So I got some good news last week. No, an anonymous film-loving patron of the arts did not park a Brink’s truck in my newly-painted garage. (By the way, thanks for the beautiful paint job, Sergio! The garage is now my favorite room in the condo.) And I’m afraid Keanu didn’t appear on my doorstep with a bouquet of tulips, demanding to become Mr. Deirdre. Nor did my cat choose to lounge on the sofa each morning rather than deep inside the kitchen cabinet because she still thought I was dragging her to the kitty kennel for the day.
No, the good news came via a couple of degrees of separation from Hubbell Gardner.
In 1981, a guy you may have heard of – Robert Redford – founded the Sundance Institute (and, subsequently, the Sundance Film Festival). According to the official website: The Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Through its program, the Institute seeks to discover, support, and inspire independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work.
Well, Sundance offers a week-long Screenwriters lab as part of their program. Approximately twelve lucky writers are chosen to participate in this lab every January. They’re flown to Park City, Utah, where they get the chance to workshop their scripts with various industry professionals. Among the former lab alumni are Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood), and Tamara Jenkins (The Savages).
Yes, I applied to the Sundance Screenwriters lab. On April 22, 2010. Mere days after I made my decision to embark on this low-budget filmmaking adventure.
In fact, I got the idea to apply for the lab while listening to a Creative Screenwriting podcast interview with Tamara Jenkins. I’m a big fan of her film The Savages, starring Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a painfully funny movie that highlights the complexities of family dynamics in an honest and thoughtful way. And for you screenwriters out there, I strongly recommend you check out the Creative Screenwriting podcasts. Each one features a Q & A between Creative Screenwriting Magazine Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith and a screenwriter. Oh yeah, and they’re FREE on iTunes! In addition to the interview with Jenkins (where she talked about her experience at Sundance), some of my favorite podcasts include Christopher McQuarrie (Valkyrie), Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), and Scott Neustadter (co-writer on 500 Days of Summer). I’m serious, Writers – check it out! (Did I mention they’re FREE?!?)
Now I realize this is probably the exciting bloggy moment where you scroll down in anticipation before I tell you that Robert Redford personally called me to invite me to take part in his highly-respected lab.
Um…no…that didn’t happen. BUT…
I am in the running! Yes, I made it to the second/final round. And while I know I’m up against a big bunch of amazing writers from all over the world, it’s still kind of cool to dream about cozying up to a mentor like John August next January. (Hey, it’s cold in Park City in January! “Cozying “will be in order.)
I realize that come mid-December I may be submitting the tear-stained blog post entitled “Who Needs Sundance Anyway?” However, in the spirit of transparency, I figured I should share any and all professional developments that may somehow help me/us achieve this goal of making an independent film.
Besides, my mother adores Robert Redford. And for those of you who know the formidable presence that is MARCIA, why wouldn’t I want to make her a happy Mama?
NEXT UP: Maybe a movie review? I have a pile of DVDs awaiting my attention. And, good God, am I the last person on earth who still needs to see Inception?