent artists and entrepreneurs by delivering multi-platform distribution and evelopment opportunities. 

11 p.m. (JAN 25)
Peter Harper will appear in concert at Wasatch

Some background on Peter Haper ~~ Growing up in a family of extremely talented musicians, and having a brother, as immensely talented as brother, Ben Harper, meant, creating an album was met with a lot of pressure and high expectations. Unlike most musicians starting out who are measured against their own ability and drive, Peter’s music has a built in measuring stick that dates back multiple generations. 

Peter’s approach came from different angles, drawing on his breadth of knowledge as a gifted sculptor, he implemented these modes of production into his music. The tactility of music is something that is rarely discussed. Having started his artistic career as a bronze sculptor, however, it was something that was on the forefront of his mind throughout the creation of every song, in the studio, on the debut album. Each track, built, word by word, note by note and instrument by instrument, until the creation was something that, when played, would push the air around you in a way that would not just resonate the hair in your ears, but deep down in the soul as well. Thus, the debut album reached fruition; multi-layered and multi-faceted, like his visual art, each layer offering the listener a new layer to identify with.

Closing Night Party

10: 30 p.m. - 2 a.m. (JAN 29)

Presented by Zealot Networks and New Media Rockstars, Slamdance celebrates the conclusion of their Park City Festival for 2015.

Vintage Video from 1998, Slamdance 101 (Part One)

Slamdance 101 (1998 Video, Part Two) 

Slamdance 101 (1998 Video, Part Three)