Sundance filmmakers put out on first date

Suehally Macias, Managing Editor

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In Park City, Utah, six students of the Hawk Media Club got lucky with several Sundance filmmakers, as they put out their knowledge on how to become successful in the film industry. The valley town was surrounded by ski slopes and snowcapped mountain peaks in every direction, a strange sight for many of the students who were used to balmy winters and flat land.

Park City was filled with hundreds of filmmakers and thousands of film enthusiasts ready to experience the Sundance Film Festival. The festival premiered hundreds of documentaries, shorts, and feature length films produced and directed by filmmakers from around the world.

A select number of Sundance package holders were fortunate enough to participate in the Sundance Ignite Speed Dating with Festival Filmmakers. The speed dating event was dominated by female filmmakers, who were eager to influence the aspiring filmmakers. Unlike traditional Q&A interview settings, the speed dating event was an opportunity for film enthusiasts to meet festival filmmakers face to face. Veteran directors and producers shared their experiences on the journey to become filmmakers to help fledgling filmmakers plot a roadmap to achieving their dreams.

One of the most popular films, winning a number of awards at the 2015 film festival was “The Wolfpack.” The collaboration between the producer of the film, Izabella Tzenkova and director Crystal Moselle began with a Facebook post. Izabella recalled the day Crystal posted on Facebook her need for a producer for her upcoming film because she was becoming overwhelmed with her workload. Tzenkova was the first to respond to her post and the two quickly began working the project together. The film is about the Angulo brothers growing up in New York City, completely isolated from society. The lack of social interaction left the brothers with a growing hunger for knowledge about the outside world. In search for a creative outlet, the brothers began watching and recreating movies as an escape from their reality, using film as a connection to the world. Moselle and Tzenkova were even able to arrange for the Angulo brothers’ to experience the Sundance Film Festival firsthand. This allowed the brothers to be immersed in the world of cinema.

A young filmmaker by the name of Nikole Beckwith was the writer and director of “Stockholm, Pennsylvania.” Beckwith is a determined woman who refuses to be treated any differently from her male counterparts, “It’s still perceived as a risk to hire a female, which is insane because it’s not at all a risk… You’ll get told that you’re difficult… but if I was a man I would be called passionate and direct.” Beckwith also explained that there is a perceived notion that female filmmakers are expected to be more grateful than male filmmakers, but declared that anyone who is successful in the industry should be grateful, regardless of gender.

A veteran of film festivals, Brian Bolster is the director of the short documentary “One Year Lease.” The short documentary was a composition of 100 voicemails left by his former landlord over the course of his one year lease. He confessed the most challenging aspect of creating the documentary was developing a storyline composed of random voice mail audio recordings. However, he managed to create a humorous documentary that managed to keep audience members engaged from beginning to end. He shared the key to becoming a well-recognized filmmaker is by attending local and regional film festivals. Smaller film festivals are the way to see and be seen while connecting and building relationships in the film industry.

The director of the feature film Strangerland, Kim Farrant, was an open book, filled with raw emotion and life lessons useful in more than just the film industry. She admitted her secret to maintaining a high level of confidence was having the strength to be vulnerable and risk failure. Farrant explained her self-discovery process began with self-awareness.

She acknowledged her journey in life has been filled with joy, heartache and harsh criticism. “Of course I care about what people think about me, I’m human… but I try not to get caught up in the opinions of others.” However, she doesn’t allow the opinion of others to determine her self-worth. Farrant is a bright, journeyman director who is able to express her love for the human experience in a visual medium.

The film festival was an amazing experience for all who attended. The speed dating event was the perfect way for seasoned and hopeful filmmakers to connect on a friendly level.

If you would like to see or hear more from the interviews above or more from Sundance, visit:

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