This was my ninth Sundance in ten years.
Whether the films, the talent in those films, the economy or the weather,
no two Sundance experiences are ever the same.
And, despite the long days filled with lots of work, little sleep and often too little to eat and too much to drink, it’s the one ‘event’ all year that many friends and I still look forward to going back and doing again.
Veteran Sundancers and longtime friends Jamie McCarthy and Dimitrios Kambouris enjoy calm before the storm cocktails with Amber and I
My first seven Sundances I went as a reporter.
Last year I straddled editorial and PR, hired to be a brand’s ‘celebrity blogger,’ but then also pitching for press hits.
This is the first Sundance I went as a full-fledged publicist, kind of.
Although I always have fun at Sundance, I always find a reason to go – rather than just for the parties and free stuff a la Paris Hilton.
This year I set out to bring Rally.org, a social fundraising platform (that I equate as a Kickstarter for causes) to Sundance as a way to inject some good into the gluttonous landscape of my favorite playground for PR and introduce the entertainment world to a fun vehicle to fundraise, for a cause big or small or even a message-based indie film.
To make the product fit the festival, I found Rally a home at Rock & Reilly’s, the (soon-to-be-permanent) Park City outpost of my favorite LA Irish pub, where with Sunshine Sachs doing the event programming and Relevant doing the production, I knew was a sure win.
To engage people, we got a beautifully wrapped and branded photo booth (because everyone loves a photo booth) to take photos for people to email to themselves with messaging about pre-selected causes Rally was rallying for, like Malaria No More and The Redford Foundation, and links to the respective Rally page.
Keri Russell took a break to Rally for Feeding America during Austenland dinner
And, building on something I saw Kevin Bacon try to do several years ago, I suggested a reverse swag drive!
While Sundance founder Robert Redford has often voiced his disdain for the gifting that has become as synonymous to Sundance as the films, I decided to turn it into something good, encouraging people to donate their swag to a Swag from Sundance Drive to benefit Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s Sandy Relief Fund. Soul Foundation, which was already doing a rally on Rally, agreed to donate everything received to Sandy victims and auction and turn to cash the things they didn’t ‘need.’
While not necessarily a box office smash (need to get the word out earlier next year), the drive was a critical success, garnering press on CNN, both on-air and online, praise by Brooks Barnes in the New York Times and even a donation from The Wall Street Journal’s generous Marshall Heyman.
Rally.org CEO Tom Serres with WSJ's Marshall Heyman
Making philanthropy part of the fun at Sundance turned into a welcome trend.
On football Sunday Scooter Braun, mega-manager to stars like Justin Bieber, Psy, The Wanted and Carly Rae Jespen, guest bartended (wearing a OnePiece Onesie!) to raise funds for his brother’s charity Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in countries that can’t afford them. While the San Francisco 49ers were winning the game against the New England Patriots, Asher Roth manned the turntables at R&R and a combination of generous tips, including $5K from the great guys at Rock & Reilly’s and Scooter matching funds, raised $21K for PoP – enough to fund the building of an entire school!
Scooter tweeted Justin Bieber this photo of himself taking a break with San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson.
Since the iPhone and Instagram make it so easy to post a picture with a pretty filter fast, and my Canon PowerShot never found it’s way outside my bag, this is the first year in many I don’t have a Facebook album to reflect on post-Sundance.
Even People Magazine prevalently played up their Instagram this year.
It used to be when you had something really great you wanted to pitch the magazine, you sent a photo you thought would be a fit for their readers and prayed. Sometimes it would make it in the pages of the magazine. Other times they would tell you they’re going to put it online at People.com, which with millions of views daily is amazing. This year I was told, “We put a photo on our Instragram.”
And I was thankful, after a beat, because any People platform is a good one. This is the world we live in people. #PeopleMag
Elizabeth Olsen also loved herself some Reilly. Elizabeth came to Rock & Reilly’s on our last day, along with rumored beau Boyd Holbrook and co-star Dakota Fanning for the Fresh Faces of Sundance brunch celebrating their Sundance film “Very Good Girls,” which was written and directed by Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s mom Naomi Foner!
