Saturday night was the last night of the Sundance Film Festival. I shot the awards ceremony with Calvin Knight and the other press photographers. Our video crew did a live feed of the presentation on the site and we posted photos as the awards were announced. It was quite an experience. Watching film makers reactions as they receive accolades for their hard work at a festival that really tries to support artists is truly an honor.
World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary – Mads Brügger, The Red Chapel
Awards Host David Hyde Pierce
Juror Morgan Spurlock
Award Presenter Joseph Gordon Levitt
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic – Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
Immediately following the presentation the award site turns into a huge reception and party. Ticket holders drank and mingled with the filmmakers. Yours truly enjoyed the festivities at two venues; the before mentioned Awards After Party and at Late Night Lounge, a venue for filmmakers and institute members. Both parties were tons of fun and were a welcomed end to a great festival.
Late Night Lounge
We saw the shorts presentation on Sunday morning. The Shorts Program at The Festival is one of my favorite parts of the experience. I shot the awards show for The Shorts Program earlier in the week. It was good to see both the US and World winners; 'Drunk History' 'Six Dollar Fifty Man' and 'Dock Ellis & the LSD No No'. My favorite film this year is a toss up between two films. 'The Kids Are Alright', which got picked up and will be released. It's a light hearted family story of two lesbians whose children find their biological father and the hi-jinks that ensue. My other favorite 'Enter The Void' was a dark and psychedelic drug movie based around the Tibetan Book of The Dead. This film was also picked up by IFC and has been edited down, which the run time really needed. It's an intense film. I also caught Tucker and Dale Vs Evil and HIGH School which are safe bets for cult classic status.Jury Prize in U.S. Short Filmmaking – Drunk History
International Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking – The Six Dollar Fifty Man
Last night I saw the premier of Joel Schumacher's new film Twelve. It's an adaptation of Nick McDonell's novel of the same title. Imagine Bret Easton Ellis' Rules of Attraction, St. Elmo's Fire and Gossip Girl thrown into a blender with 50 Cent and a Sundance audience. My review is mixed. I liked the character study and the simplicity of the film but found it to be a little slow, cheesy and heavy handed in parts. I've seen better and worse. It was an entertaining film at the price I paid for the free staff ticket. I'm by no stretch of the imagination a film critic, just a photographer at Sundance.
This year The Sundance Institute has created a new category for films called NEXT. The category is based on making a film with little to no budget. There's no epic explosions or big name actors in these. This category is super inspiring to me. The filmmakers are really trying to put a lot of emphasis on a lost piece of some modern cinema - Storytelling. I shot during a discussing this morning. The discussion was a live stream from the Sundance site. I haven't seen any of these films yet but I do hope to catch them before The Festival runs its course, specifically One Too Many Mornings and The Freebie.
I have never considered myself a fan of Lyle Lovett. I've seen him at SXSW in 2006 and was less than impressed. I'm not real familiar with his music and when I was asked to shoot the show I confess, I drug my feet to get there. With all this said I was really impressed with the music. Lovett played with John Hiatt at The Sundance House on Sunday January 24. It was a relaxed show and Hiatt bantered back and forth with Lovett like they were practicing for their own stand up routine. I have officially changed my opinion of the music.
This week has been filled with lots of shooting. I've been in press lines inside warm buildings and outside in 17 degree weather. I've scrambled to get to a Q&A to find that not only is Naomi Watts there but also Samuel L Jackson. I've met up with other photographer friends from Festivals past at art exhibits. I've gone to a 3 hour long movie based around the Tibetan Book of the Dead that melted my mind with it's psychedelic context. I've watched well known actors brave the cold to take a photo with adoring fans. I was inspired after meeting an artist from Oakland who's Bordertown installation blew me away. It's been a great time so far.
Last night I shot on the press line for the premier of Cyrus. This was my first experience shooting on a press line for a film. My commercial work doesn't typically require this sort of activity. I don't usually stand with the throngs of other media members waiting to catch a brief interview or a fleeting glimpse into a lens. The press line can be a messy thing. People scramble over each other to get as much time from one personality as possible. It's a strange process that doesn't really translate into the work I get paid to do. After trying to shoot like the rest of the shooters when Jonah Hill walked in I said screw it. The Sundance Institute has plenty of access to the typical shot of an actor or director on the press line. I would prefer to give them access to creative content they can't find anywhere else. It also helps when you know the directors from years past and walk in with the Director of The Sundance Film Festival, John Cooper.
I don't typically hunt down subjects and surprise them for a photo. However when you are going to photograph Pararazzi Godfather, Ron Galella it seems fitting. Ron is the subject of Smash His Camera, premiering at The Sundance Film Festival Saturday January 22, 2010. Carl Moczylodwsky and I drove down to the Salt Lake City International Airport early this morning to catch Ron coming off the plane. It really was a pleasure to meet a living legend in the world of celebrity photography.
Annually I head to The Sundance Film Festival. I've been blessed to return for four years and work with amazingly talented committed people, meet awe inspiring artists and catch films before if they ever hit a wide release. It's the highlight of my year and I feel very fortunate to return to Park City again with the crew. If you subscribe to Twitter you can subscribe and follow along with my adventures @brndnjsphbkr. I'll be out in the mix this year shooting instead of photo editing and I'll be attached to as many forms of communication as I know.