How to Fest: Scoring Sundance Tickets
"The screening you think might be an 'obscure' film could be an undiscovered gem."
The mad dash for tickets commenced more than three weeks ago with the Sundance Film Festival program announcement, but that doesn't mean seats aren't still up for grabs. We've once again called upon Sundance ticketing luminary Linda Pfafflin (or more officially, Associate Director of Ticketing and Customer Service), to dish out some shrewd ticketing tips—while also pointing out some common misperceptions. If you’re planning to attend the Festival in Park City, Utah, this month, and whether you’re an uninitiated Sundancer or a seasoned Festivalgoer, check out our tips below to start gearing up for the 2014 Festival.
1. What’s the most common inquiry you receive regarding ticket sales?
Linda: After "how much are tickets?" ($20 each), the question is often "Do I have to be in the film industry to attend?" No! Only about 20% of our attendees are press or industry folks; the other people are film fans or aspiring filmmakers. We pride ourselves on being accessible to the public.
2. What’s the best tip you have for Festivalgoers who are purchasing Individual Tickets?
Linda: Be flexible. Choose films that might not come to your local art house. See films in Salt Lake City where almost every film from every category is played. And the screening you think might be an "obscure" film could be an undiscovered film gem. Our Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award Winner and possible Oscar contender of the last Festival, Fruitvale Station, had 300 empty seats at its first showing. Ogden is also a magical theatre. One of those majestic “Egyptian style” grand halls of the Roaring Twenties that rarely sells out. The audience dressed up for “Austenland” last year and sipped tea afterwards.
We’re also eliminating Advanced Individual Ticket Registration this year to make the buying process simpler. All remaining tickets will be on sale both online and at the Main Box Offices on Tuesday, January 14th at 10:00 a.m. These will be the leftover tickets from ticket package selection, but they’ll be the ones that could expand your film going experience.
3. Which Festival category is typically the quickest to sell out?
Linda: Premieres, then Dramatic Competition films, sell out first. But the best attended categories last year were U.S. Documentaries and Shorts Programs.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about ticketing at the Sundance Film Festival?
Linda: That we are sold out. Beyond the first screenings of films in Park City on the first weekend, we only totally sell out about 30% of our 700+ public screenings. Most previously off sale films have new tickets released on the day of show and it's very rare that no Waitlisters are admitted.
5. What’s the best ticketing option for attendees who are most interested in panels, music, and other Off Screen events?
Linda: If you haven't already bought a ticket package or a pass (which automatically come with a credential), then purchase a credential for $200 to gain priority access to non-theatre events. Only two or three panels that occur in theatres are ticketed like films; other panels are free to credential holders at the Filmmaker Lodge. Or, become a volunteer and use your volunteer credential to attend Off Screen events when you're not on shift.
Linda: Absolutely. Fifteen percent of our audience is admitted by buying Waitlist tickets. The theatre teams will inform Waitlisters of the average number of people admitted to that venue or if it looks hopeless, which rarely happens. Last year, we admitted 517 people to the Day One screenings in Park City. Additionally, we have a new eWaitlist procedure, or mobile-enabled check-in system, that allows Festivalgoers to reserve a line position over the internet, and provides self-serve kiosks for those without an internet capable device. Compare all of your ticketing options here.