Some of the pillars of indie film, including producers Christine Vachon ("Boys Don't Cry"), Ted Hope ("American Splendor"), Michael London ("Sideways"), Effie Brown ("Real Women Have Curves"), and directors Alexander Payne ("Sideways"), and Todd Haynes ("Far From Heaven") joined Filmmaker Magazine editor Scott Macaulay who moderated a discussion at the Yarrow Theatre in Park City on the topic of "Creative Independence and How to Keep It."
Following introductions, the subject, not surprisingly, turned to money. "For filmmakers, the stupidest thing is to try and get paid to write," said Payne, who espoused creatives to try and maintain ownership of their material. "The studios will own every word you write. You write 'the,' and they own it." Brown, however, said she comes from a different perspective, being lower on the food chain. "I walk into a meeting with studios with my hat in my hand because I have a much smaller cash base," and continued on to say that it's more difficult to not accept money when one has not yet achieved a certain level of success as some of the other members of the panel had done.
"I like to hear myself as someone who has a lot of money," Vachon laughed. Vachon said that despite her long history in producing, she still experiences a challenge with financing for each new project. "There are times when we've had difficult relationships with financiers, and thing 'we won't work with them again..." Vachon then went on to say that they will then turn to the same people again.
It Sucks to be an Agent's Assistant
A pair of stories about the joy of being a Hollywood agent's assistant are making the rounds here in Park City...
The other day, during a weekend screening here at Sundance, an assistant to an agent at a lead Hollywood agency stepped out of a screening for a moment. Upon trying to return, the assistant's badge was obscured by a jacket, so a Sundance volunteer intervened to check the assistant's credentials. Revolted, or perhaps confused, the assistant shoved the Sundance volunteer, causing a bit of an incident at the theater. Later, the assistant's boss placed a call to festival brass pleading that organizers not revoke the agency's festival passes due to the shoving match.
Later in the weekend, morning box office staff were apparently concerned when one of their patrons entered the venue to buy the latest batch of just-released festival tickets. Looking quite disheveled and worn out on the 7-degree morning, it turns out the person was an assistant to a Hollywood agent, forced to sleep overnight in order to be first in line to buy tickets for the agency.
Overheard in Park City: John Waters on the proliferation of branding and swag gifting to high-profile stars at Sundance: "These corporate people treat celebrities like Katrina victims."
$10,000 Donation for "Black Gold"
A Sundance Film Festival moviegoer attending the world premiere of the documentary film "Black Gold," committed to and later, wrote a check for $10,000 during the film's post-screening Q&A session Tuesday afternoon. The man, a local Park City doctor, was moved to donate the money after seeing Nick and Marc Francis' sobering non-fiction feature on the globalized coffee trade and its effects on an independent, struggling collective of Ethiopian coffee producers.
"How much money is needed to finish the union's village school?" the man asked the filmmakers from his mid-row seat. "A little more than $10,000," answered co-director Marc Francis. "You know what? I will write a check for $10,000," he said to a chorus of audible sighs. "And I invite anyone else here who has it in their means to do the same. "Black Gold" takes a look at the $80 billion global coffee industry whose profits are sparsely shared with the farmers who grow the coffee beans.
A group consisting of mostly media as well as some filmmakers were treated to a dinner at the Stein Eriksen Lodge outside of Park City courtesy of Stella Artois. The multi-course meal, including Kobe beef cheeks layered between sliced butternut squash and mushrooms, as well as fresh clams flown in from Maine the day before were served as appetizers. The rack of lamb then came out, served with decadent mashed potatoes and carrots. Dessert was a cumin gelato ice cream served with aged Amsterdam cheese and a pomegranate reduction sauce. Each course was served with a particular Stella Artois that well complimented the food (the Hogarden with dessert was particularly tasty).
"There's a lot going on with this dessert," said one lucky invitee. "I think 'Cumin Gelato' and 'Pomegranate Reduction' are drag queens and will be performing later tonight at the Queer Lounge," said another attendee to a chorus of cackles.
Earlier in the day, Sundance Channel had its annual bash at 350 Main Street. The party had 500 invitees, including Robert Redford who stopped to take part in the network's 10th anniversary celebration.
Kodak hosted its annual bash at the Riverhorse on Main. The party seemed to be the biggest draw of the night. Crowds queued up an hour before the party's start time, and there was a huge line up well into the party.
Meanwhile, a smaller gathering turned up at the Cadillac/Hollywood Life lounge on Main Street for the "Don't Come Knocking" party. Director Wim Wenders showed up in black at the venue, which one person said looked like something right out of Ft. Lauderdale. "Don't Come Knocking" screened in the festival's Premieres section.
All Tomorrow's Parties...
Maybe we're out of the know, but it seems like the big party for Thursday night is the "Homos Away from Home" party at Queer Lounge. Homos and their friends will be there!
[Eugene Hernandez contributed to this article.]
[Get the latest from the Sundance Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE's special Park City '06 section.]