Early risers or night owls might have the best chance to get into Sundance Film Festival screenings if they are in a wait-list line for tickets.

And it might be best to be in one of the lines during the second half of the festival.

Those were some of the suggestions offered by a high-ranking Sundance official during an event Tuesday night at the Kimball Art Center meant to introduce people to the mechanics of the festival.

Sarah Pearce, the co-managing director of the Sundance Institute who oversees festival operations, spoke about the opportunities to score festival tickets even if someone does not have them beforehand.

The wait-list lines are part of Sundance lore, sometimes drawing more than 100 people hoping to get into the theater for a screening. It is never known how many people in the wait-list line will be allowed in until just before the movie starts since it depends on how many seats are available once the ticket-holders and people with passes are inside.

Pearce told the crowd of 40-plus people on Tuesday night approximately 15 percent of those in a wait-list line get into the screening.

Pearce also spoke about other chances there are to get tickets. She said some tickets are put on sale at the main box office in the Gateway Center in Old Town each morning. There will also be more online ticket sales prior to the festival, which starts on Thursday. She said upward of 40 percent of all tickets go to people considered to be local.

"We do have quite a robust program for locals," Pearce said.


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She also outlined the festival's Townie Tuesday screening and Best of Fest showings, which are designed for people who live locally.

Pearce, meanwhile, briefly touched on the setup of the theater in the gymnasium at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, describing sightline issues encountered in 2012. The sightlines have been addressed, but there could be a change in the capacity. Pearce said up to 25 seats could be gained or lost at the theater.

The event on Tuesday night was part of the Kimball Art Center's Art Talk series and was scheduled a little more than a week before the opening of the festival. Sundance runs from Jan. 17 until Jan. 27 with theaters and other venues across Park City. There are also screenings in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance Resort.

Ticketing is typically of keen interest to Parkites. Many sign up to purchase during a presale designed for Utah residents and then attempt to buy more as the festival unfolds. Much of what was discussed on Tuesday night about tickets was well known to people who have attended Sundance repeatedly over the years.

Pearce and other Sundance officials covered a range of topics as they spoke about the Sundance Institute programs and the festival itself. They talked about the year-round nature of planning for the film festival, other Sundance programs and the festival's impact on tourism.

Some of the highlights of the event included:

  • a description of Sundance's 12-month cycle leading to the annual festival. A wrap-up session is held in February to discuss the just-finished festival. In the spring, Sundance crafts a budget and sends staffers to other festivals. The summertime includes screening film submissions. Ticketing is worked on early in the fall while screening slots are prepared in November.

  • a discussion about the work force that puts on Sundance. Approximately 10 people work on the festival on a year-round basis. Another approximately 125 people are hired as seasonal staffers. A large volunteer corps, upward of 1,800, is critical.

  • a brief mention of Robert Redford, the founder of Sundance. Pearce said Redford remains highly involved, saying he regularly ensures Sundance remains committed to the original vision.

  • a comment from Sundance that tourism receives a boost outside of the festival itself. Many people who attend the festival return on ski vacations or in the summer, Sarah West, who directs Sundance's community development in Utah, said.

  • a short description of daily staff meetings during the festival. Pearce said the staffers meet at 7 a.m. during the festival to discuss the operations.