sundancegettysign111The Sundance Film Festival begins tomorrow and continues through January 26th. This is the first of what should be many missives about the fest. And don’t forget to check out all KCRW updates at kcrwsundance.tumblr.com.

Getting ready for a festival is no easy task. You want to see and do everything, but you’re only there so long, there’s only so many hours in the day and there’s so many tickets to go around.

And at Sundance, there’s the weather. And because this is a coalescence of largely warm-weather people in a pretty cold place, that is a problem. Add that to the crazy schedule, a few (!) drinks and maybe even a schuss or two, and the result aint pretty.

I was talking with a friend who’s working for the fest for the first time and she told me that the festival management actually prepare their employees for the onslaught. And she shared their advice with me. Here’s their very smart list, developed by hardened vets through painful experience. And it’s not just about survival; it’s about getting the most out of what is really a tremendous cultural and social event.

  • Be mindful of how much luggage space you dedicate towards anything fancy – it’s better to be warm than fancy!
  • Register for the e-waitlist, more than 10% of our audience gets in through the waitlist. 
  • Start a vitamin regimen. 
  • Exercise! You’ll need to walk uphill to the top of main street on a regular basis (oops too late for this one).
  • EAT (more than appetizers at a party)! Have a hearty bowl of oatmeal every morning (Quaker will be offering complimentary oatmeal on Main Street). Carry a healthy snack on you at all times. The Morningstar Veggie Burger Bar on Main Street will have complimentary vegetarian food.
  • Drink water to stave off altitude sickness and germs.
  • Be mindful of germs! Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (it’s found in first aid kits) and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Ride the shuttles – it’s the most efficient way to get around town plus you never know who you will meet: filmmakers, volunteers and world travelers, etc. 
  • Wear the right shoes – take your favorite boots to a shoe repair place and have them put hiking boot-type soles on them.
  • We advise our staff to check themselves at midnight – if you aren’t working or having the “time of your life,” go home!
  • Fleece-lined pants and leggings will be your new best friend.
  • Survival kit recommendations: wool socks (change your socks at 5pm everyday and you will feel like a new person!), cheap knit gloves, portable cell phone charger, a healthy snack, dryer sheets to ward off static cling, emergen-c, zicam, cough drops, eye-drops (eyes get dry in the weather), lotion (like a skin therapy cream to prevent cracking), lip balm (especially anything hydrating like an olive oil based lip balm), a pen, wet wipes, pocket tissues, icy hot, hand sanitizer and Advil.
  • See a shorts program and a film that is out of your comfort zone – the fest is about creativity and discovery.
  • Make time out to check out all of the venues. There will be great performances day and night at the Music Café, and in the Co-Op, there will be the L’Oreal Beauty Bar, and Pedigree with PUPPIES, plus tons more. 
  • These are part of the experience, don’t miss out! 
  • Share your experience on social channels and don’t forget to use #sundance!

I wanted to find out more, so I chatted with the person who send this list out, Sarah Pearce, the co-director of the Festival.


Someone asked me about my festival cry. It was a couple of years ago; I was partying like a rock star and seeing four movies a day. And there was that big, EMPTY ski hill RIGHT THERE…and when someone gave me FREE LIFT TICKETS, I had to go. After a couple of days like that, my boss called to say a little project I was working on wasn’t going through. And I burst into tears. She paused and said, incredulously, “are you crying?” Through my tears, I managed to reply “I just need a nap.” And nap I did, for like 6 hours. Needless to say, I am much more circumspect about my fest-going now.

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