For aspiring film critics, gaining press credentials to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is like winning the lottery. This festival is one of the largest and most prestigious in the country. At Sundance, the famous, the up-and-coming, and everyone in between mingle with each other. Getting credentials to this exclusive event can help writers, filmmakers, and media professionals at all career levels gain new opportunities and connections. For those lucky enough to obtain credentials, here are five tips for press attending the Sundance Film Festival.
1. Understand your credentials
There are different types of Sundance press credentials but the most common—and the one that this article will discuss—is the “General Press” credential. Individuals with this credential can be admitted to press and industry screenings, press conferences, media areas, and press events depending on the space availability. Getting access to press-specific events means you can film and photograph interviews on the red carpet with actors and filmmakers. It also includes admission to official festival venues such as the Festival Headquarters, Filmmaker Lodge, Music Café, and New Frontier. However, parties are not a part of this press credential and you will have to network to get in the door.
2. Take advantage of free work space during the festival
Press credentials include use of the Media Center on Main Street at the Festival Co-Op (608 Main Street, Park City, UT). It’s the perfect place to interview filmmakers and other artists at the festival. The space is managed and staffed by the Press Office. Like many things at Sundance, the Media Center is limited in capacity. This means seats, tables, and, most importantly, outlets for charging electronics, may be sparse. Pro tip: Bring an extra extension cord in case you need to charge multiple electronics.
3. Access public screenings
The “General Press” credentials get you up to 10 free public screening tickets before the festival, which you can reserve online during a limited window of time. Once you’re at Sundance, you can request more tickets up to three days in advance—you’ll be limited to one ticket per day. Even with credentials you’ll learn to wait in line and anticipate that everything has limited capacity.
4. Understand important resources
As a member of the press, you’ll have exclusive access to press and industry screenings. This means that even if you miss a screening, there may be one exclusively reserved for you. Still, never forget the number one rule at Sundance: everything is first-come, first-served. The Sundance Press webpage is your holy grail. It contains the most up-to-date Sundance Film Festival Press & Industry screening grid, the link to press images, and the sign-up form to receive news releases.
5. Don’t forget to pick up your materials ASAP
The final and most important among these tips for press attending the Sundance Film Festival is to collect your credentials as soon as possible. They must be picked up in person at the Festival Press Office in the Festival Headquarters, Ballrooms 1 & 2 of the Sheraton Park City (1895 Sidewinder Drive). The Press Office will only be open for a specific window of time during the festival, so it’s important to arrive early or you might miss out on evening and midnight screenings. And, don’t forget, there’s probably going to be a line to pick up press credentials too.
**All photos courtesy of the Sundance Film Institute
This author has plenty of great tips for emerging filmmakers, both those just out of school and those further beyond it.