Mixing things up again, I did a quick B-Roll interview with Elizabeth before I left for the airport. The film is about two best friends who crush on the same guy. When I asked if she’d ever been in a similar situation in her real-life, she confessed she had. During recess when she was about 10-years-old and held hands with a boy a friend may have liked.
Now a grown woman of 23, she says she stays fresh at Sundance with lots of moisturizer – and we both were loving the Fresh Sugar Lip Therapy. I got one in nearly every color for doing the interview at the Fresh brunch – and was happy to be paid in tinted lip balm (with SPF!) as I really am an avid user.
Ok, will finish this long and potentially rambling post with a series of photos capturing other highlights, memories and notable details from the whirlwind that was my Sundance 2013.
Rock & Reilly’s Park City!
LA’s little Irish Pub with a really big personality rolled into Park City during Sundance to tease people with their soon-to-open ski town location.
It’s since gone dark for a few weeks while they get it ready to open as a permanent place to be on Main Street, providing another reason to make it to Park City to ski when it’s not Sundance. Not that I’ve ever had a chance to ski during Sundance. Consider ski trip to Park City added to the bucket list.
Reilly’s had stars sign over an image of Reilly which will be covered in plexiglass and preserved to remember the first week. Jane Seymour’s signature under the eye really stood out, (and I sneaked my signature in the shamrock), but real-life couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s scrawl (in People Instragram above) was my favorite – and made it worth chasing Megan till she signed!
An Act Ate My Hat
Ran into a very dapper-looking Simon Hammerstein on Main Street who I haven’t seen since the early days of his bar The Box in NYC. He’s since opened The Act in Las Vegas and brought the show to Park City for the CAA party. A particularly interesting ‘act’ used its teeth to remove my hat from my head. It was recovered on a nearby table.
A Staple of My Sundance was Ate by an Animal
For the first time in a decade, there wasn’t a café for credentialed talent and industry to congregate over free food. Sad face. Instead, what has been the MySpace Café and Yahoo! Café in the past this year was the ‘restaurant’ Animal (that in LA is a block from my house), offering more of a dining experience for those with adventurous palettes. So instead, Brownie Brittle became a trend for breakfast, current company included.
It was even coined ‘breakfast of champions,’ on Twitter by Current TV editor Jo Piazza.
My one proper meal of the festival came on the last night, and it was worth waiting for.
I was with good friends for good food prepared by magnificent celeb chef Marcel Vignernon at Chef Dance, conveniently located next door to Rock & Reilly’s.
Courtney Love LOVES Her Johnny Was
I saw photos on this private little thing called the internet of Courtney Love trying on gems from Johnny Was, the hot apparel company that was gifting talent who visited them in their exclusive room at the Miami Lounge. Excited she was in town, I investigated and learned she had indeed been by and was the lucky recipient of Johnny Was bracelets, silk scarves and lace dresses.
Then I heard rumblings she was swagging over at hospitality suite staple The Kari Feinstein Style Lounge. It was verified with photos such as this:
So, eager to have Courtney be an example of a #DoGood rockstar, I reached out to her publicist Steven Honig and asked if Courtney would be interested in coming by and donating any of her swag to our reverse swag drive benefiting Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation’s San Relief efforts.
He told me, “Thanks but she’s not going to be doing gift lounges.”
I understand getting so attached to Johnny Was you simply don’t want to part with it, I know love my Johnny Was pieces, but couldn’t he have just said sorry, she’s too in love with her Johnny Was to donate it?
So much changes, yet the one that’s remained the same for several years running is Tao. For better or worse, most Sundance nights end (late) among a sea of familiar and friendly faces at the Park City satellite of Tao. The morning after the fourth and last night of Tao there was a chain email among my friends thankful that Tao would not be open during our last night in town. But, that’s only because we may have had too much of a good thing….Until next year 😉