Into Thin Air

I’m in Park City, UT to premiere my new short Beijing Haze at the Slamdance Film Festival. It’s my first time in Park City and I’m really excited. As you probably know, Sundance Festival week is legendary for the industry hype, celebrity buzz, and heavy deal-making. Oh, and they also show a few movies as well. Slamdance, now in its fourteenth year, started as an indie answer to Sundance but now has its own formidable reputation as well.

My goals for the week are to have good screenings (like I have any control over that), meet lots of people, and watch a lot of movies. And eat free as often as possible.

Now, New York isn’t exactly a backwater when it comes to industry folk, but sharing a shuttle ride from SLC airport with Stacy Peralta, a Focus Features staffer, and an entertainment lawyer from LA was kind of intimidating. I mean, these people are way higher on the food chain than me. I tried to keep the self-doubt demons in check, but as the van barreled down Route 80, my mind was racing. I’m just a guy from Brooklyn who happens to own a camera. I was lucky enough to get a short into that scruffy festival at the end of Main Street. I’m the smallest of the small-time and everyone knows it. What the heck am I doing here?

But in the van, the vibe is low-key and we talk like we’re all equals (though Stacy has the best stories). For a fleeting moment, I almost feel like I belong here.

It’s not until I get to the Slamdance check-in at the Treasure Mountain Inn that I really start to feel that maybe I do belong here. Sarah greets us with a friendly hug, and she and Paul shower us with swag that’s actually useful, including a great Crumpler laptop bag and much-needed Doc Martens boots. Kodak sponsors a champagne toast for all the Slamdancers, and the week kicks off in the friendliest way.

I feel lightheaded, but that’s only partly due to the thin air.

(Treasure Mountain Inn, Park City, UT)