T.j. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News
PARK CITY — At the bottom of Main Street, The Lift is where actors and filmmakers go to have their pictures taken by wire services that distribute the images around the world.
The place teems with gift bags, publicists and camera equipment. There's no bottled water — just some drink that was "developed by a doctor at UCLA."
The process takes all of 10 minutes. Some quick makeup and a few flashes.
Then it's back onto Main Street.
Moments earlier, Ryan Gosling, Orlando Bloom and Mark Ruffalo walked out of the tent. The paparazzi and autograph hounds covered them like ants on a cookie.
Now it's Linas Phillips' turn. He steps through the doors and … nothing.
This is how the other half lives at Sundance.
"They might think I'm Leo (DiCaprio's) fat brother. That's it," he jokes.
Phillips is the writer, director and star of a quirky road-trip film that cost $30,000 to make and earned a spot in the festival's new NEXT category.
As for most independent filmmakers at the festival, the Sundance experience has been replete with parties and press junkets for the film's cast and crew. But the do-it-yourself work ethic that got them into the festival continues.
"I've never done this before," says the soft-spoken Phillips. "There's just too much to do."
This day starts with a local radio interview for Phillips and producer Thomas Woodrow. Outside, publicist George Nicholis prepares for another long day.
"I haven't had much sleep," says Nicholis, who works for Zipline Entertainment in New York City.
His connecting flight from Phoenix to Salt Lake was grounded due to weather, so Nicholis made the drive to Park City, arriving just before 6 Friday morning.
"Nothing ever goes as planned," he says. "It's Murphy's Law a little bit."
Two years back, Nicholis was at Sundance working for the much larger Picturehouse, but spent most of his driving executives around town.
With Phillips' film "Bass Ackwards," Nicholis feels he has a chance to really help out.
"With smaller films, it feels like you can have a bigger impact" as a publicist, he says. "Big movies can kind of sell themselves."
The Zipline office at the festival is a room with two queen beds and a small desk at the Park City Marriott. Around town, Nicholis' clutches a blue folder that contains the filmmakers' schedules and his BlackBerry.
When the interview is over, the three men discuss the day's schedule. Phillips wants to attend a party with his fiance but has to meet an editing deadline.
"Don't beat around the bush," Phillips tells Nicholis. "You can tell me I can't go to the party."
Instead the men head to the Easy Street Cafe for coffee. It's a quiet place where Phillips will have a chance to edit an online trailer for iTunes.
The film is the kind of movie that embodies the festival's roots, Nicholis says in the basement of the Easy Street Cafe, and it might even be the kind of film that defines the festival's future.
While most films at the festival are looking for buyers, this film has been sold. As soon as the festival ends, it will be available on iTunes, Amazon.com and YouTube.
"This has been a dream scenario," says Woodrow, "because we've already sold the film. If there was that uncertainty, it would be a nightmare."
While Woodrow estimates the chances of selling a Sundance film through traditional means are somewhere around "one in 2,000," he believes the future of cinema is changing.
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