Sundance survival guide: tips from the staff of The Park Record
Before you set out for Main Street, prep for success with these tips straight from the front line.
Every January, the staff of The Park Record prepares for the film festival with equal parts excitement and trepidation. The paper’s foot soldiers spend hours navigating the crowds, searching out celebrities, and guarding their secret parking spots. Here are their strategies for surviving and thriving during the 11 days of Sundance.
Visit the festival’s online store and take a look at the Sundance colors this year (they change annually). Then, make sure not to wear them. Walking around with a dark blue jacket
that matches festival volunteer uniforms is a sure way to attract people harassing you with questions. — Carolyn Webber Alder, business and education reporter
Be courteous to Sundance staffers, the vast majority of whom are volunteers. For that matter, be courteous period. It’s a hectic 11 days and all of us, from restaurant servers to festival-goers, are simply trying to survive with a shred of sanity intact. — Bubba Brown, editor-in-chief
One of the coolest places during Sundance is the Sundance ASCAP Music Café. Performances begin at 2 P.M. and sets run about 45 minutes. Artists who have performed in the past include Rachael Yamagata, Michael Franti, and Clare Bowen from the TV show “Nashville.” A Sundance Film Festival pass grants you admission. — Scott Iwasaki, arts and scene reporter
Try to get into the private parties! Sometimes you can talk your way into the Chase Lounge or into spots like the pop-up Tao club. Great music, out-of-town guests, and film lovers in a fun setting! It’s also fun for locals to see their favorite spots transformed for those 11 days. — Angelique McNaughton, county reporter
Some of the best films at Sundance are always documentaries. Tickets are tough but typically not as tough as the star-studded premieres. — Jay Hamburger, city reporter
Time is limited during post-screening question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers and cast members, so if you’re going to raise your hand, make it short and sweet. Oh, and ask an actual question. Fawning over the film for two minutes is not a great use of anyone’s time. — Bubba Brown
Plan to have no plans. You never know what you’ll find by wandering into a space on Main Street. — James Hoyt, copy editor
The best chance for celebrity sightings is usually the first Saturday of the festival. Celebrities who are appearing in films or producing them are usually seen out and about around town. — Angelique McNaughton
Take some time to check out the smaller tech demos! They’re doing amazing stuff with VR – I almost punched an exhibitor in the face trying out a haptic glove last time. It was awesome. — James Hoyt
Dress appropriately! Winter clothes and winter shoes are your best bet. I would highly recommend avoiding high heels or other shoes with low traction. You can always take layers off when you get to screenings or other events. — Angelique McNaughton
If you want to hear some great bands without having to buy a Sundance Film Festival pass, check out the Access Film Music Showcase. Showcases begin around 5 P.M. Some of the musicians who have performed include Christopher Hawley Rollers, Mark McKay, and Taylor Martin. There is no cover charge before 8 P.M. For information, visit accessfilmmusic.net. — Scott Iwasaki
Resist the FOMO (fear of missing out). You will have it, whether it’s about a celebrity sighting on the other end of Main Street or the fact multiple films you want to see are screening at the same time. Missing out on awesome things is a fact of life at the festival. It’s not worth stressing about. Go with the flow. That said, don’t be shy about packing in as much action as possible. — Bubba Brown
In any town, the library is the perfect refuge. If you need a bathroom, an outlet to charge a phone, or just some peace from the craziness outside, escape to the Park City Library on Park Avenue. — Carolyn Webber Alder
Remember to support the restaurants that support you by staying open during Sundance instead of closing to the public in favor of corporate events. — Jay Hamburger
Triple check the venue you’re going to, because it’s not always easy to rush over to the right one if you get it wrong. — James Hoyt
Ditch your car and use Park City’s free public transit system to get around. You won’t regret it when you avoid paying a fortune to park on Main Street and don’t have to worry about driving on packed, snowy roads. — Bubba Brown
Don’t ignore Slamdance! There’s all sorts of cool stuff there, and you never know who is going to blow up — like the Russo brothers. — James Hoyt
You don’t need a ticket to see some of the best dramatic and, sometimes, comedic performances during Sundance. They are on public display on Main Street, particularly over the opening weekend. — Jay Hamburger
Always be on the lookout for free, high quality stuff like water bottles, espresso, and even beer. — James Hoyt
Enter screenings without expectations. Allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by the storytelling. And seek out under-the-radar gems, which is where much of the magic of the festival is found. — Bubba Brown
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