Go Behind-the-Scenes of the Sundance Film Festival!

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Moviemaking Couple Takes on Sundance, Together and Separately.

This year, stars like Nicole Kidman, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jason Sudeikis were among the thousands who trekked to the tiny town outside of Salt Lake City to promote their new films and enjoy some of the best parties of the year – and PEOPLE was there to catch all the fun moments. 1:56 a.m., Tao Nightclub at Sundance: After Danny Masterson (aka DJ MomJeans) finished his set at the Skullcandy Sundance Kickoff party, he made the cold walk down Main Street to the Elyx-hosted pop-up of the Las Vegas hotspot along with Zoe Kravitz, Chris Pine and Kellan Lutz. 1:43 a.m., Tao Nightclub at Sundance: James Marsden sipped on a Stella Artois beer and sang along to every word of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N—-s in Paris” while sitting on the back of a booth at the crowded venue. 12:43 a.m., Ten Thousand Saints party, Grey Goose Blue Door Lounge: Emile Hirsch put his arm around his costar Hailee Steinfeld as they sat on a couch celebrating their new film. For a pair of Chicagoans who operate far outside the Hollywood bubble, Joe and Kris Swanberg are finding filmmaking a surprisingly fruitful family business.FILE – In this Jan. 19, 2014 file photo, writer and director Richard Linklater, right, poses with cast member and daughter Lorelei Linklater, at the premiere of the film “Boyhood” during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. The pair were earlier spotted snapping photos together at The Hollywood Reporter & Hollywood Foreign Press Association co-hosted Next Gen Cocktail Party before leaving together with Hirsch holding Steinfeld’s arms from behind as she led him towards the exit. 7:55 p.m., Eddie Bauer Limited Edition by Ilaria Urbinati exclusive preview: Walking Dead alert! This year’s festival lineup even includes two TV shows, while the Sundance Institute, the body behind the festival, has set up a separate “laboratory” for young filmmakers interested in making television rather than movies.

The director, 33, is making his seventh trip to Sundance (his fourth as a participating filmmaker), and has become closely associated with the festival’s indie ethos thanks to his low-budget, largely improvised features. As a director, he is prolific — he averages roughly three films a year — and he is credited, along with directors like Andrew Bujalski, Lynn Shelton and the Duplass brothers, with spearheading the indie mumblecore genre of the mid-2000s. This year, “Whiplash” and “Boyhood” — both Sundance premieres — are among the eight best picture nominees. “Boyhood” is considered a favorite to win.

So you know, television is film,” said the 78-year-old movie icon, who named the festival after his character in the 1969 classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” “They’re blurring, and there’s a reason why: mainstream film is shrinking, obviously. But it wasn’t until 2013 when his film “Drinking Buddies” became a video-on-demand hit that Joe became considered a commercially viable filmmaker. “I do feel that I’ve lived what anyone would consider a glamorous lifestyle for the past five or six years,” he says. “It’s just that we were mostly broke the whole time as well.” He cites fellow Sundance directors Craig Zobel (“Compliance”), James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”) and Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette”) as friends who have found themselves in similar circumstances — in which, as he says, “the lifestyle we’re living is very different than our checkbooks reflect.” Swanberg’s “Digging for Fire,” which premieres at the festival on Monday, is his most expensive film to date, thanks in large part to a Robert Altman-sized cast that includes Anna Kendrick, Rosemarie DeWitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Elliott, Mike Birbiglia and his “Drinking Buddies” star and fellow Chicagoan Jake Johnson, with whom he wrote and produced the film. The girls excitedly ran to the nearest sidewalk to look at the shots they had just taken. 2:39 pm., Main Street: was mobbed by fans looking to take a photo with the Pitch Perfect 2 actress. It’s harder and harder for an artist to find their way in the major film business, so television offers more opportunities.” But the exponential rise of new distribution formats, from DVDs to Video on Demand (VOD), premium cable channels like HBO and now Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo and other streaming outlets has changed the game for good.

It also marks his most significant financial investment to date, as he used the money made from his last feature, “Happy Christmas” — which also played at Sundance — to finance the film. “We’ll see if it’s a sustainable model,” he says. In 2014, for example, Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” was programmed as the opening night film. “Because filmmakers, studios, producers are seeing a lot of Oscar movies begin to come out of Sundance, I think they’re looking at Sundance as a strategy to put the movies that they feel have a chance in the Sundance lineup,” said Davis. “In all the years I’ve been going to Sundance, I’ve never seen an opening night film as strong as ‘Whiplash.’ I feel like the festival was kind of making a statement but at the same time taking a risk by programming such a strong film right at the start of the festival,” he said. “Whiplash” in some ways is the ultimate Oscars Cinderella story.

The stakes are somewhat lower for Kris, whose film, “Unexpected,” based largely on her experiences as a high-school teacher in Chicago, plays in the festival’s dramatic competition. The appearance of “Netflix” on a film’s credits elicited spontaneous applause in at least one screening this week. “Thirty years ago, when you came out of film school as a 22-year-old, you probably had to take your first job in television, but you said ‘What I really want to do is direct features,’” he told AFP. “If I were a 22-year-old coming out of film school now and a genie comes out of a bottle and says you can either have a feature film or be the showrunner for a series on HBO or Amazon Prime…

This is hardly the first time the Swanbergs have mined their personal lives for the sake of art: “Happy Christmas” was shot in the couple’s home and made liberal use of their 4-year-old son Jude, then only a baby, who stole scenes from the likes of Lena Dunham. Once Upon a Time star Jennifer Morrison chatted with a pal as she patiently waited to pick up screening tickets. 12:30 p.m., Kari Feinstein’s Sundance Style Lounge: Glassland Toni Collette looked stunning as she entered the suite, which is presented by Aruba, but was completely unrecognizable when she left just minutes later, thanks to her big sunglasses and Third Piece hooded scarf. “I walked right past her and didn’t even know it was her,” a festival-goer tells PEOPLE. It’s an approach that treads a fine line between personal expression and exploitation — which, Kris says, “We are definitely less concerned with than we should be.” Then again, being resourceful has allowed them to stay afloat financially, especially with real-world concerns like debt from student loans, which the couple accrued while undergrads at Southern Illinois University, where they met 15 years ago. “It’s hard to stray far from reality when you don’t have much money,” Joe says. “There’s just very little facade in our stuff.” Though the Swanbergs’ approaches to filmmaking might be similar, the films themselves are not. “I have zero desire to compete with Kris on a professional level,” Joe says. “They’re really different movies, and Kris and I are at really different places in our careers.

While the Toronto International Film Festival and Telluride will continue to be harbingers of major awards contenders from major studios, mainstream success for an indie film festival is challenging to maintain year after year. “It’ll be interesting to see how they follow last year,” said Davis. “That actually kind of puts pressure on the film festival to keep up with that.

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