All right, so I got busy and have only posted intermittently. And what the hell of it? Heres a nice link to a nice review of “Tis Autumn” (available now on Amazon!). And here’s another one. And now we’ll wrap up this mini-history of “Two Family House” which all began due to the stage musical version of the movie being put on in Connecticut. The show closed last night–which either means that this blog series outlasted the show…or that the show had the good sense to get its work done while I dilly-dallied.
We finished shooting “Two Family House” in the early summer of ’99, cut and posted the picture in New York through the fall and sent it off for submission to the Sundance Film Festival. We got a call around Thanksgiving of that year–an oddly apologetic kind of call. It was Rebecca Yeldham, then one of the programmers of the fest. They wanted the film but were asking for it to not be entered into official competition. Rather it would be part of the series known as “American Spectrum”–which I suppose means movies not quite hip enough for the cool competition group. Even at the festival level, the movie business is incredibly high-school-esque. I was never particularly cool in high school and in fact turned my un-coolness into its own form of coolness. (For instance: I didn’t bother having a locker. Couldn’t be bothered. Also played jazz in the bandroom at lunch. Skipped all social events. Sat in the back of my classes reading film and architecture books and magazines).
Anyway, I adjusted to the news that Sundance wanted the movie but only out of competition with a similar kind of uncool-itude. Great, I told them. I explained that I didn’t wish to be in competition as I don’t care to give other people the power to declare me a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’. On that note, we were off to Park City.
I see in the comments section that somebody wondered where you live while at Sundance. The real question is: how do you breathe? The dreadful altitude makes normal walking, talkling and breathing almost impossible. The truth about Park City, Utah is: if you don’t ski you’re in hell. The town is too small to accomodate the throngs of pesky people who show up, the cell phone service poor, most of the restaurants mediocre, the ski condo’s depressingly early 70’s (faux-wood paneling, glass doors that don’t shut properly)…and the projection facilities are atrocious. I’ve been to Sundance a half a dozen times over the years and I think I’ve managed to see maybe three movies in all that time. The tickets, the “packages”, the lines, the lousy facilities…enough. It’s a highly imperfect place.
But it is our premiere American film festival (or was, anyway…not sure what people think of it anymore). And it’s a great place to show your indie film…assuming that everyone likes your film. For the truth is that, while getting into Sundance seems to promise a bright and rosy future for your film, if people don’t care for (or about) your movie you have failed on a massive, world-class stage. To be invited to Sundance is a great and promising thing–great reviews and interested distributors can make a career! The converse, of course, is that to leave Sundance with bad reviews and no distributor is, in effect, to have attended your movies funeral. A hundred or so movies a year get screened there. You hear of perhaps four of them. And that’s a good year…
We rented a relatively pleasant, large-ish house where we put up actors, producers, me and my wife and assorted others. Our first screening wasn’t in Park City Proper but instead in Salt Lake City. (Everyone has to do a Salt Lake screening…it’s generally considered the bane of the whole Sundance experience as it’s too far away and most industry hot shots don’t attend). We dutifully trudged off to our first screening, assuming it would be a basic washout.
And then a strange thing happened. No sooner had the film ended then I was being pulled into the lobby by a guy from the now-defunct USA Films. He was rabid and excited as only people in show-biz can be when they want something. To our surprise he wanted our movie. Suddenly we had gone from “dark-horse, Salt Lake screening, out of competition, not hip enough for school movie”, to “grab it while it’s hot, take it off the table, we’re the guys for you movie”.