As long as I've wanted to be a filmmaker, I've wanted to premiere a film at the Sundance Film Festival. Most young directors stay up at night coming up with their Oscar acceptance speech. I spent that time drafting the introduction to my film.
That said, I found myself terrified as we drove up to the red carpet outside the back entrance to the Eccles theater - A high school auditorium turned into a 1300 seat movie theater for the week of Sundance.
I got out and did the red carpet with my cast. Answered the typical 3 questions:
Why did you do this film?
What does your father think of the film?
Do you smoke?
Then, I entered the packed theater. It was slammed. I heard Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Demme couldn't get in. I was going over the speech in my head, when David Lonner (William Morris agent) came over and asked if I wanted to meet Alexander Payne...
I should preface this by saying that I’m an enormous fan of his work and his film "Citizen Ruth" was a huge influence on TYFS.
Lonner brought me over to meet Alexander. I told how much I thought of his career and he congratulated me on getting into Sundance. Great. Now the pressure had doubled.
Moments later, Geoff Gilmore introduced the film and welcomed me to the stage. I got up there and thanked Sundance for giving me a career and thanked the people who really made the film possible. After which, I sat down and the film began.
The film played great right from the credits. All the cast names got applause. People practically gave a Standing-O to Macy’s credit – He’s a God here. The laughter just kept on coming… even when a short twelve second scene went missing at the end of reel 2. (More on this to follow.)
The Q&A was great. Everyone just kept laughing. As we were leaving, Alexander came up and congratulated me on the film. Greg Kinnear said we should find something to work on together.
The after party was great. The DJ was playing fantastic early nineties hip hop and people were actually dancing (a big Hollywood no-no). Classic cigarette girls walked around with trays of candy cigarettes. So many of the crew were there to celebrate, from the production coordinator to the accountant.
Around 2am, we all started to lose steam. A small group of us went looking for pizza and were striking out across town. We finally wound up at the William Morris condo eating Dominos while one agent did his impression of the Pacino/DeNiro conversation from “Heat” ‘til three in the morning.