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Random Thoughts on Sundance

I've had some time this week to do a little "Sundancing".  If you've never experienced it before then here's a taste from a local's perspective.  I am not an expert by any means but am thankful it is in my backyard and am trying to make the most of it.
Saturday Afternoon - 9" and climbing

We decided to stay clear of Park City the first few nights since typically this is when the majority of celebrities arrive which brings everyone else out of the woodwork like media, film types looking for work, and obsessed fans.  Whatever they did on Thursday and Friday worked, because the strange Sundance/Snow connection took affect and we woke up Saturday to a raging storm!  It consistently dumped an inch per hour until early Sunday morning.  I didn't keep track of the totals, but Deer Valley reported 28" in 24hrs so we were likely around 2ft at the house.  We ended up snowblowing three times during the day and again Sunday morning.  We've had a smaller storm since, so as far as I'm concerned Sundance can continue until March.

On Saturday, we drove to Home Depot and Whole Foods for supplies and had our first relative-of-someone-in-a-movie encounter.  This happens almost every year either at the theater or in town due to the large number of cast and crew that come to promote their work.  In this case, the father-in-law of a cinematographer struck up a conversation with me at the deli while 20 of us were trying to make sense of only 2 employees and no organized line.  He suggested that us "Rich Park City Yuppies" sure had a weird way of forming lines.  After the shock wore off of being called rich and a yuppie, I reminded him we were engineers and were struggling with the chaos as well. I've been trying to figure out the classification as rich yuppies for a few days, especially when he proceeded to tell me about his $400 bottle of wine at a 4 Star restaurant.  We were running errands between projects, so maybe it was the fact we were the only ones not in black, with no fur, no makeup, and wearing beat-up packs, jeans, and ski coats.
Park City Yuppie Chic

He continued to entertain us as his wife kept him honest.  We also learned which movie his son-in-law participated in.  At one point in the conversation, we were offered a chance to run his roller derby in southern Utah - I'm guessing because of the engineering, not the yuppie status.  If you are into people-watching/talking at Sundance (or any time of year), I highly recommend a few visits to Whole Foods.

Park City Main Street
On Sunday, we realized that Alta wasn't going to open until after noon due to avalanche work and Terry's rib was still sore so we put on our Sundance/Yuppie outfits and headed to Main Street to see what was going on.  We parked at Deer Valley to make sure we got a good long walk in and when we hit Main Street, had to slow down our pace since the sidewalks were jam-packed.  The outfits were outrageous.  We saw stilettos with spikes on the heel, fur and fake fur, MoonBoot coats and boots, and as expected black-on-black-on-black ensembles.  We declined most of the swag, but did take home a couple Stella Artois beer glasses and a unique movie t-shirt.  We had lunch at a great local's spot thanks to the bouncer recognizing us as locals - once again, thanks to the outfits.  No major celebrity sightings, other than Terry saw a television actress trying to go incognito in a hoodie and there was someone famous in an SUV as people tried to take pictures and get autographs thru the partially opened window.
Occupy Provo

They aren't quite celebrities, but we did see the Occupy Provo group demonstrating. Unfortunately the majority of people walking by were 1%'ers and many loudly said "let the people with jobs through" as they interrupted the scripted speeches.  A nearby store took advantage and posted a "Hey Occupy, We are Hiring" sign on their door.  I wonder if they got any applications.   We didn't plan to see any movies and were surprised that there were available seats for the 3p at The Egyptian.  We declined, preferring to enjoy the beautiful day.  A long walk back to the truck and we were ready to head home and get out of our yuppie double-layers and into pajamas.

Animators 
Monday, I took advantage of a slow work day and caught my first movie during lunch.  As full-time volunteers, my parents get a handful of guest passes, but I still have to do waitlist to use them.  This involves showing up to the theater 2 hours before the movie and standing in line.  In some cases, it is better to show up 2-1/2 to 3hrs early.  At the 2 hour mark, they hand out waitlist numbers and you are instructed to return to the line no later than 30 minutes before the movie.  If you are even 1 minute late, you lose your waitlist place in line and go to the back.  In my case, if I get into the movie, I don't have to pay $15 (exact change appreciated!) but can use a guest pass.  Since I didn't have time for this process Monday morning, I took a chance and showed up for the movie 15 minutes in advance and was able to go in after all the waitlist people.  I sat in the 3rd row which means I had to look straight up but wouldn't you know it I had my first someone-in-a-movie encounter and sat next to the creator of one of the Animation Spotlight Shorts I was about to watch.  I was so excited for her and it was fun to watch her reaction as her movie played.  As with most Sundance movies, the cast and crew answer questions at the end.  Most of the animators were shy, but their creativity and patience were evident and they are all very talented.

