When I first came to Sundance many years ago, I couldn't breathe. I had plenty to hyperventilate about. I was coming on my own dime. I had a bed for the first few nights, but not for the last. I had no badge, only a rumor of one. Cell phones were for the rich, and I was not. And the internet was a fussy, dial-up infant. And I remember talking to the other wide-eyed fest goers during the shuttle ride from Salt Lake and learning many of them were in the same boat -- coming into Park City on hope and rumor. That's what you did in those days. The fest was a mystery. It ran on a mysterious fuel in a snowed-in resort town with only two roads out.
If you were timid, introverted, or easily ruffled the fest was hard. You needed to make friends. Quickly. You needed to know what was screening, where people were meeting, where to get coffee, whom to bum a ride from. Most importantly, shuttle friends were your first and most vital source to simply know what was happening. And after that hard, fantastic slog through snow and film you came away with yet another perspective of independent film and a longer list of colleagues. These are the crucial things that have remained true to Sundance.
Sure, the shuttles are better, the event and all it attracts are exponentially bigger, and the celebs are ubiquitous. But the fest still runs on mystery. It's one of the reasons we come. The other is to see our friends, argue with them about film (they are always wrong), and collect more friends.
Now, the digital frontier's maturity into a social device has made the fest less snowed-in. Not only can you see premieres in a through a warm VOD connection anywhere or in a theater days afterwards, this once print-only Sundance Daily is now fully online, available to all. Hang out with us over the next 12 days and we'll tell you what's happening from all corners of Park City, minus the frost bite.
And when you're ready to make the trek to Utah, you'll be better prepared than I was.