We've Got Hollywood Covered

28 Ways I Survived Crowded, Hung-Over Sundance

Guest blog: Try the onion soup at High West Distillery, and think like a Mac — if no one has interacted with you for five or 10 minutes, go to sleep


Sundance is over, and I survived. Here's how — perhaps these pearls of wisdom will come in handy next year, when you're packed into that premiere or trying to be so. 

1. Your food options are pretty much saloons and Irish pubs, so pack snacks or prepare to feel faint. Unless you have that rare Viking stomach that can digest shepherd's pie seven days a week.

2. Nightclub pop-ups are the engineering marvels of the festival. What was a parking lot is now a Vegas club complete with sand dunes, plywood bathroom stalls, and Paris Hilton. Yes … she's still there.

3. Altitude in Park City is 7,000 feet. So you are constantly out of breath. Not because you are out of shape, but you likely will be after all the free booze.

4. Find and watch the truest indie films that might never come soon to a theater near you because they are too small/niche/starless etc. They will disappear from the world and it will be like they were made especially for you.

5. Rest when you can. Think like a Mac, if no one has interacted with you for five or 10 minutes, go to sleep, regardless of time of day or what the maitre d' says.

6. Best recovery food: onion soup at High West Distillery. Then get back in the game with their whiskey tasting.

7. Buses are free, often, and the best place to overhear buzz and get that juicy gossip before the US Weekly editor does. Use them. Even if it shames you.

8. If you make movies, seeing them is your last priority. That being said, see as many as you can. If only for bragging rights. "Aw, crap, I saw the film coming out this weekend at Sundance like forever ago."

9. Draft beer is watered down a la Utah law. Stick with bottles. Shots are only 1 ounce and recorded digitally. Yes, it's weird, but maybe you don't need all that booze, Jack Kerouac.

10. Forget that nonsense about staying hydrated. No one does that.

11. Eat when you can, you never know when you will see food again. Be greedy and hungry hippo up handfuls of passing by finger food. Who cares what is inside that dumpling, this is about survival! And, umm, truffle hummus!

12. If you look around and see Danny Masterson, aka DJ Mom Jeans, you are in the right place. He is the unofficial mayor of Park City, can crochet a mean reindeer scarf in seconds flat and stars in our last film "Alter Egos," currently available on VOD. (Yes that is how you plug stuff).

13. If you look around and all the pretty girls are gone, that means Ashton has arrived. Apparently his skin "glows like the moon above lovers kissin' in a pickup."

14. If you somehow corner that Hollywood unicorn known as a talent agent, pitch him one project, smartly and succinctly, hand him a biz card, and let him go on his way. He is likely on three or four hours sleep and in mid-negotiation for a multi-million dollar sale or three. If he's curt, don't take it personally.

15. Do not park on Jonathen Gray's street! You know who you are and you will be shushed.

16. Parties. There are endless parties. Parties inside of parties. If you are not on the list, don't be belligerent. Smile, be confident and make some joke. "What? This list is a douche!" OK, maybe that's not the best joke, but I am on day 10 of this gauntlet of debauchery.

17. Don't haphazardly invest in that hip new director's next project unless you have serious money to burn, meaning you light illegal Cuban cigars off $100 bills and find yourself comparing Park City to Aspen or better yet, Courchevel. If you do my email is ed@atticlightfilms.com

18. Imagine a future where technology frees us from the yoke of studio distribution and all these unique voices and creations are available around the world. It will happen.

19. Hot tubs are overrated. That is, of course, unless they come equipped with a flux capacitor.

20. If you are at a party where you have to pay for food and/or drink, you are not at a party. Unless Naughty by Nature appears out of nowhere and starts rapping, then you are, once again, at a party.

21. Don't be one of those people who asks constantly where the gifting suites and free crap are all of the time, you annoying leech.

22. Best take-away from PC … my cozy, fur thong. comfy and my gf loves the sassy raccoon tail (at left).

23. Girls, don't wear heels. Guys, enjoy watching girls who ignore the Bambi-on-ice advice as they slide down Main Street. 

24. Writers, practice short, passionate pitches to deliver on the spot. I know condensing goes against every ethereal molecule of your soul, but that guy at 4 a.m. in line at the Seven-11 just might just pull you from the squeeling masses to the mountaintop.

25. You will get sick. Even if you snort emergen-c and bathe in berocca. If you escape PC, the plane home is a germ incubator.

26. If you are a skiier, this is the best time as the slopes are empty. Rumor has it that Robert Redford, a ski aficionado, founded Sundance to clear out the slopes for himself.*

27. Best local Mormon joke: Polygamy Porter — "you can't have just one!"

28. Enjoy. Stop being nervous. You will always remember this experience. Chill. And follow your own advice.

* Legal footnote: Rumor doesn't not have this. Mr. Redford, we owe it all to you and your handsome self, you devil you.


Ed McWilliams is a writer/producer and founder of Attic Light Films with his brother, director Jack McWilliams, and producer Milan Chakraborty. Their latest film, "The Lifeguard," premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2013. They also produced "Alter Egos," recently released by Phase 4 & Kevin Smith's Movie Club. Ed began his Hollywood career at Madonna's company, Maverick, where he learned to bind scripts with incredible speed and precision. He speaks fluent Spanish and honors his home state of Texas every year with a notoriously rowdy annual summer BBQ. You can follow him at @edmcwilliams.