My Best Day Cast and Crew
Since Terry was out of town, I went back down to Redstone later that evening and did the full waitlist process.  I showed up 10 minutes before the 2 hr mark and got #2!  That almost guaranteed I would get into the movie, but last year we tried several times to go through waitlist and never made it in so I wasn't betting on it.  My parents were going to the same movie, so we had a nice dinner next door and then returned to get back in line.  They had tickets and had great spots in line, which meant good seats.  The waitlist line provides ample people-watching and conversations with complete strangers.  I met a nice couple from Washington that come out every year, rent a condo, and watch as many movies as they can.  I thanked them for helping bring the snowstorms and paying Park City taxes and they were happy to oblige.  The waitlist started moving at 15 minutes before the movie and I got in with no issues.  The movie was awesome and the discussion afterward was just as funny.  I was trying to keep a close eye on the cinematography since this was the famous son-in-law I had heard all about.  I briefly spoke to one of the main stars as we exited and notched another someone-in-a-movie encounter.

Tuesday morning came and I realized I was catching Sundance Fever.  I finished my work and left the house around 3:30 for a 6:30p movie at Eccles.  I got one of the primo parking spots in town, which of course I can't divulge, and although I was 20 minutes before the 2hr mark, only snagged #30.  The theater holds over 1000, and 61 was the average waitlist entry, so after getting into 2 movies on Monday, I figured my odds were good enough to give it a try.  I went for a walk and grabbed some dinner, returning before the 30 minute cut-off and started a conversation with my waitlist neighbor about bicycling.  He was from San Diego and it was his first visit to Park City and Sundance and was very excited about the whole process even though he couldn't believe how much the snow, cold, and altitude affected him.  I have to agree, Sundance is very well organized and people are generally friendly and patient.  I did realize, with my library book in my bag, that everyone was reading on an electronic pad.  I saved face and kept my book hidden and just kept on talking cycling.  For Sundance, I decided to be social and meet someone new than read and miss out on a good life story.  Another interesting tidbit about Sundance is the number of mobile cell phone towers the providers set up in town to handle all the traffic.

You may be wondering how the waitlist turned out.  Approximately 5 minutes before the movie, we were told the theater was packed and it wasn't looking good.  A few people in the back immediately left, I assume to try their luck at another venue.  I noticed 3 guys that were ahead of me at the number handout that obviously came in after the 30 minute warning and were relegated to the back.  That improved my odds so I stayed put.  At 6:30p, they released the first group of 10 and then quickly after another group of 10.  I was only 4 spots away (guess 3 others didn't make it back either) and this is where the fever kicks in, because you start to get anxious like you are playing the lottery or hoping to win a raffle.  Everyone stopped talking at this point and just stared at the volunteer with the headset because she is the one with the power and would decide our fate for the next 2 hours.  And just like that, they released a final 10 and I had conquered another waitlist line.  The movie had started, so it was a dark search for a seat but I quickly grabbed one and settled in.  Another great movie, that will surely be picked up by a studio by the end of the week.  Unfortunately, the larger theater leads people to believe they should check their phones constantly (very obvious when you are in the balcony) and then start talking during the discussion when others are trying to hear.  My first encounter with rude-movie-watchers but it's all good since the interesting encounters highly outnumber the bad.

I have more guest passes and there are still 5 days of Sundance remaining, so I don't think my Sundance experience is over yet.  I hope to catch a couple more movies and may take another trip up-and-down Main Street.  I'm also hoping we get another Sundance snowstorm.  I continue to get daily updates from my parents who are working 6hr shifts, taking advantage of volunteer perks, and seeing a movie each day.  Mom has had several celebrity encounters including a rapper and someone she spoke Spanish with.  I'll leave out the names to protect the innocent and give her the glory of telling her own Sundance stories.  If you've "Sundanced" before, I'm sure you have your own stories and they likely surpass my boring waitlist adventures especially if you were able to get into the music and party venues.  If you've never been, you might want to add it to your bucket list.  If anything, the skiing is usually great and the slopes are empty.  Just call ahead, because the basement is already taken.



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